May 25, 2007

What is a Doula?

Some day, I'd like to be involved in the whole childbirth cycle - doula, midwife, lactation consultant, something that allows me to interact with babies. For now it is the studying I'm doing for becoming La Leche League leader certified. And I think I'm closer than I realize.

I love babies and wish I could have 6 more (some days). They just smell so sweet, are so soft and cuddly, alert or sleepy, just beautiful - a true gift from God.

So what is a doula? A professional labor assistant, usually a woman, who provides emotional and physical support and runs interference for the laboring mother/couple. Support methods include massage, aromatherapy, visualization, and relaxation.

Why hire a doula? Labor is an intense time for both the mom and her husband (totally un-PC, but we've discussed this before). Mom needs to concentrate on letting her body work it's magic. Dad needs to help Mom concentrate. If it's a hospital birth, then the nurse/doctor/blood tech is always running in to check the cervix, insist on hooking up to fetal monitoring devices, offering unwanted and unneeded drugs for pain. Why not let the doula do that work for you?

She will also help with pain management, sticking to the birth plan that Mom and Dad chose before the whole labor whirlwind started up, and offering that ever important emotional support and buffer. No need to quibble over it - labor is a very emotionally charged time.

The advantages to having a doula include:
  • 50% reduction in your chance of having a cesarean
  • 60% reduction in the use of epidural anesthesia and 30% reduction in the use of narcotics
  • 40% reduction in the use of Pitocin (the synthetic version of oxytocin)
  • 25% reduction in the time of labor
  • 40% reduction in the use of forceps and vacuum extraction

  • There is also evidence that shows that moms using doulas have lower chances of maternal fever, bleeding, or post-partum depression. The chances of successful breastfeeding and positive attachment to the baby are higher. The mom is more likely to view the birth as more positive and more feeling of control.

    Some insurance companies pick up the cost of the doula (from $200 to $800 depending upon the location) now and isn't that why God invented flex spending anyway? (just a-kidding!)

    You can find more information about doulas by running a search on your favorite engine (I prefer Google), or visit DONA - Doulas of North America.

    Do you think they make doulas for everyday life?

    Doula resources:

    ICAN birth glossary
    Birth Doula - DONA


    Mom Tu-Tu said...

    I would love to be a Doula someday! With two little ones at home it's not possible right now, but maybe someday. There is nothing I love more than pregnancy and birth, especially all natural midwife delivered births. I will talk to anyone and everyone I know about it!

    annie said...

    A doula would have been appreciated at any of my four birth experiences. I did breastfeed all four too, but was not given any help at all and with the first had the worst breast infection the doctors had ever seen. . . by no. 4 I was an old pro.

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