If my partner is with me during the birth, why would I need a doula too?
Doulas and partners work together in several ways. Partners are often eager to help, but aren’t always sure how to. In some cases, couples have family and friends present as well, your doula can coordinate the efforts of the entire group. Having an experienced labor support person present enhances everyone’s confidence and empowers them to play an active role in the birth. Furthermore, doctors/nurses/midwives can have priorities that compete with your emotional care, such as breaks, shift changes, clinical responsibilities, office hours, and hospital policies. Your doula is a familiar face who’s there solely for you and your physical and emotional well-being the entire time you are in labor.
Does the doula take over for the partner and interfere with their shared experience of giving birth?
When your partner’s confidence is high and they are participating at their own comfort level having a doula present can actually bring the two of you closer together. Some partners may not wish to play an active role in, or be responsible for your comfort and emotional security throughout the entire labor, preferring to witness the actual birth when it’s time. Your doula can fill in and allow the partner to participate as they wish, without leaving your needs unmet. On the other hand, if your partner will be your major source of emotional support, your doula can supplement the partner’s efforts by getting cool and warm washcloths, making suggestions for comfort measures, and offering words of reassurance. During a long, tiring labor, she can give the partner a break or change of scenery. The combined contributions of partner and doula, along with a competent, considerate and caring staff, give you the best chance of an optimal outcome.
I had a partner express to me, “I was relieved when you arrived and I could watch how cared for my wife. (wiping her brow, feeding her ice chips and massaging her back.) It made me want to jump in and help her myself. Margaret models wonderful care, I just mimicked what she did.
As a doula, do you impose your own beliefs about how my birth should go?
As your doula, my position is simple: to help ensure that your birthing preferences are acknowledged and followed as much as possible. When in labor, things get intense and events can unfold rapidly, I can remind you, your partner and staff/provider about important items that can easily be forgotten in the moment. As your doula, I may suggest alternatives for you and your partner to consider, but I do not make decisions for you. I was once told “You are assisting at someone else’s birth. Facilitate what the birthing mother wants and is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, Lead so the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge.”
Are doulas only for women who give birth at home?
As your doula, I assist with hospital births, birth centers, and home births. With an OB/GYN, Family Practice Doctor, DO, Traditional Midwife or CNM. In fact some hospitals employ doulas for the sole purpose of supporting birthing mothers every day.
What’s the difference between having a nurse and having a doula?
Unlike a medical nurse, as your doula, I focus 100% of my energy on you—the mother. Nurses have other patients they’re responsible for, IVs to check, shifts that end, and hospital policies to follow. Even the most attentive and caring nurse will have other clinical responsibilities and not be able to offer a laboring mother relaxation techniques, emotional support, massages, or encouragement and praise. And most nurses are strangers to the patient. Having a familiar face by your side can enhance the birthing process and ensure it’s as smooth and comfortable as possible.
Are there statistics that demonstrate the usefulness and effectiveness of doulas?
Yes, studies have shown that by having a doula*:
- tension and labor duration is reduced
- mother’s feeling of control is elevated
- partner participation is enhanced and increased
- lowers cesarean and medical intervention rate
- enhances mother’s self esteem
- facilitates parent-child bonding
- lowers chance for postpartum depression
- enhances the overall birth experience
- For additional statistics and more information, see: Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth
What don’t doulas do?
- Doulas do not perform medical task.
- Doulas do not replace medical personnel. Rather, they help laboring mothers and families through the birthing process.
- Doulas do not offer medical information or advice concerning the medical technicalities of the birth.
- While doulas may facilitate communication between medical staff and their clients, they do not play a role in any decision making process or relieve the client and her family of any responsibility in communicating with the hospital or medical staff.
Will my birth be easier if I have a doula?
No matter what, giving birth isn’t easy. But what we also know is that countless statistics show that women assisted by doulas have a far lower epidural and c-section rates, which means recovery after birth is much easier. And how can you put a price on having a highly rewarding and satisfying birth experience – which is what mothers report over and over on the overall value of having a doula. The presence of doulas is becoming increasingly commonplace, largely due to how much more comfortable women feel having other experienced women present when they’re giving birth.
Is a Doula for me?
- It’s your first birth and you want an experienced hand nearby to assist you (and your partner) through the unknown.
- You’re unsure about whether your partner will be able to support you either before, during or after the birth of your child.
- You may have had an unpleasant birth experience and want to make it better this time.
- You will be birthing at home or in a hospital and don’t want to be alone.
- You’re fearful you’ll get caught up in the moment and won’t be able to adhere to your birth plan. You’d feel better with an advocate by your side.
- You’re simply uncertain about the birth process and want somebody by your side.