What is a Doula and why do I need one?

The word “Doula” comes from ancient Greece and means “woman servant”. More commonly today used to refer to a professional who is trained and experienced in providing continual informational, emotional and physical support to the mother during her pregnancy, labour, birth and post natal period. A doula understands that the mothers experience in her birth is something she will remember for the rest of her life, helping her to have a memorable, safe and empowering birth is of the utmost importance.

A recent Cochrane Review, Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth, showed Women who received continuous labour support were:
√ More likely to have spontaneous vaginal births (less inductions or augmentation of labour)

√ Reduction in pain medication

√ Less epidurals

√ Greater birth satisfaction post partum

√ Reduction in vacuum or forceps-assisted births

√ Reduced caesarean sections

√ Better Apgar scores at birth

√ Better breastfeeding rates at 6 weeks post partum

√ Labours were shorter by approximately 40 minutes

√ Babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth.

It concluded “Continuous support during labour has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labour and birth.”(You can read the full review here.)
After your search for your doula is completed and you have found the perfect match for you, your doula-client relationship will begin, in this time you will form a relationship where you feel comfortable to express your fears, ask questions, voice your concerns and share your joys, while your doula won’t provide any medical care if you have questions that your doula isn’t sure of she will either point you in the direction for you to do your own research or provide you with documented research for you to read up on. You may also complete your birth preferences with your doulas assistance and your newfound extra knowledge.

You will have contact with your doula via phone and email alongside of your appointed visits, this way you can discuss anything that might arise during the term of your pregnancy. Your doula is a wealth of information when it comes to labour and birth and she can quickly provide you with this when requested. When it comes time to have your baby, your doula is by your side or close by, she can suggest different positions for you to labour in, provide you with support and comfort, help you to relax as much as possible, remind you of your birth plan wishes, and of course give your partner suggestions on how to best support you and help them to do so as well. Your doula is there for you no matter how you plan to birth; the right doula will support you through your un/ medicated, caesarean section or your water birth. Your doula provides continuous support; she is there solely for you, not other labouring women.

Your doula isn’t there to take the place of your partner in labour, but often they do compliment the experience for them, taking some of the pressure off them so that they are more relaxed. Some partners are very involved and hands on during the labour and birth, while others prefer to stand back a little more, it really is an individual thing. I have heard from previous clients partners that they really appreciate having a doula in the room, someone to take some of the weight off their shoulders so that they can enjoy the birth a bit more and feel well supported and reassured during the process. By having a doula in the room this gives the partner more freedom with his choices, this also gives him the opportunity to have a break when needed as well.
Read more about Dads and Doulas here.