The first intervention in
birth that a healthy
woman takes is when she
walks out the front door of
her home in labor. From
that first intervention all
others will follow. -
Michael Rosenthal OB/Gyn
The Birth Doula
The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their
important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers
and infants. - DONA International
"The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek and is now used to refer to a woman who helps other
women. It has been applied to childbirth to refer to “a woman experienced in childbirth who
provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during,
and just after childbirth.” (Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus in Mothering the Mother)
~ ~ ~
Benefits of Having a Birth Doula
Since 1980, research has been done to determine the benefits of doula assisted births. These studies
showed that there were significant decreases in birth interventions including:
- 50 % decrease in cesarean births
- 60 % decrease in epidurals
- 40 % decrease in the use of pitocin
- 30% decrease in the use of narcotics
- 30% decrease in the use of forceps
- Overall, a 25% decrease in the length of labor
(Taken from Mothering the Mother, How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth, by Marshall
H. Klaus, John H. Kennell, Phyllis H. Klaus)
~ ~ ~
Pediatrician's Support of Doula Care
Pediatricians are also very supportive of doula care during birth. Read more about the benefits of
having a doula from Pediatrics, the official journal of the Academy of American Pediatrics.
~ ~ ~
A Note to Fathers...
Dads and Doulas: Key Players on Mother's Labor Support Team
A DONA International Birth Doula Topic Sheet (from www.dona.org)
There was a time when expectant fathers were
portrayed as anxious, floor-pacing, cigar
smoking men who were tolerated in hospital
corridors until the long-awaited moment when
a nurse or doctor would announce they were
the proud father of a daughter or a son. Today's
expectant fathers are different.
When it comes to pregnancy, birth, and
parenting, today's father wants to share
everything with his partner. He wants to be
actively involved; ease his partner's labor pain,
welcome his baby at the moment of birth and
help care for his newborn at home. A labor
doula can help a father experience this special time with confidence.
The word "doula" which comes from ancient Greek, today refers to a woman trained and
experienced in childbirth. A doula provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational
support to the expectant mother and her partner during labor, delivery and in the immediate
postpartum period. The wisdom and emotional support of experienced women at birth is an ancient
Studies show that when doulas are present at birth, women have shorter labors, fewer medical
interventions, fewer cesareans and healthier babies. Recent evidence also suggests that when a
doula provides labor support, women are more satisfied with their experience and the mother-
infant interaction is enhanced as long as two months after the birth. With doula support, fathers
tend to stay more involved with their partner rather than pull away in times of stress. Today, a
father's participation in birth preparation classes or his presence at prenatal visits and in the
delivery suite is a familiar occurrence. Yet, we sometimes forget that the expectations of his role as
a "labor coach" may be difficult to fulfill. Sometimes it is also culturally inappropriate for an
expectant father to be so intimately involved in the process of labor and birth.
The father-to-be is expected among other things to become familiar with the process and language
of birth, to understand medical procedures and hospital protocols and advocate for his partner in an
environment and culture he is usually unfamiliar with. A doula can provide the information to
help parents make appropriate decisions and facilitate communication between the laboring
woman, her partner and medical care providers.
At times a father may not understand a woman's instinctive behavior during childbirth and may
react anxiously to what a doula knows to be the normal process of birth. He may witness his
partner in pain and understandably become distressed. The doula can be reassuring and skillfully
help the mother to cope with labor pain in her unique way. The father-to-be may need to
accompany his partner during surgery should a cesarean becomes necessary. Not all fathers can
realistically be expected to "coach" at this intense level. Many fathers are eager to be involved
during labor and birth. Others, no less loving or committed to their partner's well being find it
difficult to navigate in uncharted waters. With a doula, a father can share in the birth at a level he
feels most comfortable with. The doula's skills and knowledge can help him to feel more relaxed. If
the father wants to provide physical comfort such as back massage, change of positions, and help
his partner to stay focused during contractions, the doula can provide that guidance and make
suggestions for what may work best.
Physicians, midwives and nurses are responsible for monitoring labor, assessing the medical
condition of the mother and baby, and treating complications when they arise. But childbirth is
also an emotional and spiritual experience with long-term impact on a woman's personal well
being. A doula is constantly aware that the mother and her partner will remember this experience
throughout their lives. By "mothering the mother" during childbirth the doula supports the
parents in having a positive and memorable birth experience. The benefits of doula care have been
recognized worldwide. The Medical Leadership Council of Washington, D.C, the Society of
Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the World Health Organization are among the
many health care organizations that value the benefits that doulas provide to women in labor.
The father's presence and loving support in childbirth is comforting and reassuring. The love he
shares with the mother and his child, his needs to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts
that only he can provide. With her partner and a doula at birth a mother can have the best of both
worlds: her partner's loving care and attention and the doula's expertise and guidance in childbirth.
~ ~ ~
The Postpartum Doula
Support During the Postpartum Period
A DONA International Postpartum Doula Topic Sheet (taken from www.dona.org).
The birth of each baby has a long-lasting impact on the physical and mental health of the mother,
baby and family. The way in which the woman, baby, partner and family transition into a new
unit have a long-lasting impact on their physical and emotional health.
In traditional societies, women and men grow up around birth, breastfeeding, infants and children.
After giving birth, women are surrounded by caring family members who have a great deal of
experience and wisdom to offer. This kind of help is rarely available to new parents in many
societies today. The doula's support is intended to fill the gaps left by our postpartum traditions,
which usually include only medical procedures, occasional checkups and the purchase of baby-
related paraphernalia. The doula's education, quiet support and guidance are a manifestation of
traditional postpartum support that many cultures are missing.
There are many ways in which the doula's support benefits fathers. Research has proven that
mothers and babies have an easier transition with support. However, fathers experience great life
transitions of their own at this time and may not be able to be the primary provider of the
transitional support their families need. Fathers are redefining their roles; they may also be
adjusting to sleep deprivation, financial pressures and other stressors, as well.
The doula's support is for the father as much as the mother or children. A sympathetic ear, source
of encouragement, gentle educator and friend is something from which we could all benefit
throughout our lives. The postpartum doula provides all of these during this defining life
The doula can also help the father to learn the art of mothering the mother, increasing chances for
success in areas such as breastfeeding and reduction of postpartum depression. Rather than being
told to help out, partners and other family members benefit from concrete instruction and role-
modeling on how to support a woman during the weeks after birth.
The importance of the father's involvement and support during the weeks following birth cannot be
overstated. During this time he truly becomes a parent, getting to know this tiny, yet complete,
person who has entered his family. The doula can ease this introduction, helping the father to
discover all he can about his baby, as well as develop his own concept of himself as a parent. In
addition, the doula's support can help parents to adjust their own relationship, moving forward to
enhance their previous life together as a couple who are now parents.
The role of the doula is to help the family experience success. She does this with quiet, reassuring
support for all family members. By dedicating herself to the family in this way, the doula validates
and enhances the parents' intuitive ability to nurture and encourages them to become confident to
develop and implement their own parenting style.
~ ~ ~
To read testimonials from families I have served please click here. For more information about my
birth and/or postpartum doula services please contact me.
|~ Katherine Stanglin, CD(DONA), HCHI, HD ~
Hynobabies Childbirth Educator & HypnoDoula
Birth Doula (DONA)
Professional Birth Pool Rental
|Ancient Hearts Birth Services
~ Honoring the Beauty of Birth ~
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