- what is a Doula?
What does ‘Doula’ mean?
‘Doula’ is an ancient Greek word and directly translated mean ‘mother’s slave’ As Doula’s we are "A woman who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support for a woman before, during and immediately after childbirth."
What does a Birth Doula do?
Your Birth Doula will provide information about pregnancy and birth and (depending on how many antenatal visits you have) will help with breathing, relaxation, massage, positional advice and much more.
Your Doula will join you when you are in labour and stay with you throughout your labour with your birth partners, encouraging, suggesting and supporting you both through your labour and birth.
Your Doula will stay with you after the birth until you are settled. 5-10 days after birth she will visit you at home.
Nurturing Birth carried out a large survey of doulas working in the UK in 2008. Here are some of the results. The full results and conclusions were published in MIDIRS Midwifery Digest June 2009.
165 surveys were returned and helped us get information from 735 births supported by a doula. All births were in the UK in 2008.
* 48% - Primiparous women (first time mums)
* 45% - Natural births (no induction, medicated pain relief, augmentation or instrumental deliveries)
* 15% - Caesarean section (versus 24.3% nationally)
* 20% - Epidurals (versus over 30% nationally)
* 10% - Inductions (versus 20% nationally)
* 70% - Vaginal birth after a caesarean section success rate
* 23% - Labour in a pool
* 19% - Successful home births (no transfer)
* 86% - Breastfed at birth (versus 76% nationally)
* 11% - Doula was single birth partner
Research carried out across the world has shown that having a doula alongside you during the birth process can lead to:
50% reduction of cesarean rate
25% shorter labour
60% reduction in epidural request
30% reduction in analgesia used
40% reduction in forceps delivery
Findings from "Mothering the Mother" Klaus, Kennell & Klaus, 1993
Benefits of a Birth Doula for Mum-to-be
With a Doula’s support and practised labour techniques you will feel empowered, self confident and will trust your own ability.
When in labour you may feel you must perform in a certain way in front of your mother-in-law, sister, friend or partner, but you can be completely at ease with your Doula.
My training included when and how to use pain relief techniques like baths and showers, positional changes, heat and cold packs, massage, reflexology, birthing balls, walking and climbing stairs. I hold your hand when you need it, whisper encouragement when you need it and am quiet when needed.
Constant emotional support to both you and your birth partner to enable you to have an intimate birthing experience including praise, reassurance and encouragement.
Planned a medical birth or Caesarean?
If you plan to have a medicated birth, you can still employ a Doula. Doulas are available to enable you to have an enjoyable experience with comfort and control throughout.
At the end of 2004, Nurturing BIrth carried out a Doula UK survey of members. Amongst other things it shows the benefits of having a doula like the reduction of caesarean sections from 22% in the NHS to 10% of births when supported by a doula. Another interesting result was that just 15% of mothers supported by a doula had an epidural (compared to a 33% national average).