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What is a Doula?
“Doulas are trained and experienced in giving continuous emotional and physical help throughout labor. In times past, it was common knowledge that it was easier for woman to go through labor and give birth if they were provided with the continuous presence and kindly (non-medical) advice of female friends or relatives. Nowadays, more and more women are turning to doulas for help during labor. Physicians, midwives, and nurses are hard-pressed to give this kind of attention, since they are typically required to look after several different women on any given day and cannot be continuously present in one woman’s labor room. Evidence for the positive impact of the presence of a supportive relative, midwife, nurse, or doula at the side of a laboring woman is quite strong: Many studies have found that women with labor support had shorter labors and much less need for pain medication, intravenous oxytocin augmentation, forceps, vacuum extraction, and cesarean section than women who labored with out this care. Not surprisingly, the great chance you have of a shorter, less exhausting, undisturbed labor and birth, the greater will be your ability to enjoy the important time after birth when nature intends that you bond with and begin to breastfeed your baby. On average, having a doula with you during labor halves the time of labor as well as the likelihood of having a cesarean.”
~ Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin
What is a Postpartum Doula?
“Some parents, particularly those who are accustomed to “doing it all,” just don’t feel comfortable asking for help. They prefer to hire someone to meet their postpartum-care needs. Some women live too far from family, or don’t have enough family or friends in their community to provide adequate postnatal help. A postpartum doula may be the perfect postpartum professional for you. Labor doulas, provide help during labor; another type of doula, the postpartum doula, provides in-home care after birth. The word doula comes from the Greek word meaning “slave,” or “handmaiden.” Nowadays doula has come to denote a woman who helps other women with emotional support and caring for children and household needs. The current usage of the word arouse from the work of anthropologist Dana Raphael, who introduced the term in the 1980s after learning the Greek word.
The place of the doula, along with that of childbirth educator, labor doula, lactation consultant, and other professional groups of women helping women in the childbearing year, is a direct testimony to the fact that women need more care, and care of a type different from what is provided by our customary childbirth services at the hands of obstetricians and nurse midwives.”
~ Natural Health After birth by Dr. Aviva Jill Romm
For more information and evidence on the benefits of labor and postpartum doulas please visit Evidence Based Birth.
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