"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use one.” - John H. Kennell, MD
what is a doula?
A doula is a non-medical assistant, trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother and her partner before, during and just after childbirth.
The word doula translates from ancient Greek and means “Woman’s Servant”. Throughout history, women all over the world have been supported during childbirth by other women. A woman going through labor and birth could depend on these other wise women for encouragement, comfort techniques, guidance, emotional support, and advocacy. The role of current doulas is based on this ancient tradition of support and care.
what do doulas do?
Doulas are trained professionals who provide proven comfort measures specific to labor. These measures can include suggestions for changing positions, vocalization, rhythmic movement, guided relaxation with breathing and/or visualization, and tailored massages that relieve pain during labor. A doula is also there for your family. They will help them gather important information before and during labor to keep them informed and prepared.
Two of the most valuable things a doula offers is emotional support and advocacy. Emotional support is provided through verbal encouragement and reassurance, a constant physical presence, and full trust in your power and ability to birth. Additionally, acting as your advocate, a Doula will be your voice when you and your partner are unable to fully fight for your ideal birth. Labor and delivery can be a time of incredible beauty, but also a time of confusion and fear. When you and your partner are unsure about what steps to take to ensure that you are getting the birth that you want, your Doula can speak to the nurses, doctors, and/or midwives with confidence to help you achieve your vision for welcoming your baby into the world.
As your doula, I hold trust, peace, and reassurance as the highest priorities to help you achieve a positive and empowering birth. A laboring woman can be very vulnerable, and her partner can face fear at seeing their loved one in pain. A doula will help to nurture birthing women by treating them with kindness, respect, and dignity, creating a lasting positive impact on the mother, her partner, and the baby.
working with partners
The mother’s partner always plays the most important role in loving and caring for the laboring woman. As a doula, I do not replace that role, and would never seek to. Instead, I will be there to help the partner support the mother as needed and desired. Birth is a very intimate event, and sometimes that means knowing when to step back and give a laboring couple privacy. I will guide your partner in supporting you by modeling specific support measures that work best for a laboring woman.
Some partners may feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable with such a central role, and that is okay as well. Doulas are there to support the partner as well as the mother, so both have a positive and rewarding birth experience. Doulas are caregivers, and that stretched to every person involved int he process.
Many women have a whole birthing team, including friends, mother, sister, grandmother, father, etc. Whoever you want as part of your birth team will be honored and welcomed. We will all work together to ensure that you feel comfortable and well supported through your labor and delivery.
A doula is there to remind you that you are strong, that you are brave, and that you've got this. Your doula will remind you that your body knows exactly what it is doing, and to trust the instincts that have been instilled in you far before pregnancy began.
what the research says
Women supported by doulas tend to have less interventions and shorter labors including:
- 28% reduction in Cesarean rate
- 40% decrease in Pitocin use (labor induction)
- 28% less likely to use epidural or narcotic medication
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal delivery
- 41% less likely to have vacuum or forceps delivery
Six weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas were:
- 33% less likely to be dissatisfied with their births
- Consistently more satisfied with their birth experiences
- More confident with their babies
- More satisfied with their partners
Long-term physiological benefits for mom and baby:
- Improved breastfeeding
- Stronger maternal-infant interaction and bonding
- Increased time spent with baby
- More positive maternal assessments of baby's personality and health, and maternal competence
- Decrease in postpartum depression and anxiety