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"Whenever and however you intend to give birth, your experiences will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life."

Ina May Gaskin

A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula's purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birth experience.

 Birth doulas build relationships with expecting families to help them have a positive birth experience. They help facilitate conversations between the birthing person and her care provider, provide non-judgmental support for her birth choices, and support the family throughout labor and birth. Doulas welcomingly answer client phone calls, emails, and endless questions. They hold your hand, respect your space, and your privacy. They trust you, your baby, and your birth process. Doulas support your choices, your labor, your body, and your partner.

Physical support is important because it helps the birthing person maintain a sense of control, comfort, and confidence.  Aspects of physical support provided by a doula may include: soothing touch with counter pressure, massage, hip squeezes, sacrum pressure, and much more. As well, doulas can help create a calming environment, give continuous one on one attention to mom throughout the entire labor, apply warmth or cold, assist in walking to and from the bathroom, give ice chips or food and drinks to keep up mother's strength and hydration, and suggest a position change or comfort measure when needed. In many ways, a doula can also care for the partner, making sure they are cared for and given direction and attention if and when they need it.

The continuous presence of a doula gives major emotional benefits too. laboring moms shouldn't have to focus on their emotional health during childbirth, despite its upmost importance. Therefore, it's the focus of the doula. The doula gives reassurance, encouragement, praise, positivity, nurturing care, acceptance, respect, and helps the birthing person and the partner work through their fears and self doubt.

Numerous studies have documented the benefits of having a doula present during labor. With the support of a doula, women were less likely to have birth interventions and less likely to have a cesarean birth. Women report having an overall more positive birth experience. Studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall C-section rate by 25%, the length of labor by 26%, the use of Pitocin by 40%, and requests for an epidural by 60%. (Data from Cochrane Review on continuous support for women during childbirth)

Overall, continuous labor support leads to increased oxytocin hormones that help labor, increased mobility, increased self-esteem, decreased pain, and decreased anxiety.

Labor support isn't the only way that a doula can help...

"After labor, a postpartum doula brings her experience, companionship, and emotional support to parents and their newborns while providing physical, non judgmental, and educational support. Her primary focus is on the mother's recovery from birth and baby's adjustment to life on the outside." -Randy Patterson, ProDoula.

Sometimes, the simplest of things such as completing a to do list, washing bottles, bathing, feeding, and watching baby while mom naps, talking with mom about her birth experience, or running to the grocery store can make all the difference during postpartum. Household tasks and self care can turn into daunting tasks within the first few months after a new baby, not to mention the emotional roller coaster than can accompany an already sore and recovering mind and body. Postpartum doulas are there to maintain your sanity and can help with a faster recovery and less stressful infant care.