It’s almost time for baby's arrival and you’ve been planning your birth down to every last detail. There will be soft music playing while your partner gently supports you through each contraction. You’ve packed the tea lights and essential oils. You’ve even written out your birth plan for your midwife and you have spent months envisioning your baby’s birth and practicing all of the techniques recommended by Pinterest, Facebook, and all other mediums you could find about natural birthing. There is still one thing you’ve considered but aren’t sure of just yet, whether or not you should hire a Doula?
Having a Doula is a personal decision much like choosing a midwife. Some mother’s say they couldn’t have done it without their Doula while others opt not to hire a Doula and feel they had an amazing birthing experience as well. It’s all about what your birthing goals are and the kind of support you feel you might need during your birthing journey.
What does a Doula do exactly?
A Doula’s role is to provide a continuous source of comfort and support during a laboring mother's most vulnerable time. They aren’t usually medically trained as a midwife or ob-gyn and are specifically focused on helping you be comfortable while also feeling empowered about your birth. Some Doulas may also act as advocates for you with medical personnel and they may explain medical terminology or procedures in hospital settings, making sure you understand what’s being asked of you.
Most Doulas will also educate you about birthing before your due date. This will help it to be more familiar and help eliminate the element of fear that can inhibit the body’s natural responses to labor hormones and progression. They can generally offer many non-medical pain management techniques including aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, music, and hypnobirthing techniques until you’ve found the right one for you. They may also help your partner to be more involved and calmer during labor.
Photo Credits & Doula Information: Kathyrn J. Birth Stories, Lane B. Photography, Doula Stacy Hutchins, Doula Mallorie Morton Hall, Doula Dana Cluff, Doula Nicole Moffitt, Best Doula Training, DFW Birth Resources, North Dallas Doula Associates
What training do Doulas have?
Doulas don't need to be certified, but many are. The largest and best-known certification program is provided by DONA International. DONA workshops provide instruction time, with an emphasis on hands-on techniques, the history of birth, benefits of doula support and the significance of doula support for families.
What are the benefits of having a Doula?
A doula offers support during the entire length of labor and often into postpartum care They also meet with you before birth and will stay with you during the entire birthing period. Most Doulas can also help with lactation and breastfeeding as well.
Many studies show that having a doula present during birth can shorten the length of time in labor, reduce a laboring mother’s anxiety and lower the rate of medical intervention. Their assistance has even been shown to improve your odds of breastfeeding success because many doulas are also lactation consultants.
In conclusion, hiring a Doula is a uniquely personal decision and many benefits can be helpful during labor. Having a doula or not having one, won’t predict the outcome of your birthing experience, but you should do some research and weigh the benefits as they may apply to you. Ask your friends for referrals and do some active Doula interviewing to help determine your personal needs for having a Doula with you during your birth experience.