What is a Doula?

A Doula is a professional that is educated in the physiological and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy and birth, and the techniques that aid the birth process. A doula provides continuous informational, emotional and physical support, as well as encouragement to the mother and father, before, during, and after labor. Doulas accompany mothers in hospitals, birth centers, and homebirths.

But... what does A Loving Birth do as a doula and childbirth educator? 
Help women rediscover their power and welcome their babies in a loving way.

The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves". A doula works with the mother’s support team including the doctors, nurses, midwives, partner, and family. A doula does not take place of the partner or anyone else (see “Dads and Doulas” below). Doulas are not Midwives and don't provide medical care.

VIDEO: What Is A Doula And Why Are They So Beneficial?

Studies show that having a doula present at birth provides the following benefits:

  • more confidence in the birth process
  • fewer complications
  • 25% shorter labor
  • 50% reduction in the cesarean rate
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 40% reduction in oxytocin use
  • 30% reduction in analgesia use
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery


 “We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful.  
It’s that women are strong.”   ~ Laura Stavoe Harm 

Pain does not have to equal suffering. Pain is a physiological response but suffering is a mental and emotional response to the pain. Becoming educated about childbirth, acquiring the right tools, and having the right support is essential to have a birth that is loving, empowering, without suffering, and even without pain.

6 weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas were:
  • more satisfied with the birth process
  • less anxious and depressed
  • more confident with baby
  • more satisfied with partner
  • more likely to be breastfeeding

 
“Women who have used a doula are more satisfied with their birth experience, feel more confident in their ability to mother, bond faster with their newborn, are less likely to have post-partum depression, and are more likely to breastfeed” ~ Klaus, Kennel, and Klaus 2001.

Doulas attend both hospital and home births, and both medicated (see “Doulas and Epidurals") and unmedicated births, as well as surgical births (see “Doulas and Cesareans” below). Doulas don’t impose their personal preferences; they make sure a mother’s preferences and needs are respected. A doula believes that childbirth is a normal, healthy process for a woman’s body and seeks to preserve that process during labor.
There is nothing like having someone who is there for you and your partner the entire time you are in labor. Doctors come when it is time to deliver the baby, and nurses come in and out, but a doula is there to support you 100% of the time; from pre-labor, through labor, and into postpartum. Doulas play such an important role that even doulas have doulas. Every woman should have the opportunity to have a doula

  
When should I hire a doula? The sooner the better but at least by the last trimester. However, it is never too late to hire a doula. 

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Do you want to become a doula? There are several wonderful doula training programs out there. To find out more visit:
www.doulatrainingguide.com


American Pregnancy Association's description of what a Doula is:
http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/havingadoula.html

For more information on what a doula is and the benefits please visit:                           
http://www.doula.com/doula-experience.shtml                                                    
http://www.dona.org/mothers/why_use_a_doula.php                                                                                       
http://www.vimeo.com/17166340

Hypno-Doula
By taking a Childbirth Hypnosis course you will "gain an understanding of how the birthing muscles work in perfect harmony--as they were designed to--when your body is sufficiently relaxed and you trust birth. You will learn how to achieve this kind of relaxation, free of the resistance that fear creates, and you will learn to use your natural birthing instincts for a calm, serene and comfortable birth." ~ Hypnobirthing®. A hypno-doula is familiar with the childbirth hypnosis process and can help complete the hypno-birth experience. Lovign Creations Doula is provides Certified Hypno-Doula services.
Learn more at:  
www.hypnobabies.com 
www.blissborn.com
www.hypnobirthing.com                                                                                                  
  
Dads and Doulas

The role of the doula is never to take the place of the husband or partner in labor, but to compliment and enhance their experience. With a doula as a part of the birth team, a father can do what he feels comfortable with at each moment, and can be as active and hands on as he wants. Doulas can encourage the father to use comfort measures and can step in when needed. Having a doula allows the father to be able to support his partner emotionally during labor and birth, without the pressure that can come from recalling everything he learned in childbirth class. Doulas can reassure fathers during labor and keep them informed of the labor process as it occurs, including any deviation from the norm. This allows the father to be more present in the moment, enjoy the experience more and be more supportive to his partner. 

A study by Klaus and Kennel noted that: "When the doula was present with the couple during labor the father offered more personal support."  

For more information on how a doula can help the father please visit:
http://pregnancy.about.com/od/doula1/a/dads-and-doulas.htm

www.doula.com/dads_and_doulas.shtml 
www.dona.org/mothers/dads_and_doulas.php                                                                  

 
Doulas and Babies
Doulas play an important role in the early bonding between mother and babies by encouraging early skin to skin contact and breastfeeding. A doula can also help educate and inform you of common newborn procedures so you can make informed decisions about your baby and be aware of what to expect during certain procedures. Doulas can also provide post-partum services to help you and your family make a smooth transition and adjustment to the new member of the family and to the emotions and responsibilities that come with that.
For more information on post-partum doulas please visit:

http://www.dona.org/mothers/faqs_postpartum.php

Doulas and Epidurals

Doulas and epidurals are not mutually exclusive. There are times when the use of an epidural is appropriate. However, the real risks of epidural use are often underplayed. A doula can help educate you about the risks and benefits of epidural use. If the choice to use an epidural has been made a doula can help you go as long as possible without one to minimize the side effects and then help keep you calm during the epidural insertion. Doulas can hold your hand, help you get the right information, support you, and encourage you and your partner during birth, something very necessary regardless of if you choose an epidural or not.

It is your choice to use an epidural and your doula should always respect that decision.
 
For more information on Doulas and Epidurals and common interventions please visit:  
http://www.mother-birth.com/If%20I%20Have%20an%20Epidura1.htm
http://pregnancy.about.com/od/laborbasics/ss/interventions.htm
http://www.birthinternational.com/articles/subjects.php?subject=bi
http://www.childbirthconnection.org/article.asp?ck=10182
http://childbirth.amuchbetterway.com/risks-of-childbirth-interventions/

 

Doulas and Cesarean Birth
If you have had a previous cesarean you may be interested in a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean). Studies show that VBACs are safer than repeat c-sections. For more information on VBACs please visit: www.vbac.com 
If you are scheduled for a c-section a doula can help you better prepare for your upcoming surgical birth. She can help you get answers to your questions and create a birth plan. A doula can also help inform you of your rights and options in a c-section, including the kind of atmosphere you would like during surgery, that you can request your hands remain unrestrained, that you hold and nurse your baby during the post-delivery surgical procedures, and other respectful cesarean options. During the pre-operative period your doula can help explain procedures to you and help you get answers to any questions that you have. Your doula can help you manage painful procedures like the spinal or epidural anesthesia for your surgery. Once inside the operating room, your doula will assist you in knowing what is going on and what to expect. If your baby needs to go to the nursery, your husband can go with the baby while your doula stays by your side. The post-partum repair procedure, as well as being in the recovery room can take an hour or more. The doula can stay by your side to comfort you and be the link between you and your partner and baby, should they not be with you, keeping you informed on how each of you are doing. Once you are reunited with your baby the doula can help with breastfeeding and answering any questions or concerns.

 
For more information on Doulas and Cesarean Birth please visit:
http://pregnancy.about.com/od/scheduledcesarean/a/doulacesarean.htm 

http://www.pregnancytoday.com/expertqa/c-section/is-it-worth-hiring-a-doula-if-i-am-going-1922/
 


Please note that the information given in this site is not intended as medical advice.

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