The Purpose & Value of a Doula



If a doula were a drug it would be unethical not to use it.

- John H Kennell, M.D



 
8 reasons to hire a Doula...
even if you plan to have an epidural:

1. Most of the time the
    woman is required to do
    some laboring before an
    epidural can be administered.
2. Occasionally the anesthesiologist is unavailable for a
    period of time.
3. Sometimes a woman labors so quickly there is not
    time for an epidural.
4. Though the mother does not feel her contractions as
    intensely, she still has all the same emotions of a
    laboring woman.
5. Epidurals do not hold your hand, play soft music, rub 
    your shoulders or explain what is happening. Your 
    Doula is available to offer emotional support 
    throughout your entire labor.
6. Doulas know many techniques that may lessen the 
    adverse side effects of an epidural.
7. A Doula can be useful in the pushing stage, as the 
    mother has decreased feeling and may need intense 
    coaching and assistance with positioning.
8. Epidurals don't always provide 100% pain relief
 
 
The purpose and value of a doula is indispensible.   A doula provides continuous support and encouragement, both physically and emotionally, throughout pregnancy, labor and birth, to both mother and partner.  Doulas also provide non-biased, fact-based information to assist the mother in making informed decisions regarding her care.   Having a doula present during labor helps enhance the father/partner’s role by demonstrating different comfort techniques and positions and by encouraging him/her to help mom breathe and relax during contractions.  If the mother’s partner needs a break or feels uncomfortable in any way, the doula will be there to step in and take over.  Having a doula present also helps mothers to labor at home longer because having that experienced person there to turn to with questions or concerns helps take the anxiety away of wondering if what is happening is normal.
 
One of the benefits of not arriving at the hospital to soon is that often the laboring woman has progressed far enough that the likelihood of using pitocin or having an epidural or other pain medication is greatly reduced.  A doula can be an advocate for the mother/couple at the hospital by encouraging her and her partner to ask questions about procedures that the doctor or nurse might be suggesting and by reassuring them that a lot of the monitors, lights and noises are perfectly normal.  Another benefit is that a doula is a constant presence unlike a labor and delivery nurse who works in shifts and maybe be off in the middle of a couples laboring.  The average contact with an obstetrician/gynecologist is approximately six minutes during a visit. Mothers are left to their own resources to inform and prepare. The overwhelming amount of information available only makes this process more confusing.   They are there for the individual couple and stay with throughout labor and delivery.  A doula is a familiar face, with which the mother/partner has developed a relationship.
 
The presence of a doula during labor and birth has been proven to shorten labor, lessen the use of epidurals and pitocin, which in turn, lessens the chance of a caesarean section.  All of these factors promote bonding between mother and baby, as well as a greater success with initiating breastfeeding.  The doula also becomes an advocate for the newborn. Many standard hospital routines such as bathing, warming, weighing and measuring can usually be done at the mother's bedside, allowing more time for the family to bond.
  
A doula’s role is to support and encourage a mother/couple, to bring her love, hands and wisdom to the table.  She is there to listen to concerns and fears without judgment or opinion.  The doula is a unique part of the birthing team. She is hired by the birthing couple to serve the laboring woman and normally does not perform medical tasks or clinical evaluations.   No one ever forgets the birth of their children and the experience that goes along with it.  A doula’s presence helps make that experience be the best it can be and will help document it for the family to cherish forever.
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