What is a birth doula?
Essentially, a birth doula works as a guide or advisor who is professionally trained to help birthing parents during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and after the baby is born. They work to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother and her birth team ensuring that the expecting family feels confident, safe, and empowered through the entire birthing process.
Is a birth doula different from a midwife?
Though many people often think that a doula and a midwife are one and the same they actually provide two different services. Midwives are medical care providers, whereas a doula works more like a coach, offering emotional support and nonmedical techniques such as breathing, massage, positioning, and relaxation methods. A doula also works as an advocate on the mother’s behalf to ensure she has both support and a full understanding of all medical decisions.
No matter what type of birth you choose to have, natural (unmedicated) or medicated, at-home or in hospital, midwife or doctor, a birth doula will work alongside you and your partner to lend a well-versed and nurturing hand through the entirety of the birthing experience.
What is the difference between a certified and non-certified doula?
One big factor to consider when looking to hire a birth doula is whether or not they are certified. It turns out that not all doulas go through the same certification process. Not only that but currently the birth doula field is unlicensed and unregulated.
A certified doula meets high standards for education, training, and experience. The process for doula certification typically includes didactic training and assisting during live births.
Though a mother’s friend who is not certified can technically use the title of doula, their duties remain controversial within the medical community.
Why hire a certified doula over a non-certified doula?
Choosing a certified doula from a well-known and respected doula certifying organization like the International Childbirth Association, Doulas of North America, or Childbirth International ensures your doula is up-to-date on everything pregnancy-related including:
- Evidence-based training
- Periodic recertification
- Documented continuing education
- A publically available code of ethics
- Publically available standards of practice
And, along with all of that, the experience to both guide and empower you every step of the way on your pregnancy journey.
Are you a mom-to-be looking for extra support through pregnancy and beyond?
How do you know if hiring a doula is right for you?
Here are 5 benefits of having an evidence-based certified birth doula.
1. Your doula will help you become better prepared to avoid unnecessary medical interventions.
Studies from The American Pregnancy Association have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases:
- The overall cesarean rate by 50%
- The length of labor by 25% with fewer complications
- The use of oxytocin (Pitocin) by 40%
- The request for an epidural by 60%
2. Your doula will work as an advocate to support your medical decisions.
Ensure your birth wishes are met with the help of a doula who will facilitate communication between you, your partner, and your medical staff.
3. Your doula will educate you on in-depth and holistic comfort measures.
Whether you’re nervous about the pain you might experience during labor or you want to labor mostly at home without worrying about something going wrong, discover methods and techniques to reduce pain, stress, and worry.
4. Your doula will work to build confidence in both you and your partner.
Your doula does not take the role of your partner but is there to attend to both of your needs throughout the process–including implementing comfort measures, guiding you through the unknowns, anticipating needs, and lending an extra set of hands. You can be assured that someone will be with you even if your partner cannot be there or has to leave your side for whatever reason, you are guaranteed support through your labor experience.
5. Your doula will provide you with all the resources you need along the way.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect midwife for an at-home birth, physical resources like a massage therapist or chiropractor to help with pain management, stress management resources like yoga or meditation classes, or emotional resources to ease any additional worries you may have, your doula can connect you with her vast network of service providers so you can make informed decisions and find all the help you need.
Check out our Doula Support services to discover exactly what you’ll get when you hire a certified doula through The Happy Mama Place.