“My husband (partner) is my left hand and my doula is my right.” – Doulas Making a Difference
“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” – John Kennel
What is a Doula?
Doula (pronounced doo-lah) is a Greek word meaning “women’s servant.” (However in modern times we are aware and accepting that not all doulas identify as females or women). A labor or birth doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides a range of support to those who are pregnant, birthing, and postpartum and focuses on them with continuous one-on-one attention during labor.
Birth/labor doulas can also be referred to as labor companions, labor support specialists, labor support professionals, birth assistants, or labor assistants. Doulas have been around in one form or another since the dawn of humankind (even some non-human mammal species have been observed laboring with “birth attendants”!). This article adeptly details the history of birth attendant work.
Why a Doula is Important
A doula can be a vital asset to any birth!
“In a 2012 survey that took place in the U.S., 6% of birthing people said they used a doula during childbirth (Declerq et al., 2013), up from 3% in a 2006 national survey (Declerq et al., 2007). Of those people who did not have a doula but understood what they were, 27% would have liked to have a doula.” – Evidence Based Birth
Partner’s Role in Birth
“In one landmark study that evaluated the effects of doulas and fathers working together, researchers found that combining a supportive partner and a doula significantly lowered the mother’s risk of Cesarean compared to just having a supportive partner alone. In 2008, McGrath and Kennell randomly assigned 420 first-time mothers to have routine care (including a supportive partner) or care that also included a professional doula whom they met for the first time during labor. […]”
“The results showed a substantial improvement in outcomes for women who had both a birth partner and a doula, compared to having a birth partner alone. The Cesarean rate for these first-time mothers was 25% in the group with a partner only, and 13.4% in the group with a partner and doula.” – Evidence Based Birth
From Birth Boot Camp:
- 4 Reasons Dad Needs a Doula
- Benefits of a Doula
- Doulas For Cesarean Birth
- Doulas For Epidural Birth
- What is a Doula?
- Why Hire a Doula
- “A grounded theory study of effective labor support by birth doulas.” In Human Development and Family Studies, Vol. Doctorate University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, pp. 452. Gilliland, A. L. (2010a).
- “A randomized controlled trial of continuous labor support for middle-class couples: effect on cesarean delivery rates.” McGrath and Kennell. Birth. 2008 Jun;35(2):92-7.
- “Continuous emotional support during labor in a US hospital.” Kennell, Klaus et al. JAMA. 1991 May 1;265(17):2197-201.
- “Continuous support for women during childbirth.” Bohren, Hofmeyer et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jul 6;7:CD003766.
- “Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes.” Kenneth J. Gruber et al. J Perinat Educ. 2013 Winter; 22(1): 49–58.
- “Listening to mothers III pregnancy and birth: Report of the third national U.S. survey of women’s childbearing experiences.” New York: Childbirth Connection. Declercq, E. R., Sakala, C., Corry, M. P., et al. (2013).
- Benefits of a Doula Present at Birth – American Association of Pediatrics Journal
- Doula Care and Breastfeeding Success – Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN)
- Evidence On: Doulas – Evidence Based Birth
- Having a Doula: Is a Doula For Me? – American Pregnancy Association