The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek, meaning “A woman who serves.” Doulas serve in both birth and postpartum settings, but for this Blog, we will talk about a birth doula.
So what's a birth doula?
Today a doula is defined as a trained professional who provides CONTINUOUS physical, emotional, and informational support to each client. This is done before, during, and shortly after childbirth to help each birth person and/or family achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience. With the help of a doula's support, there is a higher rate of enjoyment and satisfaction in birth and a
decreased Cesarean rate from 28-56% for full-term babies. In addition, labor has been shown to be 40 minutes shorter with lower uses for pain medication.
(Hodnett et al., 012) (Kozhimannil et al., 2016)
The Doula's goal is better, healthier outcomes for mother and baby, so that the birthing experience can be viewed as a positive one.
What is a Doula for?
While Doulas do not give medical advice, they are available to help clients gain a better understanding of procedures, pregnancy care, and birth support no matter what decisions the birthing person has made on how she gives birth. The doula's role is tied closely to the birth plan of the client, with the mother staying in the driver's seat. The mother rights are always the primary responsibly and interest.
Emotionally, the Doula is there to support, encourage, and help debrief. The emotional support can help the birthing person process and feel secure during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. The doula brings a soothing presence, the ability to assist with water therapy, massage, labor positions, and drink and food runs help relieve some duties of the birth partner as well.
Informational support is given by providing resources to clients so they can make an informed choice based on their research and desires. Helping clients find evidence-based information gives families additional options during their journey. Again, this keeps families in the driver's seat.