What is a Doula?

The word Doula is in fact a Greek word meaning “woman servant or caregiver”. The meaning has changed over the years. A Doula in todays modern world is an experienced woman, like myself, who offers emotional and practical support to a woman through their entire pregnancy, birth and post natal period.

Why use a Doula?

There are many more women birthing in hospitals rather than home and therefore the birthing process has changed hugely. Caring for the birthing woman and giving her continuity has become much more difficult for midwives as they are stretched. Women no longer receive the continuous support needed from one carer throughout her entire labour and birth. And as we live in such a diverse cosmopolitan society or immediate and extended family such as mother, sisters and grandmother are not there to to provide the nurturing role for the new mother. Thats when doulas step in to guide by experience and help with the practicalities that need to be performed before, during and after a woman gives birth to a baby.

There have been numerous studies demonstrating the many benefits of having a doula present at birth. Below are highlights from some of these studies;

Birth and Postnatal Doula

Emotional and physical support significantly shortens labor and decreases the need for caesarean deliveries, forceps and vacuum extraction, oxytocin augmentation, and analgesia. Doula-supported mothers also rate childbirth as less difficult and painful than do women not supported by a doula. 

The results of these 12 trials strongly suggest that doula support is an essential component of childbirth. A thorough reorganization of current birth practices is in order to ensure that every woman has access to continuous emotional and physical support during labor. 

Women supported by doulas or midwives benefit by experiencing shorter labors and lower rates of epidural anaesthesia and caesarean section deliveries 

Psychosocial support by doulas had a positive effect on breastfeeding and duration of labour 

The mothers in the doula group were significantly less rejecting…less emotionally distressed and had higher self-esteem….showed significantly less mood disturbance and higher pre-birth and post-birth self-esteem 

Research carried out across the world has shown that having a doula alongside you during the birth process can lead to:

  • 50% reduction of cesarean rate
  • 25% shorter labour
  • 60% reduction in epidural request
  • 30% reduction in analgesia used
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery

6 weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas were:

  • Less anxious and depressed
  • Had more confidence with baby
  • More satisfied with their partner (71% vs 30%)
  • More likely to be breastfeeding (52% vs. 29%)