Over the past few decades, the demand for doulas in the United States has increased significantly. With many expectant mothers truly believing that doulas are an essential part of birth and delivery, the profession has made significant strides in asserting their validity within the medical community. In fact, research shows that doulas have a measurable impact on the birthing experience that goes much deeper than simply providing emotional support.
While doulas- and the mothers who love them- have a firsthand understanding of their supportive impact, some still question the validity of this growing occupation. If you’ve ever needed to defend your profession, feel confident knowing that increased research and growing statistics only further validate why there should be a doula at every birth.
Why Every Expectant Mother Needs Your Help
As knowledgeable allies of expecting mothers everywhere, most doulas typically provide pre-delivery guidance, delivery room support, and postpartum education to their patients. While you may choose to tailor your birth related services to one specific phase of pregnancy, most doulas feel strongly about helping mothers research birth options and encouraging an open dialogue with physicians regarding potential procedures and interventions.
During delivery, doulas aid in breathing and relaxation, offer advice on positioning and movement, and support the mother at all times. To lend further assistance, doulas will aid the non-delivering birth parent while reinforcing the cohesion of the family unit.
To allow families to focus on their new baby in the time after birth, postpartum services includes lactation consulting, education, and some professionals may even provide assistance with household responsibilities. Whatever services you offer, be sure to always inform expectant mothers of this one thing….
You’re Not Their Doctor.
And thank goodness for that! As a one-on-one ally, doulas provide continuous calming support throughout the duration of the delivery. While doctors and nurses care for many patients at once, you can give your undivided attention without any peripheral distractions. As hospital facilities continue to suffer from understaffing and overworked employees, the demand for experienced professionals will continue to increase.
The Cold Hard Facts:
If you’re facing skepticism or just want to deliver concrete statistics that defend the case for doulas at every birth, here are some numbers that would convince even the harshest critic.
According to Evidence Based Birth, when a doula was present and provided continuous delivery support, mothers experienced a:
- 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
- 28% decrease in the risk of C-section
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
- 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
- 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
- 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
Furthermore, according to a Cochrane study published in 2012, women who received continuous labour support were more likely to have shorter labors.
The Case for Doulas
The numbers don’t lie: Doulas have a tremendous impact on the labor experience. Thanks to doula support, mothers feel more in control and more competent than ever before. Their presence in the delivery room is definitively substantiated as a major contributor to a mother’s overall satisfaction with the delivery experience.
While support from a family member or loved one may be helpful, a doula’s sole focus as the mother’s support system makes the most substantial impact. A seasoned doula’s years of experience can create a palpable energy of confidence in the delivery room that allows mothers to feel safe, calm, and informed.