By Becky Streeter
No matter how many birthing classes you attend, you cannot possibly remember all of the breathing techniques designed to help get you through labor. Sure, your partner might remember a few and be able to help, but when things start to get really serious, you might want someone who’s actually trained in pain-reliving techniques to be by your side. This is just one of the responsibilities of a doula.
According to DONA International, the Doula Training and Certification center, a doula is defined as “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.” While doulas do not provide any medical care, they are knowledgeable in many medical labor and delivery practices.
Doulas offer physical, emotional, and partner support during childbirth. Most doulas develop a relationship with the expectant mother a few months before her due date. This gives the opportunity for the mother to ask questions and express concerns and fears about the labor and delivery process. They can also work on a birth plan together that the doula will advocate during the delivery. And throughout the labor process, a doula can suggest several different relaxation techniques including massage, breathing techniques, and different bodily positions.
Research shows that women who use a birth doula are:
1. Less likely to need Pitocin (a labor inducing medication)
2. Less likely to have a C-Section
3. Less likely to use pain medication
4. MORE likely to rate their childbirth experience positively
Beyond the labor and delivery process, specific postpartum doulas can assist after the baby is born as well. A postpartum doula helps family members through their new transition from woman to mother, man to father, or parents of one to parents of more than one. Studies suggest postpartum doulas help reduce postpartum mood disorders and improve breastfeeding success.
Labor and delivery, as well as postpartum experience, can be a wonderful but challenging time. You can read all about, but when push comes to shove (quite literally), it helps to have a personal, professional coach right by your side.
Information for this article obtained from https://www.dona.org.