What is a Doula?
What is this doula thing that so many pregnant women speak of?
The word ‘doula’ — pronounced ‘doo-la’ — is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver’. More recently, it refers to someone who offers emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. A doula (also known as a birth attendant) believes in ‘mothering the mother’. She enables a woman and her partner to have the most satisfying birth experience possible, from pregnancy and into motherhood. This type of support allows the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience too.
Birth Doulas provide support during the pregnancy and the birth. From the beginning of time, women have been cared for and nurtured as they become mothers. Family, friends and neighbors from the community would rally around the new family to help guide them through their tender early weeks and months with a new baby.
Countless scientific trials examining doula care demonstrate remarkably improved physical and psychological outcomes for both mother and baby. Doulas have a positive impact on the well-being of the entire family.
What do birth doulas provide?
Position ideas for comfort and labor progression cross over with hands-on comfort measures like comforting touch, counter pressure, breathing techniques and other “doula magic” for families. A doula’s skilled hands and positioning tools can often help a ma-positioned baby find its way through the pelvis and into the birthing parent’s arms.
Doulas help families to feel supported, easing the emotional experience of birth and also helping to create a space where the hormones of labor can work at their best. Whether a birth is completely un-medicated or medically very complex, every family can benefit from nurturing and connection at this tender, incredible time in their lives.
Whether it’s a romantic partner, a friend or another family member like the baby’s grandma, the birth partner’s experience matters in birth. Our doulas are there to support every birth partner in being as involved as they’d like with the birth. Physical and emotional support make a huge difference for everyone involved.
Evidence-Based Information and Advocacy
DONA International doulas are trained to help families connect with evidence-based resources so they can ask great questions and make informed decisions about their births. Our doulas serve as a bridge of communication between women and their providers, lifting them up to help them find their voices and advocate for the very best care.
Benefits of Having the Support of a Doula
The benefits are overwhelming. As well as feeling supported, nurtured and safe there are other physical and emotional benefits for your whole family. A recent study ( Hodnett, 2012) compared the outcome of births with a doula compared to other continuous support (partner, midwife,family member).
The results included:
31% decrease in the use of Syntocin (synthetic drug used to induce or augument labour)
28% decrease in the risk of C-section
12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
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.
Doulas are an effective form of pain relief (Hofmeyr, 1991). Statistically, women experience less pain when a doula is present during their labour and birth.
Together with your partner and healthcare provider, a doula is a fantastic addition to your support team, ensuring you have the uttermost love and support during this special journey.
Hodnett, E. D., S. Gates, et al. (2012). “Continuous support for women during childbirth.” Cochrane database of systematic reviews: CD003766.
Hofmeyr, G. J., V. C. Nikodem, et al. (1991). “Companionship to modify the clinical birth environment: effects on progress and perceptions of labour, and breastfeeding.” British journal of obstetrics and gynaecology 98(8): 756-764.