A Doula educates families during pregnancy, accompanies a woman in labor, mothers the mother, and takes care of her emotional and physical needs throughout childbirth. She provides support and suggestions for partners that can enhance their experiences of the birth. A postpartum Doula continues that valuable emotional support and guidance, helping a family make a smooth transition into new family dynamics. "What is a Doula?" 14 August 2007.
What is a Doula?
Benefits of a Doula
Although doulas do not provide medical assistance, through loving touch, position and comfort measures they make childbearing bearable.
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula's presence at birth:
Results in shorter labors with fewer complications
Reduces negative feelings about one's birthing 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:
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
Benefits of a Birth Doula
Studies have shown that women who have the continuous support – like that of a doula – with them during labor, and birth experienced:
An overall reduction of 28% in cesarean deliveries;
A reduction in the length of labor;
A 31% reduction in the use of Pitocin (a drug used to induce labor);
A 12% increase in the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth, that is, birth without assistance of forceps or vacuum;
A 9% reduction in the use of pain medications;
A 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience*
* Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766.
“I just wanted to thank you for all of your help with Hadley's birth. It meant so much to Pat and I to have your support and knowledge in this brand new experience".
"Josie, you're amazing! Thank you for everything! Truly a blessing. Sean & I & baby Lucian are so thankful for you."
"You helped me with the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Now we have a beautiful baby girl"!
Thank you so much for giving me the most cherished - rewarding & memorable birth experience I could have ever imagined. My experience felt full of love, prayer, hope & strength... Because of your guidance I was able to cherish baby Eowyn the moment she entered my world".