Would you like to have a Doula?
Visiting you and your family during pregnancy,
Giving you a gentle massage or a gentle touch,
Preparing you and your family for birthing, both emotionally and practically,
Ensuring you to share your questions, expectations, plans, also your excitement and emotions,
Protecting your preferences in birth,
Being all the time by your side,
Breathing, singing, dancing, vocalizing, moving with you,
Giving you massages,
Touching you and your soul,
Meeting your needs,
If you don’t want anything at that moment, just being there and waiting for you,
You know that I will always be there with you.
As a Doula I offer support to you during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.
Doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.
What does a Doula do?
Doulas nurture and support the birthing person throughout labor and birth. Their essential role is to provide continuous labor support to the mother, no matter what decisions the mother makes or how she gives birth.
Importantly, the doula’s role and agenda are tied solely to the birthing person’s agenda. A doula’s primary responsibility is to the birthing person—not to a hospital administrator, nurse, midwife, or doctor.
A doula can provide labor support via the four pillars of labor support: Physical, emotional, informational support and advocacy.
Physical support is important because it helps the birthing person maintain a sense of control, comfort, and confidence. Aspects of physical support provided by a doula may include:
- Soothing with touch through the use of massage, counter pressure, or a rebozo
- Helping to create a calm environment, like dimming lights and arranging curtains
- Assisting with water therapy (shower, tub)
- Applying warmth or cold
- Assisting the birthing person in walking to and from the bathroom
- Giving ice chips, food, and drinks
Emotional support helps the birthing person feel cared for and feel a sense of pride and empowerment after birth.
Doulas may provide the following types of emotional support to the birthing person and their partner:
- Continuous presence
- Helping the birthing person see themselves or their situation more positively
- Keeping company
- Showing a caring attitude
- Mirroring—calmly describing what the birthing person is experiencing and echoing back the same feelings and intensity
- Accepting what the birthing person wants
- Helping the birthing person and partner work through fears and self-doubt
- Debriefing after the birth—listening to the mother with empathy
Informational support helps keep the birthing person and their partner informed about what’s going on with the course of labor, as well as provides them with access to evidence-based information about birth options. Aspects of informational support include:
- Guiding the birthing person and their partner through labor
- Suggesting techniques in labor, such as breathing, relaxation techniques, movement, and positioning
- Helping them find evidence-based information about different options in pregnancy and childbirth
- Helping explain medical procedures before or as they occur
- Helping the partner understand what’s going on with their loved one’s labor
Advocacy can take many forms—most of which do not include speaking on behalf of the client. Some examples of advocacy that doulas have described include:
- Encouraging the birthing person or their partner to ask questions and verbalize their preferences
- Asking the birthing person what they want
- Supporting the birthing person’s decision
- Amplifying the mother’s voice if she is being dismissed, ignored, or not heard
- Creating space and time for the birthing family so that they can ask questions, gather evidence-based information, and make decisions without feeling pressured
- Facilitating communication between the parents and care providers
- Teaching the birthing person and partner positive communication techniques
- If a birthing person is not aware that a provider is about to perform an intervention, the doula could point out what it appears the nurse or physician is about to do, and ask the birthing person if they have any questions about what is about to happen.
What is not included in Doula support?
Doulas are not medical professionals, and the following tasks are not performed by doulas:
- They do not perform clinical tasks such as vaginal exams or fetal heart monitoring
- They do not give medical advice or diagnose conditions
- They do not make decisions for the client (medical or otherwise)
- They do not pressure the birthing person into certain choices just because that’s what they prefer
- They do not take over the role of the partner
- They do not catch the baby
- They do not change shifts
What is the evidence on Doulas?
The Cochrane review (2012) by Hodnett and his colleagues found that overall, people who have continuous support during childbirth experience a:
- 39% decrease in the risk of cesarean
- 15% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
- 10% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
- 38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score
- 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
The results of this study mean that if a birthing person has continuous labor support (that is, someone who never leaves their side), both mothers and babies are statistically more likely to have better outcomes.