You may have heard of a doula or know someone who has used a doula before, but may not know what they do or what their role is in a woman’s birth. A doula is a trained and certified professional who provides support to a birthing mother physically, emotionally and informationally throughout birth. Their goal is to help achieve a mother’s goals for birth and support her through any trials or challenges that may arise. A doula is not medically trained and does not perform any medical procedures. Doulas support moms and their chosen birth team. Doulas provide support in hospital births, birth center births and homebirths.
How do doulas benefit birth outcomes?
Doctors, OBGYN’s, nurses, and midwives are responsible and concerned primarily with the health and well-being of mother and baby. A doula’s role is focused on supporting the mother physically and emotionally through her birth experience. A doula will help to support the mother’s desired birth plan and offer evidence-based information, options, and advocate for the mother, according to her wishes, during her birth. They also support the partner’s role in the birth.
Specifically, doulas offer hands-on support through proven techniques for comfort, pain management, and labor progression. These are things like breathing techniques, movement, positions, relaxation techniques, and hands-on techniques. Doulas will continually provide emotional support to the birthing mother and her partner throughout the birth process. Birth can come with a range of emotions and doulas are trained to not only expect, but support and guide, a mother through her experience.
Research shows doula care can help:
- decrease cesarean section rate
- reduce use of pain medication
- reduce the need for Pitocin
- decrease the need for use of forceps & vacuum extraction
- have women more positively rate their birth experience
- better APGAR scores for baby
Thinking about hiring a doula? Find more information and a doula database at Doula Training and Doula Certification – DONA International.