A birth doula, pronounced doola, is someone who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth, and provides support to the family before, during, and shortly after the birth. A birth doula is a coach, a supporter, an advocate, and serves as an informational guide to both parents. Some doulas only practice in hospitals, others only in home births; however, many will attend in the setting is the safest and most comfortable for the mother, supporting the mother's birth plan and choices.
Benefits of a Birth Doula
For centuries women have attended other women during childbirth, and studies have consistently shown that this support has a positive impact on the laboring woman.
According to numerous studies, other benefits of a birth doula include:
1. Shorter labors with fewer complications
2. Reduction in the need for medical intervention (cesarean sections, forceps, ect.)
3. Decreased need for medications during labor (Pitocin to speed up labor, pain relief medications, ect.)
Moms report that having a doula increased their satisfaction with their birth experiences, earlier and closer bonding with their babies, and a decrease in the intensity of postpartum depression.
Benefits to the Baby
The baby also benefits from the presence of a birth doula during childbirth in many ways.
1. Better bonding experience with both the mother and father shortly after birth.
2. Baby breastfeeds better.
3. Decreased NICU transfers and shorter hospital stays.
How Birth Doulas Benefit Dads
Contrary to popular belief, the presence of a doula during childbirth does not diminish or negate the need for dad's involvement in the birth process. Rather, studies have shown that a birth doula actually increases dad's involvement by boosting his confidence through decreasing the pressure he feels, and by increasing his medical knowledge of childbirth, and in measures that he can take to comfort his wife during this time. This has proven to increase dad's overall satisfaction with his part in the childbirth experience.
More information about the benefits of a birth doula can be found by visiting these websites:
Evidence Based Birth