A Doula (pronounced Doo-la) is a term from the Greek language meaning a "woman who serves." They support mothers and their families through the emotional and physical challenges and joys of childbearing. Doulas provide non-medical support and they are the only care providers whose responsibility is to support a laboring woman exclusively and continuously. Studies show that doctors are present only 5% of the time, and nurses only 20-25% of the time, however, labor assistants or birth Doulas provide constant care throughout a woman's entire birth experience.
The experienced, loving support of sisters, mothers, aunts, and friends has diminished as births have moved into the hospital, and under the medical practice of OB/GYNs. Most women do not share or participate in a birth until they experience their own. This is where Doulas come in. Doulas understand the complexities of birth, work to ease the fears and anxieties of the unknown, and can instill confidence and trust in a woman and her body. Doulas work with the mother and her partner by providing useful comfort techniques for the mother that incorporate the help of the partner. Doulas also help facilitate communication with the labor care team.
Randomized controlled trials demonstrate that the presence of a Doula is also associated with:
- Reduced cesarean rates
- Fewer forceps/vacuum deliveries
- Less requests for epidurals
- Shorter labor
- Reduced use of Pitocin/Oxytocin
- Lower rates of newborn complications
- Increased success with breastfeeding
- Reduction in postpartum depression
- Increased maternal satisfaction
- Positioning for mother’s comfort and to relieve/avoid back labor
- Birth ball
- Hot and cold compresses
- Guided imagery/visualizations
- Perform clinical tasks, such as blood pressure, fetal heart checks, vaginal exams.
- Make decisions for the mother.
- Speak on behalf of the mother to the medical staff or primary care providers regarding decision matters.
My certification process has just begun, but I am looking forward to working through it.