Renata Provost, CD(DONA), LE, NCS
Serving the Bay Area, CA
Many studies for the past three decades have shown significant benefits of hiring a doula. A Swedish study investigated midwives' experiences of doula support. The study showed that doulas are a facilitator for the midwives.

"Doulas provide support by enhancing the degree of peace and security and improving communication with the women in childbirth. Doulas also provide increased opportunities for transcultural care. They may increase childbearing women's confidence and satisfaction, help meet the diverse needs of childbearing women and improve care quality." 
​(Midwifery: 2011, Jan 12)

A birth doula is a supportive companion professionally trained to provide physical and emotional support during pregnancy, labor and birth.

A doula provides continuous support, beginning during early or active labor, through birth, and for approximately couple hours following the birth. The doula offers help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement, positioning, and massage. She also assists families with gathering information about the course of labor and their options. Her most critical role is providing continuous emotional reassurance and comfort.

Doulas attend home births and hospital births; medicated births and unmedicated births, with women whose care is being overseen by doctors or midwives. Doulas may be the only support person for the mother, or may be part of a labor support team including mother's partner, friend(s), and/or family members.

Doulas specialize in non-medical skills, and do not perform clinical tasks, or diagnose medical conditions.

Doulas do not make decisions for their clientes nor speak for them. Their goal is to provide the support and information needed to help the birthing mother  have a safe and satisfying birth as the mother defines it.

Many people think a doula is only responsible for assisting with delivery. However a doula can offer help and support during your prenatal care period. They can also be an essential postpartum support person. Another recent U.S. study confirmed the benefits of postpartum doulas, who help new parents with the transition to life with their new infant. This is not something that the doctors and midwives usually do at all after the mother's discharge from hospital.

Take a look at these benefits of a doula to make an educated choice whether to hire one or not.

Benefits of a Doula

Benefits from doula support during labor:

50% reduction of cesarean rate
25% shorter labor
60% reduction in epidural requests
30% reduction in analgesia use
40% reduction in forceps delivery

Benefits of hiring a doula that you may personally notice during and after childbirth:

- Someone who really has been there, done that before, which can reduce stress;
- Help you and your partner understand what is happening and how to get informed;
- Help you let go of the control, and simply let your body guide you through childbirth;
- Keep everyone's nerves calm and cool during childbirth and be your advocate;
- Provide massage, breathing techiniques, positions and so on during labor as well as teach these techniques to your partner;
- Help provide any emotional or physical support you need;
- Answer your questions about baby care;
- Answer your questions about your post-pregnancy body and emotions;
- Answer questions about breastfeeding;
- Can offer nutrition guidelines and information designed specifically for you and your personal needs;
- Can also offer you with guidance when it comes to rest, exercise and offer support.

What is a Doula and Why Have a Doula?