About Birth Doulas
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A doula is a woman who "mothers" the mother and her partner. The word "doula" is Greek in origin and means "female servant." A birth doula specialize in assisting at births. She has been through special training that has taught her:
Doula's are often mothers themselves so they can empathize with where a mother is in her labor. She keeps in mind things like:
All of these things can affect how well a woman in labor is coping and progressing. Your doula will be with you through your whole labor to keep track of these things and observe and anticipate what your needs are next.
As stated above, a doula is there to "mother" you both. She is watching the mother and there to support her, but also there to "mother" the partner and other support people. Your partner and support people will benefit from a doula's presence with her ability to:
Many times the mother is the one who is insistent about having a doula present at the birth, but after birth it is the partner that raves about how wonderful the doula was. Check out I Challenge You To A Doula for a dad's perspective.
Depending on where you are birthing your midwife may or may not be able to spend time with you in labor. Many home birth midwives will spend more time supporting you in labor but may not be there the whole time. Hospital midwives may only be able to come in and check on you from time to time until you are ready to deliver.
Doula's are there for you through the whole labor (be that 15 minutes or 36 hours). During long labors they may take shifts with your support people (and sometimes other doulas) to make sure you are not alone and to make sure they themselves are taken care of (doula's need to eat too) but they don't have anywhere else to be or anyone else to care for except you and your family.
Yes! Studies show that having a doula's support during labor can reduce;
These studies also found that women who were supported by a doula viewed their birth more positively and were happier with the outcome.
For more information go to Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth.
Yes! In fact many birth doulas work only in hospitals. If you are wanting a natural birth, having a doula at your hospital birth can greatly reduce your chance of interventions. If you are unsure of what you want, a doula can help to educate you on your options and what the pros and cons are. She can help you communicate with hospital staff and will support you in your decisions. I personally attend hospital, birth center and home births.
The choice to have pain medication is yours and a birth doula respects and supports your choices. Birth doulas are trained in non-medicated pain coping techniques such as changing positions, guided breathing, visualization, massage, & rebozo sling support. So whether you want medication or not she is ready to assist you in whatever way is best to help you cope.
The hospitals locally only allow one support person to attend a mother having a cesarean. Most often the mother's partner will be present for that, but in some cases the partner may not wish to attend or the mother may be alone, in which case she absolutely will be there to support the mother emotionally through the proceedure. Doula's can be great help prenatally for those who are having a c-section. They can offer:
Doula's do not:
We will help you get what you need as best we can, but ultimately your care is up to you and your partner. Making sure you have a healthcare professional and birth location that you are comfortable with and that you have communicated with about your wishes is the best way to ensure that your birth experience is a good one.