What is a Doula? The Birth & Postnatal Doula
So, what is a doula? A doula, also known as a birth attendant, is a trained birth companion that supports you and your partner. Her role is to give you emotional, physical and knowledgeable support throughout labor, birth and the postnatal period. Her aim is to encourage and guide you through all your questions, fears and physical discomforts, so you can feel relaxed, focused and confident about giving birth.
What Are The Benefits of Having A Doula?
Here are 7 great benefits of having a doula:
1. A Doula Helps With Preparation, Planning and Making Informed Choices
As you explore your birth preferences and options, a Doula offers evidence-based information regarding the current maternity care options available to women in this state of Victoria. This can help to determine where you feel safest and most comfortable giving birth. She will help you develop your birth plan and during labor she will help you and your partner make informed choices, should the unexpected arise.
2. Empowering You With Strength and Confidence
At the heart of the Doula’s role, is the strengthening of your connection with the wonders of your own body and your innate connection with your baby’s needs. Understanding and connecting to your own strength will help you trust in your own natural abilities as a woman and as a mother. Feeling less fearful, you are more likely to have a positive birth experience.
3. Ensuring You Are Heard and Your Wishes Respected
Your doula wants to ensure you are fully informed with regards to all decisions that you make concerning your labour and postnatal period. She can explain how best to communicate with your midwives or doctor during labour and facilitate communication between all parties. She will remind you of your goals in order to help you achieve the birth experience you have envisioned for yourself.
4. A Doula Helps You With Comfort Techniques and Advice
The warm relationship that develops through the prenatal period, will allow your Doula to learn what makes you feel relaxed, comfortable and safe. She can then help you intuitively during labor, offering massage, aromatherapy, relaxation cues, breathing techniques, suggesting labor positions and whatever you need to help you and your partner.
5. Taking Pressure Off Your Partner
A doula is a wonderful complement to your birthing team as she provides reassurance and knowledge that allows the partner to feel comfortable in their role. Doulas alleviate the pressure of a partner feeling like they should understand all aspects of birth. She also provides a welcomed extra pair of hands and guidance to help with whatever practicalities are required at the time.
6. A Non-Clinical Continuous Care Provider
Doulas work within the full range of birthing environments and are accustomed to working alongside medical and midwifery staff at hospitals, birth centers, and at home births. Wherever you choose to birth your baby, your Doula will steer you and your partner through the process, with physical and emotional support at all times.
7. Ensuring a Calm and Peaceful Birth Environment
Your Doula will make every effort to ensure that you welcome your baby into a peaceful environment. She will stay with you until after your baby is born, maintaining a safe and undisturbed space for you to bond, assisting you as you first breastfeed, helping you with physical comfort measures and ensuring you are settled and comfortable before she leaves.
During your first week back at home when rest and recuperation are essential to your wellbeing and bonding experience, your Doula will visit to offer emotional, physical and informational support. This might include advice for breastfeeding, sleep, or general baby care. She will invite you to debrief, be heard and gain closure to this epic experience. Postnatal Doula support can be an ongoing service for mothers that are finding it difficult transitioning into parenting. This can range from one session a week to multiple sessions a week for as long as you need extra support.
Women who have trained Doulas on their pregnancy journey often report a positive birth experience
And whilst they cannot guarantee a perfect birth, research shows that women are less likely to require interventions and more likely to achieve positive outcomes with Doula assistance.
Studies and further reviews of the studies have found:
Mothers who hire Doulas are:
- More likely to have easier, faster labors (on average 25% shorter)
- Less likely to need interventions
- 50% less likely to need caesarean section
- 40% less likely to need forceps delivery
- 60% less likely to ask for an epidural
- More likely to be breastfeeding at 6 weeks post-partum (51% vs 29%)
- Less likely to suffer from postnatal depression
These benefits and outcomes are recognised by the World Health Organisation.