Written by Diana Guidry, Guest Blogger
A Quick Insight into the Role of a Doula
After years of trying everything in the book to conceive, I finally gave up and started looking at alternatives, such as invitro or adoption. It was during this search that we discovered I was pregnant. I was thrilled. But that threw me into a totally different search. Do I choose an OB or a midwife? It was during this search that I came across the word “doula”. That was a new one for me.
Unlike myself, you may have heard the term “doula” thrown around in mom groups or at your local birthing center, but have you found yourself asking what IS a doula? What’s the difference between a doula and midwife, and if a doula isn’t a midwife, what exactly do they do?
“A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience.”-American Pregnancy
A midwife is a professional who is trained in the medical side of pregnancy and childbirth and will provide medical care for the expectant mom, laboring woman, and women who just gave birth.
In most birth teams today, you will see a midwife and doula working alongside each other to assist an expectant mom throughout her pregnancy. A midwife will be the one administering care throughout pregnancy and delivery. She will order tests, make sure baby is growing, and be the one to assist mom in bringing her new baby into the world.
Below I have listed doula roles within the birth team and how she assists mom throughout pregnancy, birth, and her transition into postpartum and motherhood!
The word doula is a Greek word meaning women’s servant. Women have been serving other women in childbirth for centuries, and in a sense, doulas are a newer view to an old world concept. When you think about the word itself, it becomes pretty clear what a doula’s role would be to another woman giving birth.
If you’re a woman looking for alternative pain management, having a doula would mean instead of having an epidural administered right away, your doula would hip squeeze you through each contraction, no matter how tired her hands would inevitably get. No worries, though, that’s what she’s trained for! If you are needing to lean against someone as you stand in a hot shower with water running down your back as you sway back and forth, a doula will be there for you. If you’re an expecting mother who has a breech baby but still wants to give a vaginal birth a shot, a doula will show you ways to naturally get baby to move into an optimal birth position, such as spinning babies, rebozo cloth work, or bouncing on yoga balls.
Alternatively, if you want an ECV, a doula will provide evidence based information for you to be able to make the right decision for you and your baby. A doula will support you and answer all of your questions via text, email, or in person from the day you hire her until you give birth.
A doula’s role is never a clear cut specific job description. It is often tailored to what the current mother is visualizing for her pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. It then evolves into what mom needs as the time comes. A doula is a professional who is trained in informed consent, evidence based procedures, and alternative pain management.
If you are on the fence about hiring a doula for your birth or postpartum period, whether you’re a veteran birthing mom or a first-timer, a doula is an invaluable asset to any pregnant woman’s team.
A few statistics in honor of National Doula week!
50% reduction in cesarean rate
25% shorter labor
60% reduction in epidural requests
30% reduction in pain medication use
40% reduction in forceps delivery
40% reduction in oxytocin (pitocin) use