It’s Not for Everybody: Are Birth Doulas Right for You?

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Pregnancy’s many challenges to the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of women often take their toll if proper support is not extended before, during, and after birth. While nurses, doctors, OB-GYNs and other medical practitioners ensure medical health, so-called birth doulas provide psycho-emotional support and assistance.

What are birth doulas?

Doulas–from an ancient Greek word meaning woman’s servant–provide women’s much-needed emotional support before childbirth, during, and after. Doulas can be hired directly. There are also doulas who are employees and volunteers in hospitals.

Do you need a birth doula?

Different circumstances call for doulas. Single mothers can benefit greatly from the assistance lent by doulas, as will those whose other family members, particularly their husband, may not be around all the time to render assistance.

A birth doula’s role

Birth doulas assist women before childbirth, when giving birth, and after childbirth. Before childbirth, doulas stay with the mother to help her condition for birth–making sure any medication is taken regularly, overseeing special therapies or exercises that mothers undergo to facilitate birth. Doulas develop a close bond with the mother through regular communication, providing emotional support especially towards a better understanding of giving birth to a new life.

During childbirth, doulas accompany mothers to help ease labor pains. A doula also knows very well her client’s medical condition and preferences, and therefore acts as effective middle person between medical practitioners and the mother in communicating her client’s preferences. Having a doula close by during childbirth would also ensure that all your needs are overseen and available, and any medical intervention that is done has your consent.

After childbirth, doulas may stay to give useful assistance and information for the mother’s recovery and the baby’s care. Women who have undergone C-section may find their presence particularly useful, as mothers are usually not strong enough to carry out the usual baby care chores after the procedure-something doulas can help assist in.

Advantages

Studies have shown that mothers with doulas before childbirth underwent shorter labors, fewer complications, reduced need for labor-inducing drugs, pain medication, and epidurals.  With doulas, babies are also assured to receive immediate care to supplement that of the mother’s.

Doulas make an excellent support system. As such, they do not replace medical experts in the conduct of procedures, and must therefore not be delegated such tasks. Decision-making may be consulted with them, but the final say would always be on the mother. Lastly and more importantly, doulas do not replace other family members in the care of the baby and mother before, during, and after giving birth. The support they give, to say the least, are comparable that of a close friend’s.

 

Photo Credit: www.consciousbirthmanila.com

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