The Benefits of Doula Support


The term “Doula” is Greek for slave or servant. Doulas provide emotional and physical support during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum.

They call themselves many things including: Childbirth Assistant, Labor Support Professional, Birth Assistant, Birth Companion, etc.

A Doula does not speak for a couple, provide medical or clinical skills, or act in any unprofessional manner (Most organizations have a Code of Ethics that each Doula must follow.).

A Doula provides:

  • explanations of medical procedures
  • emotional support
  • advice during pregnancy
  • exercise and physical suggestions to make pregnancy more comfortable
  • help with preparation of a birth plan
  • massage and other non-pharmacological pain relief measures
  • positioning suggestions during labor and birth
  • helps support the partner so that they can love and encourage the laboring woman
  • avoid unnecessary interventions
  • help with breastfeeding preparation and beginnings,
  • written record of the birth
  • many other possibilities that vary from Doula to Doula

According to Mothering the Mother, How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth, by Kennell, Klaus, and Kennell (1993), having a Doula may cause:

  • 50% reduction in cesarean rates
  • 25% shorter labor
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 40% reduction in oxytocin (pitocin) use
  • 30% reduction in analgesia use
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery

A Doula does not take the place of a partner or spouse. She does not replace the important roll that a father plays in the delivery room, but rather strengthens him and empowers him to support mom in the way she wants to be supported. She may assign tasks for him to do throughout labor, so that he can feel useful and be an active participant. She may prompt him to ask questions of medical staff or speak up for things when mom is unable. A Doula respects the intimacy of birth and holds the space in a way to promote peace. Birth is sacred and a Doula strives to ensure that mom feels safe, warm, loved and respected.

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