the doula

by Dia Hollenbeck Minkow

a doula is a labor support person who gives emotional and physical comfort to laboring women. They do not perform clinical tasks such as heart rate checks or vaginal exams but use massage, aromatherapy, positioning suggestions to help the labor progress as well as possible. A doula joins a laboring woman either at her home or in the hospital or birth center and remains with her until a few hours after the birth. Most doulas also offer several prenatal visits, phone support and one postpartum meeting to ensure the mother is doing well, informed and supported. The terms of a labor/birth doulas responsibilities are decided between the doula and the family. In addition to emotional, physical and informational support, doulas work as advocates of their client’s wishes helping them to communicate their wishes.  A doula is a support person who does not deliver the baby. Since she doesn’t have these responsibilities, or other patients to attend to, she can give her complete and total attention to being by a woman’s side for the entire length of her labor providing continuous emotional and physical support.

women supported by a doula during labor have been shown to have...

    ▪    50% reduction in Cesarean rate

    ▪    25% shorter labor

    ▪    60% reduction in epidural requests

    ▪    40% reduction in Pitocin use

    ▪    30% reduction in analgesic use

    ▪    30% reduction in forceps delivery

six weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas experienced...           

    ▪    less anxiety and depression

    ▪    more confidence with the baby

long-term benefits of using a doula...

    ▪    improved breastfeeding

    ▪    increased time spent with baby 

    ▪    positive maternal connection of baby's personality, health & maternal competence

    ▪    decreased postpartum depression