Doula is a Greek word for ‘woman servant’ or ‘caregiver’.
A doula . . .
- Is a trained labour and birth ‘companion’ who will stay with a woman throughout her labour in order to help make the birth experience a positive and rewarding one
- She understands the physiology of birth and the extremely important emotional needs of a woman in labour
- Will provide continuity and familiarity during an unfamiliar event
- Will support your choices in labour regarding pain relief; it is your body!
- Will not replace the woman’s birth partner or midwife, she will work respectfully alongside them, as part of a team
- Can enhance the understanding and communication between a labouring woman and medical staff
- Will ensure that you are not left alone during labour when you need support
- Does not advise, but encourages a mother-to-be to look at all her options. Doulas ‘mother the mother’
- Does not diagnose or treat medical conditions, perform clinical tasks, project her own opinions onto a labouring woman or make decisions for her or her partner.
“There is no privacy without a feeling of security. Privacy has to be protected…in such an unfamiliar and strange environment, the doula is felt to be a protector. She is as protective as a mother would be.”
Michel Odent – ‘Birth and Breastfeeding’
“Female companionship is the one element in care which has been shown to be the most effective in keeping birth normal.”
Having a doula has been proven to reduce medical interventions dramatically. Women giving birth with a doula are much less likely to:
- Request pain relief
- Be artificially induced
- Request an epidural
- Have an assisted (instrumental) delivery
- Have a caesarean section
- Have a prolonged labour
- Have problems with initiating breastfeeding
- Feel unable to continue breastfeeding
- Have a negative outlook of their birthing experience
- Feel a loss of confidence as a parent
- Experience post-natal depression
“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” Dr. Marshall Klaus.