Frequently Asked Questions ABOUT DOULAS
Why Hire a Doula?
According to DONA International, having a doula at your labor and birth can lead to shorter labors with fewer complications. Doula support reduces the need for labor-inducing drugs such as Pitocin, vacuum extraction, and cesarean births. Mothers who work with a doula have a lower percentage of epidural use, and have more positive feelings about their birth. Research shows parents who receive support:
- feel more secure and cared for
- are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
- have greater success with breastfeeding
- have greater self-confidence
- have less postpartum depression
- have lower incidence of abuse
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What Does a Doula Do?
I am there for emotional and physical support during the time leading up to labor, during the birth, and after. In broad terms, your doctor or midwife is there to focus on the safety of you and your baby, and your doula is there to focus on your comfort. During the prenatal visit, I will ask about your vision of the perfect birth, and learn what you tend to like, including what kind of touch you are comfortable with, which words are calming and which are off-putting, etc. We will discuss specific activities and positions advantageous for the different stages of your labor. And I will combine what I learn specifically about you with my knowledge of laboring women in general to anticipate and react to your needs when the big day arrives.
As your doula, I can:
- Teach you many techniques for pain reduction in advance
- Make suggestions for more comfortable positions while you are in labor
- Apply counter-pressure to the right spots on your back and hips as your baby descends (as well as teach your partner how)
- Carry you through the intensity of contractions with breath awareness emotional support
- Be an extra pair of hands to give your partner a break, get you some water or ice chips, and tend to all the other little things that come up
- Calm you with massage, reassuring words, or cool cloths
What Doesn’t a Doula Do?
- Perform clinical tasks, such as blood pressure, fetal heart checks, or vaginal exams. I am there to provide physical comfort and emotional support.
- Make decisions for you. I will help you get the information necessary to make an informed decision. I will also remind you if there is a departure from your birth preferences.
- Speak to the staff on your behalf. I will discuss your concerns with you and suggest options, but you or your partner will speak directly to the clinical staff about your preferences for the birth.
Will My Partner Feel Left Out?
In my experience, partners feel comforted and reassured by the presence of a trained and certified doula. A doula can never replace a partner’s role, which is to be there to unconditionally love and support his/her partner. I work to keep partners even more involved in the labor and birth of their child by offering ideas of how he/she can help, and intuitively reading what the mom needs and working with the partner to provide those needs for her. Is it fair to expect a partner to learn all of the skills needed to provide support in one of the most difficult and challenging moments of his/her partner’s life, just from taking a birth class? It’s a lot to ask a partner, who is emotionally tied into the birth, to provide all of the physical and emotional needs of the laboring mother as well as understand which choices to make throughout the labor to keep things progressing and keep the mom as comfortable as possible.
Do I Need a Doula If I Really Love My Midwife/Doctor?
This description of the role of the doula in reference to the rest of the medical team is fromthe DONA, International position paper on birth doulas:
Each person involved in the care of the laboring woman contributes to her emotional well-being. However, doctors, nurses and midwives are primarily responsible for the health and well-being of the mother and baby. Medical care providers must assess the condition of the mother and fetus, diagnose and treat complications as they arise, and focus on a safe delivery of the baby. These priorities rightly take precedence over the non-medical psychosocial needs of laboring women. The doula helps ensure that these non-medical needs are met
while enhancing communication and understanding between the woman or couple and the staff. Many doctors, midwives and nurses appreciate the extra attention given to their patients and the greater satisfaction expressed by women who were assisted by a doula.