Posted: May 21, 2012 2:00 PM
 
Ditch the diamonds! Doulas are a girl’s best friend. Did you know that women who use doulas experience shorter labors, less discomfort, healthier babies and more overall satisfaction during childbirth? Discover how to empower your birth experience with the support of a birth doula.

What is a doula?

Planning your baby’s birth is an awe-inspiring task. From epidurals to natural childbirth techniques, it can feel like the possibilities are endless. A birth doula is a trained childbirth professional who can help you sort through the medical jargon and design a birth plan that is personally fitted to your needs. During labor and childbirth, she will be at your side to provide loving, hands-on physical and emotional support. She will also help you to adhere to your birth plan by advocating for your choices with medical staff.

Birth is a rite of passage

Giving birth is a significant rite of passage. It is a powerful moment of transformation in our initiation to motherhood. Throughout history, women have labored with the continuous support of other women, learning on each other and taking advantage of collective wisdom. In modern times, as birth has been taken out of the home and become increasingly medicalized, women have lost the power of assisted childbirth. Doulas help modern mothers to reclaim the primal beauty of their birth and enhance their experience with the emotional and physical benefits of continual labor support.

Medical benefits of doula-assisted birth

In fact, clinical studies show that having a birth doula dramatically enhances the birth experience and provides impressive health benefits for moms and babies including:

  • Reduced labor time and fewer birth complications
  • Reduced caesarean rates
  • Reduced use of Pitocin and epidural
  • Reduced use of vacuum and forceps
  • Reduced need for pain medication
  • Improved relationship between mothers and birth partners
  • Improved health and better Apgar scores for newborns
  • Increased satisfaction with birth experience

But isn’t my partner enough?

If you have a motivated and very supportive partner, you might wonder, “Do I really need a doula, too?” The answer is an unequivocal yes! While a loving, involved spouse will be a real benefit during labor and delivery, he or she simply cannot take the place of an experienced doula.

Doulas are professionals, trained to provide continuous support for the entire duration of your labor and delivery. When your partner becomes exhausted after 27 hours of labor and needs to step out or take a quick nap, your doula will stay by your side. She will confidently guide you through the many different stages labor with the wisdom and knowledge from her training and numerous birth experiences. Doulas know when to encourage birthing moms to walk around, rest, relax and enjoy a massage, take a nutrition break or empty their bladders. She understands the physiology of birth and can help you to find comfortable positions when labor gets intense and facilitate your communication with the medical team throughout the birth process. Not only will she not disrupt your partner’s ability to nurture you, she will actively encourage your intimate closeness and help your partner discover useful ways to assist at his or her comfort level.

How to find a birth doula near you

Want to know how to find a birth doula in your local area? Just hop on over to DONA and you can locate a certified doula anywhere on the globe. You can also read more evidence-based research about the benefits of doulas and talk to other moms, doulas and birth professionals on the discussion board.

More about birth plans

How to prepare in case your home birth plan fails
The truth about birth plans
The pros and cons of creating a birth plan

Topics: doula

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Ami Burns May 22, 2012
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Christina - agreed! My hubby & I didn't hire a doula with baby #1, then after the birth I became a doula and we had 2 with baby #2!
Christina Holt May 21, 2012
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We (yes, WE) had the most amazing birth experience with our third child thanks to our doula. She supported my husband, my mom, my doctor, my nurse AND me. It was amazing to have another set of hands, eyes and a calm face (because my mom and husband were anything but calm ;)