This article will include a rundown of the benefits of a doula at each type of birth so that interested parties may take the information and apply it to their personal situation.
What is a doula?
A doula is a non medical birth professional trained to support mothers (and spouses!) throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum. Doulas do not generally check cervical dilation, blood pressure, fetal heart rate, or anything clinical. They do provide information, teach the parents about coping techniques, help prepare a birth plan, and support and advocate for the mother through her labor and delivery.
Why hire a doula?
Studies have shown that people who hire a doula have:
- 50% reduction in cesarean birth
- 30% reduction in requests for pain medication
- 60% reduction in request for epidural
- 25% decrease in length of labor
- 30% decrease in use of pitocin
- Reduction of medical cost
- Increased satisfaction with birth
- Increased breastfeeding success
- Less risk of postpartum depression
How much does a doula cost?
The cost of a doula varies largely in different regions of the US. It can be as little as $300 (for doulas who are training and trying to gain experience) or as much as $2,000.
Benefits of a doula for a cesarean birth:
If you are having a repeat or scheduled cesarean birth, you may think that you do not need a doula to be there for you. The fact is that women undergoing this type of birth DO need doulas! Doulas can give you information and support regarding natural or family centered cesarean birth, stay with you through the (often referred to as “lonely”) recovery time when spouse and baby aren’t with the mother. They can talk the mother through the process and be a rock for the couple when they are heading into the delivery room. If the mother wishes, the doula can support her by advocating for her birth wishes with the hospital staff and even document everything with a timeline and photos. Mothers who have had cesarean birth report greater overall satisfaction when they hire a doula due to the fact that they do not feel lonely in recovery, and the doula educates and supports them every step of the way.
Benefits of a doula for medicated (IV narcotics or Epidural) birth:
The benefits of having a doula for a medicated birth are astounding. The fact is that epidurals and pain medications do not always do their job. A good doula always does. If your pain medication does not do what it’s supposed to do, a doula will give you the support and information you need to work with your body, shorten your labor, and meet your baby as soon as possible. Another benefit of having a doula for a medicated birth is that once you have an epidural or pain medication, you are generally in the bed. This leads to the baby not descending in the pelvis in an ideal way, or the labor being prolonged. After your epidural, your doula can show you how to comfortably change positions to aid in good fetal positioning and a shorter pushing phase of labor. She will make you as comfortable as possible during the transition phase when nausea, shakes, and general discomfort set in, and coach you on how to most effectively push. She will teach your husband/partner perineal massage techniques in order to reduce or eliminate the risk of tearing. She will advocate for your wishes throughout the birth and assist you postpartum in any way you need.
Benefits of a doula for a natural unmedicated childbirth:
There are countless benefits to having a doula for a natural unmedicated childbirth! Your doula will be able to walk with you, encourage you when the going gets tough. She will remind you of your choices and why you wanted the type of birth you chose. She will support you mentally, emotionally, and physically. She can suggest things to help speed your labor up and make you more comfortable. She will advocate for you with staff and family if need be. She will teach your husband about counterpressure, position changes, physical support and many other things. She will be present for you at every stage of labor and guide you through transition. She will help you stay in control of your breathing and body and rejoice with you when you finally meet your baby.
Benefits of having a doula postpartum:
Many mothers have said that they can’t put a price on the benefits of having a postpartum doula. She will help with nursing, take care of older children and/or the baby so mom can get a bit of rest, help with things around the house. She will answer all of the “Is this normal?” questions and help new parents feel confident and educated in their new role.
There are so many more benefits to having a doula than what I have listed above. Although I have only been doing this for a year, I’m certain it’s my calling. When you interview a doula, BE SURE that she is doing this job because it’s a privilege to be present for the birth of a child. She should be passionate and dedicated to you and your partner. She should know that this is what she is supposed to be doing with her life. The experience of a doula matters MUCH less than her passion for supporting mothers during their journey. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have regarding birthing with a doula..