The Art of Birthing
Holistic Childbirth Preparation Classes and Hospital Labor Support Services
Provided by Wise Women Care Associates
“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” – John Kennell, MD
Professional Labor and Birth Support provided in your birth place help to reduce length of labor and pain experienced, as well as reduce the need for c-sections, epidurals, pitocin, and forceps. The benefits of doula support include increased satisfaction with birth and increased breastfeeding rates.
What is a doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A Birth Doula:
• Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
• Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
• Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
• Stays with the woman throughout the labor
• Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decision
•Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
• Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
• Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level
Studies have found that birth companions, of which doulas are one type, offer numerous benefits both to the mother and child. Women with support have a reduction in the duration of labor, less use of pain relief medications, lower rates of operative vaginal delivery, and, in many studies, a reduction in caesarian deliveries. Newborns in supported births have lower rates of fetal distress and fewer are admitted to neonatal intensive care units. In addition, one study found that 6 weeks after delivery, a greater proportion of doula-supported women, compared to a control group, were breastfeeding, and these women reported greater self-esteem, less depression, and a higher regard for their babies and their ability to care for them. These results are similar to findings that support from a female relative during childbirth has similar effects.
One study found doula support without childbirth classes to be more helpful than childbirth classes alone, as measured by levels of emotional distress and self-esteem evaluated at an interview four months after birth. In particular, it was noted that women in the doula-supported group reported their infants as less fussy than the group attending childbirth class without any doula support.