How can a doula help me?
A birth doula is a professional labor assistant, trained and
experienced in childbirth.
Her primary responsibility is to you. You benefit
from the loving relationships in your life, and the presence
of loved ones with you during birthing. The purpose of labor
support from a doula is to bring knowledge of the birth
process; reassurance; knowledge of non-medical comfort and
physical support; and emotional support for both you and those
close to you. A doula also assists you in gathering
information about the course of your labor and your options.
She is your advocate and customizes her role according to your
Most importantly, a doula provides continuous emotional support and comfort throughout
your entire labor and immediate post-partum. Doulas
are not hospital employees and have no other commitments while
attending you. Doctors and even midwives have many
responsibilities, while nurses are usually keeping track of
multiple laboring women; they are infrequently with you during
the majority of your labor.
Benefits of a Doula
Time and again research has shown that continuous labor support by a caregiver who is not part of the medical staff or within a woman's social circle conveys both obstetrical and emotional benefits; reducing interventions and increasing satisfaction for the mother and family. Use of a doula provides clear benefits with no known risks. Every woman deserves to have a doula or other trained labor support person with her during labor and birth.
The 2011 Cochrane Review of research found that women who received one-to-one continuous support vs. "usual care" were:
- more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
- more likely to report satisfaction with the birth
- more likely to have a shorter labor
- less likely to have pain medicine of any kind
- less likely to have a cesarean
- less likely to have a forceps or vacuum birth
- less likely to have an epidural
- less likely to have a baby with a low five-minute Apgar score.
Doula Book by Klaus, Kennell and Klaus
Continuous support for women during childbirth(review) by The Cochrane Collaboration 2011)
Commonalities of a Doula
- Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman
- assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- stays with the woman throughout the labor
- provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
- perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
- Assists the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level (DONA website)
Baby Moon (Lexington, KY)