Mother and Baby

10 benefits of having a birth doula during labour and birth

Section: Labour & Birth
Birth doula benefits

Wherever you are in your baby journey, whether you’re trying to conceive, or are due any day, you might have heard about the benefits of having a birth doula. Just recently, Amy Schumer sang the praises of Domino Kirke, a birth doula who helped deliver Amy’s baby boy, Gene, earlier this year.

“I was lucky enough to get to have a doula,” says Amy in a recent Instagram post. “Her name is Domino Kirke at Carriage House Birth. What do doulas do? I don’t totally know, but what she did was make me and Chris feel totally secure and supported throughout my pregnancy and the birth process. I really recommend getting one if you can.”

So exactly what is a doula birth partner and should you get one for your delivery?

What is a doula?

What does doula mean? The word “doula” is a Greek word that means “female servant”. Back in ancient times, a maidservant would assist a pregnant woman in the delivery of the baby by getting her whatever she needed to be comfortable.

She would provide back rubs, get water, wipe her forehead, and generally support her and be there for her emotionally.

So, in today’s world, what is a birth doula? In the 60s, when the natural birthing movement started to gain popularity and women began looking into a more holistic, natural approach to labour and delivery without medication and with low intervention, friends, relatives, and other female acquaintances would aid one another in this process, with great success.

Birth Doula vs Midwife

There is a common misconception that a birth doula is a replacement for a midwife or a birth doctor. This is in no way true. A doula birth partner isn’t a substitute for your medical birthing professional, but rather, a support system for the mother.

“We have no specific medical training and will not give medical advice or instruction during birth,” says Samsara Tanner, a birthing doula of over 25 years and a certified member of Doula UK.

“A midwife’s job is to focus on the safe delivery of the baby, whereas a doula’s job is to support the mother emotionally.”

What are the birth doula benefits?

Women around the globe have been raving about the birth doula benefits for years. Dr. John H. Kennell, the doctor of pediatrics, researcher and advocate of infant bonding, said of doulas, “If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”

Here are just 10 of the awesome reasons why hiring a doula for birth is a decision you won’t regret.

 

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1) You’ll have continuous support from A-Z of the labour and birth journey

The doula birth partner that you choose will be there for you from the beginning to the end of labour and delivery, and even earlier, if you so wish. Many doulas are available and on-call for you around the clock from about 37 weeks onwards.

During labour, your doctor and midwife might be popping in and out of your room, possibly seeing to other patients at the same time. A birth doula will be there for you constantly, making you her number one priority for the entire duration of labour and delivery.
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2) Your birth doula will make sure your birth plan is followed down to a T

During your prenatal doula visits, your doula will take the time to listen to you and find out your wants, needs, and desires for your perfect birth. During labour and delivery, she will be your tough advocate and see to it that your needs, requirements, and personal preferences are met throughout the entire procedure.

She will have spent enough time with you to know your birth plan completely and know what you like and don’t like, and what aspects are especially important to you.

“I can be there to gently remind the partner about aspects of a birthing plan that’s important to the mum,” says Samsara, who has four children of her own and has attended over 200 births. “For example, if you don’t like needles, doulas can speak up for you.”
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3) You’ll feel prioritised and listened to

Especially if it’s your first birth, being in a hospital with doctors and nurses running around all over the place, and being in an inordinate amount of pain at the same time as possibly feeling petrified of what’s happening to your body, with people prodding and poking you like you’re some kind of lab rat, can be incredibly daunting.

One report even noted “the growing recognition of neglectful, abusive, and disrespectful treatment of women during childbirth in health facilities.”

This is the last thing you need during what is potentially one of the scariest times of your life, but you can forget all about that if you’ve got a birth doula by your side. She’ll be there for you and will go above and beyond to make sure that you are listened to and cared for and that all your needs are met.
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4) You’ll have a helping hand and physical support when you need it most

When in labour, you’ll need help. Help getting up, help sitting down, help switching sides on the bed, help getting to the loo, help on the exercise ball, assistance in and out of the birth pool… Your doula will be your physical human crutch the entire time.

