The Evidence for Doulas
What is a Doula?
The word doula comes from the ancient Greek meaning a woman who serves. Doulas are also known as professional labor support. The word doula is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and just after birth.
A postpartum doula provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period (the first few weeks after birth).
At Nurture Me, our doulas offer professional pregnancy and labor support so that you can have the best birth possible for you and your family. Studies have shown that when doulas attend births, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier, and babies breastfeed more easily (DONA, 2014).
What Do Birth Doulas Do?
- Recognize birth as a key experience a mother will remember all her life
- Understand the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
- Assist a woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- Stay with a woman throughout her labor
- Provide emotional support, physical comfort measures, and an objective viewpoint, as well as help a woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
- Facilitate communication between a laboring woman, her partner, and her clinical care providers
- Perceive their role as nurturing and protecting a woman's memory of her birth experience
- Allow the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level.
Why Use a Doula?
Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement, and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.
DONA International Doulas are educated and experienced in childbirth and the postpartum period. We are prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional, and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the weeks following childbirth. We offer a loving touch, positioning, and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel nurtured and cared for (DONA, 2014).
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth...
- Tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
- Reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
- Reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction, and cesareans
- Reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals
Research shows parents who receive professional labor support from a doula may...
- Feel more secure and cared for
- Be more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
- Have greater success with breastfeeding
- Have greater self-confidence
- Have less postpartum depression
- Have lower incidence of abuse
What Training Do Nurture Me Doulas Have?
Nurture Me Doulas are trained and certified through the most respected and prestigious organizations in the "doula world". Jenny, Courtney, Chrashae, Shea, and Aggie are Certified as DONA International birth doulas.
To learn more about our education, training and experience... Check out our biographies on our Meet Our Team page!
I'm Worried a Doula Will Replace My Partner...I Don't Want Him to Feel Left Out!
A doula could never replace the connection and relationship a laboring woman has with her partner. The man and laboring woman together are beautiful! A doula complements this relationship and often brings couples closer together in labor. Many of our clients tell us that our presence allowed for an intimate experience. Doulas are another member of the birth team. Many men are not comfortable taking on the birth coach role, but still want to be involved in the birth process. Partners appreciate having a woman experienced with childbirth present every step of the way!
Often, partners do not know what to expect during birth and the process can be overwhelming. Many partners gain confidence about birth through taking a childbirth education class! Some of our greatest praise has been from the fathers who report they felt the extra support and help was necessary and vital. Doulas allow a dad to enjoy the birth at his comfort level and have a memorable experience as well. When a doula is present, all of the pressure does not fall on the father. Dads are allowed to eat, drink, take bathroom breaks, and never have to worry about their laboring partner being alone while they take care of their own needs. There is never "too much help" during childbirth! Doulas love dads, and dads love the extra support they get during labor and birth!
Click here for an article from DONA International titled: "Dads and Doulas: Myths & Resources"!
What is the Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife?
This is a very common question for us to receive! While midwives and doulas do have some overlapping characteristics, midwives and doulas have very different roles! First of all, a midwife is your healthcare provider. She is the one catching your baby at birth and providing you with the medical care necessary to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. An "apples-to-apples" comparison is comparing a midwife to an OB/GYN. An OB/GYN is a physician and surgeon who provides medical care to you and your baby during pregnancy and birth but often takes a very different approach to childbirith. While most midwives believe in a woman's inherent ability to deliver her baby, an OB/GYN often takes a more medical approach to childbirth.
Doulas are not healthcare providers. We do not do clinical assessments, diagnose any complications in your pregnancy, or prescribe any medications. We do not perform cervical checks or blood pressure checks. We are informational, physical, and emotional support for you and your partner throughout your pregnancy and birth journey.
Doulas build an intimate relationship with you during your pregnancy. We learn about how you want your birth to go and prepare you for the birth process. Once you are in labor we are by your side every step of the way offering continuous support. Doulas will labor with you at home until the midwife arrives for a homebirth, or you head to your birth site. Doulas are often with the mom for many hours before the midwife is needed. Nurture Me Doulas also follow-up with you after you baby is born and are a breastfeeding resource for you until 6 months post-partum. Doulas are a little like a best girl-friend who knows everything about birth. She has experienced birth herself, she has assisted many other laboring women, and she truly cares about you and your birth experience.
Midwives are very supportive during birth, but their priority in birth is the health and safety of you and your baby. She has many of the same clinical responsibilities as a labor and delivery nurse in the hospital but is also responsible for the delivery of your baby as well. While midwives will help you have your best birth, a doula complements the services of a midwife.
Doulas and midwives generally share the same positive beliefs and have aligning philosophies about pregnancy and the birth process. However as you can see, doulas and midwives have very distinct roles. Doulas do not replace a midwife, nurse, or doctor on your birth team, and no one can replace the benefits you receive from a doula. Your doula has a separate role designed to provide intentional and continuous encouragement and support to you and your partner during pregnancy and birth.
You can also check out this video explaining the difference between a doula and a midwife!
Show Me More Research About Doulas!
We love the way you think! We believe every decision about your pregnancy and birth should be purposeful and grounded in evidence-based information. Please click on the links listed below to read more on the research about doulas and how they make a difference.
American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG): Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery
Childbirth Connection: Labor Support
Cochrane Review: Continuous Labor Support
Evidence Based Birth: The Evidence for Doulas
Lamaze International: Healthy Birth Practice #3
World Health Organization (WHO): Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth
What Are Your Clients' Statistics?
We do track and complete statistical analysis on our clients' birth outcomes. While we do believe we are an integral part of our clients' births, we cannot take credit for these amazing outcomes and statistics. Our clients are educated, determined, and incredibly strong women! Here are some of our most important statistics:
Nurture Me Birth Services Clients...
- Have a 92.4% overall vaginal birth rate (excluding VBACs)
- Have a 91.5% overall vaginal birth rate (including VBACs)
- Have a 17.6% epidural use rate for vaginal births
- Attempting VBAC have an 82.4% rate of vaginal birth
- Have a 100% breastfeeding initiation rate
(Updated July 2020)