Are you beginning to think about the intense experience that will be your labor and delivery? Whether you are trying to get pregnant, just discovered that you’re pregnant, or are very pregnant, you should start thinking about whether you want to hire a doula.
If you haven’t heard of the term “doula” before? You aren’t alone. Doulas are growing vastly more popular in the United States, but even ten years ago only 3% of women said they used a doula during the birth of their baby (Declerq et al., 2007).
The term “doula” originates from the Greek language and it means “woman servant.” A doula’s exclusive existence is to serve a laboring woman as she works hard to bring her baby into this world. Doulas are present for emotional and physical support, while your doctor or midwife is available for only medical purposes.
Before we dive into the top 8 reasons to hire a doula, let’s briefly discuss her role. First and foremost, you will never meet a doula who doesn’t love her line of work. Doulas pursue their passion for pregnancy, babies, and birth in this specific and special industry. Doulas almost always see labor and delivery as the most precious and intense part of life and their sole role is to serve and support the laboring mother as well as her birth team before, during, and after delivery.
Check out the top 8 reasons to hire a doula when planning the event of bringing your baby or babies into this world:
1. Continual emotional & physical support. Doulas are continuously present during your labor and delivery, as well as at least one hour post-delivery. Your doctor or midwife has very specific medical tasks to perform and is often in and out of the room for various reasons; this is a part of their job. One of the very important aspects of your doula’s job is to remain by your side, emotionally and physically empowering you.
2. Educational support and information prior to labor and delivery. Doulas assist you in making your birth plan/wish list with all of the necessary information; they explain integral parts of the experience to you and your birth partner, step by step. Even if you have taken a child birth class, you may not receive the in depth information that doulas share. They thrive on helping you understand exactly what your body is doing, what is natural, what is not, and what your options are.
3. Offer knowledge and experience during labor and delivery. Dads can greatly benefit from this while serving mom during the most intense moments of her life; often times dads panic or become anxiety-stricken while they watch their loved one in pain work through each contraction. Doulas bring invaluable knowledge and experience to the table, offering to show dad how he can serve his wife as well as explaining to him that she is doing a great job!
4. Pain management and comfort-inducing. If there were only two things doulas are famous for, this is one of them (#8 is the other one). Doulas have a vast knowledge of how to manage pain and how to induce comfort for a laboring woman. They are trained for this and access the knowledge as naturally as a first language! Pressure point massage, counter-pressure massage, rebozo techniques, essential oils, water comfort, noise regulation, heat, ice, constant present support, photography, and monitoring family introductions and visitors, are just some of the countless ways doulas ease pain and induce comfort.
5. Your doula will be at your birth no matter what, no matter where, and no matter when. Unlike a doctor who is restricted to solely his or her hospital of practice and will only be at your birth if he is the “on call” doctor that day, your doula will be at your birth no matter what. Doulas can support you at home, in a birthing center, at the hospital, etc. It is typical for a doula to be “on call” the 2 weeks before your due date as well as the 2 weeks after, meaning they plan everything around being available to attend your birth within an hour of your call. Doulas commit to not drinking alcohol, not traveling a certain distance away from home, not making appointments that are impossible to reschedule, and keeping their phones on high at all times of the night and day. Your doula will be at your birth: it is a duty she does not take lightly.
6. Can snag the camera and capture moments in photos of you and your growing family. This is a growing trend, but has not been popular for very long and is still often forgotten. A doula knows what is precious and what moments need to be captured. She will pick up one of your phones, a camera, or bring her own to ensure that the sweetest and most monumental moments are captured. You can decide later what to do with the photos.
7. Women with doulas are less likely to request pain medications. If you are planning an all natural birth, you need a doula by your side. Found in countless research studies, we are sharing the statistics from Evidence Based Birth:
When continuous labor support was provided by a doula, women experienced a:
>31% decrease in the use of Pitocin*
>28% decrease in the risk of C-section*
>12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth*
>9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
>14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
>34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience*
8. Ongoing reassurance, encouragement, and comfort. This is possibly the doula’s strongest tool of her trade: knowing what to say, how to say it, and empowering a laboring woman. Doulas know the words needed to encourage a laboring mother to get through one more contraction, and then one more. They know how to support and serve her in ways an unskilled birth coach does not. A doula’s ongoing reassurance and encouragement brings more comfort to a laboring woman than anything, and if for no other reason, this is why you should hire a doula.
To find a DONA Certified Doula near you, click here.