It is important to note that the Doula-client relationship begins months before the birth of the baby. It is during this time that trust is established between Momma and Doula. It is important for her to feel comfortable with her Doula. This pre-natal time is used to freely ask questions, express fears and concerns and work together on birth day wishes.
It is widespread practice for the Doula to be available to her client by email and phone to address any issues and concerns that arise during this prenatal period. Take note, that even though a Doula does have knowledge of many medical aspects of labor and delivery, they do not take the place of a Nurse, Midwife or a Doctor. As always, medical issues and emergencies will be referred to the care providers. She can, however, help Momma better understand the changes that her body is going through, the procedures and possible complications in late pregnancy or delivery.
When the big day arrives, Doulas are Momma’s constant companion. The relationship that has been built prenatally allows the Doula to provide soothing comfort, emotional support and pain-relief techniques including massage, breathing, position adjustment and relaxation techniques. They are not only there for Momma however, they are there for her partner as well. To encourage participation, guide their support of Momma, offer reassurance and even just offer them a break.
Acting in the role of an advocate, Doulas encourage and help Mommas fulfill their birth wishes. They make sure that she is fully informed and understands procedures before moving forward with them. Doulas never make judgements on a Momma’s decision. Each birth is different and a Doula’s ultimate goal is to help Momma experience a positive and safe birth, regardless if it’s medicated, natural or results in a cesarean.
A Doula’s job does not end at the moment baby is born. Whether it is helping nursing Moms with the breastfeeding process, or instructing her partner on skin to skin holding techniques, the Doula spends time encouraging the bonding process between the new baby and other family members. Even seasoned parents may need refreshers on holding, swaddling and, yes, even that first yucky diaper. Once again, that important pre-established, relationship comes into play. Because of that, the Doula will know how much you need her and will be able to support you. At the same time, she will also know when you are ready for her departure.
What does the science say?
Not only are women reporting more positive birthing experiences with more feelings of control and empowerment, but many studies have shown the amazing benefits of having a Doula as part of a birthing team. With the help of her knowledge with Robozos, birthing balls, massage techniques, affirmations, essential oils and movement* to help with pain management, women are less likely to request medication during birth.
Documented studies have shown that a Doula as a member of the birth team decreases the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, the use of forceps by 40%, the overall cesarean rate by 50% and requests for an epidural by 60%.
Every woman deserves a Doula
Historically, women came together within the community to help a Momma give birth. When the time came, she was surrounded by women that had the knowledge to assist her through the most wondrous and terrifying time of her life. At some point, giving birth became more of a solitary event. Women were moved into sterile environments and checked on sporadically throughout the birthing process. Welcoming a Doula onto a birthing team helps turn that process into a beautiful journey. One where the Momma is more educated, in control, empowered, enlightened and satisfied with the experience as a whole.
* Each Doula has their own knowledge set with natural pain management. Every birth is different and may require the use of multiple techniques over the duration of labor. These will be discussed with clients in the prenatal visits.