Only around three percent of women hire a doula to act as a professional labour supporter. Although relatively uncommon, you have probably heard the term doula quite a lot during your pregnancy. You may be wondering, what does a doula do?
A doula is a trained professional who offers emotional and physical support to a woman (or to a couple) during labour. A doula aims to improve the birthing experience of the mother by ensuring that her needs are met and she feels supported throughout the birth.
What does a doula do?
A doula will answer all of your questions about the impending birth, and help you to put together a birth plan. Her aim is to ease your concerns and help you to feel confident about the birth. The doula will help you to prepare yourself for labour and becoming a mother.
During labour, a doula will help in anyway she can. She may suggest birthing positions, talk you through contractions and massage you to relieve discomfort. She is there to support both you and your partner.
Advantages of a doula
- A friendly face – you may not know the doctor or midwife working the night you give birth, and you can never be too sure how your birth partner is going to handle the event. By hiring a doula, you know you will have a friendly face on hand to help guide you through the labour process.
- The birth plan – it’s important to remember you’ll be focused on the birth, and won’t be aware of the details on the day. If the healthcare provider are pushing for potentially unnecessary interventions, a doula may find it easier to advocate for you than your birth partner would.
- Continuous support – your doula will stay with you throughout your labour and birth. Many hospitals are unable to offer this level of continuous support due to high demand and staff shortages.
- Reduced risk of interventions – studies have found that doula assisted births have 50 percent less chance of caesarean section, 40 percent less risk of a forceps delivery and 60 percent reduction in the use of epidural pain medication.
Disadvantages of a doula
- Cost – doulas vary in price, but you should expect to pay anything from several hundred to several thousand dollars for your care. This cost is usually not covered by health insurance. Some doulas charge on a “sliding scale,” taking your income into account.
How do I choose a doula?
- Some hospitals have trained doulas on staff, so check whether your local hospital is one of them.
- You could also try contacting Doulas of North America (DONA) to find out about the doulas in your local area.
- Your healthcare provider may be able to refer you to a local doula.
Once you have a list of local doulas, you should set up interviews to meet each one available around your due date. Find out about their training, qualifications, experience, and references. It’s important you find the doula who is the right fit for your family.
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.