What is a Birth Doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
As a doula, I understand the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labour. I will provide emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, and I will also help the mother obtain the information she needs to make informed decisions.
Benefits of a Doula
26% less likely to give birth by caesarean section
41% less likely to give birth with use of vacuum or forceps
28% less likely to use any analgesia or anesthesia
33% less likely to be dissatisfied with or negatively rate their birth experience
Source: Maternity Centre Association, NY September 2003
What does a Doula Do?
The doula provides continuous labour support, not only to mom but also to her partner and family during this very important yet vulnerable birth process. Most doulas offer prenatal support, support during labour, and postnatal support. My services include two prenatal appointments after an initial consultation, as well as two postnatal appointments.
- Recognizes childbirth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labour
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for the birth
- Stays with the woman throughout the labour
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience
- Allows the woman’s partner to participate at their comfort level
Why do I need extra support during labour?
A trained labour support companion has been shown to have a positive outcome and effect on all aspects of childbirth. Shorter labours, fewer interventions and a more positive birth experience (as reported by the mother) are just a few of the ways a support person can help. A trained labour support companion has been shown to have a positive outcome and effect on all aspects of childbirth.
My husband plans to be my support during labour; will a doula take away his role?
A doula’s role is to be the advocate for the expectant mom and her partner. She is very sensitive to the needs of both partners and can be a tremendous help to the father; removing some of the pressure he feels and allowing him to be more present for the mom.
Can I use a doula if I am planning to give birth in a hospital, or only at home?
A doula will support you in which ever setting you choose. It is important for the expectant mother to feel safe and comfortable wherever she labours.
If I have a doula can I still have drugs?
A doula will never judge your decisions regarding pain medication during labour. I will go over your feelings and plans for use of medications during our prenatal visits.
A doula never comes between you and your care-giver, who has the expertise to administer and advise you on medications.
What happens if I have a caesarean?
A doula will still help you labour if you choose to do so before the caesarean, and will also be with you during the preparation stages. I will be there for you and your family in the recovery room, and post birth as well. At VGH, only one companion is allowed in the surgery room.