Labor with a birth doula becomes more and more popular. At the same time, the number of questions related to this profession, for some reason, does not decrease.
So, who is a birth doula? Why should you invite her to childbirth if there is a midwife or an obstetrician? Can a woman give birth without the help of a birth doula?
What is a Birth Doula?
The word “doula” translated from Greek means “servant-woman”, literally means “professional companion in childbirth”.
A doula is a qualified assistant in childbirth who provides support during childbirth (the word “doula” is, in fact, a Greek word meaning “woman assistant”). Several studies have shown that due to the help of a birth doula, the pain during contractions and their duration decreases.
A doula is not a doctor. Very often they do not have medical education and cannot replace a qualified doctor, a midwife, or a nurse. But they can help ease the dilating pains of the mother and help her relax. And unlike doctors, nurses, and midwives, who often have to look after several patients at the same time, the birth doula will stay close to you until you are transferred to the ward with the baby. A doula can also provide pain relief by several not medical methods, such as massage, breathing exercises, and water procedures for women. Thanks to such help, the possibility of a baby’s birth without the use of medicines for the mother increases.
Why is it Better to Give Birth with a Birth Doula?
A birth doula is an assistant at birth, providing practical, informational, and psychological support. With a power of attorney, a doula may act as the legal representative of the woman in childbirth. At the same time, a doula doesn’t make decisions instead of the woman she helps. Unlike the obstetrician, a birth doula does not use medical methods, such as prescription of drugs, any kind of medical examination (vaginal examination, etc.).
She does not diagnose and does not cancel diagnoses. Doulas do not analyze and control the condition of the mother or child, do not provide midwifery care during childbirth and in the postpartum period. The effectiveness of the birth doula work is based on the concentrated long-term support of the family (and the mother in particular), on the knowledge of psychology and physiology of the perinatal period, on the possession of drug-free methods of assisting in labor, such as:
- Psychological and emotional impact,
- Anesthetic massage,
- Breathing and sound exercises,
- Reflex therapy.
Birth doula cares about creating the most favorable environment during childbirth. It has a beneficial effect on the impressions of the birth of both the family and the medical staff. Doulas should have high-stress tolerance, self-discipline, and work in accordance with the international code of practice and the principles of ethical standards in working with pregnant women. It is believed that the safest and quality is the work of a certified birth doula. Almost all countries have organizations that unite certified doulas, working within the strict framework of professional ethics.
Birth Doula is Occupied Only With You
In fact, the birth doula is the only person present at birth who is completely busy only with you: your physical and emotional state, your needs and desires, your comfort, your well-being. Her support helps you to be in a calm state which is so important for successful deliveries.
The medical staff works for the result – a safe delivery. The individual needs of the patient are only partially taken into account. The accompanying you person is usually laid out to the maximum. However, moral support is often not enough.
At the same time, the birth doula puts all efforts to make the delivery as calm and comfortable as possible. Her main task is to create such conditions that at this important moment of your life you feel great.
Doula is a Help and Support Before and After Childbirth
The definition of the doula’s aim as “escort during labor” is not entirely correct. In fact, the work of a birth doula begins long before delivery – even during pregnancy (3-5 months). At this time she usually first meets the client.
A pregnant woman always has many questions that she wants to clear up and fears that she wants to dispel. A birth doula is a person who will listen carefully, explain, tell you what can be done in this or that situation.
The period “after” raises no fewer questions. How to put the baby to the breast? How to carry the baby correctly? What can I do to recover in the first days after childbirth? The help of the birth doula during this period is always accepted with gratitude.
Birth Doula Provides Information
You are aware in advance of your rights, the specifics of medical procedures as well as the possible consequences of any intervention in the process. At a critical moment when the couple is too concerned the birth doula helps to clarify the situation – due to her experience and a sober assessment of what is happening.
Birth Doula Helps to Orient Your Partner
She does not in any way take his place but acts in harmony with him, performing her own tasks, not interfering, and, in many cases, helping him to do his own.
Midwife/Obstetrician VS Birth Doula
- A birth doula is occupied only with you. She takes care of your physical and emotional state and needs. Helps you to go through the childbirth.
- She is in touch with you from in the initial stage of childbirth. If necessary, birth doula visits you at home and helps to solve the problems.
- A birth doula stays with you all the time from the moment of getting into the hospital.
- You choose the birth doula yourself according to your own personal preferences.
- A doula does not control the course of labor. She helps a woman to go through the birth in the way a woman wants, supporting her and accepting her point of view.
- A birth doula does not take the child and does not conduct any medical manipulations with the baby or with the woman.
- A doula does not give medical advice, even if she has a medical education and understands what is happening at the moment.
- The goal of a birth doula is a woman’s satisfaction with her birth.
- An obstetrician is occupied with childbirth. The doctor follows the correct course of the labor and takes the child.
- You meet the obstetrician only in the delivery room (active stage of childbirth).
- The doctor is occupied with several women at the same time. Temporarily absent from the ward.
- The midwife assesses and controls the course of labor. This is her direct duty.
- Obstetrician takes the top position: directs contractions and poses.
- The midwife accepts the child and carries out all necessary manipulations with them and with the mother.
- The purpose of a midwife is a healthy mother and baby.
- An obstetrician is appointed by the hospital.
Features of The Birth Doula’s Work
The main task of a doula is to create the most comfortable space for delivery based on the wishes of the future mother. However, the birth doula is not a guarantee of natural birth. Her main task is to help a woman to go through childbirth in such a way as to receive satisfaction from it. No matter what kind of birth it was. At the same time, the birth doula has knowledge of the physiology of pregnancy and childbirth.
She knows the hospital protocols, owns the techniques of relaxation, non-drug anesthesia, and the psychological skills necessary for her work. A doula is not a midwife, not an obstetrician, not a spiritual midwife. She does not provide medical assistance and does not accept the child. That’s why all over the world birth doula’s work does not require licensing.
Studies show that the presence of a birth doula positively affects the delivery process. It reduces the percentage of interventions and cesarean sections and also increases the level of satisfaction with childbirth. A birth doula supports and cares. In some ways, it can be compared to a nurse who provides household comfort.
A woman can be herself with a doula. She may feel relaxed and not be afraid. With a birth doula, you can share any of your fears and anxiety. You can ask her any question. After the birth of the baby, you can discuss childbirth with her.
Birth Doula’s Tasks
A birth doula must understand the essence of what is happening at each stage of pregnancy and delivery. She should competently and simply convey the wishes of a doctor or midwife to a woman, “translate” incomprehensible medical terms. The doctor, in their turn, knowing about the close connection of a woman with a doula, can use it to correctly adjust the mother to a new stage of labor. In fact, the birth doula performs a soft mediating role between a woman and new for her people and environment.
A birth doula often has a psychological education (although not necessarily), knows the techniques of relaxation, knows how to use acupressure to relax the woman, and how to stimulate her. She can suggest the necessary body positions, with the help of which painful sensations disappear. Doula reminds the ways of breathing and sounding. Also, she can select appropriate music and find the right words for the woman in labor. A birth doula can do almost nothing sometimes but her presence itself has an amazing effect that is not amenable to either reason or logic.
If you are thinking about whether you should invite a birth doula for childbirth – talk to your husband. Perhaps he himself will want to help you, or, conversely, will not mind at all that an experienced person will help you. A birth doula can show your husband what to do, how to reduce your pain, and tell him how to help you. If the future dad does not cope with the situation – a birth doula will always do whatever it takes.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.