WHAT IS A DOULA?
A doula is a professionally trained and experienced labor companion/coach who provides continuous mental, emotional and physical support before, during, and after labor. The role of a doula is to assist and support the mother and her partner in achieving their birthing goals, whatever those may be. Think of it as a massage therapist (who specializes in women in labor), a birth advisor, and a therapist all in one!
WHY HAVE A DOULA?
Giving birth can be stressful and unpredictable. Most women experience birth for the first time when they themselves give birth. Having a doula is like having your best friend who knows all about birth and how to make you feel way more comfortable in your corner at all times.
Here are some cool stats - Births where doulas are present decrease the risk of Cesarean section by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of pitocin by 40%, the request for the epidural by 60%, and a reduction of forceps or vacuum delivery by 40%. Women who have doulas at their birth have less chance of postpartum depression, a more satisfied birth experience, an easier transition into motherhood, and are more likely to successfully breastfeed.
A doula is available to mothers once active labor has begun (we go into all that detail during prenatals). It's easy to go to the hospital too early when it's something you've never experienced before. While the mother labors at home, it's ideal to have the doula to help the parents recognize the appropriate time to go to the hospital.
DOES A DOULA REPLACE THE BIRTH PARTNER?
Nope! A doula is not a replacement for the birth partner at all. In fact, doulas are very helpful to the partners by guiding them to better help the mother, and by offering them a break when they need to eat and/or rest. A doula works very closely with the birthing partner and uses her training and knowledge to assist and empower the birth partner to be actively present during the labor and birth. It takes two people full-time to keep a mom happy in labor!
WHAT IF I HAVE A CESAREAN SECTION?
Whether planned or unplanned, a doula is there to support the parents, regardless of the events prior to the birth of the baby. Most of the time doulas are allowed in the Operating Room. Plus we get to take all those precious pictures (don't worry, not the surgery!) of you meeting your baby!
DO DOULAS ONLY TAKE CLIENTS WHO WANT AN UNMEDICATED BIRTH?
No, a doula is there to support the parent's wishes, whatever those may be.