What is a doula? What are the benefits of having one? With any important life event, it is essential to have support and assistance by your side. Childbirth is no exception to this.
A doula is a woman who has the training to help during the birthing process and even after the baby is born. Physical support is not the only service that is provided; doulas are trained to help emotionally and educationally as well.
The aim of their job is to make childbirth a good experience for the mother, with all of the resources available for her to use. It is thought that mothers, whether they are first-time or experienced, who use doulas have a better experience than those who opt to go without one. This positivity spreads throughout the entire family, making for an overall pleasant experience.
Can anyone become a Doula?
When it comes to providing the personalized services that doulas do, they are required to complete adequate training. In most cases, training programs take up to 2 years to complete.
They must finish 7-12 hours of childbirth education, along with 16 hours of birth doula training and they also must attend several live births. For those who specialize in postpartum care, 27 hours of postpartum doula education is required. Certification is generally easy and straightforward to obtain.
While this certification is not necessarily required in order to secure a job, it provides more opportunities. If you are looking to hire a doula for your pregnancy, you will usually pay between $250-$1,000. Location and experience are factors that will play into the pricing of the services.
Why Do Doulas Exist?
Childbirth counts as one of the most life-changing experiences that a mother will have. A doula can be thought of as a pregnancy life-coach. If you encounter any questions or concerns, you can turn to your doula for advice.
This process began in the late 60’s and early 70’s. That is not to say that the role of a doula did not exist prior to this time. The term “doula” essentially became widely used since the 70’s, and the industry has been growing ever since.
While the Greeks used the term doula to address their women’s servants, it was Americans who began to modernize the term into a profession.
What is a Doula? A Breakdown of Services
Pregnancy – Many doula relationships start well before the child is due. This is a time when the mother can get to know her doula and express what she hopes to get out of the experience.
This is usually a time when advice is given verbally by way of telephone calls. Although a doula cannot perform any medical procedures, she will be well-versed on many medical topics that deal with pregnancy and childbirth.
This is also a time when a birth plan should be created. As it is known, there are plenty of ways to deliver a baby. Most expecting mothers choose the traditional hospital room birth, but there are also home-birth and water-birth options. Your doula will be able to help you in deciding which option will work best for you.
Delivery – This is a time when your doula will be around to reassure you. She can provide you with breathing techniques and pain-easing exercises that will make your delivery experience as comfortable as possible.
A doula will also often encourage the partner to have an active role in the delivery. Any specifications that are requested in the delivery room will be fulfilled by the doula at the mother’s request.
She will also help to coach the mother through specific birthing positions that can help the experience. Regarding having a medicated vs. unmedicated birthing experience, the doula is trained to advise on this as well.
Post-birth – Doula services do not necessarily have to stop after the baby is born. It is often thought that this time can be one of the most overwhelming for a mother.
A doula can help you with breastfeeding and making sure that the baby is well-acclimated. She can also encourage activities that include the partner in the bonding experience, which is important for a baby to have.
How Are Doulas Helpful?
The main reason that mothers appreciate the help of a doula comes down to the peace of mind they receive. During this experience, it is likely that you will have your partner, friends, and family by your side.
But having a doula, someone who is designated to help you specifically and act as your own personal guidebook will make for an even easier experience.
There have been countless studies that compare the happiness that uses a doula vs. the ones that do not. The ones that have opted to use a doula have a higher percentage of positive birth experiences.
During given studies, it has also been known that women who use doulas have less C-section births and less reliance on prescription pain medication.
Although there is no guarantee for this outcome, a doula will aim to put the mother in the best position when it comes to knowledge. By having this sense of awareness, the mother will be able to make educated decisions, not only regarding the birthing experience but also regarding the post-care selections.
Overall, the choice to hire a doula is completely optional. But as you will find, a doula’s help will be useful not only during the childbirth process but also in the years to follow.
The knowledge you will gain and the comfort provided will guide you through the process, and also, potentially help you to prepare for any future births.