Doulas are a wonderful asset for a pregnant, laboring, and postpartum moms, but their value is often overlooked. A doula is defined as : “A trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.” dona.org
During my first pregnancy and labor I was fortunate enough to work with an amazing doula, who provided me with all of the above and so much more. While a doula is an out of pocket expense, and not covered by most insurance plans [yet], they are, in my opinion, well worth the investment.
Benefits of Hiring a Doula
Evidence Based Birth did an excellent segment on doulas, what they do, and their benefits found in multiple studies. Some of these benefits include:
-decrease in the risk of Cesarean births
-decrease in the use of pain medications for pain relief
-mothers were more satisfied with their birth experience
-decreased anxiety for laboring mothers
-better infant outcomes
What did I learn from my doula experience?
Just hire a doula. And here’s why:
You get 24/7 professional labor support from a familiar face
While in the hospital, your healthcare provider and nurses are not able to be with you and support you through one of the most scared moments that a mother will experience. Even better, you are able to get to know your doula beforehand, so they are a familiar face. During labor, its very helpful to work with professionals that you know you’re comfortable with. Also, since labor is most likely going to be a lengthy adventure, your partner having the ease of knowing there’s an additional support person will come in handy when you are 10, 15, 20+ hours in and they need to use the bathroom or eat a meal. (Speaking from experience!)
They support your partner just as much as they support you
The most common input that I get from moms is that their husband is a wonderful support partner, and they don’t need anyone else. I get it, I went into my birth knowing that my husband was an amazing support, but I also knew that he would need support in trying to support me. My husband would tell you without a doubt that our doula was just as supportive for him in his role as she was for me.
Comfort measures are everything
Doulas are trained in 5011 different comfort measures to help laboring moms cope with contractions and other labor discomforts. They can help show partners which comfort measures to use and the appropriate times to do so. Also, there’s some comfort measures that are most effective when both partner and a doula are participating. Doulas do a wonderful job helping partners just figure all of this out, since they are the experts.
Never underestimate the power of positive emotional support
In my opinion, emotional encouragement is essential for a mom during labor. Doulas get into the birthing world because they really care about helping women during pregnancy and labor, and they are such a great resource for positive emotional encouragement, every step of the way. Trust me, this is gold during labor.
Ok, so how you do you find a doula, anyway?
I tell my prenatal students to use trusty google and search for doulas in your area. You’ll come up with a good amount of results, and you’ll need to sort through them. Start reading their bios, and if any spark your interest, contact them for a meeting to see if they are a good fit for you.
Here’s another resource from one of my favorite bloggers, Wellness Mama, on the benefits of doulas, why to hire one, and questions to ask when you meet them in person.