MOTHERING THE MOTHER
What is a Doula?
The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek and is now used to refer to “a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother and her partner before, during, and just after childbirth.”
In other words, a doula "mothers the mother".
Research studies have found that when doulas attend births, labors are shorter, there are fewer complications, and there is less need for oxytocin to speed labor, for forceps or vacuum extractor deliveries, or for pain medication, epidurals, or cesarean deliveries. Babies are also healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A Birth Doula…
-Recognizes childbirth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life
-Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
-Assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth
-Stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor
-Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make good decisions
-Facilitates communication between laboring woman, her partner, and clinical care providers
-Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of her birth experience.
The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers and infants. They are found in many birth settings, from the home to the hospital, and work in cooperation with physicians, nurses, midwives, and the partners and families of laboring women.