As many midwives have found, a doula can be an invaluable resource to a laboring woman and to a new mother. A doula is a professionally-trained supportive companion for a woman in labor. Doulas do not have clinical training in medicine, midwifery, or nursing, but are trained to support and advocate for the pregnant and laboring woman and to provide physical assistance and emotional support. They are sometimes known as labor coaches. As is noted in Widipedia, certification and training are offered to doulas, though there is no oversight to their practice and the title can be used by anyone.
Documented Benefits of Doula Care (based on the best current scientific evidence):
Compared with women who do not have continuous labor support, women who have doulas experienced
- fewer epidurals
- shorter labors
- fewer episiotomies
- fewer cesarean sections
- fewer forceps or vacuum-extraction deliveries.
In addition, compared with women who do not have continuous labor support, they
- feel less pain and anxiety in labor
- express greater satisfaction with their labor
- express more positive feelings toward their baby
- experience less postpartum depression
- breastfeed exclusively for longer.
(From “Special Delivery,” the Maternity Center Association newletter, Summer 2000)
As many midwives have found, a doula can be an invaluable resource to a laboring woman and to a new mother. A doula is “a supportive companion (other than a friend or loved one) who is professionally trained to provide labor support. She performs no clinical tasks. Doula also refers to lay women who are trained or experienced in providing postpartum care … for the family.” The doula does not replace the midwife, but supplements and enhances her care. She can concentrate completely on the comfort of the laboring woman, as she is free of the responsibilities that are inherent in the role of the midwife. To find out more about doulas, visit the website of Doulas of North America or DONA at www.dona.org, or try the Doula Network Page offered by Kerry Melton and the doulas of West Virginia, members.aol.com/doulainwv/index. Ginny Potter, a doula in Vancouver, Washington, has another website for doulas and persons interested in using a doula or becoming a doula, www.birthcircle.com. Childbirth Connection has an excellent page on labor support in general; it discusses the reasons why labor support is important and why women should consider carefully the person(s) who will provide them with support during labor.
Birth Works, Inc. offers certified doula and childbirth educator training and a wide variety of books, videos, and parent education materials including the video, Birth in a Squatting Position, and Michel Odent’s classic book, Birth Reborn.. To view their catalog and order online go to http://www.birthworks.org/store/ Birth Works embodies the philosophy of developing a woman’s self confidence, trust and faith in her ability to give birth. It is the goal of their childbirth classes and doula services as well as their childbirth educator and doula certification programs to promote safe and loving birth experiences through education, introspection and confident action.