Provider Member, N.E.W. Birth Options PMA
What a Doula IS…
The term doula is Greek for “woman who serves”, and is used to refer to a trained professional that provides constant care and support for a mother-to-be. A doula goes beyond the role of friends and family in that their professional studies bring extended informational support to parents, helping to advocate for their wishes during labor. A doula's understanding of the natural birth process allows them to provide effective natural comfort techniques and dedicated support before, during and after the birth. A doula's goal is to help mothers have a safe, memorable and empowering birth experience.
What a Doula is NOT…
A doula is not a doctor, a nurse or a midwife. A doula does not provide clinical care such as examinations and checking your baby's heart tones. She does not order tests, draw blood, or provide medical treatment. Although doulas do provide you with information and knowledge about procedures and let you know what your options are during labor and birth, they do not make decisions for you or speak for you. Doulas understand that the responsibility of choices belongs to the parents. This is your birth and your baby and only you can decide what is best for you.
DONA has provided the following as the key components of a Birth Doula:
A Birth Doula...
- Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- Stays with the woman throughout the labor
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decision
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
- Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level
Why and when would I need a doula?
Understanding the complete role of a doula is important in determining if a doula is right for you. Take a look at the following FAQ Page to understand more about a doula’s role at a birth.
Statistical benefits of a Doula
Clinical studies and additional research have shown that the presence of a doula…
Benefits to the parents who chose to have a doula present include…
- Results in shorter labors
- Lessens complications
- Reduces pitocin use (a labor-inducing drug)
- Reduces mother's request for pain medication
- Reduces requests for epidurals
- Reduces interventions such as forceps and vacuum extraction
- Decreases the need for cesareans
According to Mothering the Mother, How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth, by Kennell, Klaus, and Kennell (1993), having a doula can give you a:
- Increase in positive feelings about their birth experience
- Mothers feel they are more cared for
- Mothers have greater success with breastfeeding
- Bond easier with their babies
- Babies tend to be healthier overall
- Parents have greater self-confidence
- Have parenting confidence and adapt easier to their new family life
- Mothers experience less postpartum depression
- 50% reduction in cesarean rates
- 25% shorter labor
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in Pitocin use
- 30% reduction in analgesia use
- 40% reduction in forceps delivery
These statistics are amazing when you consider the following about the United States…
1 in every 3 hospital births end up in a c-section (Source)
More than 60% of mothers who birth in a hospital choose an epidural (Source)
Only about 3% of labors may indicate a need for Pitocin, but the rate of use is as high as 60%, and other studies indicate even higher rates of use. (Source)
How do I find the right doula for me?
Choosing just the right person to attend your birth can be overwhelming. It is best to spend time talking with your potential doula. Learn about their education and experience, and connect with them on a personal level. Make sure your birth partner has met and feels comfortable around your doula. It is best to put together a list of questions for her to make sure she will provide for you the care and approach you are looking for. Be careful of anyone who will not be completely honest with you about things or who gives you an uneasy feeling. Any unresolved tension can inhibit your birth. Your doula should be organized, on time, responsive to calls or emails and should schedule a minimum of two prenatal appointments where she can help educate you about your birthing options and discuss the desires that you want for your birth.
How much does a doula cost?
The price of a good doula will vary, but don't think that choosing someone because you can save money will be beneficial in the grand scheme of things. In fact, more often than not, being willing to spend more will be well worth every penny.
A doula will charge what she thinks she is worth. A doula who charges only a couple of hundred dollars will probably not view herself as valuable, and thus will prove that in the services that she provides. On the other hand, a doula who values her skills will be devoted to her work. She may cost a bit more but will likely provide the very best care before, during and after your birth. On another note, feel free to discuss with your potential doula your financial situation. A caring doula will see her job as a calling to care for others, not just a job. Although it may not be possible to receive a discount from her, she will openly discuss the reasons for her rates and practices.
|But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.|
- Isaiah 43:1