What is a Doula?
The word 'Doula' comes from the ancient Greek meaning 'a woman who serves' and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother (and father) before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the post-birth period.
A doula is not medically trained and is not there to replace health professionals or to offer any medical advice or perform any clinical tasks (blood pressure check, internal examinations, palpation etc).
A doula is, however, able to provide research based evidence in order for the woman (or couple) to make informed decisions on how they wish to labour, birth and feed their baby. She may also offer books, DVD's, articles and websites related to each womans needs.
According to studies, rather than reducing the father's participation in the process, a Doula's support complements and reinforces the father's role. Fathers feel more enthusiastic and that their contribution to the labour and birth is meaningful and helpful. Not only do fathers report higher levels of satisfaction after the birth, but mothers report feeling more satisfied withtheir partner's role at birth too.
Benefits of having a doula
Research has shown that woman who have a doula as a continuous support during labour are: (trial findings by Drs. Kennell and Klaus)
......less likely to give birth by cesarean section
......less likely to give birth with forceps or ventouse
......less likely to use use any analgesia or anasthesia
......less likely to be dissatisfied, or negatively rate, their birth experience