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 continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
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
How Can We Know That Having a Doula Will Help Us?
Studies show that the provision of continuous support during labour by doulas is associated with improved maternal and fetal health along with a variety of other benefits including:
- Labours are 25% shorter
- Cesarean rates are reduced by 50%
- There is 40% less need for oxytocin to speed labour
- Need for forceps is reduced by 40%
- Women request 30% less pain medication and 60% fewer epidurals
- There are fewer complications
- Lower risk of medical interventions
- Greater success with breastfeeding
- Lower risk of postpartum depression