WHAT IS A DOULA?
The Greek word doula means ‘woman caregiver’ or ‘woman servant’ – it is a woman who ‘serves’ another woman while laboring and birthing. We now use the word to describe a trained and experienced labor companion who provides the woman and her husband or partner continuous emotional support, physical comfort and assistance in obtaining information before, during and just after childbirth.
A Birth Doula:
Recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all of her life…
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor…
- Assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth…
- Stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor…
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint, and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions…
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and clinical care providers…
- Perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman’s memory of her birth experience…
The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well being of mothers and infants.
Emotional Support = Encouragement, Reassurance, Continuous Physical Presence
Informational Support = Assistance to mom/families in gathering information about the course of their labor, their options, and explanations – non medical advice.
Physical Support = Comfort Measures, Positioning, Massage, Breathing, Relaxation and other Non-Pharmacological Pain Relief Measures.
Advocacy = Interpreting the Woman’s Wishes to Hospital Staff.
Partner Support = Role Modeling, Encouragement, and Reassurance.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HAVING
- Research supports evidence that having a doula can improve the bond between mother and infant, decrease medical interventions and complications and also improve the overall birth experience for the mother and her partner.
- Current research also finds that continuous care and presence of a doula decreased the need for pain medications by 60%; improved obstetrical outcomes such as a decrease in non-emergency cesareans by 50%; shortened length of labor for mothers by 25%; and reduced other interventions such as induction and forcep delivery by 30-40%.
- Doulas help mom feel more in control of her labor and delivery and significantly reduces maternal stress and anxiety.
"The value and purpose of labor support can be seen in the eyes of relieved mothers, fathers, partners and others present during labor and delivery - as the doula 'mothers the mother', encourages the partner, advocates for the baby and does not leave their side until all are safe, sound and complete"
Genesis 1:31 "Then God saw everything He had made, and indeed, it was VERY good!