A Labor Doula has many jobs during a birth and one of the most important ones is keeping the birthing person as comfortable as possible. Because the hormones are so intense during the final stages of labor, a woman can experience temperature fluctuations that have nothing to do with the ambient room temperature. Being able to provide a cooling breeze during this time can be very effective in keeping her focused on the task at hand. This particular job takes no training and can be done by anyone, but a Doula is highly qualified to know when it is appropriate and how much to do (and of course a Doula has a fan in her bag of tricks). Other seemingly easy things a Doula does during labor and birth include hands on counter pressure when needed, ensuring the mother stays hydrated by having water at the ready, using a cool washcloth on the back of her neck and forehead in between contractions, offering honey sticks or other quick energy sources to her, helping her to move from one position to another, and providing a calming presence when things get more intense.
Although all of the above seem fairly simple and straight forward, the training a Doula receives is very thorough and prepares her well for most anything she might experience during birth and the immediate postpartum period. The Scope of Practice for a Doula does not include anything medical, but does include educating her clients with evidence-based information and supporting them physically and emotionally as needed. By the time her clients get to the birthday, the Doula has spent a number of hours with them going over information, learning their preferences, practicing comfort techniques and just getting to know each other. Once labor starts and the birthing process is in motion, the Doula can do whatever is needed within her SCOPE, knowing that her clients are empowered to make informed choices and that she can be there to provide information as needed. Having someone with them who has navigated the waters of birth more than a few times can help families experience their own births in a much more positive way.
A Doula can support the partners in ways that allow them to be more fully present for the birthing person and not have to “know” everything or feel overwhelmed with what is going on with the process. A Doula can help interpret the information the medical staff is sharing and support the families in advocating for themselves. And research shows that having a Doula can reduce the incidence of Cesarean Sections by up to 60%, reduce the length and intensity of labor, reduce the use of epidurals and raise the level of satisfaction with birth.
What I Do
As a Birth Doula: I support you and your partner during your pregnancy, labor and birth by providing education in areas that include childbirth, breastfeeding and infant care. This could include things like comfort techniques to use during labor, how to swaddle a newborn, how to talk to your medical providers to get what you want and what to include in your birth preferences that you share with them. I am with you continuously from the beginning of labor (in your home if you prefer) through the entire labor and birth process and up to 2 hours after birth to help establish good breastfeeding practices if that is desired. I can help answer any questions you might have during your pregnancy and birth and can refer you to other professionals when necessary. I don’t perform any medical tests or procedures. I do not speak to your care providers for you but we do give you the tools to speak to them for yourself and be empowered in those conversations. Research has shown that having a trained Birth Doula with you continuously during labor and birth reduces the length of labor, increases parental bonding with the newborn, contributes to a higher success rate of breastfeeding, reduces the use of narcotics and epidurals during labor and greatly reduces the incidence of c-sections.
As a Postpartum Doula: I support the family in a number of ways to help the process of bringing a new baby or babies home. I am with you in your home to provide breastfeeding support and education or bottle feeding information as needed. I can help relieve some of the sleep deprivation in those first weeks by spending nights with you, demonstrating how to best feed and care for the newborn, as well as how to get the baby to sleep so you can sleep. I show you calming methods and techniques to give you tools to use to help with crying and distressed babies. Part of the education includes infant safety information as well as newborn care and handling. I help with light household chores that could include cooking, kitchen clean-up, baby laundry, pet care, and general tidying up. I can help new moms with any after birth care they may need, especially c-section moms. I am an emotional support for all the family members and observe both baby and mom for any issues that may require further medical treatment. Just having another woman in the house that is trained to provide comfort and answer questions can be a great benefit. Research has shown that having a Postpartum Doula reduces the incidence of postpartum depression, increases bonding with the infant for both parents and improves breastfeeding results.
What is a Doula?
As doulas we are personalized resource guides for your new or growing family, providing research based education and support during labor and the postpartum period. The doula assists each individual family in exploring and meeting their unique birthing and parenting goals and needs.
History of the Word “Doula”
In Ancient Greek households, a doula was a woman in the highest level of servitude to women in the home, a female slave. Doulas assisted women during childbirth and childrearing.
Why do families hire doulas?
Many new parents find themselves distant from extended family support systems during labor, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Without this built in support network, many parents are at a loss for accurate information and loving support. We know that when women in labor feel safe and supported they have more positive birth experiences. We also know that when families lack adequate support, they experience added strain both during the birth and afterwards as mothers heal and parents adjust to life with a new baby at home. Today’s doula provides this missing link for many new and growing families.
Doulas in Labor
Labor Doulas are trained childbirth professionals who provide non-medical assistance to pregnant women and their families in preparation for childbirth and during labor. This can include identifying birth goals and strategies, providing additional evidence-based education and resources, hands-on emotional and physical support, and advocating for mothers choices during childbirth.
Having a Doula assisted birth has proven to:
- Reduce cesarean rates by 50%
- Reduce the length of labor by 25%
- Reduce the use of Pitocin by 40%
- Reduce the need for pain medication by 30%
- Reduce the requests for epidural pain management by 60 %
- Increase mom’s self- image
- Increase satisfaction in the overall birth experience
- Improve the relationship between mom and partner.
(Information provided by Mothering the Mother, Klaus, Klaus, and Kennel)
The Postpartum Doula
Postpartum Doulas are trained professionals who provide non-medical in-home education and support. Doulas are guides for the postpartum family, providing immediate hands-on education, support and relief. Although this may include infant-care, doulas do not assume the role of primary care-giver for the newborn child but instead, care for the parents so that parents are able to care for their new child.
Services A Postpartum Doula Can Provide
- Postpartum Depression Resources, Prevention Strategies & Coping Skills
- General Newborn or Infant Care Techniques
- Feeding & Sleeping Information
- Breastfeeding & Pumping Education
- General Maternal Care and Relief
- Sibling Attachment Practices
- Strategies for Multiple Care
- Special Needs & Preterm Infant Care
- Compassionate Listening
- Social Networking and Community Referrals
- Practical Household Organization & Management
- Infant Growth & Development Knowledge
- Overnight Infant Care
- Time for Parents to Reconnect