doulas make a difference
The basis of doula care is guidance, which includes offering information, tangible physical assistance, and emotional support. Doula care represents a return to the tradition of woman-to-woman support during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum period.
Labor support includes emotional support and reassurance, comfort measures (e.g., bath or shower, massage, soothing touch, breathing and relaxation techniques), and encourages the woman to change positions and work with her body. Doulas are trained to respect the woman’s cultural and religious beliefs throughout. The continuous presence of an experienced doula during labor has been demonstrated to endow a woman with confidence and to provide greater satisfaction in birth.
proven benefits of birth doula care
- Decreased medical intervention in labor*
- Reduces need for cesarean by 26%
- Reduces the need for forceps or vacuum extractor by 41%
- Reduces use of pain medication by 28%
- Reduces dissatisfaction with birth by 33%
- Reduces length of labor
The birth of a baby represents a profound and permanent life change for the parents and other family members. Every family can benefit from the support and encouragement offered by a doula during the fourth trimester. By educating, attending to the needs of the mother, infant and other children and by offering referral information, the postpartum doula can ease and enhance the postpartum experience.
6 weeks after birth, mothers who had postpartum doulas were:
- Less anxious and depressed
- Had more confidence with baby
- More satisfied w/ partner
- More likely to be breastfeeding
The doula’s work and nurturing presence complement the care that laboring women receive from medical practitioners and that postpartum women receive from their families. Doulas encourage women to trust their bodies and instincts, decreasing fear of the labor process and anxiety of the postpartum period.
*Hodnett E, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003. Issue 3, Art. No. CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.
For more information and research, see http://www.dona.org/publications/position_paper_birth.php