12 Dec Why the Support of a Doula Improves Your Pregnancy, Delivery & Postpartum Experience
By Mallory Léger, Birth & Postpartum Doula
A doula is a wonderful addition to your birth team! As a trained Doula, I often get asked: What is a Doula? Are they the same as a Midwife? When should I consider using a Doula in my pregnancy? Are they covered by insurance? …Hence, the motivation for this blog!
Doulas are trained in childbirth and specialize in non-medical skills, offering continuous emotional, physical and evidence-based informational support to you and your loved ones! Depending on your needs, a doula can spend time with you during pregnancy, support you during labour and birth and into postpartum offering continuous and consistent care.
The relationship between a doula and the person being supported is vital to the role they play. Finding the right fit for you is important. So, don’t be afraid to meet with multiple doulas and make sure you feel comfortable with your choice! In order to ensure you can find the right doula for you, most doulas offer a free half hour consultation. The consultation is a great way to learn more about doula care and ask any questions you may have about how a doula can support you. Doula fees generally range from $1000 and up and each doula will provide a spectrum of services and packages that can be customized to your needs.
While each doula will have a different approach, a birth doula will generally visit you a few times during your pregnancy so that you can discuss how they can best support you and anyone else on your birth team during labour and delivery. A doula accompanies you continuously throughout the process of your labour and delivery and most remain on call for you from around 37 weeks until your baby is born. During labour, your doula will stay close by, offering ongoing support and adapting their care to suit your needs. Your doula can help to create a soothing and calm environment for you during labour by adjusting lighting, playing music and answering any questions that arise. Doulas are trained to guide you through coping techniques such as breathing through contractions, visualization, and positions for labour. Your doula will be available as a physical support, someone to lean on, provide soothing touch, and assist with monitoring basic needs such as hydration and nourishment. Your doula is also present to provide emotional care, offering encouragement, reassurance and a consistent presence. Your birth doula will also visit you once or twice in your first few weeks postpartum to help with infant feeding, to help you process your birth experience and to offer general support. If you feel like you are comfortable with the support you have during your labour, postpartum doulas are also available to help you adjust to life with your new baby, help you manage household tasks, feed you and often include overnight respite so that you can catch up on some much needed sleep!
Many people ask why they might benefit from a doula if they already have a midwife or a supportive partner who will be with them. A doula can support you and your loved ones, alongside midwives and OB’s, at home, in hospitals and birth centers. A doula is another addition to the team who does not replace your healthcare professional or a partner, but rather offers continuous and complementary care in conjunction with other care providers. While a healthcare professional is often present during active labour and will also have clinical tasks to focus on, a doula can support YOU early on in labour and provides ongoing support throughout, so that you do not need to feel a contraction alone. A doula can also support your partner, by helping them navigate both their emotional response to this new experience, as well as ensuring they are fed and rested throughout the process!
A 2017 Cochrane review of available evidence on doula care concluded that having continuous labour support improves outcomes for both the mother and infant, improves the likelihood of having a vaginal birth and decreases the use of pain medication, caesarean section and other interventions if those are the preferences of the birthing mother (1). Additionally, none of the studies revealed any negative outcomes in relation to doula support (1). It was said by Dr. John H Kennel that “if a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” Through supportive, continuous and nurturing care, a doula’s role is to support you through your experience of pregnancy, birth and postpartum!
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about doula care and support, feel free to contact Mallory at Vital!
(1) Bohren MA1, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C, Fukuzawa RK, Cuthbert A. (2017). Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2017 Jul 6;7:CD003766. doi: 10.1002/14651858