What is a Doula?
Birth Doula (Professional Labor Support)
A birth doula is a supportive companion professionally trained to provide physical, informational and emotional support during labor and birth. A doula provides continuous support, beginning during early or Active Labor, through birth, and for approximately 2 hours following the birth. The doula offers help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement, positioning, and massage.
She also assists families with gathering information about the course of labor and their options. Her most critical role is providing continuous emotional reassurance and comfort.
Doulas attend home births and hospital births; medicated births and un-medicated births, with women whose care is being overseen by doctors or midwives. Doulas may be the only support person for the mother, or may be part of a labor support team including mom’s partner, friend(s), and/or family members.
Doulas specialize in non-medical skills, and do not perform clinical tasks, or diagnose medical conditions. They do not make decisions for their clients. Their goal is to provide the support and information needed to help the birthing mother have a safe and satisfying birth as the mother defines it.
Proven Benefits of Doula-Supported Childbirth
Decreased Medical Intervention in Labor*:
Reduces need for Cesarean-Section by 50%
Reduces length of labor by 25%
Reduces use of artificial oxytocin by 40%
Reduces pain medication use by 30%
Reduces the need for forceps/vacuum extraction by 40%
Reduces epidural requests by 60%
6 weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas were:
Less anxious and depressed
Had more confidence with baby
More satisfied w/ partner (71% vs 30%)
More likely to be breastfeeding (52% vs. 29%)
*These statistics appear in “A Doula Makes the Difference” by Nugent in Mothering Magazine, March-April 1998. For more about the research, see http://www.dona.org/publications/position_paper_birth.php
**Study cited in “The Doula” by Klaus in Childbirth Instructor Magazine, Spring 1995.
There are also postpartum doulas, who provide support after the baby is born. They have knowledge
about postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, and newborn care. Their services vary depending on
your needs, and might involve anything from a one-time visit for information and advice, to
providing overnight care every night for a month. The information and services I provide
on this site is about Birth doulas.
To find out more about postpartum doulas visit these websites http://www.dascdoulas.org,
www.cappa.net, and www.dona.org.
For Information about Doula services and fees, please contact Patricia directly here.