The term Doula has its roots in Ancient Greece and means a woman who serves. In our modern culture, a doula serves expecting parents as they prepare to bring new life into the world. Regardless of where you choose to deliver, a doula can be integral part of shaping your birth experience.
Research has shown that having a trained labor companion by your side during the entire labor process can greatly reduce the length of your labor as well as your risk of needing labor inducing drugs, interventions such as cesarean sections, and the use of forceps. It is the job of the doula to stay with you and your partner from the moment she arrives until after your baby is born and breastfeeding is established.
Many people laboring in hospitals often find themselves feeling alone when their nurses leave them to labor through each contraction in hospital beds. Partners may find themselves feeling helpless as they may not know how to help mom find comfort. Some say that they don't want a stranger in the room with them, but the truth is, sometimes your doula is the only person other than your partner that you DO know. Often, people feel like they cannot advocate for themselves or may be scared to ask questions. A doula can help you not only become your own advocate, but also help with comfort measures such as position changes and focus techniques, in addition to helping your partner become an active participant in your birth.
Being able to take an educated active role in the birth experience often leads new parents to have more positive feelings towards their newborns as well as their partners. A positive birth experience can be empowering. We learn to trust in our bodies and often find a renewed sense of inner strength as we begin our journey into parenthood.
Here's a great article from Evidence Based Birth on the Evidence for Doulas.
Cristina Evans is a Mother of 3, Wife, & Birth Doula