A doula provides emotional, informational and physical support through your perinatal period. She reinvents the ancient tradition of women supporting women through the major life event of welcoming your baby into the world. Here’s how a doula can help your family at each stage of the process:
Through prenatal meetings, a doula learns about your wishes for your birth and postpartum period and guides you toward a satisfying birth, as you define it.
A doula is there to ease the hard work of labor by supporting the mother, father and family through this major life event; she is professionally trained in order to know how to meet the emotional and physical needs of the laboring woman and, importantly, empowers your partner to become more confidently involved in your support.
She does not replace your doctor or midwife, but is there to work in concert with them in order to enhance your birth experience, to ensure that your birth is continuously well supported and empowering, and that your voice is heard.
Doulas offer emotional reassurance, and physical comfort measures such as massage, acupressure, positioning suggestions, breathing and relaxation techniques.
Doulas provide informational assistance in order to best navigate the many changes and choices that arise during the course of labor.
By providing continuous presence during labor and birth, doulas have a profound impact on how births can unfold (please see the studies listed below).
For some people, the postpartum time is the most challenging in their perinatal period. Doulas provide many forms of postpartum support, including breastfeeding assistance. Clinical studies consistently show the women who are supported by a doula have dramatically decreased likelihood of experiencing postpartum depression.
What the research saysNumerous clinical studies* found that a doula’s presence affects:
Labor- Results in shorter labors with fewer complications, reducing the need for pitocin, forceps or vacuum extraction and also reducing requests for pain medication and epidurals, as well as the incidence of cesareans.
The mother- When a doula is present during and after childbirth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, make more positive assessments of their babies, and have less postpartum depression.
The baby- Studies show that babies born with doulas present tend to have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries, breastfeed more easily and have more affectionate mothers in the postpartum period.
*For a complete list of studies, go to http://www.dona.org/resources/research.php#birthsuggestions