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March 22-March 28 is World Doula Week!
I am a doula. My husband sometimes calls it a Medulla (yes, like the lower part of your brain stem, the Medulla Oblongata). I get many furrowed brows when I say the word “doula”. I’m usually called a midwife, friend, helper, unnecessary, or an extra expense. But some of these are quite inaccurate.
Since this is World Doula Week, I’d like to take some time to address some frequently asked questions and explain why I think hiring a doula is a wise thing.
#1 What the heck is that?! The term “doula” or “doÃ»los” is a Greek word for a servant. In Luke 7 Jesus heals the servant of a centurion. The Greek word for his servant was doÃ»los. Today, we have come further than that meaning and made it more specific. Now, we use the term to describe a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth of her baby. I think this is a basic definition. Each doula is different, not only in their personality as an individual but also in the services they offer (birth photography, prenatal massage, birth art, essential oils, etc). So this is quite different than a midwife who is a health care provider.
#2 How do they support? Doulas support mothers and babies, but in addition, a big part of their support is directed to the dad who thinks he might faint, could need a few breaks during a 24 hour labor, or doesn’t know how to help his partner through all her pain.
Here are just a few numbers on other ways doulas help during labor and how they help to improve birth outcomes:
- Labors are 25% shorter.
- There are fewer complications.
- Cesarean rates are reduced by 50%.
- There is 40% less need for oxytocin to speed up labor.
- Need for forceps is reduced by 40%.
- Women request 30% less pain medication and 60% fewer epidurals.
- Greater satisfaction with their birth experience.
- More positive assessments of their babies.
- Less postpartum depression.
- Babies have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries.
- Babies breastfeed more easily.
- Mothers are more affectionate to their babies postpartum.
- The cost of obstetrical care is dramatically reduced.
#3 Is a doula even important? This is a matter of opinion, but I definitely think it’s important! And I’m not the only one. Financial analyst Suze Orman hosts a segment on her show called “Can I Afford it?” where people call in, explain their scenario, and she tells them if they can afford to make a specific purchase. She once received a phone call about hiring a doula.
“I happen to think [having a doula during labor] is a NEED, not a WANT” – Suze Orman
Watch the video
#4 If it’s so important, why haven’t I heard of it? Doula services are offered all over the world and are very common. Here in the United States we have a very low view of the needs of women during pregnancy, during labor, and after the birth. Just because it’s not talked about commonly here, doesn’t mean it’s not important.
If you know someone who is pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, share this information with her and spread the word of the service that are out there! Have you ever benefitted from a doula? Do you have any other questions? Just let me know in the comments!