If you are expecting, it is almost guaranteed that you have heard advice from friends and family about things you should and shouldn't do in order to prepare for you upcoming birth. Sometimes the advice can become overwhelming and it is difficult to sort out the things most relevant to you. One piece of advice you may have heard is, "you need to hire a doula!" which of course, I believe is great advice (although I might have a personal bias there).
What local moms are saying about doulas:
"A doula for a mom in labor is equivalent to having an all-knowledgeable BFF in the room who is there to be by your side because birth is unpredictable, and having your "team" put together during this once in a lifetime opportunity is paramount!!"
"A doula is the mothers and fathers advocate. We discuss beforehand the plan, and she supports us all throughout the labor and birth. Doulas are invaluable. When things got rough and I just couldn't even think, she thought for me. She brought me back down and guided my husband on how to help."
"It’s the best decision I have ever made. I really regret not having one with my first. The support is more than most family and friends can provide because most people don’t have the knowledge about birthing like doulas."
"I'd have my husband talk to them. He's the #1 supporter of doulas. He loves that they help him know how to be the best support."
Doulas go through the training and certification process learning how to support women and their families through this amazing transition. There have been many research studies looking at the benefits of having a birth doula support continuously during labor and the results are unparalleled to anything else. Research on the benefits of a doula began in the 1970s when two doctors who were studying the maternal-infant bond accidentally found that having a doula in the labor room improved this bond and decreased the incidence of complications. More studies came out in the 1980s and 1990s, and a most recent study was published in 2011 and systematically reviews over 21 research studies involving the care doulas provide and their outcomes.
Time and time again the evidence proves that women supported by a doula were:
*28% less likely to have a cesarean section
*31% less likely to use pitocin to augment labor
*9% less likely to use any pain medication
*34% less likely to rate their birth experience negatively
*25% shorter labors
*Less likely to need forceps and vacuum
When receiving support from the doula, the main goal is not to avoid experiences you do not want to have, but instead it is to have the birth that you are dreaming about and to feel supported in your choices. With guidance and care from a birth doula, the research shows:
*Better apgar scores for baby
*Greater satisfaction for overall experience
*More positive long-term memories
*Family bonding and support for partner and siblings
*Improved postpartum mental health
*Boosted self-esteem and improved confidence
In 1998 Dr. John Kennell -a hospital pediatrician and researcher- said, "If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."
Continuous support during labor has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labor and birth.
Childbirth Connection. "Best Evidence: Labor Support." 2011. Retrieved on 3/17/2012 from http://www.childbirthconnection.org/article.asp?ck=10174&ClickedLink=257&area=27
Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5.