“Doula” is the greek word for servant. In the context of a birth, I am just that. I serve women during their labor and delivery. A doula is a woman experienced in childbirth that assists a woman during her labor and birth by providing emotional and physical support. Practically speaking this means throughout pregnancy a Doula provides information and answers questions. When labor happens, a Doula provides many different comfort measures as well as supporting a woman emotionally which comes in many forms– a caring touch, soothing words, listening to her fears and worries.
Have you been formally trained?
There are many ways for someone to become a Doula. Some are certified and some are not. In my case, I am pursuing certification through ToLabor. I hope to be finished by this time 2016, perhaps sooner! The certification process involves attending births, attending an intensive training workshop, attending a birth class, required reading, and a written exam. I have attended the training workshop and am now considered a Professional Birth Doula.
Does a Doula take the place of a birth partner?
No, a doula does not take the place of the birth partner. Your partner is going to be an invaluable source of support during your labor, but your partner may not have a broad knowledge about birth and medical procedures. Your partner will also need breaks to use the restroom or eat, so having a doula will make sure you are continuously supported. Doulas will work with your partner to form your support team.
Is there any evidence supporting Doulas?
Yes! One review of 22 trials with over 15,000 women, showed that continuous support during labor had better outcomes. Women with continuous support were more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth and less likely to use pain medications and epidurals, have a vacuum or forceps assisted births, or have cesarean births. Women who had continuous support also had shorter labors and fewer babies with low APGAR scores.
Things a Doula does NOT do:
- A doula is not a medical professional and as such does not perform any clinical tasks.
- A doula does not speak for you. She helps support your voice.
- A doula does not make decisions for you. She listens to you, provides information, and ultimately supports whatever decision you make.