It may be your first, it may be your fourth, but when you’re pregnant and considering your baby’s birth and delivery, having the proper support team is critical in ensuring you and your baby get off to the right start. Did you know a doula can help with that?
When I was pregnant with my first child in 2009, I heard this new-to-me term thrown around, “doula.” I learned it was Greek for “mothering the mother” and it’s a professional birth worker trained in childbirth and labor who provides emotional, educational and physical support to the pregnant woman before, during and after labor. Generally that means she is not one of your friends or family members, or a part of the medical staff. While I thought that sounded nice, I couldn’t imagine anyone else in my birth environment other than my husband and our midwife/medical team. However, I was then exposed to the statistics of labor and birth for when a laboring mom has a doula present, and I was shocked. Doula? Hired.
Here’s why you want to hire a doula:
With doulas, the rate of cesarean section decreases 28%. I didn’t know much when I was pregnant with my first baby, but I knew that if I could avoid a c-section, that would be ideal! Doulas’ continuous support throughout labor help a mom feel more at ease, reduce discomfort, and help her find different positions to move into to help baby down and out the birth canal. A c-section, while it can be a life-saving surgery, is major abdominal surgery and can put mom and baby at risk during and after birth. (Statistics from Cochrane Review)
With doulas, the use of Pitocin decreases 31%. Have you ever watched A Baby Story on TLC, or any other reality birth TV? If you have, then you may have seen what happens when a mom who is laboring naturally, on her own, is given Pitocin (which is a synthetic version of Oxytocin, a hormone our body naturally produces during labor, breastfeeding, and lovemaking, which assists in making the uterus contract). When a woman is given pitocin, the intensity and strength of her contractions increase significantly. And because it’s a synthetic hormone, the body cannot respond with its own stress release mechanisms the same way, and it’s extremely uncomfortable for the laboring mom. While labor can be done without an epidural, many a woman opts for an epidural after pitocin is administered to help cope with this incredible intensity. (Statistics from Cochrane Review)
With doulas, the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth increases 12%. Spontaneous vaginal birth is the simplest kind of delivery process. It just means vaginal delivery happens on its own, without doctors or midwives using any tools like forceps or a vacuum, to help pull the baby out. This is a good thing because while any of these tools may occasionally be used for emergency purposes, they also come at a risk to the mom and baby. Doulas can help the mom get into a better birthing position that applies the right amount of pressure to her cervix to allow baby to come out safely. (Statistics from Cochrane Review)
With doulas, the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience decreases 34%! With a doula present, you can know you have probably tried every option and resource possible to ensure you have as good a birth experience as possible. Because they have knowledge, tools and other resources available to them to assist you, it relieves pressure and anxiety on your partner or spouse, who may also be needing some emotional support during labor, and helps equip them to help you. All of this in turn? Drives higher satisfaction for you during your birth experience. (Statistics from Cochrane Review)
With doulas, the length of labor can decrease by 25%! I don’t know about you, but when I watched A Baby Story and saw the clock ticking and how long those moms were laboring to bring their babies to the world, my empathetic heart hurt for them. Those can be some long, hard hours. So, with a doula present, who helps you feel more safe, secure, and emotionally present, often labors are shorter. With my first birth, my highly experienced doula had me try several positions: squatting, walking, rocking, sitting on the toilet (it relaxes you in an unexpected way--trust me!) to help me get the baby further down the birth canal. I’m convinced without her efforts, my approximately 12 hour labor, which is pretty great for a first-time mom, would have lasted hours longer! (Statistics from americanpregnancy.org)
A doula is a pretty great person to have around when you’re pregnant and giving birth, as well as afterwards in the postpartum period. While doulas weren’t so common about ten years ago, they are being sought after more than ever. Why don’t you hire a doula today?