Why a Doula?

From DONA International
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.

A Doula’s Role

A doula provides support for the mother and her partner in the following ways:

•    Physical Support–comfort measures, positioning, massage, breathing, relaxation, and other non-pharmalogical pain relief measures
•    Emotional Support–encouragement, reassurance, continuous physical presence
•    Informational Support–assistance to families in gathering information about the course of their labor and their options, explanations, non-medical advice
•    Advocacy–interpreting the woman’s wishes to hospital staff
•    Partner Support–role modeling, encouragement, reassurance
(from DONA Birth Doula Workshop)

Benefits of Doula Support

Studies have shown that a woman supported by a doula during labor have:

•    50% reduction in the cesarean rate
•    25% shorter labor
•    60% reduction in epidural requests
•    40% reduction in oxytocin use
•    30% reduction in analgesia use
•    40% reduction in forceps delivery

(from Kennel, Kennel, and Klaus Mothering the Mother)

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Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.

DONA International doulas are educated and experienced in childbirth and the postpartum period. We are prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the weeks following childbirth. We offer a loving touch, positioning and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel nurtured and cared for.

Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth

  • tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
  • reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
  • reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
  • reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals

Research shows parents who receive support can:

  • Feel more secure and cared for
  • Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
  • Have greater success with breastfeeding
  • Have greater self-confidence
  • Have less postpartum depression
  • Have lower incidence of abuse