At my first birth in 2015
The word ''Doula'' is a term used in ancient Greece for ''a woman who serves'', typically referring to the female servant who helped the women in her household during childbirth and postpartum.
Nowadays Doulas are a part of the ''re-humanization of birth'' movement, providing advocacy for your preferred birth experience and emotional, physical and educational support before, during and after the birth of your baby.
Studies show that births with a Doula in attendance result in 25% shorter labors, 60% reduction in epidural requests, 50% reduction in cesarean rates, 40% reduction in oxytocin use, 40% reduction in forceps delivery and 30% reduction in analgesia use.
Studies also show that partners spend more time at the birthing persons' side throughout labor, since it relieves the pressure of being the sole/main support person and your partner can receive the support, information and sense of well being that THEY need in order to be the best support they can to YOU.
A Doula by no means replaces your partner or other friends/family members on your birth team. In fact, with the help of having non-biased support, your Doula can delegate tasks to members of your birth team so that everyone knows their roles and how to best work together to create a smooth and calm atmosphere.
Your Doula works for you, not for your care provider or the hospital. Your Doula does not speak for you but advocates for your preferences by helping you communicate with your care providers.
Having a Doula at your birth also increases your baby's chances of having a high APGAR score and increase your chances of feeling positively about your experience.
The reason why these statistics are achieved is because the Doulas role is for the birthing person (and partner if present) to be as relaxed, comfortable and informed as possible. Many studies show that reestablishing continuous support throughout labour is best given by someone who's only role is to provide it, and is not a member of hospital staff.
Endorphins (the morphine-like hormone responsible for the ''trance state'' felt by many birthing people during labor and after the birth) and oxytocin (the ''calm and connected'' ''love'' hormone that stimulate uterine contractions) are made by your body to help you cope with pain and to cause labor to progress.
Catecholamines (stress hormones) are secreted when a person is frightened or is in real or perceived danger. These hormones tend to counteract endorphins and oxytocin and can stall or even stop labour. This is because, as mammals, our bodies prioritize our safety and the safety of our babies. This is more complicated for humans because there are more things that cause stress and fear, especially around childbirth, than real danger. Having a trained labor companion (Doula) with you throughout labor can give you the reassurance, sense of safety and confidence your body, mind and soul need in order to feel empowered, supported and prepared to birth your baby into this world.
Using techniques such as acupressure, massage, rebozo use, position changes, encouraging words and visualizations, a Doula can revolutionize your childbirth experience.
It has been proven that the vast majority of women vividly remember the birth of their babies for the rest of their lives. They remember how they were treated, how they felt, what the experience was like. A Doula is a professional labour coach, who's sole purpose is to help you feel as comfortable and cared for as possible, to help you have beautiful memores of how your baby was born.