What is a Doula? What do they do?

First off- What the heck is a doula!?

According to Christine Morton, author of Birth Ambassadors- “A Birth Doula is a companion who supports a birthing person during labor and birth. Birth Doulas are trained to provide continuous, one-on-one care, as well as information, physical support, and emotional support to birthing persons and their partners.”

•••Let me expand on this a bit. When I sign a contract with a pregnant woman, I am officially her go to for many things! Questions, Concerns, Wonderings (as my amazing trainer called it!) by phone, text, email etc. for the remainder of that woman’s pregnancy. I also meet with the woman (and often times her significant other!) in person at least twice to go over comfort measures in labor, her birth plan and more!

•••At 38 weeks, I go on call. This means I am available 24 hours a day in the event she goes into labor! When that call comes- I meet the mother at home or in the hospital to support her through the remainder of her labor. Whether that is 2 hours or 42- I am there! And I stay until the breastfeeding relationship is established (or baby is given formula).

•••I remain on call for at least 6 weeks postpartum via phone, text and email and I visit the family at least twice to see how they are settling in and help out once baby has arrived earthside!

°•°•Note that I support the partner and family as well as the birthing person! I am not a midwife- also not a replacement for the expecting partner! I also provide CONTINUOUS CARE. This means that I do not work in shifts with others. I am there for your entire pregnancy and birth. Not some stranger you have never met!•°•°

Enough about me… Here are the stats and evidence behind having a doula for pregnancy and birth!

According to a 2017 Study, continuous support by someone in a doula role were:

More likely to have spontaneous vaginal births
Less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and Cesareans.
Their labors were shorter by about 40 minutes.
Their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth.
Also some evidence that doula support can lower postpartum depression in mothers!

*** Best Part! There is absolutely ZERO EVIDENCE that continuous labor support provides negative consequences!! Talk about a win! ***

What about doulas vs partners, midwives or other continuous support members? Is there evidence that one is better than another?

▪The answer is yes! While continuous support from a midwife, nurse, or partner (OR BOTH!) is extremely beneficial, the best success rates are with an entire birth team involving a doula.▪

◇◇The stats for this include- a 39% decreased chance of cesarean with a doula vs a 25% decrease with another support person, a 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience (any support member other than medical staff) and a 15% increase in spontaneous vaginal birth vs 8% with other support.

A recent study in Iran found mothers who received doula support had lower pain scores and less anxiety during birth and now in all hospitals and maternity care centers there the recommendation has been made to provide doulas because HAVING A SAFE AND CALM DELIVERY IS CONSIDERED A HUMAN RIGHT! Iran for the win ah???

~°~NURSES AND DOULAS ARE NOT THE SAME! A US Study concluded that L&D Nurses spent about 31% of a laboring mothers labor in the room with them. Due to staffing constraints and medical requirements, nurses unfortunately rarely have the ability to spend close to 100% of the time in the room with their patients.~°~

***Spouses and nurses can still be ESSENTIAL members of the birth team! Ideally, all hands on deck in the birth space is ideal! The perfect birth team should include a doula, your partner, doctor, and nurses (or in the event of home birth- midwives and birth assistants!). All parties have an important role to play in the birthing space! One doesnt replace another!***

Interested in what a doula can offer you? Want to know more? Contact me today!

Leah Dubin