Research shows that doulas have a huge impact on your birth experience, including lowering your chance of a Cesarean and other interventions, shorter labors, and a more satisfying experience. What is different about the support a doula offers? Will the care you receive from your doctor or nurse achieve the same thing? Don't your partner, family, and friends offer the love and attention you need during labor? The studies actually show that the doula alone is unique in improving all these outcomes. More than your loved ones, and more than your medical care providers.
Partners and loved ones are very valuable during a woman's labor and do help with a woman's satisfaction with her experience, but do not affect intervention rates or reduce need for pain medication. Partners are great at fulfilling the loving touch and encouragement the laboring woman needs, but partners often don't have the knowledge or experience to know what positions help mom progress or that the noises mom is making mean she is in transition or starting to push, or what interventions are being considered and why. Doulas bring their experience, skills, and knowledge to your birth.
Medical Providers, nurses, doctors, and midwives, are tasked with the very important job of making sure mom and baby are healthy. This job is very clinical and requires a lot of time and attention, as well as a lot of charting. They are typically doing this for multiple women in labor and are unable to provide the continuous presence that a doula offers. Due to this lack of time and the tremendous attention paid to mom and baby's medical well being, they are unable to offer the hands on physical comfort, encouragement with every contraction, and breaks for the partner.
Doulas specialty is the birth experience. We not only want for mom and baby to be healthy, but also for the woman & family to feel safe, respected, cared for, and empowered as they bring a child into the world. There is more to safety than medical safety. Doulas provide a safe space for women to move, vocalize, and listen to their bodies. We know that the emotional component of birth is equal to the physical. Often the support we offer is intuitive due to the time we spend with families and doulas notice the moment a woman's needs or demeanor changes.The unique role of a doula, brings both knowledge of the birth process and loving, responsive attention to the laboring woman's needs. Bridging the gap and filling in between the roles of the woman's loved ones and her medical care team, is why doula's have such an impact on not only the woman's experience but health outcomes as well.
For the most recent research on the difference doulas make, read the key takeaways of the 2017 Cochrane Review on Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth. If you would like to learn more about having a doula on your birth team, contact Birth Chattanooga at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-902-7265.