What is a DOULA?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves”. Today, a doula provides continuous emotional, informational and physical support before, during and just after birth. We are there for you on a non-medical level to provide encouragement, information and a variety of comfort measures to help you throughout your birthing process. Our ultimate goal is to see a woman and her family have a positive, safe and empowering birth experience!
Why use a DOULA?
In addition to medical care and the love and companionship by your partner, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect during their birth experience. With a doula you get individualized care and support towards the birth you want! Doulas often use the power of touch and massage to reduce stress and anxiety during labor. According to physicians Marshal Klaus and John Kennell, massage helps stimulate the production of natural oxytocin. The pituitary gland secretes natural oxytocin to the bloodstream which causes uterine contractions and also secretes it to the brain, which results in a feeling of well being, drowsiness and a raised pain threshold. Synthetic IV oxytocin cannot cross into the blood stream and brain, so it increases contractions without the positive psychological effects of natural oxytocin. Numerous clinical studies have found that a doulas presence at birth tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications, less interventions, a greater success with breast-feeding and an overall feeling of a more positive birth! For more research sources, click here.
What about Dad?
As a birth doula, we do NOT replace the role of your partner through the birth process. Our goal is to encourage the woman’s partner to get involved as much as he is comfortable with! We can help him in using comfort measure techniques on mom to help her through labor. We can also be there as informational support. Having a doula there allows the father to be able to support mom emotionally during labor and birth, but also allows dad to enjoy the process himself without the pressure of having to remember everything he learned in childbirth class.
Does a DOULA replace nursing staff?
No. Doulas do not replace nurses or other medical staff. We do not perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking blood pressure or temperature, monitoring fetal heart rate, doing vaginal examinations or providing postpartum clinical care. We are there to comfort and support the mother and her partner and to enhance communication between the mother and medical professionals. We are very blessed to have a number of wonderful nurses in the area who recognize the value in having a doula there to support you in your birth experience!
What to expect from a DOULA during birth...
As soon as you feel our support is needed, we will join you. Sometimes this begins at home, before going to a hospital (that is, if you choose to have a hospital birth). We will stay with you throughout labor and birth and up to an hour or two after the birth. During active labor we are trained in specific comfort measure techniques to help with the physical aspect of labor. We will also encourage participation from your partner (depending on his/her comfort level) and offer reassurance. If questions arise, we do our best to provide informational support to you and your partner. We will act as an advocate for the mother, encouraging her in her desires for her birth. Our ultimate goal is to help the mother have a positive and safe birth experience – whether she wants a natural, medicated or is having a planned cesarean birth.
Do DOULAs only attend natural births?
No. The presence of a doula can be beneficial no matter what type of birth experience you desire. Our role as a doula is to help a mother have a safe and pleasant birth, not decide the type of birth she should have. Some women know they want a medicated birth. For these women we can still provide encouragement, informational support and comfort measures throughout the labor and administrations of medications. Even if a cesarean is necessary, the role of a doula is invaluable. We’ve attended all types of birth experiences, each one unique in their own situation. We do not judge – we encourage, inform and support.
What if a cesarean is needed?
We will be there with you regardless of what comes up during labor. For a mother who faces a cesarean, a doula can be extremely helpful by providing constant support and encouragement. Often times a c-section is an unexpected situation and mothers are left feeling disappointed, unprepared and alone. Some hospitals allow a doula to join you and your partner in the operating room, some do not. If hospital policy allows, we absolutely will be there. A doula can explain what is going on throughout the procedure while your partner is able to attend to the baby and accompany the newborn while the surgery is finished up .