What is a Doula?
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 [nonmedical] continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth.
Some women want to have a natural childbirth, others want an epidural, and for some moms it is medically necessary to have a cesarean. A doula can be a great asset to all women in a variety of birthing situations—she can help them achieve their goals for the birth that they desire. A doula's role is to educate and support a woman in whatever choices she makes for her baby’s birth.
numerous Clinical studies have shown That a doula's presence at birth
tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
- reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
- reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals
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
- Stays with the woman throughout the 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 decision
- 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
- Does not perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking blood pressure, temperature, monitoring fetal heart rate, doing vaginal examinations or providing postpartum clinical care.