Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of having a birth doula?
The word "doula" is comes from the Greek word meaning "woman's caregiver" and is now commonly used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continual physical, emotional and informational support to a mother and her partner before, during and just after birth. There are numerous studies that show having a birth doula present at birth tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications, as there is a reduction in interventions and the need for pain medication. Most importantly, mother's who have had a birth doula report a more positive birth experience and healthier babies. Consider:
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 experieced:
Less anxiety and depression
More confidence with the baby
More satisfaction with their partner
Long-term benefits of using a doula:
Increased time spent with baby
More positive maternal assessments of baby's personality and health, and maternal competence
Decreased postpartum depression
"Mothering the Mother", by M.H. Klaus, J.H. Kennell, and P.H. Klaus; Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, New York (1993).
What are the benefits of having a postpartum doula?
A postpartum doula helps to facilitate the emotional and physical recovery from childbirth by helping the mother feel secure and cared for. They also foster greater self-confidence for all family members by helping them adapt to the changing family dynamics by providing education and hands-on skills. The presence of a postpartum doula also increases a mother's confidence in breastfeeding by answering questions and providing resources when needed. With a postpartum douls present, there is also a decrease in the incidence of postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders.
How do healthcare providers feel about doulas?
A doula's job is provide emotional, physical and informational support for their clients. Provided that a birth doula remains within their scope of practice, most careproviders are accepting of birth doula support for their patients. Furthermore, for a hospital birth, a doula's presence makes a nurse's job easier. A doula can assist with many routine, non-clinical tasks such as getting a client to a bathroom and facilitating client comfort. Mothers with a doula are more relaxed, have shorter labors and generally need less interventions. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Do doulas only support natural birth? How do they feel about pain medication?
A doula honors their client's choices and provides compassionate, non-judgemental support. If a client would like to have an epidural during her labor, it is important the the doula explore with the client the appropriate time to have an epidural, the pros and cons of epidural medication and then ultimately respect her decision. Many times an epidural can be a very beneficial option for a client that has a labor that will not progress due to maternal exhaustion and/or tension.
How does a birth doula support a woman who wants or needs to have a cesarean birth?
A cesarean birth is still a birth and a doula can offer the same continuous support that is offered to clients who have a vaginal birth. If the client is not familiar with the cesarean birth process, a doula can offer reassurance and education about the procedure. A doula can offer encouragement and relaxation measures both before the birth and after. In some cases, the doula may be able to offer support in the operating room if it is authorized by careproviders. A doula can also be present after the birth, in recovery, to help with initial breastfeeding and facilitate bonding. Most importantly, a doula can protect the birth experience for the mother by helping her process the birth and foster acceptance (especially for unplanned cesarean births).
Will insurance cover doula services?
Currently, insurance coverage for doula services is not widespread. However, as more women are choosing to have doulas as a part of their pregnancy and birth team and as more research supports the benefits of doula care, this may soon become more common. However, flexible spending plans will frequently reimburse for doula care.