It seems almost like an added extra…
Like getting an ice-cream with all the sprinkles because you can, and not really because you have to. Doula’s are often seen as that extra – a nice to have but not really a need. Statistics, however, argue differently and it is why the use of these wonderful people is on the rise worldwide.
Doulas offer physical and emotional support, childbirth prep and information as well as advocacy to mothers or couples wanting to have a firm hand to hold throughout their journey to parenthood.
On the management of pain, a doula can assist a mother through the different stages of labour. It is important though, that you establish a relationship with your doula prior to labour day, to build a good understanding. This always enables a doula to effectively advocate for mother and partner, so that the birthing experience is good for everyone present.
Usually, the first stop on the journey with a doula would be:
1. Childbirth Prep and Information
- Manage expectations
- Have chats about fears
- Practice coping skills
- Antenatal class
- Breathing techniques
When in labour:
2. Physical Support:
- Ensuring energy by ensuring labouring mom is hydrated and snacking
- Touch and massage techniques or counter-pressure
- Trying different birthing positions
- Counter-pressure during contractions
- Ensuring that mom is resting too and is as comfortable as possible
3. Emotional Support:
- Doulas provide a calm and enabling environment
- Managing pain through expectation and reaffirming the birthing rhythm chosen
- Offering encouragement, praise, affirmation
- Assisting your partner to be a part of the birth process, increasing oxytocin ‘love hormone’
- Facilitating communication during a birth, advocating for what mother would like for her body, her baby and her birth
According to the Cochrane review published in 2017, in these studies expecting mothers were assigned one-on-one random support from either a doula, nurse or healthcare worker, and the benefits thereof were astounding.
- 25% decrease in C-sections, due to the ongoing support
- 39% less C-sections if expecting mothers were supported by a doula
- 08% increase in spontaneous vaginal birth
- 15% spike in spontaneous vaginal birth if mothers were supported by a doula
So, while you’re not able to pop a doula like you a do a pill, their existence and experience in the delivery room is enough to lower the panic and the pain.
The Cochrane review further elaborates on surveys done with couples who have found that having a doula present was ‘extremely positive’, taking the fear out of labour day and making way for an experience that many parents have not only done once or twice.
In the words of Dr. John. H Kennell – “If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”
By Romy Titus, Doula (@romytitus)