Although doulas have been assisting women with birth for centuries, their increasing presence in modern births have women (and men) wondering – what exactly is a doula? And if I have a birth partner, why would I want one?
What is a doula?
The word doula stems from ancient Greece and translates to “woman’s servant”. This basically sums up their role in birth – to serve the mother in giving birth emotionally and physically. A doula’s main goal is to facilitate the birth that the mother or couple desire, whatever that may be. Doulas are not reserved for “tree-hugging moms who give birth in their living rooms”. They are trained to help in all types of births – whether it be hospital, birth centre or home, with or without drugs, even planned or emergency c-sections. They do not replace medical personnel, but supplement their care.
Why do you want a doula?
Shorter, easier labour
Several studies have found that the presence of a doula vastly improves the birth experience, lowers intervention rates, and shortens labour. For a woman planning a natural birth, a doula can be a great investment.
Having someone familiar that you trust at your birth
Especially for first-time parents who have never experienced birth, having someone that you trust and that is familiar with the process can be extremely comforting. While birthing in a hospital you will meet a lot of new and unfamiliar faces. Doctors and nurses provide wonderful care to birthing families, but it can be hard to meet so many people throughout a labour. Having a consistent person who knows what your preferences are and has built a relationship with you before labour can help you adjust to all of the changes happening during birth.
Support to the birth partner
The doula doesn’t just benefit the mother, but can be incredibly helpful to her partner without replacing their role. Birth can be a difficult process for the partner too – watching their partner in pain, trying to remember everything from the birth class, dealing with doctors, nurses and forms. That’s a lot of pressure! A doula can help the partner be just that – a great partner. He can focus on loving the birthing mom and just being her partner. Plus, he can also take pee breaks.
Birth can be an overwhelming process, and there are often decisions that need to be made during labour. Doulas can support parents in gathering information by facilitating communication with their caregivers and helping them ask the right questions so they can make the best decision in the moment. Doulas can also support and communicate birth preferences that families have decided on ahead of time. Doulas recognize that things can change during the course of the labour and will support their clients through those changes with the common goal of a positive birth experience – which may look different for everyone.
A guide to resources in your community
A doula has access to many resources in the community, from birth classes to lactation consultants or medical professionals. They can refer you to great educators, counselors, pediatricians, or whatever you need to have your best birth.
Most doulas offer postnatal support as part of their services. With a significant number of women suffering from postpartum depression, this can be an excellent support and resource to help cope with the new experience of parenthood. Breastfeeding is another area that doulas can offer support with their knowledge of breastfeeding and resources.
How do you find a doula?
Birth Roots Doula Collective are Winnipeg’s premier doula service. They have a team of DONA International certified doulas for you to choose from. Simply visit their website to register and they will arrange for you to meet and interview a doula. You can decide if a doula is right for you and go through the contract together. Easy!
In addition to doula services, Birth Roots also offers the best prenatal classes in Winnipeg (as voted by you Modern Mama members!). They offer everything from birth prep, HypnoBirthing, yoga, and even private one-on-ones if you desire. Find all their classes here.
*photo courtesy of Shutterstock
*This post was sponsored by Birth Roots Doula Collective, however, all opinions are completely my own.