Do you know what a Doula is, or what they do? Most first-time parent’s, or parents in general still don’t know what a Doula is, and no, it’s not a kitchen utensil!
I first heard of a Doula when I was pregnant with my third child. I was frantically trying to research a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) as I was determined not to have another c-section. I read about all of the benefits of a Doula. I still didn’t quite understand it all but I knew I wanted one. Unfortunately for me, I ended up having my third c-section due to complications that were out of everyone’s hands, but that’s a story for another time. I had my beautiful baby girl and after a week in the hospital, I took her home. I heard over and over how all that matters is a healthy mother and baby, but I was bitterly disappointed about having to have another c-section. While a healthy mother and baby are very important, the level of satisfaction with the birth experience is incredibly important. It has a profound impact on the first year of parenting, sometimes much longer. I realized how beneficial a Doula could be and wondered how differently my births would have been, had I had the support of a Doula at my first birth. Because of this, I threw myself into studying Childbirth Education and also qualified as a Doula. I was on a mission to empower women and help them achieve their best possible birth, no matter how they chose to birth.
So what exactly is a Doula and how can they benefit the birth process?
Doulas or childbirth companions are trained women who provide a wide range of holistic skills to support women throughout pregnancy, labor, and birth and during the first few weeks or even months once a baby is born. The support given is in the form of informational, emotional, and physical support that meets the client’s needs throughout their perinatal journey. Support will be tailored to your individual needs.
The benefits of having a Doula.
Your Doula will be with you every step of the way providing continuous care. This is done by spending time and being available to answer questions and help prepare Mum and partner for birth. This continuous care is what is crucial as it builds up a strong report or bond that proves very beneficial during the actual birthing process. Your Doula will help you prepare a tailor-made birthing plan for you and your partner. She is with you for the full duration of labor and birth. She will hold the space for you by bringing a calm peaceful energy to your birthing place. She will help you with the emotional and physical aspects of labor and birth by using holistic and natural remedies. She may use relaxation massage, acupressure, physical comfort measures such as body positioning and breathing techniques. Positive affirmations and guided visualizations are also used as well as emotional coaching and encouragement. This care then also extends to the weeks postpartum by providing in-home visits to help Mum find her feet with becoming a mother.
The medical benefits of having a Doula have been well established and the facts are as follows:
- 50% Reduction in Cesarean Births
- 25% Shorter Labours
- 60% Less Epidural Requests
- 40% Reduction in Use of Pitocin
- 30% Fewer Requests for Pain Relief
- 40% Reduction in Forceps Delivery
So what about Cesarean birth?
Doulas are not just there for the vaginal birth and can play an equally beneficial role in cesarean birth. Although a Doula has a strong belief that woman is made brilliantly to birth babies vaginally, our main purpose is to ensure that ALL mothers have an empowered birthing experience no matter how they birth their babies. Doulas can help to ensure the best possible cesarean birth in the same ways that she would for a vaginal birth.
Some Doula Myths Dispelled:
Myth #1 My Doula can replace the Midwife
This is most definitely not true. Doulas are NOT trained, medical professionals. While Doulas have ample professional training which includes anatomy and the physiology of pregnancy, labor and birth, our scope of practice is not medical but rather psychological and informational.
Myth #2 My Doula can advocate for me
Your Doula can inform and educate you but can in no way speak on your behalf. That is for you and your partner to do.
Myth #3 Doulas are a bit “new age” or “Hippy.”
Doulas are master chameleons and will become who and what you need during your birthing experience. There is also the perfect Doula out there for you…so interview as many as you can until you find the right one. If you want the crystals and candles, she’s out there and if you want a boot camp drill sergeant, she’s out there too!
Myth #4 A Doula will replace my partner during birth.
Your Doula is there for you AND your partner. She will provide support to you both and will in fact facilitate a deeper bond and connection between Mum and partner. Many times the partner needs just as much support as Mum.
Myth #5 Doulas are only for home births and only believe in vaginal births
Doulas are for ANY birth, Doulas are for YOUR birth. Unmedicated, medicated, home birth, hospital or birth center birth. Doulas are for chanting, swearing, praying, candle burning or singing. We are there for vaginal, cesarean or multiple births. Your birth, your way.
Myth #5 Doulas are for first-time Mums only
No, every birth is different therefore Doulas are for every birth.
Personally, I don’t know anyone that has regretted having a Doula present at their birth, no matter how they birthed. So if you are pregnant, or planning to be, consider a Doula.
Natascha will be answering your birth related questions and will be keeping you well informed about your beautiful journey with monthly articles.
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