What Is A Doula And What Do They Do?

A doula is a professional childbirth assistant who also provides personalized care, educates, and emotional support.

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Every woman wants her best friend to be there at her every special event in her life. But can the best friend handle labor? During labor and after that you may require a doula who would not only act as a childbirth assistant but also provide emotional support. 

Unlike the doctor, a doula is more personal in her approach. It is very common for women who opt a home birth get assistance by doulas. Having a doula is not a compulsion but indeed a choice for a better birth experience. There are other types of doulas other than labor doulas such as antepartum doula and postpartum doula. Labor coach, midwife, and doula are people who help you prepare for birth.

The presence of a woman along during labor helps the pregnant woman be more comfortable. A woman is aware of things such as how it feels when the vagina expels blood and stretches wide. She has experience of things like what feelings and worries go in your mind during a panic situation.

What Is A Doula And What Do They Do?
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What Is A Doula And What Do They Do?

What is a doula?

A doula is a professional childbirth assistant who also provides personalized care, educates, and emotional support. Unlike doctors or nurses, you can have the doula stay later and come earlier apart from the active labor.

A doula has another term such as labor assistant, labor coach, birth assistant or labor support professional. The reasons for hiring a doula can be because of pregnancy complications or to have a companion. You could have a doula help you after birth even if she wasn’t present during that period. It happens in situations like after rapid labor or emergency c section with a high-grade tear.

The word doula has a Greek origin which roughly translates into a female slave. Though, in the modern context, a doula is a friend rather than a slave. 

What does a doula do?

A birthing doula behaves like a spokesperson, friend, assistant, educator, and advisor. She is like your non-labor panicky version. 😀

When you hire a doula, she will talk to you about your birth plan and choices. You’ll be negotiating things that can happen during labor and what you would want to do in that situation. Gradually she will understand and educate you about the different possibilities during labor.

Most labor assistants start their work way before labor starts. By the time your due date comes the doula knows entirely about your preferences. During active labor when you lose your sanity, she will be your voice conveying the experts your choices.

Consider if you wanted a natural birth but find the pain of labor way more than you thought and are willing to give up. The doula has an active role to play here. She will remember what her client wanted. Not only will she prevent the doctors to be quick in doing a C section but also encourage you to push harder. Along with that she will give massage, pep talks, help you squat, or change labor positions.

A good doula is not a medical professional, but her experience is nearly equal. Throughout your pregnancy, she will narrate you things that can happen during labor. She will also help you create the right birth plan.

It will be a two-member team with a common goal of making baby delivery easy, memorable and less painful. She will be the coach who plays along during the final match.

What all will the doula do?

  • She will help you to adjust to each stage of labor
  • Her massages will reduce pain and risks of c section or medications
  • She will encourage your partner to get involved in the process
  • Set up a labor tub and even clean it later
  • Will not leave the labor room and be present throughout
  • Check whether you are in active labor
  • Click some photos while you cuddle your baby
  • Breastfeeding assistance

A doula may also provide you support over phone calls during the last stages of pregnancy.

She can also check whether your mucus plug has fallen and dilation has occurred. When you cervix dilates enough, she will be able to distinguish whether you are in active labor.

There can be other things she does like making your favorite drink or doing other things in the birth plan. Tying hair or other personal care may or may not be part of services your doula provides.

After birth, if you are not willing to have the baby immediately your doula can help. She will also help you breastfeed and bond with your baby.

Can a doula deliver a baby?

Yes, a doula can help you deliver a baby. Especially if you have a natural delivery or home birth, the doula will play the pivotal role. But she is not trained to handle any surgery such as a C Section or any other. So you cannot rely on her for any medical assistance.

Whether or not to hire a doula is up to you because she is just going to help in birthing. Perform

Around 60 out of 100 pregnant women having a labor support professional did not ask for an epidural

Benefits of having a doula during labor

There are real statistics to prove the positive outcomes of having a doula.

  • Studies show that having a doula reduced the rate of c sections, use of epidurals and oxytocin injections.
  • It also helped mothers have a shorter labor exertion and a less painful birth. Some women have had 3/4th the actual duration of labor because of their supportive doula.
  • Other than that presence of doula also helps mothers have a completely natural delivery. The use of artificial oxytocin is slightly less effective compared to naturally released labor hormone. Out of every ten women, four did not need oxytocin when they had a doula. Labor doula use massage and relaxation techniques that involve natural oxytocin release. It induces a positive response and helps mother continue the process without external support.
  • Doula assisted pregnant women tend to have a lower tendency to ask for pain relief medications. Around 60 out of 100 pregnant women having a labor support professional did not ask for an epidural.
  • The power of touch and emotional support by a doula is unmatched and enhances the quality of the entire process.
  • Doctors don’t give massage nor do they get personal. A doula’s massage helps more and more oxytocin reach the brain and induce drowsiness. The anxiety and possibility of postpartum depression greatly reduce by this care.

What are the types of doulas?

There are mainly three kinds – the labor doula, antepartum doula and postpartum doula. Just like the names suggest they have their roles during their prefixes.

An antepartum doula helps a mother who has complications that make bed rest compulsory for her. She can also be there for any woman who has other pregnancy issues like hypertension or low blood pressure. If the mother suffers an injury or is ill she can hire an antepartum doula. Such pregnancy doula may help you with your first child if you are expecting the second one.

A Postpartum doula helps you cope with the healing period after delivery. She will coach you about breastfeeding and help latch on the baby. Post partum massages and emotional support from such assistants reduces the risk of postpartum depression.

Find a doula

How to find the right doula or best doula? There is no hard and fast rule but experience counts. So the best doula is the one who has helped many women before you. She will be able to handle situations better. Even if you plan to get a c section still her experience will make the procedure smooth.

You can ask questions before hiring doula:

  • What is her qualification or certification?
  • How many deliveries has she been a part of?
  • Does she specialize in some massage or relaxation techniques?
  • Will she be available at any hour over the phone?
  • Is she aware of kegels and other exercises you can do to prepare for labor?
  • What serious complications has she dealt with?
  • Does she also provide neonatal care and stay as a postpartum doula?
  • What is a doula salary? How much do you pay a doula?

Discuss your birth plan with her and about language and communication skills too.

Doula vs. Midwife

A midwife is a qualified health expert and can replace medical professionals. You can have her along all by herself during home birth or at birth centers. Doula on the other hand is a supporter and only provides care and comfort. She cannot be there instead of medical experts. The terms are used interchangeably, but both have a vast difference.

You must consider whether the labor coach is just a support or entirely the birthing performer. Similarly, a midwife won’t continue after the delivery but a doula can be there helping you later on.

Is a doula only for women who want a natural birth?

A doula is a person who will help you during labor. Even if you have a planned C-section on the mind, a doula can help you cope with it. Reasons not to hire a doula other than financial repercussions or dislike for too many people present are rare. A doula will help you adjust when the epidural paralyzes you. Even as you come out of anesthesia she will be there to assist you to get back on feet. During your bed rest phase, she will take care of your needs.

What Is A Doula And What Do They Do?
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What Is A Doula And What Do They Do?
A doula can be a great asset to have during a challenging experience like pregnancy and labor.