Do I need a doula?

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

As you prepare for your birth you may be asking yourself “do I need a doula”? The short answer is no, you don’t need one, BUT here are a few reasons why you may want one!

First off, let’s talk about what a doula is and what they are not.

A doula is someone who is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous emotional and informational support. Full spectrum doulas provide support through the entirety of reproduction while some doulas only provide prenatal, labour or postpartum support. If you would like a doula, make sure you ask the person who may be supporting you what their scope of practice is.

Doulas Do:

  • Provide physical and emotional support

  • Provide evidence based research based education and information to their client and family

  • Provide advocacy** such as making client aware of their rights

  • Use massage, positioning, relaxation and other comfort measure techniques related to birth and postpartum

  • Maintain privacy of the client and their community

** There is some debate as to whether doulas should advocate for their clients or not.

If advocacy is something you would like to have from your doula ask them if advocacy is apart of their scope of practice.

Doulas Do NOT:

  • Provide medical care

  • Perform vaginal exams

  • Provide medical advice or diagnose

  • Make decisions or persuade their client to make certain decisions

  • Speak directly to medical staff about their clients medical decisions

  • Act as a midwife, midwifery assistant or any other medical care provider

So why might you want to hire a doula?

  1. They can increase your knowledge and provide you with resources

  2. Doulas are associated with a reduced use of pain relief medications

  3. Doulas can decrease your labor length

  4. They can help reduce stress and anxiety during labor

  5. They can help reduce postpartum mood disorders such as postpartum depression & anxiety

  6. Doulas are associated with lower instances of C-section

  7. You are more likely to have a successful breastfeeding/chest-feeding journey

  8. Doulas can increase partner involvement

  9. Doulas can help you have a positive childbirth experience

  10. Doulas are associated with better birth outcomes for both parent and child

It is still possible to have a positive birth experience and successful breastfeeding/chest-feeding journey without the use of a doula however they do increase your chances of the above mentioned factors.

Doulas can be expensive (for a good reason) and are not accessible to all people. If you are unable to hire a doula it does not mean you are doomed to have a horrible birth. Doing your own research, attending childbirth education classes and seeking advice from others you trust can also support you in having the birth you want.

Doulas are an incredible asset to your birth team and if you want one and can get one, I definitely suggest you do!

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