In the US, women today seem to have an endless number of options for how, when, and where they birth their babies. From a scheduled C-section to homebirth, the choices can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there is someone to you help sift through and truly understand those options; as well as support your informed decisions. So, depending on the type of birth you choose, how does doula care benefit you?
Some women today opt to have a scheduled cesarean section for various reasons. Generally these women don't think twice about hiring a doula. They assume that doula care is only for natural childbirth. However, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Doula care for C-section mom is extremely valuable. A professional doula will help you fully understand the process, the risks and benefits, and most importantly the recovery of your birth. A doula that specializes in postpartum care can help you care for yourself your family and your baby while you're recovering from major surgery.
Epidural Hospital Birth
Like scheduled C-section mom's, most women who plan on using pain medicine during their labor don't believe that a doula is worth the investment. But even if you plan on using an epidural (or other pain relief methods) during your labor, a doula is invaluable.
Before your labor even begins your doula can help you customize a birth plan that is right for you by explaining your options for pain relief and helping you choose. During labor your doula will be there to provide pain management techniques while waiting for your epidural, during the procedure, and if the epidural doesn't adequately cover the pain. Comfort techniques such as changing positions, lighting, music, room temperature, and even massage. During pushing, even with an epidural, a doula can suggest positioning and techniques for making pushing more effective.
Hospital care providers may change many times during your birth. Depending on staff shifts and length of labor, you may have several different nurses and care providers. Your doula however, will remain constant. Being with you during each stage of your labor. A doula will also help facilitate communication between you and the various medical care providers. They help clients formulate questions and work through their options.
Natural Hospital Birth
Like other births, doula support for a natural birth begins well before the first contraction. If your goal is a natural hospital birth, evidence suggests that a doula will drastically improve your chances. Studies have shown that having a doula on your birth team reduces the risk of cesarean section by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, and the request for epidural by a whopping 60%.
The reasons for this are many. During pregnancy, your doula can help you stay informed on your options, answer questions, and guide you and your partner through your choices. During labor, your doula will help with communication facilitation with hospital staff, comfort measures, pain management, and body positioning. Even when baby isn't in the optimal birthing position, your doula can use various techniques and body mechanics to encourage rotation and descent of baby into the birth canal. They will also help you stay focused on your specific goals.
Many women believe that having a doula present at a midwife attended home birth is a bit redundant. While a doula and a homebirth midwife's roles seem very similar, they are actually distinctly different.
A midwife is a healthcare provider. They are trained medical professionals who can do many of the same things as an OB. They provide prenatal care, monitor the fetus, and are trained to detect any medical concerns.
A doula, on the other hand, is a mother's coach. They are there solely to serve the laboring woman. Your doula’s role in your home birth is to offer non medical techniques during labor. This can include massage, breathing, body positioning, and emotional support. Although your home birth midwife can, at times, offer some of these techniques. Their most important job is to facilitate a safe delivery. This is where your doula will fill the gap. Letting the midwife focus solely on the safety of you and your baby.
Interviewing various doulas is also a great idea. This ensures that the one you choose would be a good fit for you and your family. Here in Northwest Indiana, we are privileged to have a plethora of quality trained doulas in the region. Many of these doulas can be found through a local agency called Hoosier Doula Network. Visiting their site would be a great first step to matching you with a doula that fits your individual needs.
No matter what type of birth you're planning, a doula can help you feel safe and empowered. They are there every step of the way and are an intrical part of any birth team.