What is a doula?
Doulas are professionals trained in providing emotional, physical, and informational support during labor. For couples birthing naturally, doulas work with the husband or partner to provide massage, heat/cold, aromatherapy, and positions that can help ease the pain of contractions and help the progression of labor. When the parents want to use medical interventions or when things don’t go exactly as planned (which they usually don’t!), doulas are there to help the couple understand and consider their choices in real time.
How is a doula different from a midwife?
A midwife’s primary responsibility is to ensure the healthy delivery of the baby, whereas the doula is focused on providing comfort and support to the mother and her partner. Midwives often have other patients and will likely not be able to stay by the mother’s side during the entire labor, while the doula will be with the couple continuously. In addition, most midwives will not provide the ongoing physical support, such as massage, that doulas offer. A doula can also come to a couple’s house and support them in early labor and help them decide when the time is right to go to the hospital.
Does the doula provide any support before or after labor?
Many doulas will provide some degree of prenatal and postpartum support. At Ohana, our doula package includes a 1-2 comprehensive prenatal meetings and 1-2 postnatal sessions, as well as unlimited phone and email consultation from the time you hire us until three months after the birth. There are also postpartum doulas that help couples transition into parenting by providing meals, doing laundry, waking up with the baby at night, or doing similar tasks to help parents navigate the postpartum period.
Benefits of Doulas
Studies have been conducted to measure the impact of hiring a doula on birth outcomes. The presence of a doula has been shown to:
- Shorten labor by an average of 25% by reducing stress, pain, and anxiety
- Improve infant health outcomes and decrease the rate of infant hospitalizations
- Reduce the likelihood of needing a C section by half (14% of mothers with doulas need C sections, compared to 25% of mothers without doulas),through the use of positions and other approaches to facilitate vaginal delivery
- Decrease the use of forceps by 40%
- Increase successful breastfeeding rates (51% for women with a doula compared to 29% for women without doulas)
- Increase the mother’s and partner’s satisfaction with the birth experience