What is a doula?

 

Doula is greek, and means with woman or servant. A doula is a trained lay person who accompanies women/couples in labour to facilitate a good birth experience for new parents.

She draws on knowledge and experience to provide emotional support and physical comfort throughout labour, and assistance in communicating with caregivers so that a couple can make informed decisions before the birth and as they arise in labour.

A doula provides reassurance and perspective to a woman and her partner, makes suggestions for labour progress and helps with relaxation, massage, positioning and other techniques for comfort. Overall, studies seem to show that the continuous presence of a doula alone seems to have the biggest impact on birth outcomes.

Many women have found that having a doula with them throughout labour can really help them calm their fears, manage their labour pain and experience a joyful and happy birth, whichever path their labour might take to delivery. A doula is there to support a woman in whatever choices she might make regarding pain relief and the way she wishes to labour and birth.

  • Research has shown that having a doula present at a birth:
  • Shortens first-time labour by an average of 2 hours
  • Decreases the chance of caesarean section by 50%
  • Decreases the need for pain medication
  • Helps fathers participate with confidence
  • Increases success in breast-feeding. (Findings taken from "Mothering the Mother" by Klaus, Kennell & Klaus, 1993). 
 

"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it" John H. Kennell, MD The Word
  

Please watch the videos below as they will give you an insight of the role of a doula.