What is a Doula?

The word “Doula” comes from ancient Greek and commonly refers to a woman who helps other women. In the childbirth setting, a Doula is a “woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and just after childbirth.” (Klaus, Kennel, and Klaus, in Mothering the Mother.) Additionally, a Doula may provide postpartum support and assistance for the new mother and baby.

A Doula:

  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor…
  • Assists the woman and her partner by supporting their hopes and preferences for the birth while staying with the family during the duration of labor…
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint, and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions…
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and clinical care providers…

Why Hire A Doula?

Research shows that women that have continuous doula support were:

  • 28% less likely to have a cesarean section
  • 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed labor
  • 9% less likely to use any pain medication
  • 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively.

Women who received doula support throughout labor were less likely to:

  • Have a cesarean section,
  • Use narcotics or any other pain medication,
  • To use regional pain medication such as Epidural analgesia,
  • To give birth with vacuum extraction or forceps,
  • Rate their childbirth experience poorly,

Studies have also shown that continuous doula support:

  • Shortened labor,
  • Increased the likelihood of having a “spontaneous” birth with neither cesarean, nor vacuum extraction, nor forceps.
  • Reduced likelihood of a baby with a poor “Apgar score” five minutes after birth

For more information regarding these statistics and the benefits of hiring a doula you can…

Download the current 2011 Cochrane review available in full due to Childbirth Connections’ participation in review:

The Cochrane Collaboration

Continuous support for women during childbirth

Childbirth Connection

Systematic Review: Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth

Childbirth Connection

Labor Support: An in Depth Pregnancy Topic

Main Doula Page

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