B I R T H   D O U L A

What is a Birth Doula?

In nearly every culture throughout history, women have been surrounded and cared for by other women during childbirth. Artistic representations of birth throughout the world usually include at least two other women, surrounding and supporting the birthing woman. One of these women is the midwife, who is responsible for the safe passage of mother and baby. The other woman or women are behind or beside the mother, holding and comforting her. The modern doula is a manifestation of the women beside the mother.

The doula's role is to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to the woman and her partner during labor, birth and the immediate postpartum period. The doula offers help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, massage, relaxation, movement and positioning. She also assists families in gathering information about the course of their labor and their options.

Many women are choosing to remain in the comfort and calm of their own home until labor is very active. A doula is able to help the mother relax and feel safe at home until she decides it is time to move to the place of birth.

Doulas do not make decisions for their clients; they do not project their own values and goals onto the laboring woman. The doula's goal is to help the woman and her partner have a safe and satisfying childbirth as they define it.

 

Women who are attended by a doula have:

  • Shorter labors.

  • Fewer complications/fewer Caesarean sections.

  • Less medical intervention, including labor induction and forceps.

  • Fewer requests for pain medication.

  • A greater sense of satisfaction with their birth experience.

  • More positive assessments of their babies.

  • Less postpartum depression.

  • Babies with shorter hospital stays and fewer admissions to special care nurseries.

  • Babies that breastfeed more easily.

  • Better communication and understanding between the woman, partner, and the medical staff.

How does your partner fit in?

The woman's partner plays an essential role in providing support for her. A doula cannot make some of the unique contributions that the partner makes, such as intimate knowledge of the woman and love for her and her baby. The doula is there in addition to, not instead of, the partner. With a doula present the pressure on the partner is decreased so that he or she can enjoy the birthing experience.

Partners often feel relieved when they can rely on a doula for help and are able to participate at their own comfort level. For those partners who want to play an active supporting role, the doula assists and guides them in effective ways to help the woman in labor. If fact, research shows that partners participate more in supporting the laboring mother and during the early postpartum care of mom and baby , as a result of the presence of a trained doula.

© 2018 BY BOSTON DOULA CIRCLE LLC, 978-835-6357