7 Reasons to Hire a Birth Doula
From non-stop support to better birth outcomes
- Birth doulas provide support during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. They can support you both emotionally and physically.
- They supply educational resources and expertise before and during birth.
- They are by your side throughout your entire birth experience.
- Doulas are more focused on you, the birthing person, and less on your baby.
Birth doulas provide physical and emotional support during labor and delivery. They are sometimes called birth coaches or labor coaches. There are a lot of benefits to working with a doula regardless of the type of birth you’re planning.
So, why might you want one? Doulas provide a constant source of support during pregnancy by providing resources and education; they are also present throughout the entire labor and delivery. Doulas have also been shown to improve birth outcomes. Here are some of the reasons having a doula may become part of your birth plan:
1. You will always have the same doula during your birth
Midwives and OBs change shifts on a schedule, but unfortunately, your baby will not always adhere to that schedule. You may even start labor with one provider and give birth with another. These changes can be jarring. In some cases, they may impact your birth experience.
Unlike medical providers, a doula is by your side the whole time. Birth doulas will stay with you whether your labor is only a few hours or more than a day! They provide a consistent familiar face and support the entire time.
2. A doula can help you advocate for yourself
Your birth doula can help you create a birth plan if you don’t already have one. They can also review your birth plan and ask you questions to refine your plan. For instance, if you say you don’t want an epidural, your doula might ask under which circumstances would you change your mind, if any?
Your doula can also provide feedback on how to advocate for yourself during labor and delivery. Using our previous example, your care provider may suggest an epidural. Doulas can help you prepare beforehand so you remain confident in your choice. They want you to understand that you can say no, or change your mind! Knowing what your choices are ahead of time will help you to advocate for yourself.
3. Doulas know what you need, when you need it
Doulas are often called labor coaches for a reason. A good coach will never tell you to work at 100% all of the time. They will counsel you on when it’s appropriate to take breaks, focus on your breathing, or try new positions or coping strategies. They can often tell when it's time to push! They may even intuitively sense when you need hands-on support and when to give you space.
Doulas also have several tools they use to make labor a little sweeter. Massage, aromatherapy, and breathing techniques are often used to ease the stress of labor. They may also be a source of comfort and direction for any other people in the room, such as partners and family members.
4. A doula can be your biggest cheerleader
Birth is not a walk in the park. It is a long, messy marathon. A doula is always by your side to provide words of encouragement and motivation. Research also shows that continuous support during birth improves satisfaction with birthing experiences. Doulas are a great source of constant support.
5. Doulas understand birth
Most doulas and birth coaches have training that gives them a good understanding of the stages of labor, birth, and potential complications. Especially if this is your first baby, you may not be as familiar with the process of giving birth. Doulas help coach you through the phases of labor and provide context for what is happening. In some cases, you may feel comfortable asking them advice on whether or not they think you need interventions, such as an epidural.
For your information
There are many types of doulas. Some will even help you in the months after you give birth!
6. Having a doula can provide a better birth experience
Doulas have been shown to provide better birthing experiences and improved outcomes overall. A few of those improvements include shorter labor, fewer interventions, and a lowered risk of cesarean birth. A birth coach will not prevent you from having interventions if you desire them. However, you may not feel you need them as strongly when you have continual support.
Part of having a better birth experience also relies on choosing a doula with who you are comfortable. Take time to interview doulas before choosing one that feels right to you.
7. A doula is there for you
Most providers split their attention between you and your baby. Their eyes have to be on the medical data. They are monitoring baby's heart rate and position, what stage of labor you’re in, and more.
Because a doula is not a medical professional, there isn’t a lot they can do when it comes to your baby. Their focus is on the person giving birth, and, in some cases, on the other people in the room. Doulas have more opportunities to focus on your well-being. They can turn down the lights, get you ice chips to suck on, and rub your back. They can even do things you want but can’t do yourself, such as capture photos or keep your close friends or family updated.
Sometimes a doula is most useful not for the person who's giving birth but for their family. Partners, friends, or parents may want to help but not be sure of what's going on. In these cases, doulas support you by helping the other people in the room know what to do.
Need help finding a birth doula? You can start by searching the DONA International database of registered doulas here. Note that not all doulas are certified through DONA.