Many people have heard of a doula but don’t know exactly what a doula does or what their purpose is. A doula is a labor coach or an assistant so to speak, that provides non-medical support for the mother while she is in labor. A doula helps to prepare you for childbirth by providing emotional support for both the soon-to-be mother and father.
While in labor, the doula will then encourage you to use the techniques you have learned in childbirth-preparation classes. Once the baby is born, the doula may stick around to help the family through the postpartum period. Since this period of time can be very emotional for the mother of the child, it is best to have the doula there to provide emotional support.
Often times you will see that the doula is usually a woman with no medical or midwifery experience. However, some women choose to have the father-to-be as their doula because they are already comfortable with him and he knows how to provide the best emotional support possible for her. You can choose whichever option you feel is best for you, but I do recommend choosing a doula that you either already know or one that you are going to be comfortable around.
Benefits of a Doula
One of the main benefits of having a doula with you throughout this period in your life is all of the great emotional and informational support they provide you. They are there to make you as comfortable as you possibly can be while going through the pre-childbirth stages, labor, and the postpartum period.
Having this type of support that is dedicated to you specifically is very important during pregnancy because your moods are constantly changing and you need to have someone that is there for you so you don’t become overly stressed. Stress can be harmful to the baby and can even send you into premature labor, which is why having a doula there to keep your emotions and nerves grounded is very helpful.
Some of the other psychological benefits are that mothers tend to feel more confident and secure with their child as a result of a doula’s help. There have also been mothers that reported a more positive childbirth experience with a doula.
Some of the physical benefits are reports of reduced need for epidurals and narcotics, as well as reduced use of Pitocin. It has also shown that mothers using the help of a doula had a shorter labor period, reduced maternal bleeding after childbirth, and a few other positive physical benefits as well.
Doula vs. a Midwife
Some people may become confused when they think about doulas and midwives. This is because many of us don’t know the difference. Well the first major difference is that a doula is not a medical professional; a doula is there for emotional and informational support, and encouragement. A midwife is a medical professional and is there to help you through the pregnancy and the delivery of the baby.
Many pregnant women that would like to have an all-natural birth or a home birth, choose to hire a midwife to help them deliver the baby. However, there are some high risk birth situations that midwives may not be experienced to handle so this must be considered carefully by the mother-to-be.
A midwife is there mainly to help you along with the pregnancy and birth, unlike a doula which is there specifically to provide emotional support throughout your journey of pregnancy. Therefore, if you are looking to have someone there that will help you emotionally to get through pre-childbirth, labor, and the postpartum period, a doula would be the best option for you.
Samantha Brown is a medical writer enrolled in a healthcare mba program online to earn her degree.