When I was pregnant, I became somewhat of a birth junkie. I couldn’t get enough information or watch enough birth videos. My husband and I read all the books and took all the classes. Although we were super prepared, we knew we still needed a doula. And THANK GOD we hired her. I’m confident in saying I owe my positive birth experience and successful unmedicated birth to our doula.
When labor started, she took my terrified, doubtful state and molded it into a can-do attitude. She guided my husband to help me in all the right ways and excused him to do things like eat and use the restroom. Whether it was in our text messages a month before baby’s arrival, or the late night phone calls deciding whether it was go-time, she was always there to support us in an invaluable way.
And we aren’t the only ones! Did you know that when doulas are used, research shows:
- 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin*
- 28% decrease in the risk of Cesarean*
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth*
- 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
- 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
- 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience*
Those are some staggering numbers! If you aren’t sold yet, I relied on my doula, Amanda Jackson of Birth in Confidence, to answer some frequently asked questions – and of course, she was there for support!
Q: What is a doula?
A: A doula is a trained professional who supports a woman before, during and after birth. A birth doula is more than a caregiver, but a birth companion – someone who will not leave your side and supports you and your desires emotionally and physically during labor. She will also aid in supporting her partner and family.
Q: What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?
A: While a doula does not provide medical care like a midwife, she will provide continuous support that is so vital during labor. While the nurses and physicians are there periodically to check on mom and baby’s health, your doula is there solely to focus on you and your partner in every moment of birth. She is there to provide comfort and guidance in the labor process, from positions to nourishment, comfort measures, and emotional encouragement. Her goal is to honor mom’s birth desires while helping mom and her partner feel safe, confident and secure.
Q: Are doulas necessary even when the partner is active in preparation and birth?
A: A doula’s role is never to replace a partner, but to only enhance the experience between the mother and partner and provide reassurance through the birthing process. Even if a mother and father are experienced with labor and birth, there are times during the labor process that can become overwhelming and possibly cause worry. A doula will reassure and encourage both mom and the partner and can offer valuable information and advice to help get through those times. She can help discuss benefits vs. risks of any procedure or drug so that you and your partner can decide what is best for you and your baby. If an unplanned cesarean is required, she can help set you at ease by explaining the process and offering support through the unpredictable change.
Q: Are doulas only for a certain type of birth?
A: Any woman having a baby can absolutely benefit from having a doula. Whether mom is planning for a natural birth, medicated birth or planned cesarean, a doula can offer physical and emotional support through the labor process and postpartum. In every labor scenario, mom needs comfort and encouragement. Having a trained doula can ensure mom and partner’s needs are met during labor, birth and postpartum.
Q: Why do you feel a doula is essential?
A: All in all, a doula is there to offer continuous reliable support, release of fears and stress of childbirth through encouragement and information and to help mom and partner be as confident and comfortable as possible. Continuous care is something that no other profession offers during the labor process. Per DONA International: “Studies show that when doulas are present at birth, women have shorter labors, fewer medical interventions, fewer cesareans and healthier babies. Recent evidence also suggests that when a doula provides labor support, women are more satisfied with their experience and the mother-infant interaction is enhanced as long as two months after the birth. With doula support, fathers tend to stay more involved with their partner rather than pull away in times of stress.”
Q: What about after labor is over?
A: You can also hire a postpartum doula in which the doula comes to help support mom and/or partner while adjusting to a “new normal” with their little one. A postpartum doula can assist with taking care of baby while mom sleeps or showers, give tips on postpartum recovery and baby care and can offer breastfeeding support. A postpartum doula will also help with light housework, cooking and running errands. When meeting and deciding to hire a postpartum doula, you can discuss the areas you desire the support and help the most.
Although reading the books and taking the classes educated me, nothing could prepare me for labor like actual labor itself. Having a doula there to comfort us and answer our questions was game-changing. My husband benefited just as much as me – if not more. She allowed us to enjoy every second. I love thinking of our birth and can’t wait to do it again!
If you are looking for local doula, our Pregnancy and Infant Support Guide is a great place to start!