To Doula or Not to Doula?

While you likely have a good idea of what your doctor and your labor and delivery nurses do, you may be less familiar with the role of a doula. 

What is a doula? 

A doula is not a medical professional; instead, a doula is a different type of professional who is trained to provide support to a mother as she prepares for childbirth, during labor and delivery, and shortly after the birth of her new baby.  

This support spans the emotional and physical aspects of having a baby, plus lots of information and education to help an expecting mother understand the process and her choices. Basically, this is a fancy way to say that while the medical staff takes care of a mother’s medical needs, the doula is focused on her experience and her needs as a person. 

Benefits of a doula 

If you choose to employ a doula as part of your childbirth experience, you’ll benefit from: 

  • Help with education over your options, and preparing a birth plan 
  • An advocate who makes sure your wishes are followed as much as medically possible 
  • Help with pain management, which may include massage, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and labor positions 
  • Reassurance and emotional support for both you and your partner
  • Help with your first breastfeeding session 

Research has shown that mothers who have a doula as a member of their team often require less medication and less time in labor. They also tend to have a more positive birthing experience and are less likely to require an emergency C-section. 

Choosing a doula 

If you do decide to hire a doula, you’ll want to make sure they have the appropriate training and credentials. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, your doctor or the instructor from your childbirth class if you aren’t sure.


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