While dads are encouraged to stay in the delivery room when a baby is born, there is often another support person invited as well — a doula.
A doula is a childbirth coach whose job is to provide support, encouragement and advocacy for the mother during labor and birth. The goal of a doula is that a mother feels safe, comfortable and confident during her experience. Here’s why doulas rock and why you should consider one if you’re expecting a baby.
One of the primary reasons moms use a doula is because with their support and presence, moms often find less of a need for drug-based pain relief during labor and fewer medical interventions. The presence of a doula can reduce the chance of a C-section by 50 percent, the length of labor by 25 percent and the request for an epidural by 60 percent. “Doulas help to make labor more comfortable,” said Kayte, who used a doula during her fourth birth. “They know what is going on and can offer advice and physical support.”
Jennifer, a mom from Missouri, felt the same. “My doula was my physical relief during back labor contractions, and I fear I'd have turned to drugs had she not been there,” she remembered.
Having a good birth doula can mean the world for a laboring woman. Doulas can create a safe haven for Mom and can be a gatekeeper if needed, which can help her focus.
“Having Teri in the room, knowing that she was knowledgeable about childbirth, was instantly calming for me,” shared Kelly, mother of two.
“As wonderful as my husband is, when it comes to labor and delivery, he is pretty clueless. My doula knows when I needed hip squeezes, when I need aromatherapy, when I need acupressure. Aside from all that she is [an] expert in, she is also just an amazingly calming and caring presence. She is an invaluable asset.”
Another vital service a doula provides is that her presence helps out the baby’s dad while she’s helping comfort Mom. Even with childbirth classes, sometimes your partner can feel out of place and overwhelmed during birth, so if a doula is present, he can concentrate on being in the moment. A doula can enhance and complement his labor coaching, or take over if he needs a break.
Ask friends and family members for recommendations and have an interview (or two) with prospective doulas to find one that is a match for you.
Most doulas have gone through training and assisted other doulas at births and that will often shine through when you speak with her. Jessica, expecting her second child, didn’t have a good experience with her doula during her first birth. “She just wasn't the presence I was hoping for, and I didn't have the energy to express it during labor, so I just sucked it up and ignored her,” she told us.
Moms who click with their doula often have an excellent experience that is priceless in their eyes. “I don't think the importance of this type of support can be overstated,” shared Jennifer. “The change in how I felt about myself and women in general was hugely impacted by having the type of birth I had. I'm hoping to pay it forward soon.“
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