The benefits of having a doula

Hi! In my last post, I explained what a doula was, what was her role, and how she works with the expecting mother/couple. Now, why use one? What difference does it really make in the outcome of the birth?

First of all, one of the most important aspects of what a doula brings to the expecting couple, is information. Throughout the follow-up, she will inform the future parents on the changes in the pregnant woman's body, will explain in detail how birth works, both physically and physiologially, will educate them about all the different ways to relieve pain without using drugs, and tells them about all the different medical interventions and tests available, their pros, cons, and possible side effects. She also gives them pertinent book and movie references so they can continue learning and getting prepared by themselves. 

Being informed can make all the difference in the world when the moment of birth comes. Too many young parents get to the hospital without knowing what they're getting into. The are surounded by people they don't know, sometimes facing some of their fears, and the future mother is having all these new strange and not always pleasant sensations. At that point, it's too late to open a book and try to figure out what is happening. 

The second major aspect of labor support is preparation. Being informed prepares, but preparation goes further than this. 
The best example that comes to my mind is about the pain. The pain of childbirth is an important part of the whole process, but it's also the scariest. On different levels, everyone is somehow afraid of pain. Now, it'a a thing to be informed about the importance and the role of pain, but it's another to prepare for it. Learning to accept it as a normal part of childbirth and not as a bad thing, but as an important part of the process, like a rite of passage. It involves mentally preparing the future mother for this mostly unavoidable part of childirth, and getting rid of the fear it creates. This way, when labor kicks in, the expecting mother will not take it as a curse, but will be able to accept each contraction as an important part of her child's birth. On the other hand, the future father will be better prepared to see his partner in pain and will know what to do to help her through her labor. 

By being well prepared for what is to come, the future mother will have a better idea of what is awaiting her, and a greater confidence in her ability to birth, in her body and in her baby. The expecting parents will also be able to make informed decisions about the various medical interventions and will be more confident and less intimidated by hospial protocols. 

Then, the presence and support of a doula throughout the birth process will help the mother during her labor. The doula uses various techniques of stretching, massages, pressure points and various little tricks of the trade to help with the pain. She cheers on the mother through her contractions and boosts her confidence. On top of that, it's always a good thing to have a person you know and trust present, because being surrounded by stangers when giving birth can be very disturbing, and sometimes only having the partner present is not enough, because he is also going through a lot of emotions at that moment.

The benefins of having a doula in numbers (read one of multiple studies here):
-  C-section use reduced by 50%
-  Overall labor time reduced by 25% 
- Use of epidurals reduced by 60%
- Reduced use of oxytocics by 40% 
- Use of forceps and vacuum reduced by 30%
- Easier labors and births in general
Source: Marshall H. Klaus, John H. Kennell, Phyllis H. Klaus, The Doula Book: How A Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth. Perseus Press, 2002, Chapitre V

I hope this little article helped you understand better how using a doula can make a difference. If you are interested in having one at your birth, of if you have questions, please contact me !

Have a nice day!