Why Hire a Doula?

“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers…strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” -Barbara Katz Rothman

Pregnancy and childbirth is one of the most exciting, most memorable times in a family's life. 
Birth is a natural, beautiful process that can be enjoyed. 
A doula is there to help you have a positive, memorable birth experience. To help you give birth the way YOU want to give birth! 

A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical and informational support to the mother who is expecting, experiencing labour or has recently given birth. The doula's purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience. 

Most doula-client relationships begin a few months before the baby is due. During this period, they develop a relationship where the mother feels free to ask questions, express her fears and concerns and take an active role in making decisions surrounding her birth. Most doulas make themselves available to the mother by phone/e-mail/text in order to respond to her questions or explain any developments that might arise during the course of the pregnancy. Doulas do not provide any type of medical care. However, they are knowledgeable in many medical aspects of labour and delivery. They can help their clients gain a better   understanding of the procedures, options and possible complications of late pregnancy and delivery. 

During delivery, doulas are in constant and close proximity to the mother. They have the ability to provide comfort with pain relief techniques that include breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, massage and labouring positions. Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance. A doula acts as an advocate for the mother, encouraging and helping her fulfill specific desires that she might have for her birth. The goal of a doula is to help the mother experience a positive and safe birth, whether a natural birth, a medicated birth or caesarean. 

After the birth,  doulas spend some time helping mothers initiate breastfeeding and encouraging bonding between the new baby and other family members. 

Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth labours are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and breastfeed more easily. 

A birth doula: 
Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
Understand the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a mother in labour
Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
Stays with the woman throughout the labour
Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint
Helps the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
Facilitates communication between the labouring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
Encourages the woman's partner to participate at their comfort level

Numerous studies have documented the benefits of having a doula present during labour. With the support of a doula, women had shorter labours, were less likely to request pain relief medication, less likely to have a caesarean birth, and reported having a more positive childbirth experience.

Doulas often use the power of touch and massage to reduce stress and anxiety during labour. According to physicians Marshall Klaus and John Kennel, massage helps stimulate the production of natural oxytocin. The pituitary gland secretes natural oxytocin to the bloodstream, causing uterine contractions, and to the brain, resulting in feelings of well being, drowsiness and higher pain threshold.

The role of the doula is never to take the place of husbands or partners in labour, but to compliment and enhance their experience. Today, more husbands play and active role in the birth process. However, some partners prefer to enjoy the delivery without having to stand in as the labour coach. By having a doula as part of the birth them, the father is free to do whatever he chooses. Doulas can encourage the father to use comfort measures and can step in if he wants a break. Having a doula allows the father to support his partner emotionally during labour and birth and to also enjoy the experience without the added pressure of trying to remember everything he learned in childbirth class! 

With a doula present, the pressure on the partner is also decreased, allowing participation at an optimum comfort level and increasing the enjoyment of the birth and the baby. Ideally, the doula and the partner make the perfect support team for the woman, complementing each other's strengths.

The presence of a doula can be beneficial no matter what type of birth you are planning. Many women report needing fewer interventions when they have a doula. The primary role of the doula is to help mothers have a safe and pleasant birth experience, not to help them choose the type of birth.  For women who have decided to have a medicated birth, the doula will provide emotional support, comfort measures and informational support through labour and the administration of medications. Doulas work alongside medicated mothers to help them deal with possible side effects and other needs when medication might be inadequate, because even with medication, there is likely to be some degree of discomfort. 

For a mother facing a caesarean, a doula can be helpful by providing constant support and encouragement. Often a caesarean results from an unexpected situation, leaving mothers feeling unprepared, disappointed and lonely. A doula can be attentive to mothers at all times throughout the caesarean, letting them know what is going on throughout the procedure. This can free the partner to attend to the baby and accompany the newborn to the nursery if there are complications.

A doula is different from a midwife or doctor, as they DO NOT perform any medical tasks. 

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