Many studies have shown the benefits of having a doula present during labour.
In short, having a doula accompany and support you during pregnancy, birth and postpartum increases your positive birth outcomes.
Doulas can help to:
◇ Lower birth risks
◇ Shorten the duration of labour
◇ Lower the chances of a caesarian section
◇ Lower the chances of epidurals or other interventions
◇ Give you a greater sense of satisfaction with your birth experience
◇ Give a greater sense of confidence, capability and happiness in the newborn phase
If you’d like to see the science behind these findings, I recommend checking out Evidence Based Birth.
What about the birth partner?
It is never a doula’s role to take the place of the birth partner (husband, wife, partner, friend, mother, etc) during labor, but rather to complement and enhance their experience. Many partners are very actively involved in the birth process. For some, it is overwhelming, or they simply wish to observe and witness the labour and birth without having to play the role of the labour coach.
A doula will assist and show the birth partner how to use relaxation techniques such as massage and breathing to support their partner. She will also allow the birth partner to relax if they need a break without leaving the birthing mother unsupported.
What if I’m planning a caesarean or a medicated birth?
A doula is there to support you in whatever choices you make for your birth. To have a doula present in the labour room is beneficial, regardless of the type of birth you are planning. A doula provides emotional, physical and informational support to you in whatever situation. In a medicated birth, this can mean helping you deal with side effects, managing discomfort, and supporting you mentally. For a caesarean, a doula will provide constant support and encouragement, and will prepare you for a positive, empowered birth experience.
It is not the doula’s role to choose your type of birth, or to try and steer you one way or another with your decisions. Whatever your preferences, she will be with you, supporting you and improving your birth experience.