A woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born.
A birth doula is a support person for you while you labor. They assist with relaxing, breathing, encouragement, and more throughout the birth process. Doulas provide informational, emotional, and physical support during the childbearing journey. We are not medical professionals. It also is a great resource for the partner, who may be nervous or unsure during labor. "A birth doula... 1. Recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life 2. Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor 3. Assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth 4. Stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor 5. Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint, and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions 6. Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and clinical care providers 7. Perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman's memory of her" (DONA International Birth Doula Manual/ 2017).
Compared with women who had no continuous support, women with companions (such as a doula) who were neither on the hospital staff nor in the woman's social network were:
28% less likely to have a cesarean section
31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor
9% less likely to use any pain medication
34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively (DONA International Birth Doula Manual/ 2017)
Doulas do NOT : Doulas do not perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking blood pressure or temperature, fetal heart tone checks, vaginal examinations, or postpartum clinical care. A Doula does not replace your partner. I want you both to experience this together. I will guide your partner into being your main support person. If you do not have a support person with you, I am also that person to take on that role. You will not be alone.