I Couldn't Have Done It Without You!
These are words I often hear after a birth when mom has achieved her birthing goals. My initial response is YES, you could have because you are the one who did it. You found the strength within yourself. While this is very true, I often remind myself that I shouldn't discount my role, the role of a doula, in supporting mom and her partner through this journey. I believe every woman should have a doula during birth and here is why.
1. My own personal experiences. Often when you ask a woman why she became a doula, she will say that her own birth experiences led her down this path. After a failed induction turned Cesarean birth with my first baby, I hired a doula for my second birth. Having someone knowledgeable to guide me, calm me, and make suggestions during my birth was so valuable. I achieved my goals of a natural birth and VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). I said to myself that every woman needs and deserves the support of a doula. I few short months later, I was starting my training as a doula. And 11 years later, I still feel as passionate!
2. Studies show doula support makes a difference. There have been numerous studies showing the difference doulas make. With a doula present, mom is less likely to ask for pain medication, less likely to have interventions, more likely to be satisfied with her birth experience, and more likely to breastfeed just to name a few benefits. If you would like to read about the research, check out Evidence Based Birth's article The Evidence for Doulas . Even ACOG, the governing body of Obstetricians, states that doulas are underutilized because they provide so many benefits while causing no harm (article). Personally, I keep up with the statistics of the births I attend. Among the women I work with who want to achieve an unmedicated birth, 69% experience a natural birth. While the Cesarean rate in Tennessee is around 33%, only 10% of my clients have Cesareans. Doulas do have an affect on birth outcomes!
3. Professional Support like no other. You will be cared for by several professionals during childbirth, but they do not offer the same services as doulas do. The doula profession has emerged because there was a need to be filled. Doctors are so busy that you often only see them for a 5 minute office visit and to catch the baby. Nurses are taking care of several patients involving lots of monitoring, charting, and documenting. The doctors and nurses are seeing to the medical well being of mom and baby. Often, they do not have time to offer the support that a mom and partner need during the birth of their child. In steps the doula- to offer physical comfort, to calm fears, to encourage, to advocate, to give the partner a break, and so much more. Doulas are experts on the physical and emotional needs of a birthing mother. We may not do the medical procedures but we know about them, their benefits & risks, and alternatives. We know that the partner needs support too and help them be involved in the birth process. The support we offer is unique to the role of a doula.
Next time a mom says "I couldn't have done it without you!', I'll just say "Thank you. It was an honor to support you." Doulas do make a difference!