Having a Doula: Doula Function, Benefits and Tasks

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A doula is touching pregnant woman's belly
Source: http://americanpregnancy.org/

When preparing for your birth there are several things to do including creating a birth plan, choosing who your midwife or OBGYN will be, taking a birthing class, and choosing a doula. Thankfully, doulas are becoming more common in the birth world. It is becoming more and more known that doulas are a great support and help women experience the type of birth they want to.

What does a doula do?

Doula image painting
Source: http://doula-services.com

There are a lot of misconceptions about what a doula does and does not do. Here is what a doula does: 

1. A doula is your advocate when you are giving birth 

  • A doula will make sure the birth you want is accomplished. If something does not go as planned, your doula will know what you are comfortable with and will always be there to speak for you. A doula will keep you informed at all times.

2. A doula does not take the place of your partner

  • A doula will help your partner feel more confident during your birth and help guide your partner with things to do. If your partner does not want to be involved much, that is okay. If your partner wants to do everything, then your doula will be there to point your partner in the right direction.

3. A doula will help you feel comfortable

  • A doula will wipe your face, place a washcloth on your head, remind you to breathe, will know different massage techniques, and will know different birthing positions for you to try while you are in labor.

4. A doula will help postpartum also

  • A doula will help you become comfortable with skin-to-skin and breastfeeding.

There are several benefits to having a doula 

  • Reduces the incidences of c-section.
  • Lowers the amount of epidural and pain requests.
  • Can shorten the length of labor.
  • Increases successful breastfeeding.
  • Decreases the incidence of postpartum depression.

[Read more about C-section]

3 types of doulas

Each may be certified in one area or multiple areas:

 

1. Birth (Labor) Doula

Doula is massaging a pregnant woman's arms.
Source: http://birthbootcampdoulas.com/
  • This is the most common. The doula is available before and through out the labor and birthing process. The doula helps with breathing, advocating for you, massaging, breastfeeding, and more.

2. Antepartum Doula

  • Doulas assist with mothers who have been placed on bed rest or who are high-risk. They provide a lot of emotional support and listen. They have resources for great support groups and sometimes will help with light housework. 

3. Postpartum (Postnatal) Doula

  • A postpartum doula is another set of hands, after your birth, when you are adjusting to life with your baby. He or she provides light housework, cooking and cleaning. The doula also provides support and coaching with breastfeeding, sleeping, calming, and much more.

[Read more about Labor]

Misconceptions about doulas

Some of these misconceptions may be reasons why some OG/GYN do not feel comfortable with doulas in a birthing room or why expectant mothers may not reach out to hire a doula. These misconceptions include:

A doula is touching pregnant woman's belly
Source: http://americanpregnancy.org/
  • You only need a doula if you are having a natural birth
    • This is not true! A doula is there to support you in whatever birth experience you want. If you already know you will be scheduling a c-section, a lot of hospitals and OB/GYN are beginning to allow a doula there as support. If you already know you will want pain medication, a doula will be there to support you during that birth.
  • Your doula will check to see how far dilated you are
    • A doula does not provide any medical procedures or treatments. That is the responsibility and job of your midwife or OBGYN.
  • If you have a midwife, you do not need a doula
    • Doula’s main goal is to support and comfort you and your midwife’s main goal is to make sure you and your baby are healthy and safe.
  • I do not need a doula because I have my husband/partner there
    • It is important to remember that even if you have a supporting family and husband or partner, hiring a doula will help complete the circle. In most cases, families, your husband, etc. are so excited and anxious to meet the baby, that the mother’s wishes are lost and forgotten in the excitement. Your doula will be there to make sure you are supported. Also, in today’s society a lot of unnecessary procedures are done and a lot of times expecting mothers do not realize everything that may happen during the laboring and birthing time. Picking out and meeting with your doula several times before your birth is a great idea to prepare yourself.

When planning and preparing for your birth, make sure you include interviewing and hiring a doula to be at the top of your list.

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