Why should I hire a doula?
A doula’s presence and care are associated with shorter labors, a reduction in interventions (cesarean sections, epidurals, labor inductions, episiotomies, etc.), increased rates of successful breastfeeding and more satisfying births. In addition to caring for you, a doula supports and guides your partner and family so they can be there for you in every way necessary and possible. The support of a doula will ease your mind and lessen your fears. This alleviates stress, allowing your body to relax so it can do what it’s meant to do. Having support that is solely focused on both your physical and emotional needs, whether planning for an un-medicated birth, a medicated birth, a cesarean birth or a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), the benefit from a doula’s care is invaluable.
Is a doula the same thing as a midwife?
While some skills of doulas and midwives are similar, they are very different professions. There is an overlap in their understanding of continuous care and emotional support as elemental components of birth, but the roles are very distinct.
A midwife is a medical professional responsible for the healthcare of women and their babies throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery. She is trained to observe the course of natural labor and to recognize and treat problems should they arise. A doula provides no medical or nursing care. Since a doula doesn’t have these responsibilities, or other patients to attend to, she can give you her complete attention for the entire length of your labor and delivery. A doula’s specialty is the physical and emotional care of the laboring family. A doula offers comfort measures to women while in labor, but also makes sure that partners feel supported and nurtured. Together, your doctor/midwife and doula will foster a great birth support team which will empower you to create your birth story with confidence, knowledge, and strength.
Does a doula replace my partner?
Definitely not – a doula does not replace anyone on your birth team. She is another member of the team and she supports your partner in his/her own role. She enhances their role by guiding him/her in how to support you. A doula’s presence helps partners participate at their own comfort level, showing them how, when and where to touch and soothe you when you need it. Partners are often grateful (and relieved) to be able to share the “coaching” responsibility with someone more knowledgeable. They are then able to enjoy the birth experience more themselves. Some of the ways in which a doula can be invaluable – allowing your partner time to eat, time to nap and time to go to the bathroom. A doula remembers what she learned in childbirth class and is very helpful in obtaining important information. A doula will remind you that, in most cases, you and your partner can take some time alone to make decisions. She can help translate medical information given to you and keep you both calm.
Are doulas only for women who want to have a natural childbirth experience?
Absolutely not! A doula’s presence is helpful during early labor and during the epidural placement process should an epidural be needed. A doula continues to care for you and your family, offering emotional and informational support while providing valuable body positioning techniques specifically intended for women who receive epidurals. When it’s time to deliver the baby, your doula’s assistance can be invaluable.
A woman having a cesarean birth can benefit from a doula’s support as well. The doula may or may not be in the operating room, depending upon your wishes and medical staff approval. If in the OR, a doula can continue to support you should your partner need to attend to the baby at any time. You will never be left alone and you will always have backup to help ensure your birth plan stays on course. Whether in the OR or not, your doula will be there for you in the recovery room and for the immediate post partum period. During the immediate postpartum period, a doula will help with bonding, the 1st breastfeeding and general postpartum comfort for everyone.