Why Get a Doula?
Doulas do a lot behind the scenes to help make sure your birth goes great. But many people aren’t sure what they do, or how they could benefit from one. In this article, I will go over how Doulas help their clients, and the statistical benefits of having one.
1. Support for partners
Many partners think a Doula will replace them in the birthing room, but it’s quite the opposite!
One of my favourite aspects about being a doula that people often don’t think about is the comfort and support I can offer a partner during a birth. During a birth, partners are often nervous or afraid- it’s hard seeing your loved one in pain and not being sure what you can do to help. Doulas are educated on how to help during labour, and can show you what will help your partner. They can assist and encourage partners by showing them where to massage, how to hold, etc. This empowers them to be an active part of their baby’s birth.
2.Support for the birthing person
Mothers are more likely to feel positive about their birth experience when a doula is present. Doulas have been trained and educated in labouring positions, effects (positive and negative) of pain medication and medical interventions during birth, pain gate theory, relaxation methods, and more. They have all of this in their tool belt so that they can help you through your pregnancy and labour. When you have questions, they can answer them or send you accurate and evidence based resources to help. When you aren’t coping well in labour, they have suggestions and methods to help. They offer constant reassurance, encouragement, and praise.
Many Doulas also teach childbirth education classes, or know enough about birth to teach you the specific things you may be wondering about. I personally go over the learning outcomes from my prenatal classes at one of our prenatal meetings, and if there is anything my clients feel they don’t understand, we go over those topics specifically. Doulas are available through text, email, or phone calls throughout your pregnancy and are usually on call (meaning their phone is on loud for you) 24/7 from 38 weeks until your baby’s birth.
This means when you send us a text at 2:00 a.m. with an image stating, “What IS this?!” I will respond back as quickly as possible to let you know that you have likely lost your mucus plug.
4.Individualized, personal attention and care
Doulas meet with you prenatally to get to know you and your partner, what your ideal birth looks like, what level of support you have at home, what you’d like more education on, teach you some comfort measures for labour, etc. Being at your birth is a very intimate thing, and we want to make sure we get to know you so we can give you the personalized care you need.
We tailor our resources and education to what you’re interested in. We remember what you said in our meetings, what your concerns are for your birth, and try our best to help your birth go the way you’d like it to. Doulas then meet with you postpartum to discuss your recovery and help in any way they can.
5. Postpartum Support
Doulas meet with you postpartum to make sure emotional and physical recovery are going okay, breastfeeding is going okay, and to help out in any way possible. Sometimes a postpartum meeting will involve discussing stitches, lip ties, and poor latch. Sometimes it involves going over your birth experience with someone who was there and can fill in any blank spots and listen to how your feeling. Sometimes it involves sending resources of local baby play groups or health professionals. Doulas are there for support postpartum, as well!
(Side note: there is such a thing as “Postpartum Doulas” who train in the postpartum period rather than birth. They are wonderful for additional support at home after your baby is here, and even do overnight shifts!)
6. Statistical Benefits
When continuous labour support was offered by someone who was NOT a member of hospital staff and NOT part of their social network, women experienced:
•31% decrease in the use of Pitocin*
•28% decrease in the risk of Cesarean*
•12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth*
•9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
•14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
•34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience*
Why some people don’t get a doula:
1. If you feel anxious or uncomfortable about the idea of more people than necessary in the birthing room during labour, you might not feel comfortable having a doula there. This is important- because feeling anxious or uncomfortable during your birth can actually stall your labour. In this case- it is actually probably in your best interest to only invite to the birth those you are comfortable with being there.
2. Cost. Many doulas (myself included) offer payment plan options. Some offer sliding scales. Sometimes you can find a student doula willing to do a birth for half price, or even free!
3. They don’t understand the potential benefits. Usually these people, once they learn about what a doula does, are very interested in getting one!
4. They think Doulas are just for hippies and granola folk. But Doulas support everyone. Whether your ideal birth is one outdoors by a brook, or one with a planned caesarean, doulas have the know-how to support you. They are trained on comfort measures and tips and tricks to assist you in your birth, regardless of where it is or how you do it.
Doulas are there to support you and your partner informationally (sending resources and educating you), emotionally (listening to your story, your birthing wishes, and praising and encouraging you along the way), and physically (relaxation techniques, labouring positions, massage). They provide care throughout your pregnancy, postpartum, and continuously throughout your labour. They have been shown to reduce risks of various medical interventions, and increase positive feelings about your birth.
Interested in booking a doula? Book your free meeting online today to see if we’re a good match.