Why Hire a Doula?
— Dr. John Kennell
Hiring a doula is an investment in your health. Multiple scientific studies have shown that women who receive continuous skilled support during labor had shorter labors, were more likely to give birth without the use of forceps or other interventions, and felt better about their birth experiences. New research has shown that babies born to women with continuous support during labor were less likely to have low APGAR scores.
Your doctor or midwife cannot provide continuous support. She is responsible for keeping you and your baby safe, and her role is essential, but she probably will be with you only intermittently. She may be tending to multiple women laboring at one time; she may even have to shuttle back and forth from the hospital to her office depending on her appointment schedule that day and how quickly your labor is progressing.
Your L&D nurse cannot provide continuous support. In almost every hospital a labor and delivery nurse will be responsible for several patients at once. If another patient is getting an epidural or pushing she’ll need to be with that patient, which means she will not be with you throughout labor, and you may occasionally get a different nurse when you push the call button with a question or concern.
Your husband or birth partner can provide continuous support, and there is no question that this person provides crucial, irreplaceable support to a laboring woman. A doula cannot replace the woman’s birth partner. What the doula can do is complement the role of the birth partner, providing physical support such as bringing drinks and providing backrubs, as well as offering additional emotional support, reassurance, comfort, and experience (e.g. facilitating communication with a doctor, nurse or midwife, helping families to get the information they need to make informed decisions, and nurturing the birthing mother to ensure positive memories of the birthing day.) Birth doulas offer an objective perspective; they understand the physiology of birth and the emotional and physical needs of women in labor.
Scholarly and Popular Articles about Doulas
Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C, Weston J. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 20011, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub3.
Emily Ray "Do you doula? An exclusive interview with Dr. John Kennell". New Life Journal. FindArticles.com. 20 Feb, 2011.