What Is A Doula

As your Doula, I am here to answer any questions you may have, support you emotionally and physically with different comfort techniques and labor positions, assist your birth partner with ways to support you, and I am here to listen and encourage you so that you can have a beautiful and amazing birth experience.  
I will not perform medical procedures, make decisions for you, deliver the baby, give medical advice, take the place of the birth partner, or push my own beliefs or wants on you.    

Benefits of having a Doula:

Decreased medical intervention in labor*:
Reduces the length of labor by 25%
Reduces use of pain medication by 28%
Reduces need for cesarean by 26%
Reduces the need for forceps or vacuum extractor by 41%
Reduces dissatisfaction with birth by 33%

6 weeks after birth, mothers who had Doulas were:
Less anxious and depressed
Increases the chance of successful breastfeeding

Have more confidence with their baby

What is a doula?

A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical and informational support to the woman who is expecting, in labor or has recently given birth. The doula's role is to help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience.

Most often the word doula is referring to the birth doula, or labor support companion, but there is also the antepartum doula and the postpartum doula. In the following information, the word doula will be referring to the labor doula. Doulas can also be called labor companions, labor support specialist, labor support professional, birth assistants or labor assistants.

What does a doula do?

Most doula and client relationships begin a few months before the baby is due. During this time, they establish a relationship that gives the mother complete freedom to ask questions, express fears and concerns, and take an active role in creating a birth plan. Most doulas make themselves available to the mother by phone to answer questions or explain any developments that may arise in pregnancy. Doulas do not provide any type of medical care. However, they are knowledgeable in the medical aspect of labor and delivery so they can help their clients get a better understanding of procedures and complications that may arise in late pregnancy or during delivery.

During delivery, doulas are in constant, close proximity to the mother at all times. They can provide comfort with pain relief techniques, such as breathing, relaxing, massage and laboring positions. Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance. A doula acts as an advocate for the mother, encouraging her in her desires for her birth. The goal of a doula is to help the mother have a positive and safe birth experience, whether the mother wants an un-medicated birth or is having a planned cesarean birth.
After the birth, many labor doulas will spend a short time helping mothers begin the breastfeeding process and encouraging bonding between the new baby and family members.

What about the father's role when using a doula?

The role of the doula is never to take the place of the husband or partner in labor, but to compliment and enhance their experience. Today, many husbands are taking a more active role in the birth process, but some partners feel that this is a huge expectation and would rather be able to enjoy the delivery without having to stand in as labor coach. With a doula as a part of the birth team, a father can do whatever he feels comfortable with at each moment. Doulas can encourage the father to use comfort measures and can step in when he needs a break. Having a doula allows the father to be able to support his partner emotionally during labor and birth and also enjoy it himself without the pressure to remember everything he learned in childbirth class!

Are doulas only useful if planning an un-medicated birth?

The presence of a doula can be beneficial no matter what type of birth you are planning. Many women do report needing fewer interventions when they have a doula, but the role of the doula is to help you have a safe and pleasant birth, not to choose your type of birth. For women who know they want a medicated birth, the doula still provides emotional support, informational support and comfort measures to help the women through labor and the administration of medications. Doulas can work alongside medication by helping mom deal with possible side effects and filling in the gap that medication may not cover; rarely does medication take all discomfort away.

For a mother who faces a cesarean, a doula can be helpful by providing constant support and encouragement. Often a cesarean is an unexpected situation and moms are left feeling unprepared, disappointed and lonely. A doula can be with the mother at all times throughout a cesarean, explaining what is going on throughout the procedure while the partner is able to attend to the baby and accompany the newborn to the nursery if problems arise.

(excerpt from The American Pregnancy Association)