Labor support during delivery comes in many forms. It comes from the partner, a family member, a best friend, a midwife, and the hospital staff. Then theres talk going around about a "Doula" (pronounced doo-luh) and people say "a what... I"ve never heard of a Doula?" A Doula is a perfect addition to your labor and birth support and here's why... Reasearch shows that for every person present for your labor and delivery adds on an hour to your labor/delivery. So if you have your partner, your mom, your sister, your best friend, etc... you've now added at least 3 hours to your labor. This, in my opinion, is why you should limit the amount of people present for your birth. Extra "support" may add stress to not only the laboring mother but to their partner as well. They may argue that they know whats best for the mother or may disagree with the wishes of the mother so they then try to convince them to do it their way. All in all, it's YOUR birth and only YOU can decide what works best for YOU and your partner. Maybe you like as much support as possible... again, that decision is yours to make. Maybe you don't but don't know how to "break" it to your family members/best friends that you would prefer it to be just you and your partner... just tell them! Most likely they will understand and be supportive! So now I'm guessing you're saying.. "Well a Doula is one extra person, therefore adds another hour" Yes a Doula is an "extra person" but she can help reduce those hours and doesn't add on to it. A Doula is there to support not only you but your birth partner. For example: if you are stuggling with being able to breathe through your contractions and your partner doesn't know how to help you get back on track, then the Doula can step in and show your partner how to help you. A Doula can help your birth partner by showing them how to do the "hip squeeze" and most of the times it is best done by two people instead of one. A Doula can be there to take place of the birth partner if they need a break. A Doula can show you different positions to help relieve some of the pain and also ones that help the baby decend. She has studied the different postions for labor and the techniques needed to help "turn" the baby in a more optiominal position for delivery. * Just to be clear... she does not turn the baby if it is breech or use her hands to turn the baby... she just knows what positions that help encourage the baby to move into a more favorable position* A Doula does NOT do anything medical, she does not take your temperature, she does not check your cervical dilation, she does not check your baby's heart rate, etc. She only helps with comfort measures. A Doula also has a large array of knowledge about pregnancy, labor, and delivery facts. Her goal is to give you the information that you request so that you can make the most informed decisions regarding your pregnany, labor and delivery. She will not make decisions for you, she will not lead you to make decisions that she agrees with. She will give you information to support both sides and stand by the decisions that you choose. She will not speak for you with the nurses and doctors, but she can remind you that with most decisions that you have time to think about them. She can remind you of what your birth goals were and also look up information for you regarding the decision that you need to make. Again, the decision is yours to make, her goal is to make sure that you have the correct information to make an informed decision that is right for you, your partner, and your baby. As a Doula I have helped women labor at home longer than they did at a hospital. I've helped women go through thein entire labor and delivery in the comfort of their own home. I've helped women labor in birthing tubs, on toilets (which is actually very comfortable), on all fours, while drapped over birthing balls, while standing, on their backs, on thier sides. I've helped women in labor with massages and have taught their birth partner how to give a massage that the mother liked or needed. I've helped women sleep between contractions. I've helped laboring mothers clean their house, which not only helped them for when they returned home, but also helped distract their mind from contractions and moved them in different positions that helped facilitate their labor progress. Doulas study for countless hours on how they can best support their clients through pregnancy, labor, delivery, and even those precious times after birth. They have mentors, they have a large network of support from other doulas and labor and delivery caregivers (Midwives, Child Birth Educators, Lactation Counselors/Consultants, etc). They also have a large library of books that they rely on and some even lend out books to expectant parents. I say, find a group of Doulas in your area, set up interviews with a list of questions, and decide if a Doula "fits" into your idea of how you'd like your birth to be. I think that you'll be happy that you did!
Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. Will Rodgers