A doula trusts the process of birth and a woman’s intuition to birth her baby.
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
A doula is an important figure, because she is your advocate. She can help hold the sacred space, and tend to the flame of your commitment when it flickers. ~Gurmukh
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth
• Tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
• Reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
• Reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
• Reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals
Birth doulas are re-creating the woman-to-woman network of the past. Having another woman present to provide reassurance and encouragement has been seen throughout history. Unfortunately, as birth has been taken out of our communities, the experienced loving support of sisters, mothers, aunts, and friends has also diminished. Most women do not share or participate in a birth until they experience their own. This is where a birth doula can be helpful. We understand the emotional and physical complexities of birth, we help to ease fears and anxieties and build confidence and trust in you and your body. We assist to increase the intimacy of the experience for a mother and her partner by managing the fears of both parents and providing useful comfort techniques for the mother that the partner may use, as well. We also help facilitate communication with your maternity care team.
~Adapted from Birth Day Presence
Doulas use a wide variety of tools for pain-management and to help you feel more safe and comfortable, including:
• Positioning for mother’s comfort and to relieve/avoid back labor
• Birth ball
• Hot and cold compresses
• Guided imagery/visualizations
I can share ideas about natural methods of starting labor, speeding a stalled labor, and managing back labor, as well. I also help you to fully understand any complications or interventions that may arise.
Doulas have also been referred to as birth fairies, personal assistants and clever hippies. I prefer to be a birth fairy myself!