Many women are choosing to have a doula present with them when they give birth. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. They inform you. Having the right information about pregnancy and birth ensures you are empowered to make informed decisions for your pregnancy and birth. Prenatally, a doula will spend time with you to fill any gaps in your knowledge. They will ensure you have the information necessary to navigate birth and all the many decisions that come with.
2. They put your mind at ease. Many times, all a woman needs during labour is to hear that what is happening is normal and that she is doing a great job. That can be enough to get the mother-to-be through the next contraction and on to a happy delivery.
It sounds simple, but when considering the science behind hormones, it makes sense. For example, if you’re concerned that your labour is taking too long and you feel you’re not handling it well, your body will tense and release adrenaline. Getting validation that everything looks normal and being reassured that you are doing an amazing job, will cause your body to relax and release endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and mood enhancers. A few simple words of reassurance might be all you need to release more of the right ‘helpful’ hormones and fewer stress hormones; helping you relax and ending your concerns that something is not right. At a time when you may feel quite vulnerable, having someone there who knows birth and is familiar with you, can help you feel more at ease.
3. Focused on you. All their attention is on helping you achieve an empowering experience. Anyone will perform better at a task with the right encouragement and support. Doulas are trained specifically in how to make you the most comfortable and how to help you have the most positive birth experience possible. Their focus will be entirely on you and helping any other birth partners support you effectively.
4. The evidence of effectiveness. The evidence behind having a doula present during labour and birth supports all the following claims :
- Decrease in the risk of Caesarean Section*
- Increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth*
- Decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
- Decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score
- Decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience*
- Shorter labours by 41 minutes on average
The above results were obtained by investigating the beneficial effects of having someone present with the mother throughout her labour and delivery; this is called continuous support. Starred results indicate those where improvements were seen with a doula specifically, over all other types of continuous support, for example having a mother or sister present throughout.
Comprehensive reviews on the topic of support during labour have found no evidence of any harm in having continuous labour support.
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About the author:
Yasmin loves the beauty and power of birth and wishes for every mother to experience the journey as an empowering one. Her favourite moments as a birth doula and breastfeeding counsellor are when mothers recognise and embrace their own strength. She is passionate about birth rights for women and believes the more information a mother has and the more involved she can be in the decision making around birth, the more positive her experience will be.
Yasmin is a community activist in the United Arab Emirates and is running a volunteer Covid-19 Support group with over 20 professionals. Yasmin is a pioneer in change, she’s working on making birth centres a reality in the UAE, to shift the mindset around birth to one of empowerment instead of fear.
She can be contacted through DeltaStrengthDoula.com.
- Bohren, Meghan A, et al. “Continuous Support for Women during Childbirth.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, vol. 7, no. 7, 6 July 2017, doi:10.1002/14651858.cd003766.pub6.
- Dekker, R. “Evidence on: Doulas.” Evidence Based Birth®, 12 Aug. 2019, evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/.