“I was fortunate to have doulas for both of my births, and having that strength and encouragement available is something I wish every woman could experience during labor.”
~Stacy Knuth, Doula Client
Chances are, your grandmother was brought into the world with the assistance of a doula. And it is likely that she had a doula at the birth of your mother. A doula is a woman trained and experienced in guiding a momma through birth.
Outside of very recent history, women around the world have been surrounded and supported by other women in the process of childbirth. A gentle touch here, an encouraging word there and the unwavering strength of an ally focused on momma and baby’s welfare are the primary tools women have traditionally used in the birth process.
While a doula is not medically trained and will not be delivering your baby, she is very knowledgeable about the process of birth and is very aware of how to comfort a woman at all stages of labor. History has ample evidence to prove that women supporting women in birth is a beneficial and successful model.
More recently, numerous studies* in all areas of the world have concluded that having a doula present for a birth can:
- shorten labor (some studies show a labor time is cut in half with doula support)
- provide effective, natural pain relief
- decrease the need for an epidural and Cesarian delivery
- result in positive, affirming feelings about the birth
As a doula, I meet with a momma before birth to discuss her wishes and desires for birth. It is my job to ensure that momma feels safe and confident in her labor experience. Getting to know momma before hand allows me to best meet her needs. At 38 weeks, or 2 weeks before a momma is due, I go on call. That means my energy is focused on being prepared to come to momma’s side the moment she needs me. Then I stay with momma through birth offering pain relief, humor, information, advocacy and confidence through each stage of labor. This also provides potential relief for others. Once the little miracle arrives, I stick around to make sure momma and baby have everything they need, including basic breastfeeding support and newborn basics, to begin their first day together. After birth, I will visit the new family to see how they are doing, connect them to resources and allow momma to share the story of her new miracle.
*Kennell JH, Klaus MH, Klaus PH, The Doula Book. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press; 2012
Photo by Tim Ohlson