She’ll give you water, and ice chips, and make sure you’re not too hot or cold, and she’ll create a calm and soothing environment for you based on your personal preference, whether it’s having candles or music, or even dim lighting. She knows what you want and she’ll do her best to make sure you get it.

“Everyone deserves to have a doula,” Samsara says. “We help women during childbirth in a number of ways, which can include talking to them calmly during the labour or giving a massage.”
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5) You’ll have your own personal masseuse

This needed to have its own bullet point. Massage during labour is proven to ease pain and discomfort and your doula knows all the right points to rub to make you feel better. She’ll massage your back, and even your swollen feet.

You can almost think of it like a mini-spa day. In addition to it feeling good, one study found that massage therapy during labour leads to “shortening of the first and second stage labour duration” and that “by shortening the duration of labour, pregnant women tend to have more normal vaginal delivery.”
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6) You’ll have the necessary emotional support

Let’s face it; at the moment that your baby is coming out, your doctor doesn’t really care if you’re having a meltdown. His priority is keeping you and the baby alive, and although we love and appreciate our doctors and midwives, a little emotional support can go a long way when you’re freaking out.

Your doula can help you emotionally through this journey. It’s like having your own personal therapist and coach with you during one of the most emotionally drenching times of your life, giving you constant support, reassurance, encouragement and praise. No wonder so many women hail doulas as a godsend.
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7) Doula birth partners can help your partner through this too

You might not be the only one having a meltdown during labour. Many a partner have been overwhelmed by the whole ordeal.

Again, it’s not your doctor’s priority to make sure that your partner is doing fine, physically or emotionally. Your doula can help your partner through the process and make sure that they are feeling strong and encouraged, and are appropriately supporting you, all while keeping you the main priority.
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8) Birth doulas are advocates for natural births

The concept of a birth doula is a fundamentally holistic approach to labour and delivery. Doulas believe in the power of intuition and listening to and trusting your body. If this method is something you aspire to for your delivery, a doula is the way to go.

She will help guide you to stay in touch with your body during this time. In addition, many people who want to go au naturel opt for a home birth, hypnobirthing, mindful birthing, or a doula water-birth as a lot of doulas have experience in these techniques. Having said that, even if you want an epidural and all the drugs possible, your doula will, of course, make sure that all your wishes are adhered to.
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9) A postnatal doula can support you even after the baby is born (fourth trimester)

Most doctors and midwifes disappear shortly after the birth, but for a lot of mothers, that’s exactly when they feel the most vulnerable, overwhelmed, and alone.

Your doula could still be around to help you through this process and to answer any pressing questions or queries. Most doulas have expertise in helping mothers in the critical fourth trimester, but if not, she will surely be able to refer you to a postnatal doula/postpartum doula to help you through this difficult transitional period.
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10) Evidence proves that doulas make births better

During his research and studies on the benefits of maternal-infant bonding in the 80s, Dr. Kennell found that doula-assisted births showed shorter labours, reduced perinatal complications, and less need for medication and caesarean section.

The study, titled "Effects of social support during parturition on maternal and infant morbidity," concluded that “constant human support may be of great benefit to women during labour.”

Benefits of Doula: Summary

What a doula WILL do:

  • Provide emotional support to help you through the process
  • Provide physical support, often massaging and helping you stay comfortable
  • Help your partner through the process also
  • Get you whatever you need, be it water, music, pillows, etc.
  • Listen to you and your wants/needs, and be your voice

What a doula WON’T do:

  • Provide medical advice
  • Provide professional medical assistance
  • Get in the way of your doctor or midwife
  • Make any decisions for you

Birth Doula UK – Where can I get one?

Here are some helpful resources when looking for a birth doula in the UK: -

Have you tried a birth doula? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

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  • Author: Kat de Naoum Kat de Naoum
  • Job Title: Freelance Writer

Kat is a freelance writer based in the UK and Greece. She has written for many publications, and, as an advocate for female empowerment, loves to write about women’s issues, and helping fellow mothers feel supported and less alone.

She has birthed one child and written two books. She can read and write and tends to spend most of her (non-parenting) time doing that, as well as taking care of her several pets.

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