I am a huge fan of doulas (also known as birth attendants) and I wish that every woman who wanted a doula at her birth could have one. There are many benefits to having an experienced, trained woman at your birth.
Doulas don’t have medical qualifications but they have the necessary training to support women throughout their baby’s birth.
If you want more information on what a doula is and what she does, check out our article: What Is a Doula | 11 Important facts About Doulas.
Here is a list of 15 great reasons why getting a doula prior to your upcoming birth
Hire a Doula Reason #1. Doulas are trained in birth support
Medical professionals are trained in medical procedures. Midwives are trained in midwifery. Your partner, and your family, are highly unlikely to be trained in anything to do with childbirth or support. A birth doula is trained specifically in the art of supporting you and your family to have the most positive birth experience. That is the doula’s primary role. You can’t expect to get all the support you need from others in the hospital setting; their roles are focused on medical care and procedures.
It has been proved time and time again that doulas are more effective at supporting you and getting better birth outcomes than hospital staff or your own family – even mum. Researchers from the University of Toronto, led by Ellen Hodnett, reviewed a number of studies that examined the effect of one-to-one support from a doula compared with standard care in a hospital.
They found there was a huge difference depending on the person providing the support. Data from 21 studies included in the review showed that support was more effective when it was provided by a woman who was not a part of the hospital staff or when it came from the mother’s social network, such as family or friends.
To read more about this review, join the discussion in our Using Doulas & Private Midwives forums
Hire a Doula Reason #2. Hospital midwives are usually overstretched and time poor
It’s no secret that those in the medical system – including certified nurse-midwives – are under immense pressure and overstretched. They need to juggle several clients, emergencies come up and they can’t always hold your hand and help you through contractions as you might expect. They will pop in and see how you’re going and, if it’s a quiet shift, perhaps they might spend a little more time with you but there is always paperwork to be done, other women coming in and out of the ward and issues to address. They cannot give you their full, undivided attention, as much as they would love to. Most midwives love the extra support for the birthing mother in the room when they aren’t able to be there themselves.
Hire a Doula Reason #3. A more relaxed partner, which means a better experience for both of you
Our wonderful men are generally clueless about birth. Even if they learned a bit with you during pregnancy, sometimes reality can be a bit of a shock. And, when emotions are attached to an event, you get mental blanks messing with you.
At the same time, and even if your partner does his best to support you, there’s also something huge happening to him. A doula can guide and offer support to him, too, so he doesn’t feel so nervous and lacking in confidence. Most dads-to-be often start doing the same things a good doula does. They get ideas and gain confidence just by having the right doula there. Doulas really do complement and reinforce the role of the father-to-be at the birth.
Research has shown that men are more satisfied with their role and women are more satisfied with their partners’ role at birth when a doula has been present.
Hire a Doula Reason #4. A 50% less chance of having a c-section
Yes, really! Many studies from around the world have consistently shown that birth support from an experienced doula cuts your likelihood of a c-section by 50%. That’s huge! Whether you have a planned or unplanned c-section, a birth doula will give you continuous support, no matter what.
Hire a Doula Reason #5. It’s less likely you’ll need pain relief
Pain management tends to be one of the big issues of labor. Birth doulas offer such great labor support that pain medication is used less frequently by women who hire a doula.
Having physical support, emotional support and even informational support during labor will reduce your need for pain relief. You will be more likely to experience a drug-free birth, thanks to doula services.
There is plenty of research about this too.
Hire a Doula Reason #6. A doula does not leave your side
Birth doula care means that from the moment labor starts until your baby is a few hours old, your doula won’t leave your side. There are no other clients to juggle. No reports to write. No golf matches to attend. She’s there for you and you only. Everything else will just have to wait.
Hire a Doula Reason #7. You are less likely to have an induction
The emotional support doulas offer will help you arrive at your labor confident, well-supported and relaxed. This always gets the oxytocin flowing, which is so necessary to boost uterine contractions.
Women who have doula support are more likely to go into labor on their own because they feel safer and better prepared. That helps with the oxytocin flow, as stress and fear will stop the oxytocin release that’s so important to get labor started.
Achieving a natural birth with as little medical intervention as possible is very important for many women.
