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Have You Ever Heard Of A Doula?

 

Guest Post by Andrea Williams, Labour and Postpartum Doula at Maternal Instinct Doula Care.

As childbirth becomes more and more medicalized, savvy women are contracting the services of women in a rather traditional line of work.  They’re hiring a doula.

A doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides informational, physical and emotional support to expectant families throughout pregnancy, labour and the first few weeks of their baby’s life. She can be a vital part of your birthing team.

Let me shed some light on what a birth doula actually does:

  1. A doula will meet with you for an initial consultation to discuss her qualifications, philosophies on birth and her experience.  (Click here for a list of questions to ask potential doulas.) Some doulas may charge for this, but in this doula’s opinion, it should be free.  When was the last time you were paid for a job interview?
  2. Once you’ve hired your doula, she’ll meet with you to discuss your birth wishes, answer any questions that you may have about pain relief, medical interventions and other pregnancy and labour-related topics and provide evidence based information to help you make informed decisions.  She might also go over positions for birthing and their benefits.  Some doulas provide in-home, private prenatal classes tailored to their clients' specific circumstances.  Many doulas also offer phone and email support during the prenatal period.
  3. Your doula will usually meet you at home during early labour, when you are ready for support.  Your doula will assist you by suggesting labour positions that will help ease your discomfort, using massage techniques and other comfort measures, and coaching you through each contraction.  Your doula will encourage your partner to be actively involved in your labour by guiding him or her on how to help you.  She’ll also help you decide when it’s time to call your midwife or go to the hospital and will remain with you, offering continuous support and encouragement until your baby is born.
  4. Once your baby is born, your doula will help you initiate the first breast feeding.  She will usually remain with you for up to two hours until you are ready for quiet time with your new family.  She will meet with you again in the first few weeks to discuss your birth experience and share her own perspective on your birth.

How effective is a doula’s support during labour?  Clinical studies have shown that women supported by doulas have:

  • Significantly fewer c-sections
  • Fewer requests for epidural
  • Higher likelihood of a natural birth.
  • Lower instances of medical interventions.
  • Greater success with breastfeeding.
  • Lower risk of postpartum mood disorders.

Your doula works for you, not the hospital, so you can be sure that your best interests are her first priority.  While she should never offer medical advice, she uses her knowledge and experience to help you make the best choices for you and your family.

Question Of The Day: Have you or anyone you know had experience with a Doula?

Andrea Williams is a DONA trained labour doula, a CAPPA trained postpartum doula and a mother.  She and all of the Maternal Instinct doulas make it her number one goal to ensure that their clients feel safe and supported throughout their labour and postpartum periods.

7 Responses to “Have You Ever Heard Of A Doula?”

  1. Joanne said…
    I personally have not used a doula, but my niece did when she had her first baby. She enjoyed it so much, she became a doula herself!!
  2. peace said…
    I'm an RMT and labour support provider and looooove the work. Amazing to witness new life being brought into this world.
  3. Jenn said…
    Thanks for doing this post! I chose to have a doula for my son's birth 6 months ago. All of my family members had no idea what that was. Though my doula was just okay in the end, and I went on to have a purely natural birth without her there for the actual birth...it was cool to have experienced what a doula is about. Now I hope to become a doula in the years to come and share the power of welcoming life into the world naturally and with ease.
  4. Alex said…
    We loved our doula, she was great. She trained with Birth Arts International. She offered us so much support. Thanks for the great article.
  5. Jennifer R. said…
    I had a doula for my 3rd child -- great experience. Wish I had known about it for my first two :)
  6. Ever heard of a birth doula? http://t.co/gtX8XBHo via @meghantelpner
  7. Julie said…
    Being from Germany and in the last stage of my twin pregnancy, the work you describe is completely covered by my midwife team. In my home town, we have a so-called "birthing house" where only midwifes work. They provide counsel, courses and medical advice during the pregnancy, birth and afterwards and I'm totally in love with them. Unfortunatly, as I'm having twins, I can't give birth in the birthing house, but have to go to the hospital, but my midwife is coming with me there to be at my side, calm me and make sure that no unnecessary procedures are being made. I can only recommend for every couple that's expecting to search counsel outside of a hospital. The much more personal contact alone is worth it, even if you decide later on to have your baby in a hospital. For me as a first-time-mother-to-be it went a looooooong way to empower me in forming my own opinions, having a trusted person at my side for questions and preparing me for the birth.

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