WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A DOULA?
A doula is one who supports the family through the child birth process, providing resources, information, comfort measures and encouragement on their journey through labor and into parenthood. The greek term “doula”, literally means to serve or help. The work can be witnessing and holding space for you through this transition. The work can be helping you navigate difficult choices that occur in a medicalized setting, reminding the whole family to eat at regular intervals and normalizing birth. The work can simply be finding ways to make this time sweeter or easier.
Research on expectant mothers matched with a doula result in better birth outcomes. Doula-assisted mothers were four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby, two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby, and significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding. Labor with a doula’s support are shown to be 25% shorter and the need for epidural pain relief to be 60% less and cesarean birth rates reduced by half. Communication with and encouragement from a doula throughout the pregnancy and labor may have increased the birthing person’s self-efficacy regarding their ability to impact their own pregnancy outcomes.
When approaching birth, parents often are bombarded with information and recommendations from friends, family, strangers. Everyone has an opinion. Navigating this maze of knowledge is the first step into parenting: deciding what is right for your family. We all have our own ideas about how we want to live. There is no correct way to do everything, only to find what works for our own family. Only by witnessing the options around us do we see alternatives or adaptations to our plan and the path forward.
Held in Arms Birth Services holds to the philosophy that while we are strong enough to move on our own, to be surrounded and held in a circle of support is sacred. When we surround ourselves with community and strength, we are fostering a rich environment for the babe to come.
Gruber, Kenneth J., Susan H. Cupito, and Christina F. Dobson. “Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes.” The Journal of Perinatal Education 22.1 (2013): 49–58. PMC. Web. 12 May 2016