Considering who you want to support you through labor can be a challenging decision. The birthing room cast can include relatives, friends, doctors, nurses and midwives.
There is one more person you should consider bringing with you – a doula. These professional labor assistants use their experience supporting women through labor and birth to aid in your efforts to have the healthiest and safest birth possible. Here are five ways doulas can help you:
Better Births – Hiring a doula is a simple way to reduce your risk of experiencing complications. Researchers have found doula-attended births are often shorter with fewer cesarean sections and labor inductions needed.
Communicate Your Preferences – Many moms spend time writing out birth plans, but often they end up sitting untouched and ignored on the big day. A doula can remind hospital staff of your wishes, whether those are to avoid unnecessary interventions or to move around freely during labor.
Support – Genuine and loving support can have a huge influence on the duration, pain management and enjoyment of birth. Many moms-to-be expect to get that support from nurses, but they often care for multiple patients at the same time. Having a doula will ensure you receive consistent support through every single contraction.
Experience – It is often assumed that birth partners will provide labor support, when in reality most are nervous and unsure of themselves in this important role. Doulas have assisted many women through birth and can provide support for both the mother and father based on their rich experience.
Breastfeeding Assistance – Research has shown babies breastfeed more easily when a doula is present during delivery. Some doulas also offer breastfeeding support and other postpartum services to nurture you and your birth partner in your new roles.
Many Lamaze Instructors are also doulas and may be able to provide more information on doula services in your area. Moms-to-be who want to know more about how a doula can help them get off to the best start can find more information at www.Lamaze.org.
Marilyn Curl, CNM, MSN, LCCE, FACCE, is the president of Lamaze International (www.lamaze.org), which promotes a natural, healthy and safe approach to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting practices based on the best and most current medical evidence available. Knowing that pregnancy and childbirth can be demanding on a woman’s body and mind, Lamaze serves as a resource for information about what to expect and what choices are available during the childbearing years.