04 Apr 2011 Leave a comment
What is a Doula?
A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical and informational support to the woman who is expecting, in labor or has recently given birth. The doula’s role is to help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience. (SOURCE)
Throughout the ages, in nearly all societies for which we have records, women have been helped and comforted in labor by other women. These women stayed throughout labor providing physical comfort, emotional reassurance, and information. Today, labor support professionals called doulas (DOO-lah; Greek for “woman who serves”) are trained to provide the comfort and care women need during labor. (Childbirth Connection)
Why have a Doula?
Many studies have shed light on the awesome benefits of having a doula for your birth experience. Statistically, some of these benefits are:
- decreases overall cesarean rate by 50%
- decreases length of labor by 25%
- decreases use of pitocin by 40%
- decreases request for epidural by 60% (SOURCE)
Research shows that the availability of support in labor can affect your chances of having a cesarean, vacuum extraction, or forceps delivery; the likelihood that you will need pain medications; and your baby’s condition at birth. Labor support can help you avoid or reduce risks associated with these interventions. Research also shows that having good support can affect how you feel about your birth, and that memories of childbirth experiences often stay with women throughout their lives. (Childbirth Connection)
The largest review on “labor support” summarizes the experiences of over 15,000 women who participated in 21 randomized controlled trials, concluding:
“Continuous support during labour has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labour and birth.” (Hodnett and colleagues 2011)