It’s World Doula Week this week – a time to honor both the doulas we work beside and the doulas that are aiding women around the world throughout their pregnancies, labors, and beyond. Doulas deserve a special highlight this week because of the instrumental role they play in creating safe, supportive, and healing birth experiences.
While the role of doctors, nurses, and midwives often includes keeping a clinical eye on the mother, doulas play a significant role in births with their unwavering support. In fact, the presence of a doula as part of the birth support team is documented to also produce more positive outcomes for both mother and baby.
These very distinctive birth supporters have been aiding and assisting other women in pregnancy, labor, and beyond for millennia. Though they may not be able to offer medical advice, their skills and applied experiences play a starring role in many births.
Doulas are best known for offering informational, physical, and emotional support for pregnant and laboring mothers. The services and skills they offer mothers can include everything from recommending books and articles to assisting with medication-free pain relief techniques. Doulas are also there to guide and help the mother through labor – reminding her of her goals and wishes when the going gets tough.
With deep empathy and understanding, doulas inspire women to work through all the physical and emotional barriers that come up – especially during labor. Doulas can help women stay focused on the task at hand especially when mothers hit that wall and can’t see the way through.
Doulas remind us of our goals, our nature,and our strengths, as we connect to our raw inner power to birth our babies. They also can act as an advocate for mothers – reminding other birth professionals to consult the mother for her consent to an intervention or procedure.
Doulas are not legally allowed to give medical advice, or perform medical procedures, but their presence on the birth team still ensures more positive outcomes for both mother and child.
In one database review study of the outcomes of continuous support for women during childbirth the researchers found numerous benefits to having a doula present as part of the birth team during labor. According to their research, having a doula present offering continuous support during labor led to women:
• Being less likely to use pain relief medications
• Beingless likely to have a caesarean delivery
• Being less likely to experience an instrumental vaginal birth
• Being less likely to have a baby with a low 5-minute Apgar score
• Tending towards shorter labors
All of these outcomes, and more, prove that doulas are helping women have more positive childbirth experiences with a reduced risk to both mother and baby.As we celebrate the doulas amongst us this week it’s great to remember that all women deserve to have support throughout labor and birth. Show your appreciation to a doula you know this week and thank them for offering safe, comfortable, empowering, and steadfast support to all the pregnant and laboring women of the world.