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From birth planning, to hip squeezing during transitional labor, and assisting with breastfeeding in the immediate postpartum, a doula can provide you and your birth partner with invaluable support during during these very special, intimate, and important moment of your lives. A doula can be the perfect addition to your birth team especially if you plan on having a natural birth in a hospital setting.
What is a doula?
Doula, is a Greek word that translates handmaiden or servant. Today, a doula is defined as:
A trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. (source)
What does a doula do?
5 Reasons to add a birth doula to your birth team
Helps lower rate of medical intervention
Giving birth in a hospital subjects you to practices and standards of care that may divert your plans to have a natural birth. Aside from these, hospital settings are usually very clinical, intrusive, and not conducive to a gentle and positive birthing experience.
Through the emotional, physical, and informational support provided by doulas, women may feel more confident and empowered to make decisions for themselves that result in a more undisturbed and natural birthing experience. Studies have found that women who received doula support during labor, were less likely to have a c-section birth, an assisted birth, and regional analgesia such as an epidural. As a birth doula myself, I can say that this is very true.
One of my clients felt encouraged to keep laboring without the use of drugs because her husband and I were there continuously providing her with the support she needed. She mentioned that she was not sure she’d be able achieve her goal of having a natural birth had we not been there to support her.
Helps empower you
A Doula helps empower you through physical, emotional, and informational support. In my opinion, doulas do not empower, but they help empower you. Doulas help build up and draw out what is already within you. You are already strong, and powerful. Whether or not you believe it, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
A doula empowers women through education which is very important in the realm of birth. Having knowledge in the things concerning your pregnancy and birth will empower you to make better, more informed choices for yourself and for your baby. By supporting you emotionally and physically, doulas can help you feel safer, more confident, and more relaxed, thus empowering you to have a more positive natural birth experience. According to the ACOG, evidence suggests that the support provided by a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for laboring women.
Promotes higher satisfation with birth experience
The type of support offered by doulas —emotional, physical, and informational— often leads to an overall higher satisfaction with the birthing experiencing of laboring women.
From the constant reassurance of answers to a question women may ask several times during pregnancy, to the emotional support that is provided during the earlier stages of labor, to the counter pressure applied during transitional labor, it isn’t surprising that a doula’s constant presence and support often leads to a better overall experience.
Contributes to shorter labors & higher APGAR scores
A doula’s constant support to the laboring women (and her partner if applicable) can also contribute to having a shorter labor. This study found that women who received doula support had shorter second stages of labor. This can be due to the relaxation and coping mechanisms taught by the doula, which can have a positive physiological effect on the laboring woman.
The more you’re able to relax during labor, the more your labor hormones are able to work undisturbed and synergistically to faciliate the process of a natural birth. The continuous support of doulas was also found to have a positive effect on the APGAR scores of infants at birth. According to this study, the infants of mothers who received doula-support during labor had higher APGAR scores at the 1 and 5 minute mark.
Saves you money in the long-run
Hiring a doula now may save you money in the long-run. According to this statistic, in 2013 the average cost of a c-section birth in the U.S. was $51,125, while the average cost of an uncomplicated vaginal birth was $32,093. The amount you end up paying out of pocket (or not) depends on your insurance coverage. Here in Ontario, we have provincial coverage for medically necessary c-sections, so birthing women don’t go home with bills for that, but the fact remains that births with no interventions cost far less than those with interventions.
Studies have shown that doula supported births have substantially lower chances of having c-sections than women without doula support, saving you money in the long run.
I hope you enjoyed this post!
Until next time,
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