The Greek word doula originally means “woman caregiver.”
“A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience.” — American Pregnancy Association
She recognizes the woman’s birth experience as an important life event that will be remembered for the rest of her life; understanding the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor.
A Birth Doula can
- Stay by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor.
- Help reduce negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience.
- Help reduce the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans.
- Help reduce the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals.
- Help families experience shorter labors with fewer complications.
- Help facilitate initial breastfeeding.
- Facilitate communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and clinical providers.
- Help to cope with the unexpected.
- Offer support to partner.
And so much more!
“Birth matters… It matters because it is the way we all begin our lives outside of our source, our mother’s bodies. It’s the means from which we enter and feel our first impression of the wider world. For each mother, it is an event that shakes and shapes her into her innermost core. Woman’s perseption about their bodies and their babies’ capabilities will be deeply influenced by the care they receive around the time of birth.” — Ina May Gaskin
The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition for their contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers and infants.
See also: Evidence Based Birth: Evidence on Doulas