What is a doula? Doula is a Greek word and traditionally means 'woman servant'. A doula provides un-biased, non-medical support and information to mothers and their partners before, during, and after the birth of their baby.
What does a doula do? A doula helps you work through your choices for birth and beyond by helping you & your partner create a birth preferences document (often called a Birth Plan). A doula can help you work through any fears you may have regarding childbirth or becoming a parent. A doula provides support for birth either at home, in the hospital, or in a birth centre. A doula comes to you in labour at the point when you feel you need support. That might be right at the start or closer to the end. It is up to you! A doula can help you feel more comfortable in labour by creating a safe space, providing you with non-medical pain relief (e.g hot packs, massage, counter-pressure), and giving suggestions for position changes.
What doesn't a doula do? A doula does not perform any medical procedures. A doula doesn't replace your partner. In fact we can enhance their experience of your baby’s birth by showing them ways they can assist the birthing woman, and by stepping in when they need a break. This ensures the mother has continuous support during labour and birth. Most importantly, a doula does not advocate for you. Instead, she helps you find your voice so that you can advocate for yourselves.
“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers. Strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” ~ Barbara Katz Rothman
With thanks to mama Holly and Megan Eileen - Birth Photographer for this beautiful photo
Benefits of Having a Trained Doula According to research undertaken in the US, Klaus, Kennel and Klaus, authors of Mothering the Mother, "How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth", have identified the benefits of having a doula at your birth:
50% reduction in caesarean rate 25% shorter labour 60% reduction in epidural requests 40% reduction in oxytocin use 30% reduction in analgesia use 40% reduction in forceps delivery Improved breastfeeding Decreased incidence of postpartum depression Greater maternal satisfaction Better mother-infant interaction
By hiring a doula a mother ensures: She has a skilled set of hands 'holding the space for her at home and/or in hospital' She is surrounded by nurturing and caring energy She has a reduced risk of unnecessary interventions” In the words from the video, Giving Birth: Challenges and Choices, by Suzanne Arms, "If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."