Labor and delivery can be a lot for one woman to handle, and sometimes your partner is simply not knowledgeable enough to help in the right ways. If you’ve ever delivered before, you probably experienced that moment where you need support beyond a doctor’s word about certain issues, and you simply don’t know who to turn to. For this reason, many women choose to hire birth doulas. Birth doulas are trained labor coaches who can assist you through your labor emotionally and physically. Unlike a midwife, doulas can stay right by your side in the hospital room. While doulas are expensive, studies show that women who hired them had much better birth experiences overall.

When you hire a doula, you are not just hiring someone to hold your hand through birth. A doula can help you find physical comfort, assist you in the actual birthing process, provide emotional support, and help you deal with the social implications of your birth. Women who used doulas in a recent study had higher self-esteem and confidence through their birth and were more confident overall. Even nurses benefit from the presence of a doula in the hospital room, since they can tend to other patients while the doula provides support. Of all the women who used a doula for assistance during their birth, 87% said they would use one again.

Although women who hired doulas did have better experiences overall, it is important to note that unreliable doulas made the experience worse. Make sure you hire a doula who is knowledgeable and who has good recommendations, or else you could ruin the birth experience. A doula should be reliable and offer continuous care throughout the entire duration of your delivery.

Especially if you’re interested in having a baby without pain medications, you should look into hiring a doula. Your doula can show you breathing techniques and positions that will ease your pain. She can even show your partner pressure points to ease the pain naturally through massage. In fact, partners agreed that having a doula present during delivery was helpful, since it took the pressure off of them to be the perfect labor coach. A doula might seem like an unnecessary expense when you take into account all of the money you’ll be paying once your baby arrives, but hiring one can make your birth as painless and enjoyable as possible.

Source: Lynn Deitrick et al: Attitudes towards Doula Support during Pregnancy by Clients, Doulas, and Labor-and-Delivery Nurses. Society for Applied Anthropology Volume 67 Issue 4 pp. 397-406 Winter 2008