You’ve heard about birth doulas from friends, family, or your care provider. Maybe you are thinking about hiring a doula to support you in your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum time. But, maybe you aren’t quite sure what a doula does, or why everyone keeps telling you that you need one. I am here to clear that up for you today. Let’s start with the basics:
What is a Birth Doula anyways?
A Birth Doula is a person who is professionally trained to provide support to families through pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenting. This support compliments the support of a health care provider, but does not replace it. A doula’s support is emotional, informational, and physical, while your care provider will support the health of you and your baby.
toLabor, a national doula training organization, states
…all people benefit from support and resources that will help them be aware of, and educated about, the options and choices that are available so that they may make informed decisions concerning their birth experience. We embrace the evidence that a person who actively participates in their birth will have a healthier birth for their baby, their-self and their family; physically and emotionally. We believe that in every birth, there is room for compassion and respect for the process. We believe this a civil right, a human right. We believe in creating and fostering a community of change.
Third Coast Birth Doulas consider it the highest honor to support families as they navigate this transitional time. We recognize birth as a normal, healthy process of the body, and honor it as such. Rather than interfering in the labor process, we offer support only where it is needed, and encourage partners to take the lead support role, if they so desire. We make positional suggestions to make labor more comfortable for the laboring individual, and also to encourage labor to progress. We provide hands on support, such as massage, counter pressure, and acupressure, and guide partners to administer this support as well. We are trained to provide evidence-based resources that help our clients make informed choices as they prepare for, and take an active role in their births. We never make a decision for, or speak on behalf of our clients. Instead, we encourage our clients to ask questions, and gather the information necessary to make choices that are right for their family. We believe our clients are more empowered by using their own voices – as they will time and again throughout their parenting journey – rather than having someone speak on their behalf. We graciously and respectfully support parents in every different type of birth, without judgement.
That all sounds good, but what does the evidence tell us?
A Cochrane review of continuous labor support published in July of 2013 concluded that:
Continuous support during labour has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labour and birth.
This review found that when women have continuous support during labor they are:
- More likely to have a spontaneous vaginal delivery
- More likely to have shorter labors
- Less likely to have intrapartum analgesia
- Less likely to have a Cesarean Birth
- Less likely to have an instrumental delivery
- Less likely to have a baby with a low five minute APGAR score
We are not here to tell you that you need a doula, that is for you to decide. If you decide that having continuous labor support is something you desire for the birth of your baby, we are here for you.
Shawna, Margarita, Cristina, Lauren, and Mayra