When continuous labor support was provided by a doula, women experienced :
• 33% decrease in the use of pitocin (syntocinon)
• 28% decrease in Caesarians
• 12% increase in the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth
• 34% decrease in dissatisfaction with the birth experience
• more success in establishing. breastfeeding.
In most traditional cultures, there would be a wise woman working alongside the midwife, holding and comforting the labouring woman. More recently birth companions/doulas have been fulfilling this role for the whole birthing family. Modern birth companions/Doulas are women especially trained to give emotional and practical support during the pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal period,
What does a doula do? ( from www.doula.org.uk)
The services offered by a doula vary greatly according to the needs of the mother-to-be/parents-to-be. A doula’s role has to be flexible to fit in with the given situation . Every birth is unique and therefore every woman’s experience is also unique.
Before birth the doula will meet with the mother (or couple) face to face, up to 4 times and then be available by phone or in person for additional meetings if necessary.
During labour the doula is able to offer help and suggestions on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. The doula can also encourage the father to participate in the birth to a level at which he feels comfortable. The doula’s most important role is to provide nurturing, continuous support and reassurance.
After childbirth the doula may follow up with a couple of postnatal visits to help the new mum settle at home with her new baby, or alternatively, the mother may decide to employ a postnatal doula. The actual tasks in the practical support postnatal doulas provide varies enormously. One of the big benefits of having a postnatal doula is that they are there to support the family, not carry out a specific task, so they do what is needed (within reason!). They can provide emotional support for mothers and couples, offer breastfeeding support, be a help around the house, look after baby while mum/ partner nap or have a bath, help with older siblings, make meals, help with dinner time or the school run, help overnight so the parents get more sleep. Whatever is needed to help a family relax and have a positive experience of life with a baby.