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.
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?
They can increase your knowledge and provide you with resources
Doulas are associated with a reduced use of pain relief medications
Doulas can decrease your labor length
They can help reduce stress and anxiety during labor
They can help reduce postpartum mood disorders such as postpartum depression & anxiety
Doulas are associated with lower instances of C-section
You are more likely to have a successful breastfeeding/chest-feeding journey
Doulas can increase partner involvement
Doulas can help you have a positive childbirth experience
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!