Labor support in modern maternity care has undergone many changes in the last few decades. Our current medical model provides little continual support to birthing mothers as many nurses are often spread out over several patients. This is not to say that they lack the caring nature that draws so many into the nursing and obstetrical field, just that they have been pulled in several directions. This is why I feel pregnant mothers across the nation are increasingly receptive to hiring a doula to attend them at their birth. This idea is a difficult one to understand as a husband, sister or for grandmothers to be. Doula's do not replace them, they only offer additional support.
The word Doula is greek term for 'woman's servant'. When I am asked what a doula is, I commonly state that they are like a childbirth educator who goes to the actual birth with you. A person who has vast knowledge of the process of not only childbirth, but oftentimes, common hospital procedures and practices. Just like a childbirth educator, a doula does not provide medical advice, or perform any clinical tasks. They simply advise as to what the nurse is doing/suggesting. Because doula's attend birth's regularly, they are in tune to what common practices and procedures are in their community. This is what makes them such a valuable 'birth coach'.
Some of the reasons why more women are hiring doula's to attend their birth are:
1. Doula's know what to coach you on. The Doula can coach the laboring mom in several different relaxation techniques. Including breathing, positional, relaxation, and even aromatherapy and keeping the birthing mother in a comfortable place mentally. This becomes especially helpful in a hospital setting. Your doula will already know if you prefer to have the lights low, or your desires to labor while being mobile. She just has a connection to the birthing mother's needs/desires.
2. Your Doula will stay with you for the entirety of your labor and stay after delivery to ensure all is well. This becomes especially important when your nursing staff has a shift change. It is comforting to know you have another woman there who is dedicated to staying with you, and will even communicate your progress to the new staff coming in.
3. She can help you labor easier. Birth coaches help to facilitate and easier birth. In fact, having one actually present at your birth can cut your laboring time by 50 percent. Talk about an incentive to hiring a doula! According to Mothering the Mother, by Marshall Klaus, John Kennell, and Phyllis Klaus, studies have shown that the physiological effects of continual support during labor reduces:
references: Continuous support for women during childbirth - Cochrane Collaboration
Continuous intrapartum care effect on mother's and babies
I am a DONA Certified birth Doula. Serving the greater Kansas City metro area. I am also Rebozo and Dad Certified and a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist. My heart's passion is to be able to work within the birthing community to serve expecting women through the childbearing experience.