The word doula comes from a Greek word that means “woman who serves” or “handmaiden.” Today, doula refers to a trained birth attendant who continuously nurtures and supports mothers and their partners during labor and birth.
A doula is a constant reassuring presence for a laboring mother and her family. She provides physical support and comfort, emotional encouragement, advocacy, and informational support. And if you need space at any time, a doula can give you that too.
Doulas also help fathers and partners play an active role in the birth of their child by encouraging and assisting their support, and respecting their level of intimacy with the mother.
A doula's services are valuable in all birth settings - hospitals, birth centers, or at home - and for all kinds of births, including natural, medicated, VBAC, cesarean, and waterbirth.
Whether your birth will be attended by a midwife or a doctor, a doula is a complementary member of your birth team.
More about doulas
Check out these sites for more information on how doulas can help women have better births:
A doula's mission is to provide continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to laboring mothers and their partners before, during and just after birth.
During labor, your doula will:
Assist you in using a variety of non-medical measures for comfort and effective progress, such as positioning, massage, acupressure, aromatherapy, breathing techniques, and encouragement
Constantly focus on the comfort of both the mother and her partner
Create an environment of security and confidence
Help you to rest and relax
Provide you with information on birth options
Provide support to your partner
In the event of a complication, a doula can be a great help in understanding what is happening and what options the family may have. Your doula can also help you get started with breastfeeding if you wish, and in making sure the family has private time to bond in the hours following the birth.
Why Doulas are Wonderful
If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it. - Dr. John H Kennell
“Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.
A Cochrane meta-analysis of 12 trials and more than 15,000 women
demonstrated that the presence of continuous one-on-one support during
labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and
a statistically significant reduction in the rate of cesarean
delivery. Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized." Research shows that parents who receive support from a birth doula often
Feel more secure and cared for
Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics