What are Doulas & Why are They Becoming so Popular?

A Doula’s main role is to educate a couple throughout the pregnancy so that they are able to make informed choices. Doulas are mostly women who have undergone training in the physiological processes of pregnancy and childbirth.  They are also trained to assist in the postpartum period and have learnt many tools to support a woman before, during and after birth.  These tools may include massage, meditation, mindset techniques and natural, drug free pain relief methods. It is also common to find Doulas who have additional formal training in acupuncture, yoga, naturopathy or even chiropractic.  A Doula does not give medical advice, but encourages and guides a couple to research and find what choices are best for them and their baby. A Doula differs from a midwife in that a Doula’s role is not a medical one.  Doulas do not monitor temperature, blood pressure or in any way medically care for the mother or baby. Their focus is to support a couple mentally, emotionally and physically, (in labour) to provide information, to educate and empower, and to advocate for a couple through the birthing process.
 
Research indicates that when a woman is supported, nurtured and offered continuity of care throughout pregnancy and birth, her birth outcomes are improved, not just on the physical level but the mental and emotional as well. Often society emphasizes the importance of a healthy baby and healthy mother, that is a given and what is also important is a mother who is empowered and satisfied with her birthing journey and able to transition into motherhood feeling confident.  
 
Women who receive continuous support during labour have reduced risk of caesarean, instrumental delivery or need for analgesia compared to care without continuous support. As a Doula of eight years I see first hand the positive impact a Doula can have not only on a woman but also on her partner who is often overwhelmed with the process of childbirth. Having a Doula gives partners the support to know they are not alone and that it’s not all up to them to know the ins and outs of childbirth.  The benefits of a Doula extend to the partner as well giving them time throughout the labour when they need it, and reassurance as to the processes of birth. Doulas include partners into the birthing team not exclude them. Women who choose care providers on their birthing team that support their desires and beliefs will feel more relaxed in labour and confident in their ability to birth.
 
Over the last four years I have also worked as a chiropractic assistant and have witnessed the huge benefits of chiropractic care through pregnancy.  This is something I share with all of the women I work with. I encourage my clients to receive regular chiropractic care and the results speak for themselves.
 
My vision as a Doula and chiropractic assistant is to guide women and their partners, to help them access a variety of information so they can be better equipped to make choices through their pregnancy and birth that leads them to a satisfying and empowered birthing experience.
 
If we are to change the face of birth we must approach pregnancy and birth from a physical, mental and emotional viewpoint.  Birth is not just a physical process where the thoughts and feelings of a mother are excluded. How women are cared for during pregnancy and birth is paramount to their wellbeing and that of their babies.

Written by Brooke Martin, CA, Doula & founder of Be Birth

References:

  1. Hodnett, E.D., Gates, D., Hofmeyr, G.J., & Sakala, C.  (2012). Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database System Review. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub
  2. http://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/ last viewed 5th April 2016