What is a Doula?
Doula: A Greek word meaning women’s servant.
Women have been serving others in childbirth for many centuries and have proven that support from another woman has a positive impact on the labour process. A Doula essentially ‘mothers the mother’.
A Doula is a professional, trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labour, or has recently given birth. The Doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience.
Studies have identified (Klaus & Kennell) that Doulas positively contribute to:
- 50% reduction in caesarean rates
- 25% shorter labours
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in oxytocin use
- 30% reduction in analgesia use
- 40% reduction in assisted delivery
- Improved breastfeeding outcomes
- Decreased incidence of postpartum depression
- Greater maternal satisfaction
- Better mother-infant interaction
- Higher birth partner engagement and involvement in the birth
What are the benefits of having a Doula?
During delivery, Doulas remain by a labouring mothers side. They have the ability to provide comfort with pain-relief techniques including breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, massage, and laboring positions.
The goal of a Doula is to help the mother experience a positive and safe birth, whether an un-medicated birth or a cesarean.
After the birth, many Doulas will spend time helping mothers begin the breastfeeding process and encouraging bonding between the new baby and other family members.
A Doula does not replace a husband or birth partner and as a client quite correctly quoted ‘My husband (partner) is my left hand and my Doula is my right.’ – from Doulas Making a Difference. By having a Doula as a part of the birth team, a father is free to do whatever he chooses. Doulas can encourage the father to use comfort techniques and can step in if he wants a break.
Having a Doula allows the father to support his partner emotionally during labour and birth, and also enjoy the experience without the added pressure of coping alone.
Finding a Doula:
The key to choosing a Doula is to find a person with whom you feel comfortable. Doula selection should be made based on ‘connection’. It is advisable to meet at least two or three Doulas for an interview so you are able to identify the best mutual match for you and your family.