Top Four Reasons to Have a Doula

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It is no secret that I have a love of doulas! I have used doulas in both my pregnancies and I’ve found them to be wonderful and definitely worthwhile. But many people don’t even know what doulas are, let alone how they can benefit you, your partner, and your baby. Let’s talk about what a doula is first and then we’ll get into the top four reasons to have a doula.

What is a doula?

Many times, when I say that I had a doula at my births, people go, “Huh? What’s a doula?” Doula comes from the Greek word meaning a female servant. They are there to provide support to you during your pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. They are not a medical professional, but they are trained in ways to help you during labor by providing relaxation techniques. They also are usually knowledgable about birth so they can help explain what’s happening or what some of your options might be. For purposes of this post, I am going to look just as birth doulas, though postpartum doulas are also great – providing support to moms at their home after they’ve had the baby.

Top 4 Reasons to Have a Doula

Photo By Wendy Kenin via StockPholio.net

Top Four Reasons to Have a Doula

Reason #1: Doulas provide continuous support.

For the most part, when you are in labor, your doctor/nurse/midwife/etc is not going to be in the room with you the entire time. And they may not even be the same person all the time – shift changes happen or if you are with a large practice, the doctor on call may be a doctor you have never even met before. That is why a doula can be so great. They are there the entire time, a stable presence, and they only have you to take care of. That constant presence can be both reassuring and helpful. But don’t worry – doulas also know how to keep their space. If you ask them to step out for a bit, they definitely will. They are there to be what you need them to be.

Reason #2: Doulas don’t judge.

A good doula will support you in your choices – whatever those may be. Sometimes doulas have a reputation for being only for moms who want to go pain med free or only for moms having a vaginal birth. But neither of those things are true. A doula is there not to bring her personal opinions about what you should do, but to support you and empower you in your choices. A doula won’t judge you or make snarky comments about what you choose to do.

Reason #3: Doulas help support your partner.

A doula’s primary focus is the mom, but that doesn’t mean they just throw the dad under the bus. Doulas are not there to replace the dad rather they can aid and support them as well. Maybe dad needs to step out for a moment or two to go to the bathroom or eat something and the doula can be that continuous presence for the mom. They can also show your partner how to help you out. They can also be a reassuring presence. Sometimes it’s hard for men to see the woman they love in so much pain. Doulas can help remind them that about what is normal. Especially for first time parents, it can be hard to know if labor is progressing normally. Doulas have often attended many births and are able to offer perspective in this way.

Reason #4: Doulas have proven medical benefits.

Not only are doulas great in all these emotional ways that would be hard to measure, but they have shown tangible benefits as well. A recent study from the University of Minnesota showed that doulas reduced the number of surgical births and pre-term births among low-income women, though other studies have found that reduction in surgical births, so that was not all together surprising to the researchers. A review of data on studies looking at continuous support also showed shorter labors, less use of pain medication, and fewer babies with low APGAR scores, in addition to fewer surgical births and instrument assisted births. Those outcomes were particularly strong when the support was provided by someone like a doula, who is not a member of hospital staff and not a member of the woman’s social circle.

Like I said at the beginning, I absolutely love doulas and think they are totally worth it. Curious to learn more about what doulas look like in practice? You may want to read the birth stories of my boys: Dominic, hospital birth with doulas, and Allen, birth center birth with doulas. If you are in the Milwaukee area, I highly recommend Mothering the Mother – they are such a wonderful group of doulas. Otherwise for other areas, you can check out doulamatch.net.

Do you have any questions about doulas? Have you used a doula? Would you consider using a doula? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

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