What's a Birth Doula?
A birth doula, according to DONA:
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, and helps the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level
A doula comes to a birth with knowledge about, experience with, and a deep respect for the physical and emotional aspects of having a baby.With an understanding of you and your partner's hopes and goals, your doula will use her hands, heart, and wisdom to support your journey into parenthood.
FAQ about Birth Doulas
How's a doula different from a midwife?
Well, for one thing, doulas have nothing to do with orifices. (I know, it's an icky word.) A doula's support is non-clinical, meaning there is a great deal of touch and care, but never internally or diagnostically. Midwives provide health care (as an alternative to OB/GYNs), and birth doulas provide complementary heart and head care for mom and partner. A midwife's time with a laboring mama centers around baby's safe arrival, and a doula will be with you prior to and throughout the birth, providing holistic comfort measures. I love being a doula and also happen to think midwives are fierce and inspiring.
Will my doula give me the stink-eye if I want an epidural?
Not this one. A doula should understand your birth vision and help you achieve it when you're in labor, without a separate agenda and with zero judgment. This is your body and your baby, and a doula should meet you where you're at. That said, I hope to provide ample evidence for the immense physical and emotional benefits of birthing without interventions, and empower you to trust your body's spectacular and natural ability to do so.
Will mom's partner feel second fiddle to the been-there-done-that doula?
The best doula is successful when the new parents come away feeling amazed by one another instead of amazed by the doula. By coaching the birth partner in pain management, comfort techniques, and emotional fortitude, the doula allows him or her to shine. Similarly, by giving the mom the tools to be present and strong and focused, a doula bolsters mom's most radiant and powerful self - a stunning force to behold.
What are some research-y reasons to hire a birth doula?
more likely to have vaginal births (versus C-sections);
less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, vacuum or forceps-assisted births;
have labors shorter by about 40 minutes. (We could be talking about eleven less active labor contractions here, ladies.)