As many midwives have found, a doula can be an invaluable resource to a laboring woman and to a new mother.
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.)
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. Another resource is the Doula Network Page, produced by Kerry Melton and the doulas of West Virginia.. You can also reach them at 304-340-1602 or 1-866-55-DOULA. 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. The Childbirth Connection has an excellent page on labor support in general; it discusses the reasons why labor support is important and why you should consider carefully the person(s) who will provide you with support during labor.
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 to promote safe and loving birth experiences through education, introspection and confident action. Birth Works classes are taught by certified childbirth educators who are committed to a wholistic approach in helping birthing women/couples prepare emotionally, physically, and spiritually for their births. To find an Birth Works certified instructor and/or doula in your area go to http://www.birthworks.org/directory.phtml.
DoulaWorld.com offers an interactive search for doulas and childbirth educators and lists over 400 childbirth professionals.