How Doulas Help Make Childbirth More Comfortable

What is a Doula?

By definition, a doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical and emotional support during childbirth. A doula is not a medical professional, but rather has taken extensive training in labor support. Along with arming pregnant women with information, providing comfort and relief, and providing emotional support, doulas provide support for the labor partner and act as an advocate for the patient. Along with labor nurses, midwives, and doctors, doulas can play a vital role in providing an amazing birth experience.

Research has shown women with a doula are less likely to need Pitocin or other labor inducing drugs, have a cesarean section, utilize pain medications, and have a negative birth experience. Doulas can aid with positioning, labor balls, and pain management. The doula is there for you and your partner. Although respectful to staff, doulas are in place to advocate and serve the patient they are hired by, not any hospital staff or policy. Doulas can help women achieve the natural birth that they want and find power and strength.

Doula training isn’t a formal education that results in a degree, but rather a training program with different areas of certification. DONA International is one provider of doula training. This training consists of classroom work, hands on training, and at home training. Most doulas are required to attend and support several births prior to obtaining their certifications. Along with DONA international, there are several other companies that offer doula training and certification such as the International Doula Institute, CAPPA, Childbirth International, and ICEA. Some of these doula programs further specialize in labor and post-partum training.

The obvious question, do I need a doula? Well, that’s a toss-up and it depends on your needs and personal preferences. In 2016, the World Health Organization developed a safe birth checklist and doula support was included in their list. The benefits of hiring a doula are numerous, but we can hit the highlights. Obviously having one person to focus all their time and attention on you during labor and delivery would really improve your experience. Next, Doulas are trained in aiding the progression of labor and labor support. You do have nurses and they are trained with this information as well, but they often have other patients, have to answer to doctors, and can’t provide support like a certified doula can.

RELATED: Doula Shares Tips For Non-Medical Pain Management & Relaxation During Labor

Hiring a doula can be expensive. It can range anywhere from $500 to $3500 per birth. Some insurance companies have started to cover doula services within recent years, but not all. Doulas have not been listed as a standard of care or a requirement for successful birth, but as the evidence continues to support the use of a doula, a rise in doula provided services may become the trend.

Jamie Prock, RN-BSN, is an OB Nurse currently practicing within the Indian Health Service.


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