BENEFITS OF HAVING A DOULA
Midwives and doctors will be present throughout labor to ensure the safe passage of mama and baby. However, because they often have more than one patient at a time and have other responsibilities, they might not be able to be there the entire time to offer the kind of familiar supportive presence you deserve. This is the role of a doula. Her presence can be invaluable.
Most births in Switzerland are attended by midwives. In many cases the birthing woman has had very little, if any, opportunity to get to know her midwife. Often, they will meet for the first time during labor, whereas the doula has ideally had the opportunity to establish a good relationship with the mother and her partner during the pregnancy. Because the doula does nothing medical and gives emotional, physical and practical support only, she is able to provide continuous care throughout all shift changes and will work to foster a harmonious relationship between her client and the staff.
The continuous presence of a doula before, during and after birth can immeasurably increase a mother’s satisfaction with her birth experience, permanently impacting her feelings as a woman and a mother. By consciously learning about the birth process and intentionally creating a supportive and loving birth environment, a woman empowers herself and her family in ways that can be sustaining for a lifetime.
Data in the renowned book Mothering the Mother, by Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus, provide food for thought for a single mom or couple and/or care providers who may be uncertain about the advantages of having a labor support doula. They boast that doula assisted births result in:
- 25% decrease in the length of labor
- 50% fewer Caesarean sections
- 40% decrease in use of forceps
- 40% decrease in use of pitocin/syntocinon (synthetic oxytocin)
- 60% decrease in use of epidurals
- 30% decrease in use of pain medication
Additionally, they summarize that long-term benefits of labor support during birth include:
- Improved breastfeeding
- Decreased postpartum depression
- Greater maternal satisfaction
- Better mother-infant interaction
- Secure, well-bonded children
In 2012, Hodnett et al. published a Cochrane review on the use of continuous support for women during childbirth. They pooled the results of 22 separate trials involving 15,288 women and concluded that if a laboring mother was continuously supported during childbirth by someone outside of her social network and not a member of the hospital staff, she was:
- More likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
- Less likely to use medication
- Less likely to endure an instrumental birth
- Less likely to have a Caesarean section
- Less likely to report dissatisfaction with her birth experience
The authors of the study plainly state that, “all women should have support throughout labor and birth.”