The benefits of having a doula are many, with research showing birth attendants can significantly improve outcomes for women regardless of their socio-economic background, health insurance status etcetera.
For women wanting a natural labour and birth, a doula can provide information, childbirth education and planning support – not to mention continual hands-on support during labour.
Gifted Birth Support was named to capture the essense of what a doula provides and how this support is a great gift to women and babies – especially when a healthy, spontaneous and loving mother-baby relationship is the result! Read more about the gift of a doula…
What Is A Doula?
The word ‘Doula’ (pronounced ‘doola’) is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver’. More recently, it refers to someone who offers emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. A Doula (also known as a birth attendant) believes in ‘mothering the mother’, enabling a woman to have the most satisfying experience that she can, from pregnancy and into motherhood. This type of support allows the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience too.
Despite Doulas being fairly unheard of in Australia, they have been actively supporting women for a very long time and are fast growing in popularity after much positive word of mouth and the need for increased support.
There are two types of Doulas, Birth Doulas and Post-Natal Doulas, with many Doulas performing both roles. The difference is that the role of the Post-Natal Doula is to nurture the mother at home after childbirth. This may include further breastfeeding support, light home duties, massage, emotional and physical support for the mother and so on. Post-Natal Doulas are particularly in demand as support for new mothers has reduced in modern society. Needless to say, studies show that Post-Natal Doulas make a huge impact on the well-being of mothers.
What Are The Proven Benefits Of A Doula?
There are many studies from around the world which have demonstrated very impressive benefits for the mother, father and baby, including:
- 50% less caesarean sections
- Reduction in the use of forceps by 40%
- 60% less requests for epidurals
- 40% reduction in the use of synthetic oxytocin for inductions or augmentations
- 30% reduction in use of pain medication
- 25% reduction in labour length
- Increased rates of breastfeeding at 6 weeks post-partum (51% vs 29%)
- Higher self-esteem (74% vs 59%), less anxiety (28% vs 40%) and less depression (10% vs 23%) at 6 weeks post-partum
These are not misprints! The benefits are significant. Most of the women in the studies were accompanied by male partners, however study results show that women who had the support of a male partner and a doula fared best, for example, the caesarean rate of women supported by both a male partner and a doula was significantly lower (15.4%) than the caesarean rate for women supported only by their partners (24.4%). Studies also clearly show the positive benefits of doula support occur regardless of a woman’s economic status or whether or not they were privately insured.
What About The Father?
According to studies, rather than reducing the father’s participation in the process, a Doula’s support complemented and reinforced the father’s role. Fathers felt more enthusiastic and that their contribution to the labour and birth was meaningful and helpful. Not only did fathers report higher levels of satisfaction after the birth, but mothers reported feeling more satisfied with their partner’s role at birth too.
- The above information is an excerpt from ‘Doulas – What is a Doula and Why Do So Many Women Want One?’ by Kelly Winder, BellyBelly Creator, Mum & Birth Attendant. Click here to view the entire article…