If you’ve talked with any pregnant women lately, you’re bound to hear the word, doula. Celebrities like January Jones and Alicia Keys rave about theirs and made sure they were included in their celebrity birth plan. It makes you want to question those many women singing their birth team’s praises, why have a doula?
“Doula” is an ancient Greek word meaning “a woman who serves.” In your case, that means a woman who serves you – before, during, and after your birth. (OK, caveat here: there is the rare man who works as a doula.)
There are two types:
A birth doula has taken many hours of training in pregnancy, prenatal care and education, labor and birth, and postpartum expectations. She is an expert in emotional support and physical comfort. She often teaches prenatal classes, can help with lactation suggestions, and usually meets with you a couple of times before your birth. She’s the one who’s going to hang out with you through all those laboring hours, hold you, and remind you to take a drink of water after contractions. She can be invaluable in helping your partner find their place in your labor, or disappear into the background to give you quiet support when you two are in your flow. She’s the one you want to include in your birth plan.
A postpartum doula is trained to assist you and your family to bond, settle in at home, and begin your new life together. She helps with breastfeeding, maternal discomfort, and to bridge the mommy-attention-gap that may suddenly make your adorable three year old into a whining, mischievous mess. She makes some meals and does light household chores. And she’s a non-judgmental well of evidence-based knowledge to help answer questions.
MANY PEOPLE ASK, “ISN’T THE MIDWIFE/NURSE ENOUGH SUPPORT?”
Keep in mind that both the nurse and midwife have your medical health and safety as their priority. They need to be free and well-rested to take care of this. A doula can be there for you and your family during the long hours that don’t require medical attention.
Studies show there are many proven reasons to write your doula into your birth plan. Women with doulas:
- had shorter labors
- used less pain meds
- were four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby
- had fewer cesarean sections
- were two times less likely to have birth complications themselves, or with baby
- had higher rates of successful breastfeeding through the first six weeks
- had higher pre-birth and post-birth self esteem
And women who used postpartum doulas had better success integrating baby into the family and home.
Giving birth in the hospital offers the security of technology, in case you need it. But the clinical environment also contributes to a sense of helplessness and intimidation.
To make sure your care provider knows you want your doula with you, make sure they have your birth plan that lists her name. Bring a copy with you in your hospital bag.
With your doula included in your birth plan, she can be with you as labor begins at home and stay with you in the hospital, till babe is in your arms.
To learn more about having a doula, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: August 31, 2015 | Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert, Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM, L.Ac., Midwife | Last reviewed: August, 2015