Benefits of Having a Doula
I’m a doula, and I’ve seen firsthand how much more satisfying and empowering the birth experience can be for clients who have support from loved ones, especially compared to those who don’t. But what exactly is a doula? And how do you know if having one would be helpful for you? Here are some talking points you can share with prospective clients.
What is a doula?
A doula is a birth professional who provides continuous emotional, physical, and informational support to the mother before, during, and after childbirth.
Doulas are not medical professionals. They do not give you medication or perform procedures during labor or delivery. Doulas also differ from nurses and midwives in that they often work as independent contractors for their services, and some work with insurance. Doulas offer physical, educational, and emotional support and care during pregnancy and birth.
In the US, doula education isn’t standardized, so I chose Birth Arts International. The doula certification program I attended through Birth Arts International is the most comprehensive and has the highest educational requirements, making me substantially higher educated than most doulas.
Reasons to consider having a doula.
There are many reasons to consider having a doula. Doulas can help you feel more confident about your body’s ability to give birth, and they can also help you feel more confident about your partner’s ability to support you during labor and birth. They can even help you feel more confident about your choices at the hospital or birthing center (for example, whether or not to have continuous monitoring).
In other words, doulas impact their clients’ experiences of giving birth—and as a result, their babies’ experiences too!
What does a doula do?
So what does a doula do?
A doula provides support and information to help you get through the birth of your baby. A doula can help with:
- Emotional support during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. Doulas can attend prenatal appointments with you and are available for questions about your child’s development or how to cope with things like morning sickness or back pain.
- They also check in regularly during labor to offer encouragement and suggestions on coping with different parts of the experience (like changing positions or breathing techniques).
- Remind you when medical staff is coming so that they don’t interrupt meaningful conversations between you and your partner/doula/care provider(s). They can help you discuss your options to decide your best next step.
- After birth, they help new moms get acclimated to their new role as parents by providing emotional support and practical advice on breastfeeding tips, learning how to hold the baby safely, care for and feeding your baby.
Possible benefits of having a doula
Doulas are trained to help mothers during labor and beyond. They can assist with:
- Pregnancy education and answering questions.
- Pain management (breathing techniques, relaxation, etc.)
- Emotional support (massage, positioning, encouragement)
- Breastfeeding (latching issues, supply concerns)
- Postpartum recovery (positioning baby for breastfeeding and pumping, learning to cope with physical changes)
- Birth planning
The more support clients have during birth, the more satisfying and empowering the experience tends to be.
Having a doula can help you have a more satisfying and empowering experience of giving birth.
*According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who have a doula are more likely to:
- Give birth vaginally (57% vs. 42%)
- Experience less pain during labor (57% vs. 44%)
- Feel more in control of their labor overall (62% vs. 30%)
A study published in the journal Birth also found that women who had doulas were more likely to:
- Breastfeed successfully at six weeks postpartum
Further Benefits of Having a Doula
Having a doula can be an essential part of the birth experience, and it’s worth considering whether one might suit you. If you are pregnant and want to learn more about this support, contact your local birth center or hospital for more information about hiring a doula!
*Booker, Ashley, and Ashley Booker. “Women’s Health Guidelines Have Changed, Says Hutch OB-GYN.” The Hutchinson News, GateHouse Media, Inc., 13 May 2016, p. n/a.
All student article posts are the expressions of the student who wrote them. We do not take responsibility for the content; these are done as part of the educational experience. We try to encourage students to use their voices and learn to connect with clients through blogging and social media.
To learn more about our educational programs, please visit www.birtharts.com
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