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 emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth: or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Clinical Studies Show…
Numerous clinical studies have found that a Doulas’ presence at birth:
- Tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
- Reduces negative feelings about the childbirth experience
- Reduces the need for Pitocin, forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
- Reduces the mother’s request for pain medication
Research shows parents who receive Doula support can:
- Feel more secure and cared for
- Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
- Have greater success with breastfeeding
- Have greater self-confidence
- Have less postpartum depression
- Have lower incidence of abuse
How a Birth Doula can support the mother and her partner
- Recognize 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
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care provider
- Provides an environment for the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level
How a Postparum Doula can support the mother and her partner
- Offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester
- Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light housekeeping
- Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery form birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary
“Doulas offer value as they work toward providing more positive obstetric outcomes in an attempt to reduce birth disparity among women. Research has shown that black non-Hispanic mothers experience much higher rates of preterm labor, low birth weight, and fetal and maternal mortality (Martin et al. 2006). By providing doula services, we work with many other community health partners to reduce this disparity. A national survey highlighted that the women with the least amount of resources are most likely to benefit from doula care and are least likely to receive it (Lantz, et al., 2005). Furthermore, a focused study in Northern California involving low-income participants concluded that doula care was associated with timely onset of lactogenesis and higher breastfeeding prevalence at 6 weeks postpartum (Nommsen-Rivers et al 2009).”
Lantz PM, Kane Low L; Varkey S, Watson R. L. (2005). Doulas as childbirth paraprofessionals: Results from a National Survey. Women’s Health Issues. 2005: 15: 109-116.
Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Sutton PD, Ventura SJ, Menacker F, and Kirmeyer S. (2006). Births final data for 2004. National Vital Statistics Reports 55(1). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr57/nvsr57_07.pdf
Mastergeorge AM, Hansen RL, Cullum AS, Dewey KG. (2009). Doula care, early breastfeeding outcomes, and breastfeeding status at 6 weeks postpartum among low-income primiparae. Journal of Obstetrics Gynecology Neonatal Nursing. Mar-Apr;38(2):157-73.
Nommsen-Rivers LA, Mastergeorge AM, Hansen RL, Cullum AS, Dewey KG. (2009). Doula care, early breastfeeding outcomes, and breastfeeding status at 6 weeks postpartum among low-income primiparae. Obstetrics Gynecology Neonatal Nursing. 2009 Mar-Apr;38(2):157-73.