A doula is a nonmedical person to help mom through pregnancy, the birthing process, and postpartum with her emotional and physical needs. Comforting, caring and understanding, the doula essentially mothers the mom-to-be. Pregnancy is a time of physical and emotional changes. During the months of gestation, the mom bonds to the baby in a way they never thought possible. As birth approaches, that bond tends to fade behind some of the anxiety of giving birth. This is never more true than during the hours of labor. The baby is at the center of all the action and mom is left to do all of the work.
A doula is a non-medical assistant usually a woman who provides various forms of non-medical support (physical, emotional and informed choice) in the childbirth process. Based on a particular doulas training and background, the doula may offer support during prenatal are, during childbirth and/or during the postpartum period. A doula is there to help mom through the birthing process with her emotional and physical needs. Comforting, caring and understanding, the doula essentially mothers the mom-to-be.
Why Choose a Doula for Your Birth?
The emotional needs of mom are often lost in the technical nature of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. The doula is trained in the birthing process and the post partum needs of mom. From the time mom begins labor, the doula will be there to talk with mom, help her through the breathing exercises and hold her hand when she needs that extra comfort. While family members are sure to stop by and lend a hand, the baby is the center of even the family member’s attention.
Doulas have more of a positive effect on the birthing process than the emotional support they provide to mom. In studies the presence of a doula has,
- Shortened time spent in labor
- Reduces the need for labor inducing drugs
- Reduces the requests for pain relieving medication during and after the birthing process
Mothers who use a doula tend to feel more secure about the birthing process, tend to be more successful in their attempts at breastfeeding, and suffer from post partum depression less frequently.
The Role of the Doula After Birth and Postpartum
While many mothers think the doula’s job ends after the baby is born, there are post partum doulas who are trained in the special needs of the new mother. These doulas help to provide the emotional and breastfeeding support needed by moms in those first few weeks after birth. Mothers often bond with their doulas and are more apt to discuss any and all feelings about how the mothering process is going and how the changes are affecting mom with their doula.
Choosing a Doula
When choosing to make a doula a part of the birthing process, contacting the Doulas of North America is the first step. DONA, as they are known, provides local listings for certified doulas in a given area. After obtaining the initial list, the mother-to-be will want to interview the doula by phone and verify any credentials they may have. If mom feels this is the right doula, a final in person interview should be conducted and the doula hired.
When mom goes into birth, she will be surrounded by people trying to make sure baby and mom are physically okay. There are great emotional stresses that go along with having a baby and those emotional stresses are the specialty of the doula. From a hug to a hand, the doula is there.