What is a Doula?
A doula is a person (usually a woman, but there are some great male doulas as well) who provides support to the family before, during and after the birth. We are trained and experienced in childbirth. We learn different comfort measures and about different aspects of birth. We are present to provide pre- and postpartum support when possible. We may advise comfort measures, provide emotional support and comfort to the mother and her partner. We may encourage the mother and partner to ask questions of their care provider and help them to express their preferences and concerns. Our role is to provide information or assist the mother in seeking out the information about birth decisions and also to encourage the mother to ask her primary care provider before starting any application.
What are the benefits of having a doula?
Studies show the presence of a doula reduces, the overall Cesarean rate by roughly 45%, the length of labor by 25%, synthetic oxytocin use by 50%, the use of pain medications by 31%, the need for forceps by 34%, and the request for epidurals by 60%. (The Doula Book, Second Edition by Klaus, Kennell and Klaus, 2002)
Having the presence of another woman supporting the mother helps her to feel more confident and comfortable. It helps to reduce fear which helps in labor to open up and cope with birth.
How do I know if a doula is for me?
A doula is for any family who wants one. Finding the right doula for you is the ultimate goal. Check out my blog on questions to ask a doula during an interview.
Does a Doula take over the roll of a partner?
The job of a doula is to fit in where they are needed. It is not our job to replace partners unless they want us to or the birthing parent does not have one. The purpose of doula support is to guide the family as a whole. When a partner wants to be more involved and hands on with the birth, the doula is there to guide them. We may give advice or tips on how to hold a rebozo or do an effective doula hip squeeze. Or we may find ourselves doing a dance while mom leans on her partner, and the doula applies counter pressure on her back. We can become a team for the mom and encompass her in support.
For a mom who is giving birth and doesn't have a partner, or doesn't want their partner in the room (it happens, some people are really "old fashioned") a doula is can be there to provide support where it is needed. This may mean the doula is the sole support person during this time. We put ourselves in positions of support for the families we work with regardless of dynamic.
Do you have a limit on how much time you spend at a birth?
Do you have a time limit on how long you plan to be in labor? Me neither. I am there to offer support regardless of the length of time.
DO you have a backup doula?
With access to so many doulas in the Olympia Doula Circle, there is no reason why I should not always have access to a back up doula, even if the person I would normally need to back me up is unavailable. I always plan to have a back up available who has a similar level of experience or doula style as I do. However I have yet (knock on something) needed to use a back up doula in 7 years of doula work.
Do you do Free Births?
At this time I do not. From time to time I may be able to a provide my services at a discounted rate for families in need, If you can not afford a doula and are low income, you may be able to qualify for a doula through Open Arms.