What is a birth doula?

A doula is defined as:

a trained professional who provides continuous, one-on-one physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother and her partner before, during, and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the most satisfying experience possible.

Benefits of having doula support

Research shows that woman who have the support of a doula are: 1

  • Less likely to have a caesarean birth
  • Less likely to need oxytocin
  • Less likely to use an epidural or pain medication
  • Shorter labours
  • Fewer complications and fewer interventions
  • Greater satisfaction with their birth experience

What does a doula do?

A birth doula: 2

  • Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember for the rest of her life
  • Understands the emotional needs of a woman in labour as well as the physiology of the birth process
  • Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her hopes and dreams for the birth
  • Helps the woman get the information she needs to make fully informed decisions and to know all her options
  • Stays with the woman throughout the labour
  • Frees the partner from trying to remember all the stuff from prenatal class, allowing them to be emotionally present
  • Constantly focuses on the comfort of the mother and her partner, making sure the environment is one in which the mother feels safe and fully informed
  • Supports the labouring mom with breathing, position changes, and comfort measures and/or assists her partner to support her
  • Can suggest a variety of positions that are conducive to effective labouring
  • Eases the transition into the hospital environment, working cooperatively with the hospital staff in getting the woman settled, and continuing the kind of care and rituals that were effective at home

1. Evidence Based Birth, “Evidence on: Doulas.” https://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/
2. Adapted from Birth Ways International, Birth Doula Training Manual.

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