The Benefits of Hiring a Doula for Childbirth: What You Need to Know
If you’ve already started mapping out every moment of your birth plan and begun considering how you’ll deal with labor pains, you may want to think about hiring a doula. A doula is a trained support professional who provides continuous, one-on-one care, as well as emotional, physical, and informational support to new and expectant parents before, during, and after birth. They may also provide support while trying to conceive or in the early postpartum period.
More and more parents are hiring doulas for a variety of reasons, including helping the mother have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience. Retaining the services of a doula is a great way to ensure that you are able to have the birth experience you want. Many families can benefit from hiring a doula, not just moms who opt for a natural, unmedicated birth. Doulas provide childbirth support to the entire family without judgment – about your pain relief choices or anything else.
Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits of hiring a doula and why you may want to work with one.
Why Doulas Are Beneficial
Doulas nurture, encourage, and provide expert advice for families during pregnancy, birth, and the early days after the baby is born. There is substantial evidence that demonstrates the benefits of using doulas in the birthing process.
According to a 2017 Cochrane Database Systematic Review, “Continuous support in labor may improve a number of outcomes for both mother and baby, and no adverse outcomes have been identified. Continuous support from a person who is present solely to provide support, is not a member of the woman’s own network, is experienced in providing labor support, and has at least a modest amount of training (such as a doula) appears beneficial.”
Studies have also shown that obstetric outcomes are most improved and interventions least needed when doulas are present. According to the research, women who receive continuous support from doulas during childbirth had the following outcomes:
- 28% less likely to have a cesarean delivery
- 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed delivery
- 9% less likely to use pain medication
- 34% less likely to report an overall negative birth experience
How Doulas Help
Since time began, humans have been nurtured and cared for during pregnancy and birth. Family, friends, and neighbors would mobilize to help guide and assist the new family through their early days with a new infant. In modern times, these roles have been professionalized and extended in a number of ways.
Doulas benefit a birthing person by helping them maintain a sense of ease and comfort during the birthing process. They may provide physical support in a number of ways:
- Creating a soothing environment by dimming the lights and arranging pillows
- Providing assistance getting to and from the bathroom
- Helping with tubs or showers (water therapy)
- Supplying ice chips, drinks, or food to the laboring parent
- Using the power of touch and massage to reduce stress and anxiety during labor
Massage is a soothing pain relief alternative for many laboring mothers so make sure to add a bottle of Zoey Naturals Soothing Lavender Body Oil to your birth bag. This oil provides hours of hydration to the skin. Like all Zoey Naturals products, it’s also free of harsh chemicals and gentle on the environment.
A doula’s aim is to care for the mother’s mental and emotional health and improve her overall birth experience. Proper emotional support can help the birthing parent feel nurtured and more empowered. Whether the birth happens smoothly and naturally or requires complex medical intervention, all families can benefit from the extra care, support, and comfort during this incredibly vulnerable time in their lives. Doulas provide a number of emotional benefits:
- Offering consolation, care, and comfort
- Being an ongoing, consistent presence throughout the entire process
- Providing motivation and praise
- Reframing the situation in a more positive light for the birthing person
- Assisting the birthing person in working through their anxieties and fears
- Listening with empathy
- Encouraging the birthing person or their partner to ask questions and verbalize their preferences
- Asking the birthing person what they want
- Supporting the birthing person’s decision
- Boosting the mother’s voice if she is being overlooked, disregarded, or not listened to (e.g., “Pardon me, she’s trying to tell you something. I’m not sure whether you heard her.”
Whether it’s a spouse, a friend, or another family member, the birth partner’s experience is important as well. The role of the doula is never to take the place of a spouse or labor partner, but rather to complement and improve their experience.
Doulas can support every birth partner in being as involved as they want to be with the birthing process. Today, more spouses play an active role in the birth process. However, some partners prefer to enjoy the delivery without having to stand in as the labor coach.
By having a doula as a part of the birth team, a birthing partner can participate in whatever way they choose. Doulas can encourage the partner to use soothing techniques and can step in if they need a break. Having a doula allows the partner to support the birthing parent emotionally during the birthing process and to enjoy the experience without the stress of trying to recall everything they learned in childbirth class. This type of physical and emotional support makes a huge difference for everyone involved.
Doulas also provide evidence-based information about birthing options so that parents can ask thoughtful questions and make informed decisions about their births. They help keep the birthing person and their partner advised about what’s happening during the labor process. Informational support can include a number of aspects:
- Helping the birthing person and their partner navigate the labor process
- Offering non-medical pain-management techniques including massage, reflexology, movement, positioning, aromatherapy, music, and mantras
- Explaining medical procedures or interventions before they happen
- Assisting the partner in understanding and empathizing with what the birthing person is experiencing (e.g., interpreting various sounds the birthing person may make, reassuring them about what is normal)
- Facilitating communication between the new parents and healthcare providers
The What to Expect Pregnancy Journal & Organizer Diary is a handy journal and daily diary to record all those memorable moments in the making of your baby, from the test coming back positive to the first ultrasound. This organizer helps parents-to-be keep track of everything, from practitioner visits and shopping lists to birthing plans and birth announcements to baby names and baby gifts.
Why Hire a Doula
If you believe you may benefit from extra help and support while giving birth, a doula may be the right option for you. Those who feel passionately about following a specific birth plan may hire a doula as extra insurance toward having their wishes followed (you’ll be a little too distracted to fight for yourself when the time comes).
Doulas are qualified to provide support for all types of births, whether “natural” and unmedicated or with anesthesia in a hospital setting. If you’re not the type of person who wants a cheerleader or don’t feel you need additional support or coaching aside from your partner or healthcare team, you may not need or want a doula.
Having a specially trained childbirth companion has a number of benefits. The continuous, individualized care and physical and emotional support for both you and your family can make your pregnancy and childbirth experience a lot more comfortable and more pleasant.
Have everything you need ready when contractions start! Our pre-packed birth bags provide you with carefully-sourced birth stay essentials and thoughtful items to bring you the comfort and luxuries of home - all packed in a timeless easy-to-clean weekender bag.
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