by Kerry Tuschhoff
A doula is a non-medical birth support assistant. She provides a birthing woman with physical, emotional and informational support at childbirth, whether the birth takes place in a hospital, home, or birth center.
Her primary concern is the mother, although she may also support other members of the family who are present. Doctors, nurses and midwives usually are not in a position to provide this continual support as they are caring for more than one patient at a time, and cannot stay in the room with the mother. They also need to concentrate on the more clinical aspects of childbirth.
A doula's presence does not make a birth partner's presence unnecessary. To the contrary, a doula's presence frees the partner from certain aspects of concern and allows the partner to interact more closely with the birthing woman. A doula's purpose is to aid the mother and help her have the birth experience she wants, thereby leaving her with a sense of empowerment and a beautiful, positive birth memory.
The presence of a professional labor support person -- a doula, for example -- can have a huge effect on the obstetrical outcome of the birth. The combined results of 6 randomized controlled trials on birth support have shown:
It is best to interview several doulas if available in your area. Here are some questions to ask:
Most doulas have been trained by one of the organizations I listed above and this is what most moms want to hear. I will say that there are some doulas out there like myself who became doulas through attending their own childbirth class students' births and they are wonderful at it.
A good doula will meet with you at least twice before birth and I would say that three to four times is best to familiarize yourself with her and allow her to get to know you and your partner, your goals and even to work with you in a birthing rehearsal. You really do want to take your time to get a good feeling about someone who will be supporting you during such an important event.
Doulas are worth their weight in gold. They make such a difference to a couple's birth experience!
Kerry Tuschhoff, HCHI, CHT, CI, is a certified hypnotherapist, trains Hypnobabies Instructors, is the author of Hypnobabies: Eyes Open Childbirth Hypnosis and is Operations Director of Hypnobabies Network in Southern California. Please check out her website.
Copyright © Kerry Tuschhoff. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.