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10 Reasons Why Every Pregnant Mother Can Benefit from a Doula

Updated: May 4, 2023


In todays society, especially in the United States, having a birth doula's support is either looked at as a luxury service, or it isn't even a consideration. As of 2015 (the latest data available), only 6% of birthing mothers received doula care (Doula Care Saves Lives).


What exactly is a doula? Where did the concept of having one come from? Is having a doula tested, proven and evidence-based? How can they truly help?


There are so many unanswered questions and misinformation that is causing a huge gap in knowledge towards the topic of doulas and how and they impact childbirth. I want to take a minute or so to try and build a bridge to help us over that gap.



A servant as old as time.

What if I told you that doulas have been serving mothers for centuries?! The word "doula" originates from ancient Greece meaning "female servant for a child-bearing woman". In many cultures, women have always had a female support system during childbirth. In ancient Greece, midwives and doulas provided care to women and in African cultures, grandmothers or other female family members where the ones tending to the mother during this time.


Today, the word "doula" has come to mean "the one that mothers the mother" (Doula history: Origins, culture, and postpartum rituals). In the United States, the use of doulas became more widespread in the 1970s as a result of the natural childbirth movement. This movement was a response to the medicalization of childbirth and the increasing use of interventions such as epidurals, inductions, and cesarean sections.


The first modern birth doula was probably Penny Simkin, who began working as a childbirth educator in the 1960s. She later became a doula and wrote the book "The Birth Partner," which has become a classic in the field and a book I recommend often. Since then, the use of doulas has grown significantly but, they are still only attending 6% of births.



Bridging the gap.

The role of a doula has evolved over time. A birth doula, also known as a labor coach, is a trained professional who provides physical support, emotional support, and informational support to women and their partners during childbirth.


"With their [doula] support, women were less likely to have pain-relief medications administered and less likely to have a cesarean birth. Women also reported having a more positive childbirth experience. Other studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and requests for an epidural by 60%. Doulas often use the power of touch and massage to reduce stress and anxiety during labor." - The American Pregnancy Association

Birth doulas continue to play a vital role in not only childbirth, but also prenatally and postpartum. As families prepare for the arrival of their little one, they may come across the idea of hiring a doula, but the ambiguity around doula support might make them second guess.


Because of this, I made a list of ten ways labor doulas serve women.

1. Emotional Support.

Pregnancy is a rollercoaster of emotions. A doula is there to provide non-judgmental support and encouragement. They listen to your concerns, fears, and hopes and offer guidance to help you navigate the ups and downs.


2. Continuous Support.

Doulas are available to you 24/7. From the moment you hire them, and until the birth of your baby, your doula is by your side. They will be with you during labor and delivery, providing comfort and reassurance.


For those needing extended postpartum care, you can hire a doula who will support you beyond the immediate postpartum.


3. Experienced Professional.

Doulas are trained professionals who have extensive knowledge about all things childbirth. They help educate and prepare parents for all aspects of labor. Doulas help you understand your options for induction methods, pain management - both natural and medicinal, labor positions, and so on. They are trained to support you physically through comfort measures such as counter pressure, rebozo techniques and hip squeezes.


4. Advocacy.

Doulas advocate for you and your baby’s needs during labor and delivery. They can help you communicate with your healthcareprovider and ensure that your birth plan is respected. Doulas should never speak on your behalf, but they are very useful at slowing down the chaos of a birth room so you, your partner and doula can discuss options. Once decided, the doula can encourage and give both parents confidence to advocate their wants/needs to the care providers.


5. Comfort Measures.

Doulas are skilled in providing comfort measures such as massage, breathing techniques, and position changes to help a mama manage pain during labor. They can also offer suggestions for natural pain relief options.


6. Partner Support.

Doulas work alongside the birth partner to provide support and guidance. A doula can help them feel more involved in the birth process and offer suggestions for ways they can support. Doulas never replace the partner!! They are a team. Some mamas need more than one comfort measure done at once, so a partner can help assist.


7. Shorter Labor.

Research has shown that having labor support in the form of a doula can shorten the duration of labor by an average of 41 minutes.


8. Reduced Interventions.

Studies have shown that having a doula present during labor and delivery can reduce the need for interventions such as epidurals, C-sections, and forceps deliveries.


9. Better Birth Experience.

Having a doula can improve your overall birth experience. Women who have doulas report feeling more satisfied with their birth experience and have lower rates of postpartum depression.


10. Postpartum Support.

Doulas provide support after the birth of your baby, offering guidance on breastfeeding, newborn care, and emotional support during the postpartum period. Postpartumdoulas offer overnight care to help the adjustment period go a little smoother. Nighttime can be daunting, hiring a postpartumdoula is an amazing way to know you'll have the support you deserve.



I hope that helped bridge the gap a bit.

Hands-on birth support is incredibly valuable to every woman!!


Please leave us a comment and let us know how you would have benefited from doula services!!


xx,

Kinsey Drea, Birth Doula





Citations.

  • Doula Care Saves Lives, Improves Equity, and Empowers Mothers. State ..., www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20210525.295915/. Accessed 3 May 2023.

  • Owner. “Doula History: Origins, Culture, and Postpartum Rituals.” MothersCare Doula, 19 Sept. 2022, motherscaredoula.com/blog/doula-history-origins-culture-postpartum-rituals/#:~:text=The%20word%20“Doula”%20is%20a,One%20who%20mothers%20the%20mother.”.

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