A doula by definition is a Greek word meaning a woman who serves. Doulas are specially trained, experienced, and sometimes certified to be well versed in supporting women and their partners before, during, and after childbirth. Even before you go into labor, you'll have met with your doula a few times to build your relationship, and she will get to know you, your birth partner, and your birth plan. You are given continuous access to her via phone, e-mail, and/or text for when you need support. Once you go into labor she will join you for the momentous occasion. Continuous support throughout labor gives the mama great emotional and physical reassurance, comfort, and doesn't put all the pressure on the birth partner to do it all themselves. The birth partner can rest assure that the doula is there to also support them and work as a team to support the mama the way she wants to be. With a doula at your birth, you can expect her to know you and your birth plan, provide the upmost respect toward your goals, values of labor, and childbirth. You will have emotional support and advocacy, while your doula will not speak for you, or make decisions for you, she will give you information regarding your choices and help you make the best decisions possible for yourself. Physical and comfort measures you request will be provided such as breathing techniques, position changes, back rubs, gentle touch, hot & cold packs, relaxation, and encouraging movement. After baby arrives, your doula will stay for a a couple hours to comfort the mother in her postpartum healing, enhance and promote bonding with the new baby, and increase breastfeeding success if you wish to breastfeed. Statistics show that having a doula boosts the mother's confidence, gives 28% less chance of cesarean, 31% less chance of being induced, 9% less chance of using unwanted pain medications, and 34% less likely to rate your experience negatively. The goal is to help the mother have the birth she wishes to have. Analysis of scientific trials of labor support by The Cochrane Collaborations Pregnancy and Childbirth Group in Oxford, England state, "continuous support during labor has clinically meaningful benefits to women and no known harm." Have you considered having a doula at your birth? Visit Mamaandbabydoula.com for more information.
Sources: DONA International Position Paper Birth Doula Role, The Cochrane Collaboration's Pregnancy and Childbirth Group at Oxford, England.