What is a Doula?
A woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information and emotional support to women and families before, during and just after childbirth.
A Labor Doula is an experienced professional who is trained and educated in the labor and delivery process. She is not a medical provider, but she is experienced in childbirth and educated with up to date information on evidence-based practices.
A Labor Doula meets with you during your pregnancy to discuss your health, your hopes and fears. She will advocate for your choices and desires and will be there for you to inspire confidence about your labor and birth. She knows common policies and procedures with local hospitals and home birth providers so she can help you prepare for the kind of birth you want.
She also provides physical and emotional comfort during labor, with techniques such as nurturing touch and relaxation methods to decrease labor pain, relieve anxiety, and increase emotional bonding. She does not replace the role of the father, birth partner or other family, but rather empowers them to be a source of support for the mother. A Labor Doula caters her services to the individual needs of that family. Once your Labor Doula is called to support you during your birth, she does not leave until after you've had your baby. *
She is trained to help you with breastfeeding. After your birth, she will typically stay an hour or two to help start breastfeeding and help the new family settle in. Once you are home from the hospital, or a few days following your birth, she'll see you at home to make sure you are doing well. She can offer troubleshooting advice and make referrals if you need extra assistance.
* Exceptions are made during a long induction, or during procedures when the medical staff will not allow the Doula to be present.
Why Should I Hire a Doula?
Several studies have demonstrated that the continuous support of a labor doula have these beneficial effects: • 25% shorter labor • 50% fewer c-sections • 40% reduction in forceps use • 30% reduction in analgesia use • 60% reduction in epidural requests, In addition, long-term benefits include: • Improved Breastfeeding Rates • Decreased Postpartum Depression • Greater Maternal Satisfaction • Better Mother-Infant Interaction
"Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula. A Cochrane meta-analysis of 12 trials and more than 15,000 women demonstrated that the presence of continuous one-on-one support during labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and a statistically significant reduction in the rate of cesarean delivery. Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized."
Amercian College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG