There are many ways that doulas can benefit you in your birth experience, but here are my
Top 10 reasons to hire a doula:
1. Doulas Enhance the Birth Experience.
A doula can help you to feel better about your birth experience and help you process a birth that wasn’t like you planned. Women remember this life changing event for their entire lives and it helps to have someone to talk about the beautiful, the disappointment and the ugly. A group of researchers in California found that women who had the support of a doula during their babies’ births were more likely to feel positive about their birth experiences (82.5%) than women who did not have the benefit of such support (67.4%).
2. Doulas Enhance the Family Experience
It can be stressful for partners and other family members to attend a loved one through the intense journey of labor and birth. A doula can talk your partner and family through the process, translate medical jargon, and offer suggestions for them to better support you. A doula is there for your partner, too. During labor, a doula may be key in helping to relieve some of the anxiety, fear or exhaustion that the woman’s partner may feel.
3. Doulas decrease the risk of unwanted interventions.
A study conducted at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, found that 7.8% of women using doulas requested an epidural as compared to 55.3% of women laboring without a doula. Your doula can help you explore the routines of your doctor and birth place and provide information that will help you decide if these obsetric routines are necessary for your labor and birth. She can also remind you to change positions, eat, drink or move around. These simple suggestions can greatly reduce the need for an IV, a urinary catheter, augmentation (speeding up labor), pain relief, episiotomy, and instrumental delivery. Doulas offer helpful suggestions on ways to cope with the labor when you’ve pretty much run through your own repertoire of coping strategies.
4. Doulas Help You Work with Your Body (Even with an Epidural!)
Working with your body (changing positions, pushing when you have an urge, etc.) shortens your labors and leads to less pain. If you get an epidural, working with your body can reduce the associated complications. Epidurals increase the need for augmentation, instrumental delivery and cesarean section. But many times, they can be avoided with simple things like massage and frequent position changes. A doula will know how to best help you avoid these interventions.
5. No matter when you have your baby, your doula will be there.
A doula can promise to be there, even if your partner can’t. If there’s a chance that your partner isn’t going to be there at the birth or if you’re going to be giving birth without a partner, a doula can provide you with great support. No matter when you have your baby, your doula will be there. Unlike doctors and some midwives, doulas only schedule a few births a month. That means they’re almost guaranteed to be there for your baby’s birth.
6. Full One on One Care and Support.
Many people believe they will receive all the care and attention they will need from their doctors and nurses. If you’re planning a hospital birth, chances are, you will not be the only patient. Doctors and nurses are there to monitor your progress and health along with any other laboring momma that is there the same time as you. Your doctor/midwife will be in and out of the room as you labor, but a doula will stay with you from the beginning and won’t leave until the baby is born, the placenta is delivered, and, if you’re going to be breastfeeding, the first latch is established. Doulas will also come to your home if you want to labor there for a while before heading to the hospital and know when the time comes to head there. A doula is there solely for you. They do not work with other moms while you’re in labor and they also do not work in shifts. You will have the same doula at your side for the entire birth experience. And when you or your partner become completely overwhelmed, exhausted or frustrated she will step in as emotional support and help you get back on track.
7. A doula offers a different kind of support.
While your doula can not give medical advice, perform diagnostic tests, or diagnose, they are trained to take care of the non-medical aspects of pregnancy and birth, which are as equally important as the medical aspects. So often I’ve heard, “I’ve got a midwife or doctor already, why would I hire a doula?” Many women feel overwhelmed, helpless and scared during labor. [I was! It can be scary to think of a human coming out of you!] One of the doula’s many roles is to help you advocate for yourself. While they may not be trained to do a vaginal exam as your midwife is, they can be trained to provide pain-relieving touch, guide you through your breathing and visualizations, or let you know about better birthing positions.
8. Doulas can help breastfeeding get off to the best possible start.
A study conducted in South Africa found that women who have support from doulas during labor are 51% more likely to be breastfeeding exclusively when their babies are six weeks old than the 29% of other mommas who didn’t have a doula. Having someone support your decision may make all the difference especially if others around you do not support breastfeeding. A doula will help with the first latch after birth and visits you in your home in the first week postpartum. She can provide basic breastfeeding support and refer you to a more knowledgeable lactation professional if you are having a problem. “A mother who was nurtured through labor, birth, and the early postpartum period was able to nurture and care for her infant, ensuring successful breast-feeding,” says Dr. Bruce A. Meyer, a professor and head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
9. A doula doesn’t leave right after the birth.
Even after a birth, a doula can do a lot to help. They help initiate breastfeeding, make sure you get settled and can even help you shower or brush your teeth after your labor. My shower after delivering my babies are the best showers I ever remember having!
Many new mothers find themselves hunting and starving for knowledge about their babies and bodies during pregnancy. Pregnant mommas can lean on their doulas for information and advice in the weeks leading up to the birth. This can be particularly helpful for first-time mommas. Doulas also have books and movies they can recommend or loan to you. And in addition, because doulas are connected to others within the local birthing community, they can make referals to classes and other workshops. Lastly, a doula will have the training and experience necessary to answering their clients questions. If they don’t know the answer, they know where to get the answer. Even if you are very well read on pregnancy or labor, you and your partner probably aren’t going to know nearly as much about the birth process as your doula…even if it’s your second or third time having a baby, there will likely come a time when you or your partner will probably feel overwhelmed. Your doula is there to guide both of you through the process.