A Doula

The word ‘doula’ (pronounced ‘doo-la’) is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver’.  It refers to someone who offers emotional and physical support to a woman and her family before, during and after childbirth. A doula believes in ‘mothering the mother’, helping a woman to have the most beatiful experience that she can, from pregnancy and into motherhood. This type of support allows the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience too.

The Proven Benefits Of A Doula

Studies ( here and here) consistently demonstrate very impressive benefits for the mother, father and baby, including:

  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin*
  • 28% decrease in the risk of C-section*
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth*
  • 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience*

 

The Doula And The Family

According to the studies rather than reducing a family participation in the birth process, a doula’s support complements and reinforces their role. Families feel more enthusiastic and that their contribution to the labour and birth was meaningful and helpful. When the family has a visual on how to support a woman i.e. watching a doula support her, they feel more confident and relaxing having seen some ideas to try themselves. In the studies, not only did the family report higher levels of satisfaction after the birth, but mothers reported feeling more satisfied with their role at birth too. Over 30% of women reported that their relationships were better post-birth than they were prior to the birth.

Postpartum Doula

After the birth of your baby, postpartum doulas, come into your home and help you out a new role a new mama.

  • Breastfeeding support
  • Bonding support
  • Birth debriefing/counselling
  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Driving/running errands
  • Settling/sleep help with baby

Overnight doulas will stay with you and help out overnight. Make sure you communicate what you want from your doula to ensure there are no miscommunications and all expectations are realistic and met accordingly.

For more information see the articles The Evidence for Doulas, Best Evidence: Labor Support, and Having a Doula: Is a Doula for Me?