What is a Doula?
According to DONA International, The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A Birth 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 in labor
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- Supports a woman throughout 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
- Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level
What Impact Does a Doula Have?
In "Mothering the Mother: How A Doula Can Help You Have A Shorter, Easier, And Healthier Birth”, doctors Marshall Klaus, John Kennell, and Phyllis Klaus describe their six randomized, controlled studies done of over 1,000 women on four continents who used a doula at their child birth.
THE RESULTS SHOWED:
- A 50% decrease in cesarean sections
- A 25% decrease in the length of labor
- A 30% decrease in use of forceps
- A 40% decrease in use of oxytocin
- A 60% decrease in use of epidruals
- A 30% decrease in use of pain medications (narcotics)
Other Long Term Benefits of Labor Support Include:
- Improved Breastfeeding
- Decreased Postpartum Depression
- Greater Maternal Satisfaction
- Better Mother-Infant Interaction