Massage. Acupuncture. Nutrition counseling. Encouragement. Education. Exotic services. Sound like a new-age health spa? No. It’s a delivery room in a New York City hospital. All these things come by way of a doula, or childbirth coach trained to guide a woman through the delivery of a baby in ways doctors, nurses, moms, friends, and hubbies cannot.

The services of a doula are gaining favor in the New York City area as well as in other major cities across the United States. The doula movement of today is a revival of sorts of an ancient tradition where women help women through the universal experience of labor and childbirth.

doulaThe doula assists with the birth but does not take the place of a doctor or midwife. They provide comfort and encouragement, knowing a woman in labor feels vulnerable and is exhausted. They’re there to make the situation more comfortable for the mother while the medical team does what it needs to do.

New moms who’ve enjoyed the doula experience say the doula helped them take command of the delivery, even going so far as to act as advocate for the mother when cesarean section (c-section) or induced labor are being considered.

Samantha Huggins, a co-director of the Carriage House Birth “doula hut” in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, finds the service is gratefully appreciated by women going through pregnancy and delivery when they are new in town and don’t yet have a strong support system in place. Mothers who’ve moved to the city while their own mothers, sisters, and familiar circle of female support is far away also find comfort in hiring a doula. The doulas in the Carriage House Birth collective are experts in singleton births but specialize in delivery of twins, too. They also assist in deliveries at home.

Doula services vary according to the practitioner but those with the most experience are earning about $2,000 per birth in NYC. For that fee, moms-to-be can expect as many as three prenatal visits with the doula and she’ll be on call round the clock for the last month of a client’s pregnancy. When the time comes, the doula rushes off to the delivery room of the client’s choice just as her doctor, nurse, and family do.

Once labor begins, the doula remains at the mother’s bedside, coaching her through the birth with breathing assistance, massage, helping her into comfortable positions, and doing just about anything necessary to promote the physical comfort and peace of mind a woman needs at this crucial time. After the baby is born, the doula stays around just long enough to make sure mother and baby are comfortably settled in for recovery and then they’re off, usually to another delivery room.

One mother, Adrea Teasdale, said just meeting her doula for the first time left her suddenly feeling more tranquil about the whole process. Teasdale now has an 8-week-old son, River, that she delivered with the help of a doula from Carriage House Birth.

The doula experience brings such positive results to the birthing process that many mothers want to continue the relationship after delivery. The attachment mother and doula develop during the experience leaves both parties feeling richer for the collaboration. Some doulas become so emotionally attached to the family that every birth brings tears of joy. The wonder of the job never gets old.

Source: Mcclear, Sheila. "The Ancient Profession of Doula, or Childbirth Coach, Is Making a Comeback in New York and Other Cities." New York Daily News. 12 May 2013. Web. 28 Oct 2013.