I just spent two days, sunrise to sunset (and after), fully immersed in the world of birth, and the down and dirty details of being a doula. Of course, being me, I loved it all. Also being me, I want to share! So, rather than one obscenely long post in which I attempt to cover everything I learned, I thought I'd do twelve posts covering some of the different topics we talked about over the weekend.
Why have a doula at your birth, anyway?
You have already chosen a doctor or midwife, you know you will have a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital, you will have your husband and maybe your mom with you at your birth. Why in the world would you want to have a doula at this very intimate life event? Well, would you like to avoid a cesarean? One study showed simply having a doula at her birth reduced a mother's odds of cesarean by 45 percent. Are you trying to have a natural birth? Doulas reduced moms' usage of all pain medications by 31 percent, even women who were not planning an unmedicated birth. Having a doula there reduced their pain perception so much that they simply didn't need it. To put it simply, having a doula is a risk-free way to reduce labor interventions and the risks inherent in those interventions. One of the reasons a doula can provide such outstanding reductions in labor interventions is her continuous support of the mom. No other care provider in our current birth world is able to be with the mom continuously. Doctors tend to pop in only for vaginal exams and to catch the baby. Nurses are often overstretched, having to monitor two or more moms in labor in addition to managing the hospital paperwork. Even Certified Nurse Midwives, who often long to provide a higher standard of care, usually can't stay with mom for the entire duration of her labor. Doulas can. Doulas are not focused on performing any of the clinical tasks that need to be done to insure a safe birth. We are there to make sure mom has a satisfying birth. (I can say that, because I'm a doula now! Yay!) The continuous support of a doula has also been shown to shorten labor. Do you want a shorter labor? Yeah, me too. Worth the trade-off of sharing this most precious life event with yet another person? I think so. Do you?