The word doula comes from ancient Greek meaning 'a woman who serves' and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and after birth.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A Birth Doula:
- Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- Stays with the woman throughout the labor
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
- Allows and assists the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level
Why use a Doula?
Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.
DONA international doulas are educated and experienced in childbirth and the postpartum period. We are prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the weeks following childbirth. We offer a loving touch, positioning and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel nurtured.
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula's presence at birth:
- Tends to result in shorter labor with fewer complications
- Reduces negative feeling about one's childbirth 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 can:
- 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