“Doula is a Greek word which means a woman who helps another woman. In regards to childbirth, a doula is a woman who provides support to the mother, in labor or pospartum, and possibly also to their family. Over the last 20 years more than 13 scientific studies have shown that when one woman cares for a laboring woman, that laboring woman is more likely to have a safer, shorter, less expensive and more satisfying birth experience.” Notjustskin.org
By Ralph Shumway via wiki
A doula supports a woman and her partner during pregnancy, birth, and the early weeks of parenting, with reassurance, practical assistance and information.
You should get to know your doula very well by the time childbirth rolls around. She will be there during your labor and delivery, by your side, focused solely on you and your needs. She can encourage you, remain objective and help your partner feel more confident about how to support you. She can also assist you with practical knowledge on comfort measures for labor, such as massage and suggestions for labor positions. A doula can provide information when you have questions, and can help you communicate most effectively with your medical caregivers.
Steps in Choosing a Doula
1. Start with thinking about what you want from your doula. Reassurance? Physical support and comfort during labor? Specialized expertise in attending twin births or VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)? Knowing what you want is the first step to making sure you get it! Likewise, a good doula finds out what you want and works toward that, instead of offering a “one size fits all” service.
2. Keep in mind that the doula who is right for you may not be the one who has attended the most births, but could be the one who can offer the support you need and with whom you and your partner “click” the best.
3. Ask your caregiver or friends for recommendations. Alternatively, use one of the online search engines, such as www.findadoula.com to find doulas in your area. ALWAYS verify claimed certifications! If you find something “fishy”, choose another doula!
Did you know that using a doula ……..
Reduces need for cesarean by 50%
Reduces length of labor by 25%
Reduces use of oxytocin by 40%
Reduces pain medication use by 30%
Reduces the need for forceps by 40%
Reduces epidural requests by 60%
4. When you meet with a doula, have a list of questions to ask her. Try to think of questions that will give you an insight into how she supports women such as asking her what she enjoys most about her work and what she finds most challenging. You can get more information on good questions to ask from www.findadoula.com.
5. Make sure you clarify the cancellation policies, times she will be on call, backup arrangements and all the services that are included in the price you are paying.
6. This is the person who will be with you throughout labor and birth and you need to feel comfortable with each other. Choose the doula you trust!
- Tell me about one of your favorite births you’ve attended as a doula; what did you enjoy?
- Tell me about one of your most challenging births as a doula; what was difficult?
- Have you ever worked with a doctor or nurse who wasn’t happy working with a doula? how did you handle it?
- What kinds of things do you find that partners feel are helpful during a birth?
- What is your policy in the event I have a cesarean?
- Do you have a back-up in case you are unable to attend my birth? Will we meet her before the birth?
- What other services do you offer (such as breastfeeding support, postpartum services, childbirth classes)?
- Can we speak to other parents whose births you have attended?
* Absolutely check with the Labor and Delivery section of the hospital you are going to use to see what their experience is with a particular doula. This is important, some doulas have a bad reputation with the nurses and doctors you are going to use.
Sheryl’s comment: If you have chosen to give birth in a hospital then I implore you to get a doula. Among all the other benefits mentioned, my personal belief is that doctors and midwives behave better when someone else who knows a bit about childbirth is paying attention. There is no way of proving my theory scientifically of course, but it stands to reason that they cannot get away with nonsense reasoning if there is another birth professional in the room. No matter what the reason, doulas do, in fact, lower the rates of many common, unnecessary, painful, traumatic interventions. So get one if you have decided to deliver in a hospital (for some reason). She might be the only one who can protect you from your doctor or midwife.
About the Author:
Ralph Shumways is a researcher in the childbirth field. Learn more about childbirth options and about birth doula selection at MotherMe Doulas Inc.
Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/bies/128860335/