Looking back over the births of my two precious little ones, I have treasured the presence of my doula, Amber. She was the perfect comforting support person that facilitated a peaceful atmosphere during my labor. She provided that reassuring presence with her knowledge and expertise in the birthing process. Her service to me has been the launching point of my desire to serve others in this way. I wanted to be able to encourage women that the birthing process is a beautiful and natural experience.
What is a Doula?
A doula is an ancient Greek word and literally means “mother’s slave”. Her aim is to accompany women in labor to help them have a more satisfying birth experience.
A doula provides you with emotional support, physical comfort and, as needed, be your advocate in communicating with the staff to make sure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions as they arise in labor. She is not taking the place of medical staff, but helps guide parents with balanced information and perspective. She can help you form your own birth plan and support you each step of the way.
She will not offer medical exams, but will help provide information so a couple can make informed decisions. She understands the birth plan, the desires of the mother and father, and seeks wholeheartedly to be an advocate for them. Her desire is that birth would be a beautiful experience for the family and that all would come away feeling the wonders of God’s design in the creation and birth of new life.
Wealth of comfort measures in her doula bag
A doula can provide reassurance and perspective to you and your partner, make suggestions for labor progress, and help provide physical comfort through massage, labor positions, hydrotherapy, optimal fetal positioning, aromatherapy, acupressure, deep relaxation and visualization techniques. My doula was extremely skilled in providing just the right comfort measures (from back massages to the rebozo technique – an excellent excellent for correct positioning of babies) and position changes for every stage of my labor. She offered that quiet support that was not intrusive in the least. She was there to continually remind me to keep breathing deeply, taking long slow breaths, to stay on top of the contractions, and encourage me with the right words continually.
Does not replace Dad
A doula does not take the place of a husband or partner. She is one that helps provide the father with ideas to support the mother. She is one that offers reassurance, reminders, and tips that he might be most effective. A doula has most often been through labor and delivery herself and can thus relate to the pain of the mother, and help the mother’s spouse/partner understand possible alternatives, comfort measures that they can team up together in providing for the mother.
My husband specifically loved the presence of a doula at our births. He saw her as one who did not take his place in the least but provided him with the tools and reminders of how to serve me most effectively. She helped him be my #1 support!
Especially in a hospital setting, nurses and doctors will come and go, but a doula will stick with mother, father and baby through the whole labor and delivery. She will often be available to help with immediate breastfeeding after birth. Postpartum doulas are even available to hire after the birth to attend your needs at home and help you through the transition process. This is a huge asset especially if you do not have family in the area. It would be an excellent gift idea!
Benefits of Doula Use
Studies on labor support show that the benefits of doulas are tremendous!
- C-sections reduced by 50%
- Length of labor reduced by 25%
- Oxytocin (induction) use reduced by 40%
- Use of narcotics reduced by 30%
- Forceps reduced by 30%
- Epidurals reduced by 60%
Long-term benefits include:
- Improved breastfeeding
- Increased time spent with baby
- Decreased postpartum depression
Doulas are independent and self-employed. I highly encourage you consider hiring a doula, especially if it is your first birth. They can be that knowledgeable support that is totally unique to even midwives.