The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
What is a Doula?
A doula is a pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum expert. She knows the birth process fully. She is a kind, nonjudgmental, experienced professional who is there to answer all your questions about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and postpartum. She is there to support you during your labour and birth process, as well as assisting you with breastfeeding after the birth.
Your doula spends time with you during your pregnancy. She meets with you and your partner; she answers your whatsapps, calls, and emails when you have questions; and she loves getting to know you. When you have intimate or difficult questions about your experience, or when you need to know more about a choice you may need to make, your doula is there to provide you with calming reassurance, evidence-based information, and unbiased support.
She does not replace your birth partner, but is there to provide physical and emotional support to you both.
Your doula is the only professional who will be able to offer you continued care during your pregnancy, labour and postpartum. In a busy hospital, nurses, midwives, and doctors will be in and out, many you will have not met before. They will have responsibilities and routines. They will not be with you for your entire labour. Your doula, however, doesn't leave your side. She's the one who creates a calm, safe and comfortable environment so that you can bring your baby into the world with joy and peace.
Your doula is the calm presence in the birth room, even when birth is intense, fast-paced, or when things don't go as planned. She is there to provide continuous reassurance, information and support.
Most importantly, your doula has a passion for what she does. She wants you to experience the birth of your dreams, whatever that means for you. She provides the resources for you to be informed and empowered to make decisions, and then uses her training, expertise, and experience to support you no matter what. She is fully invested in you and your experience. The medical staff have many patients to attend to, but you will be your doula's first and only priority during your birth.
Before birth moved to the hospital, and people lived in communities, the pregnant mother was supported by the women around her, many of whom had given and witnessed birth before. Unfortunately now, we all live separately and birth is a big daunting, unknown experience for most women. Your doula is here to change that for you, she has given birth and witnessed births, she is here to re-create that community for you, to remove fear, so that you feel, ready, prepared and even excited about your birth.
Doulas are for hospital births, birth center births, home births, natural births, cesareans, epidural births, inductions, and everything in-between.
Benefits of a Doula
Worldwide studies done have shown that Doula's:
Decrease the length of your labour by 25%.
Lower the possibility of a caesarean by 50%.
Reduce your need for pain relief by 30%.
Reduce your need for an epidural by 60%.
Reduce the need for forceps delivery by 40%.
Decrease the need for synthetic oxytocin by 40%.
Because they have such a positive effect on the birth process, having a doula has also shown to:
Attachment and bonding between parents and baby
Positive feelings about giving birth
Mother and baby's well-being
as well as;
The perception of pain during labour
Incidence of postpartum depression
Need for medical intervention
Beautiful photo credit: @modernstorytog