Hire a Doula Reason #8. You will save money on books and educational material
Most doulas have a library of great birth books and films. Not only that, the books are handpicked to be those she knows will be a great read for you: books that will inform, empower and educate you with the best information she has found. There are some terrible pregnancy/birth/parenting books out there.
Are you curious about which birth books are best?
Check out my article 10 Best Childbirth Books To Read For A Better Birth Experience to get my suggestions on what to read.
You can also ask your doula if she has a copy.
Hire a Doula Reason #9. You don’t have to go anywhere
One of the biggest benefits of having a doula is that a doula comes to you – to your home and your place of birth. Appointments are in the comfort of your own home, so there are no waiting rooms, no waiting for other people before you and no expending time to go and meet her.
At the same time – and especially if you’re thinking about home birth or spending the first few hours of labor in the comfort of your home before heading to the birth center or the hospital – the doula will be more familiar with your home, which is very convenient for someone who will provide support during labor.
Hire a Doula Reason #10. You get to choose your doula
If you are having a baby in a public hospital, you don’t choose who cares for you; you just have to hope you get someone you like. Even then, you will probably be giving birth during shift changes so there will be someone new stepping in at some point.
Even if you choose a private hospital, you can’t choose the midwives, who will be there for you unless there are complications or until it’s time to push. You will, though, be able to choose a doula, who will be there for you during the labor – and what happens during labor affects the outcome. There are plenty of recommendations and testimonials on the internet to help you find a great doula. Most importantly, though, the way you feel about the doula is the best guide to choosing one.
When you choose your doula and your support team, they won’t be strangers – to you or to your family members. If you have older children, having the same person around for the birth process will help them familiarize themselves with the doula, and her postpartum support will be even more effective when she can spend time with the newborn’s older siblings. The relationship grows and the whole family lives the birth experience feeling much more involved and cared for. It isn’t only mum who’s having a baby but the rest of the family, too.
Take this into account when choosing your prospective doula.
Hire a Doula Reason #11. A doula helps you put together a birth plan
Putting together a birth plan (or birth preferences) can be pretty daunting but a doula can help you with this. She might even have a template, which you can go through and alter, according to your specific needs. A birth plan is a great way to address various scenarios and what you want in those instances. It also gets good communication going between mother-to-be, father-to-be and the doula. That way everyone knows what you want and isn’t stressing about it during your birth experience, when you’ll find it harder to make those decisions. No woman wants to think over ideas when she’s in labor; she’s busy doing her very important job and needs to focus on it.
Find out more in our article Birth Plans: Is It Worth Writing a Birth Plan?
Hire a Doula Reason #12. Breastfeeding support and higher breastfeeding rates
Right after birth, a doula continues to support you with all the changes becoming a new mother entails. A doula can provide lactation support and resources.
As doulas specialize, there are many doulas who just work with women who have given birth and they called themselves postpartum doulas.
In the Netherlands, a complimentary postpartum doula is offered to all women who give birth for the first few weeks of the postpartum period.
Postpartum doulas not only help with breastfeeding but with everything that the mother might need so she can focus on herself and her baby.
Hire a Doula Reason #13. A shorter labor
Physical support, moral support, partner support, support through hard labor and any additional support you might think of translate into your body being able to do what it should, at the right speed. When women feel completely supported during labor they can focus all their energy on what they’re feeling without having to worry about anything else but the birth process.
This means shorter labor – and don’t we all want that? Studies have shown that where a doula was supporting the mother, the labor was 25% shorter. Amen to that!
Hire a Doula Reason #14. Its less likely you’ll request an epidural.
There are 60% fewer requests for epidurals – and it’s not because the mothers are the type who think drugs in childbirth are bad and wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole. I have had clients who pre-warned me that they complain all night with a sore stomach, so they don’t know how they will go without pain relief. But they do it – because they are well supported by a woman who is trained in helping a mother-to-be get through tough spots, emotionally and physically.
Hire a Doula Reason #15. Just find a doula and speak to her
If you would like to know more about hiring a doula, please read the following BellyBelly articles:
Otherwise, to hire a doula in Australia, please go to FindaDoula.