When you found out you were pregnant, you likely began to google all things ‘pregnancy’ and speak with friends about this great roller coaster..ahem…adventure. The topic of hiring a doula likely came up a few times. We know that the decision to hire a doula is a BIG one for families. You’re adding someone to your support team during what is a very intimate and important time of your life. So the question is, why would you hire a birth doula?
Let’s start with the basics – what exactly is a doula anyway? According to DONA International, the leading doula organization in the world, the definition is:
a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to their client before, during and shortly after childbirth to help them achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.
In laymen terms, the best way to think of a birth doula is as a “coach” for YOU as the birthing person, a user manual that can help guide you through these important times. The sole focus of a birth doula is to be there for you on this journey. A doula is not a medical professional and will not be delivering the baby. Think of a doula as helping fill the role that mothers, sisters, aunts, and community elders would have filled not that long ago. While you may have family members as part of your support team – and that’s great! – there is still a benefit to having a trained professional as part of that group, who is separate from your family structure.
Let’s get into the top 5 reasons to hire a birth doula.
The Stats Back it Up
There are several different studies that show the impact of having a birth doula. According to recent studies:
· Having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 28%
· Decreases length of labor,
· Reduces the use of oxytocin by 31%,
· And lowers requests for an epidurals.
In addition to the benefits above, birthing people overall report a more enjoyable pregnancy and childbirth experience when having a doula present.
Someone that is focused on YOU
There is a lot of focus on the baby during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. It’s understandable that the baby would be a large focus for members of your birth team. But it’s also crucially important that the birthing person AND their support people are fully supported during this journey.
Having a birth doula ensures that you have someone that is always thinking about you. What you need, what kind of support works best, how you can be most comfortable, and how to help you advocate for yourself. Because doulas don’t have medical duties nothing else will take up their time during your birth. We love great nurses, doctors and midwives, but their primary focus is the medical side of your birth (thankfully!). But you will NEED someone who can ONLY focus on your emotional and comfort measure needs during birth. We do that!
Support for Your Partner
There is a myth in doula work that a doula will somehow reduce the role of your partner during pregnancy and birth. We’re here to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth. Birth doulas are trained to ensure that your partner is engaged and an important part of the journey and process.
Many partners report that their doula made them feel more comfortable. As they too now have another support person to lean on and learn from. Having a doula present during birth will allow your partner to take on whatever role they choose. That could be assisting with comfort measures, being an emotional support, or just enjoying the moment as it unfolds. And of course doulas recognize that not every pregnant person has a partner and we’re happy to support people in all situations.
An Individualized Plan
Most doulas will have a set of services and plans to choose from on their website. However, that is just the beginning framework, there is always room to build an individualized plan that works for YOU.
Depending on your needs during pregnancy and birth, you can work with your doula to set up a service package that covers all the bases. This might include extra prenatal visits, specific comfort measures that you’re interested in, additional meetings with your partner or labor support people. Whatever you need, doulas are trained to adapt to each client’s desires and find the best possible solutions.
Doulas are also very knowledgeable about their communities. They have the BEST referrals to ANYTHING you could possible need relating to pregnancy, birth and postpartum supports.
They Provide So Many Tips and Tricks
When hiring a doula you’ll also getting all of the tips and tricks they have learned over their career. This could be anything from labour tips, unique comfort measures, powerful affirmations, and more! While you may be going through pregnancy and birth for only the first or second time, your doula has a wealth of experience gleaned from their time in the birth industry. Doulas can also give you JUST the information you need. So instead of going down the rabbit hole of Dr. Google, your doula can send you ONE link that adequately answers your questions and provides the reassurance you need.
Maybe you’re having a particularly longer labour, your doula will know tricks to help increase the pace or your wellbeing. Or you’re concerned about the best breastfeeding techniques once baby arrives; your doula can help teach you the core principles. You’ll learn so much from your doula during your time together. Think of your doula as “warm cup of tea with a blanket”.