Why you the birth partner, needs to have me, the doula, on your birth team.
You are happy to go with the flow, you think having a doula is all a bit “woo-woo”, right?
The 2012 updated Cochrane review of research studies on the use of continuous support for women during childbirth found that women who received continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and C-sections. Their labours were also shorter by around 40 minutes and their babies were born in better condition.
When continuous labour support was provided by a doula, women experienced a:
- 31% decrease in the use of Syntocinon (artificial hormone drip used to speed up labour)
- 28% decrease in the risk of caesarean section
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
- 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
- 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
- 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
(Hodnett et al. 2012)
And if that is not enough to win you over, let me continue.
Doulas support the birthing person both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (but not medically) and also yourself, the primary support person. What does that support look like, I hear you ask? Why is it so different from the support you offer the birthing person? Because doulas are trained to offer this support. The support you offer comes from a place of love, doulas undergo training to be able to support you both and should updating their skills and knowledge regularly.
Doulas offer continuity of care, spending time with the birthing person during the pregnancy. This can be educational appointments to discuss physiological birth, the birthing toolbox, different models of maternity care available to you in your area, hypnobirthing, acupressure, massage, the list truly is endless, and each doula brings their own unique skill set. A doula is also a familiar face for yourself in the birthing suite, which can sometimes feel like a very unfamiliar place with midwives or doctors you have never met before. Doulas can also provide you with equipment such as birthing pools and tens machines, so you aren’t scrambling to buy or hire each individual item from a variety of different places.
As your doula I am not there to push you out of the way or catch your baby, but to help alleviate some of the stress of seeing the love of your life in pain and going through the most powerful experience of their own life. The birthing person is not only birthing a baby but also themselves as a new parent. You too are going through your own rebirth. I am not emotionally attached which means I can stand back and observe clearly and guide you both through the experience. I can see when your partner needs you to step in with something and give you the helpful nudge of encouragement.
Labour can be long, sometimes it stops and starts, and it can be exhausting for you as well as the birthing person. Having another person that is trained to help and can step in to give you some rest so when baby does arrive you aren’t exhausted is invaluable. Sometimes mental blocks arise which is hard for you both to see in the thick of it, but I can help to clear them.
Going with the flow, can seem like the best option as labour can change at the drop of a hat, but your doula can help you create a road map for your labour, a birth map. Anytime you come to fork in the road, a moment that needs a decision, you and your birthing partner already know the road you will choose, and you will be fully informed. You will be able to clearly and advocate for the birthing person and remind them of the choices they had wanted to make. Sometimes these choices can get lost in the moment but with our preparation you will be ready to navigate any twist or turn.
I know from my own recent birthing experience; my partner was falling asleep next to the birth pool. I had taught him everything I knew as a doula but having our own doula encouraging him and supporting him to be the best support person without fear got us both through the birth. My doula was an amazing resource and an extra pair of hands, to be honest my partner was a bit rubbish at the acupressure points, but my doulas hands knew exactly the right spot.
There is a massive misconception that all doulas are raving hippies and only for unmedicated homebirths, which may be why you feel it is all a bit “woo-woo”. Don’t get me wrong I feel we are all massively connected to our spiritual sides and love to create beautiful birth spaces for our clients, but we are massive assets wherever and however the birthing person decides to birth. Your doula will continually provide you with the resources you need to navigate the system and for the whole family to come out of the experience not only physically well but emotionally well and supported.
I am Rachelli – The Naked Doula, and I am a student doula at The Doula Training Academy. If anything about me resonates with you or you would like to know more please get in touch.
Rachelli – The Naked Doula
Photo Credit by Sara Bresser Photography
Hodnett, E. D., S. Gates, et al. (2012). “Continuous support for women during childbirth.” Cochrane database of systematic reviews: CD003766.