“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
― Mark Twain
Why is a Doula So Valuable?
The culture of childbirth has changed dramatically over time, especially during the last 70-80 years. Most women used to give birth at home and with the advent of more modernized medicine, birth moved into the hospitals. Now, most women give birth in hospitals, even fewer have their babies at birthing centers and the minority of women have home births. However, the number of home births has increased in the past few years and is on the rise.
The hospital environment can be hectic, intimidating and a little frightening, with the staff changing shifts every 8 to 12 hours. The mother could be left questioning who will be with her throughout her labor and birth. A birth doula is there consistently with the mother, and most often will join the mother and her partner at home before transitioning to the hospital. The doula is the one person the mother can count on to be there for her consistently, supporting her along the way.
A doula does not take the place of the partner or husband. Doulas and partners work together and complement each other’s strengths. Partners feel less stressed and become more confident helping the moms when there is someone else in the room that knows the process, who is trained in childbirth and also able to project sense of normalcy, calm and give encouragement to mom and partner during labor.
It is a doula’s job to represent the values of the mother and to honor her choices, whatever they may be and to not interject her own opinions and values. Simply put, the doula is there for the mother. Every mother can benefit from having a doula independent of whether she chooses a natural birth, her labor is induced, or even if the birth is to be a planned c-section. It is the doula’s role to help the mother have a safe, satisfying birth experience and, in most cases, is the only person in the labor room completely centered and focused on the mother and is the caretaker of the mother’s wishes for her birth and baby.
The birth of a baby is a cherished and special event and is a profound and important time in a woman’s life. Birth is to be celebrated and honored, so that the mother feels safe, private and undisturbed.
“There is power that comes to women when they give birth. they don't ask for it, it simply invades them. accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it." -Sheryl Feldman
What is a Doula
The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A Birth Doula
- Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- Stays with the woman throughout the labor
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
- Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level
A birth doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials CD(DONA).