Posted by: babybumper | October 1, 2010

Doula What?! Labor Support leads to Great Births

Precious Jewel by Nina Matthews Photography

One of the greatest moments of my life was serving as a doula 8 months ago at the birth of my Goddaughter.

A doula (“Doo-la”) is one of the least utilized, best researched “interventions” during labor and childbirth. A doula is like a personal guide, assisting you through the amazing process of giving birth. A doula is a labor coach, an expert in labor and delivery who stays with a woman to support: physically, emotionally, and mentally. As a specialist in birth, she has seen the natural process multiple times, and so can provide reassurance, advice on comfort measures, and information about the progress of labor. Doulas are not trained to perform medical tasks, but freely focus on the overall experience of the whole family. The husband is usually the closest person to the mom, and the main emotional support for her, but most husbands are not labor experts and cannot provide the same level of reassurance and information. Men are also supported by the presence of an experienced doula. Husbands and doulas perform different roles.

Woman-to-Woman Support

Woman-to-woman care has been standard in most cultures throughout most time periods. Most recently, the benefits of doula-care has been under the scrutiny of research since the 1970s, where doulas were seen to improve bonding between mama and baby, and also decrease complications of childbirth.

A large research evaluation on doulas was performed based on multiple studies. Compared to women without a doula, women supported by a doula are:

  • 26% less likely to give birth by cesarean surgery
  • 41% less likely to give birth with a vacuum extractor or forceps
  • 28% less likely to use any analgesia or anesthesia
  • 33% less likely to be dissatisfied or negatively rate their birth experience

Other studies have shown additional benefits:

  • Reduced length of labor
  • More natural delivery (More vaginal deliveries, less epidurals, less episiotomies and perineal tears)
  • Reduced oxytocin use
  • Reduced incidence of maternal fever
  • Reduced # days newborns spend in NICU
  • Reduced risk of sepsis in newborn
  • Higher rate of breastfeeding
  • More maternal confidence
  • Moms feel healthier about selves and babies
  • Less postpartum depression

Glowing Mama by Mike Porcenaluk

I highly recommend hiring a doula for your labor and delivery. Having an Expert Comforter, Skilled Reassurance, and Evidence-based Information at your side during one of the most tremendous and terrifying experiences in your life will help you sail through with exhilaration.

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