How can a Birth and Postpartum doula help me before and after birth?

“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”  – John Kennell, M.D., pediatrician

A doula provides emotional and physical support to women and their families during labor and childbirth, and also the postpartum period.  The word “doula” comes from Ancient Greek meaning “woman who serves.”

Dr. Kennell was one of the very first scientists to research and investigate the benefits of continuous labor support for birthing women, and along with Dr. Klaus, Penny Simkin, Annie Kennedy and Phyllis Klaus, founded Doulas of North America, which later became DONA International, a well-respected doula organization committed to training both birth and postpartum doulas and providing a doula for every woman who wants one.

Many, many thousands of women have birthed with the support of a doula, enjoying the benefits observed by Drs. Kennell and Klaus when they first started their research, and documented again and again since then; shorter labors, lower cesarean rates and reduced interventions.”  (Kennell, et. al 1991)

Doula support has a strong, positive impact on your health and safe labor and birth.  Compared with women who have no support in labor, women who DO have support from a companion who is neither a member of the hospital staff nor a friend or family member are:

• 28% less likely to have a cesarean section

• 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin (pitocin) to speed labor

• 9% less likely to use any pain medication

• 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively

Some pretty convincing statistics.  Have questions?  Please let me know!

Reference: 

Kennell, J., Klaus, M., McGrath, S., Robertson, S., & Hinkley, C. (1991).  Continuous emotional support during labor in a US hospital.  JAMA:  the Journal of the American Medical Association, 265(17), 2197-2201.

…and Postpartum?

New mothers need to mother.  Get to know their baby.  Do nothing but focus on getting to know this miraculous little being relying on them for warmth, food, and nurturing and let the oxytocin (love hormone) flow back and forth as it is meant to do biologically.  In turn, new mothers need to BE mothered!  Postpartum doulas help take away the worry about everything else, and create a calm, relaxed atmosphere.

Postpartum care can include:
  • Understanding baby’s feeding cues and burping techniques
  • changing diapers (cloth or disposable)
  • caring for mama as she recovers from birth (perineum and/or c-section)
  • processing the birth experience
  • managing newborn and sibling care
  • keeping sleep and diaper logs (so you can concentrate on your baby)
  • bottle cleaning and sterilization
  • light housekeeping and food preparation
  • resources and referrals for professional services to assist in mother or baby’s healing process (perineal massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, cranial-sacral therapy, lactation support, new mama support groups, etc.)
  • non-judgmental support for organizing the home and nursery
  • screening for postpartum mood disorders and referral to a therapist specializing in post-partum
  • coordinating offers of help from friends and extended family to create a structured flow of help
  • care for baby when parents want to shower, nap, or spend special time with an older child or children
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