- helping you prepare your birth plan
- providing suggestions and exercises to help you have a more comfortable pregnancy
- explaining medical procedures
- providing emotional support
- suggesting and providing non-pharmacological pain relief techniques (massage, heat therapy, positioning)
- assisting with breastfeeding
- providing partner support
- working as an advocate so your birth plan is carried out
Women supported by a doula during labor have been shown to have1:
- 50% reduction in Cesarean rate
- 25% shorter labor
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in Pitocin use
- 30% reduction in analgesic use
- 30% reduction in forceps delivery
- Less anxiety and depression
- More confidence with the baby
- More satisfaction with their partner
- Improved breastfeeding
- Increased time spent with baby
- More positive maternal assessments of baby's personality and health, and maternal competence
- Decreased postpartum depression
There are thousands of doulas in the United States alone, and many more worldwide. DONA International is the world's largest doula association, providing training and certification to doulas, support for families interested in doula services and assistance in finding a doula in your area.
When interviewing a prospective doula, here are some questions to ask:
- Are you certified?
- What training and education have you had?
- What is your philosophy of birth?
- How do you define your role in the birth process?
- Do you provide prenatal and/or postpartum visits?
- Can you provide references?
- What types of births have you witnessed (Cesarean, epidural, natural, VBAC, twins)?
- What is your fee? How should payments be made?
- Do you have experience at my chosen place of birth?
- What happens if you're not available?
- Will you provide labor support at my home prior to going to the place of birth?
For more information on choosing a doula, read these books:
- The Doula Advantage: Your Complete Guide to Having an Empowered and Positive Birth with the Help of a Professional Childbirth Assistant by Rachel Gurevich
- Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth by Marshall H. Klaus, John H. Kennell, and Phyllis H. Klaus
Source 1: Mothering the Mother, by M.H. Klaus, J.H. Kennell, and P.H. Klaus; Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, New York (1993).