Birth is an exciting, joyous time! It’s also unpredictable. Having a doula by your side ensures that there will be at least one person at your birth who knows you and your preferences and has an in-depth understanding of labor and birth. When nurses and midwives/OBs come in and out, your doula will be there from the moment you need her until your baby is born.
Here are some other awesome perks to hiring a doula, as shown in numerous studies (see References).
You may be thinking, “How is that even possible? How can having a doula at a birth make that much of a difference in so many ways?” The studies I cited don’t attempt to answer the questions of how or why, but here are some possible explanations.
Women labor differently around sympathetic women. Ina May Gaskin, one of the nation’s foremost midwives, is huge on this point. Women are able to progress more quickly, feel more comfortable, and better do the work of labor when they have another familiar woman in the room.
Doulas know stuff. Stuff that can make a real difference! We know a variety of labor positions and can recommend helpful ones throughout your labor: early labor, active labor, stalled labor, pushing, positions for when baby is having trouble descending, positions for when labor is coming waaay hard and fast, positions to help mom continue to progress when largely immobilized due to an epidural, and more!
Doulas give constant positive support. Throughout labor, doulas give moms positive feedback, leading to further confidence and renewed energy and focus.
All of this means that mothers who labor with a doula have a higher likelihood of shorter labor, fewer interventions, and a more positive birth and postpartum experience. You still won’t be able to predict the twists and turns that your labor may take, but you’ll have someone in your corner every moment!
Have you had a doula at a birth? What was your favorite part of the experience? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
(Apologies for my stylistic inconsistencies.)
Katy Backes Kozhimannil, Rachel R. Hardeman, Laura B. Attanasio, Cori Blauer-Peterson, Michelle O’Brien, “Doula Care, Birth Outcomes, and Costs Among Medicaid Beneficiaries”, American Journal of Public Health 103, no. 4 (April 1, 2013): pp. e113-e121.
Will Chapple, MPH; Amy Gilliland, PhD, BDT(DONA); Dongmei Li, PhD; Emily Shier, MSEd, CD(DONA); Emily Wright, RN, BSN, CD(DONA) “An Economic Model of the Benefits of Professional Doula Labor Support in Wisconsin Births”, WMJ : official publication of the State Medical Society of Wisconsin. 112. 58-64.
MH Klaus, JH Kennell “The doula: an essential ingredient of childbirth rediscovered”, Acta Paediatrica. 86:10. (October 1997): 1034-1036
MH Klaus JH Kennel, PH Klaus Mothering the Mother Addison-Wesley Publishing Company Reading, Massachusetts: 1993
Campbell, Della A., et al. “A Randomized Control Trial of Continuous Support in Labor by a Lay Doula.” Journal of Obstestric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, vol. 35, no. 4, 2006, pp. 456-464.
Katy B. Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA,1 Larua B. Attanasio,1 Judy Jou, MPH,1 Lauren K. Joarnt,1 Pamela J. Johnson, PhD,2,3 and Dwenda K. Gjerdingen, MD4. “Potential benefits of increased access to doula support during childbirth”, The American Journal of Managed Care. 2014 Aug 1; 20(8): e340-e352.
“Benefits of a Doula Present at the Birth of a child”, Pediatrics. Nov 2004, 114 (Supplement 6) 1488-1491.