The purpose of World Doula Week is to empower doulas all over the world to improve the physiological, social, emotional, and psychological health of women, newborns, and families in birth and in the postpartum period. (World Doula Week)
In 2021, World Doula Week is March 22-March 28, but the truth is, we celebrate doulas today and every day!
We want our Sweet Child O’ Mine family to know and understand the benefits of working with a doula during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. (By the way, we’ve got a few incredible doulas on our team; meet them here!!)
What is a Doula?
Doulas are birth companions who offer emotional, physical, and informational support to the birthing person and their family. While midwives and doctors may provide support for parts of labor and birth, doulas typically offer continuous support.
Part of the doula’s role is to remain impartial; in other words, they have no agenda other than to support the client and their wishes. The doula supports the birthing person in advocating for themselves. If needed, they amplify the mother’s needs, requests, and preferences. Doulas also support the communication between the family and care providers.
Emotional support includes but is not limited to active listening, validating, affirming, witnessing, and being truly with a person through their experiences.
Physical support includes but is not limited to tending to the environment, cues for new positions, offering water and snacks, massage and other soothing touch (with consent).
Informational and advocacy support includes but is not limited to providing evidence-based information about procedures and interventions, discussing birth preferences, suggestions for breathing and positions, and communication support between family and care providers.
Doula support is NOT medical support. Thus, doulas will not do any exams of the birthing person or baby.
People who serve as labor and birth doulas often include a postpartum visit; at this visit, they will informally access how the family is managing postpartum, offer resources and referrals as needed, and, often, process the birth story with the family. Other doulas offer longer-term, in-home postpartum support, so this is an option you and your family might like to explore as part of your team.
What are the Benefits of Having a Doula?
As you can see above, doulas can be an invaluable part of a birth team. Given the description of the role of a doula, we invite you to consider: How do you think you may benefit from a doula? What would you like or expect the doula’s role to be?
Per Evidence Based Birth, the researchers found that overall, people who have continuous support during childbirth experience a:
- 25% decrease in the risk of Cesarean; the largest effect was seen with a doula (39% decrease)
- 8% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth; the largest effect was seen with a doula (15% increase)
- 10% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief; the type of person providing continuous support did not make a difference
- Shorter labors by 41 minutes on average; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference
- 38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference
- 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience; mothers’ risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience was reduced with continuous support provided by a doula or someone in their social network (family or friend), but not hospital staff
Read more about the evidence from Evidence Based Birth here! And find the 2017 Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews research here.
Check out this infographic from DONA International about some of the benefits of having a birth doula!
Get Support for Your Birth
Your team at Sweet Child O’ Mine is here to support you in building your ideal birth team, and sometimes this includes a doula! Whether you are partnered or not, whether you have had a doula for previous births or not, whether you are feeling confident going into labor and birth or not, a doula can be a supportive, steady presence along your journey.
Sweet Child O’ Mine Doula Team is ready and willing to support you.