If you are a millennial mom, you have probably heard the word doula. Especially if you keep up with celebrities like Kristin Bell, Mayim Bialik and the dozens of other celebrities who have recently raved about having a doula attend their birth. Doula benefits are not just about comfort and convenience during birth, but directly impact the health and happiness of a birthing mother and her family.
If ‘doula’ is a new word to you, a doula is a person who attends the birth to provide continuous emotional and physical support to the laboring mother. Doula services are one of the best ways to improve your childbirth experience and have many benefits for the mother and entire family.
Mayim Bialik hired a doula and so should you.
You do not have to be a celebrity to have a doula at your birth. In fact, every expecting mother should put finding a great doula at the top of her priority list. Here’s why.
These 5 doula benefits that show exactly why doulas are so popular:
1. Having a doula attend your birth reduces the length of labor by 25%
There are few events in life that are as intense, stressful and emotional as birth. Not to mention birth requires as much exertion as running a marathon. It is no surprise that many mothers find themselves reaching a place of feeling overwhelmed and wonder if they will make it through. One of the great doula benefits is that you always have someone helping you see the end and guiding you when you are unsure how you will get there. A doula can help you focus, release and relax so that your contractions can be productive and move you towards birth. Studies have shown that having a doula by your side can reduce the length of your labor by up to 25%. Having continual support through your birth means meeting your baby sooner without sacrificing your birth plan.
Are you wondering how you will cope with birth? Check out our ultimate list of labor coping techniques you need to know.
2. Having a doula attend your birth improves your relationship with your partner.
One study asked mothers to compare their relationship with their partners before and after their baby’s birth. Seventy percent of the mothers who had a doula reported feeling more satisfied with their relationship at six weeks postpartum. Only 30 percent of the moms who did not have a doula felt their relationship improved after birth.
Birth can be very intimate. Some birth partners remember the childbirth classes, read books and remember how to help the mother they care about. But they are by far the exception, not the rule. Most partners are experiencing the birth in their own way. They are an active participant in the emotional unfolding that is birth. Having a doula allows the mother to have a coach and allows the partner to participate in the birth in a way that comes naturally and easily to their own personality.
Is your partner hesitant about working with a doula? Take time to understand their concerns and nudge them towards hiring a doula. These 3 strategies may help you with that conversation.
3. Having a doula reduces the need for epidural anesthesia by 60%.
Epidurals can absolutely be a useful tool during labor. However, they do not come without risks and should be used with intention and not like candy. Like any drug, there are side effects that should be considered. (As well as several benefits!) Studies have found that epidural use can lead to an increased c-section rate, longer pushing stage as well as an increased rate of episiotomies. The drugs in an epidural do pass through the placenta to the baby. And though further research is needed, one study has found that epidural use might interfere with the infant’s instinctual breastfeeding behaviors.
Reducing the need for an epidural means that the birthing person is coping well with contractions, moving through labor and not suffering. Having a doula help you feel grounded, centered, and safe can reduce your need for an epidural if that is what you wish. This is an excellent doula benefit that directly improves the health of the birthing mother and child.
4. Having a doula increases your chance of breastfeeding success.
Studies show that women who have a doula attend their birth have more success breastfeeding, even if they encounter challenges along the way. It is thought that the reason behind this is because when women birth with a doula by their side, they usually develop a deep sense of trust in their own bodies and capabilities.
5. Having a doula at your birth reduces the chance of needing a c-section by 51%.
C-sections can be a wonderful way to birth your child. In some situations, they are needed and lifesaving. They can also be peaceful and positive experiences. However, they do come with risk and additional recovery time. Cesarean section has a 5 to 10 times greater mortality and morbidity rate than vaginal deliveries. Often, women prefer to avoid a c-section if possible and chose this option if it becomes medically necessary. Some women prefer to schedule a c-section for their own reasons and should be supported in their choice.
Here are the 2018 Seattle c-section stats:
This is the overall C/S rate for 2018. Keep in mind hospitals taking on higher risk patients like UW and Swedish First Hill, will naturally have higher rates:
- Evergreen: 31.6%
- Northwest: 19.4%
- Overlake: 30.5
- Providence Everett: 18.4%
- Swedish Edmonds: 32.1%
- Swedish Issaquah: 24.3%
- Swedish Ballard: 23.1%
- Swedish First Hill: 25.6%
- UW: 38.1%
- Valley (Renton): 26.0%
These rates were compiled from this website. If you are not from Seattle, you can look up the hospitals in your own area as well.
All of these Seattle c-section rates are above the World Health Organization’s recommendation that c-section rates should not exceed 10-15% of all births. If avoiding an unnecessary c-section is important to you, one of the great doula benefits to you is that your doula can help you come up with strategies to reduce your risk and improve your likelihood of success with this goal. While there are no guarantees that you can avoid a c-section, as they can be medically necessary, your doula can help you through your birth in ways that will help you avoid an unnecessary procedure.
If you are having a c-section, a doula can still support you. You will need to have support through labor until the point you receive pain-numbing medication, you will need support as you process what is going on during surgery and a doula can make sure that if your baby needs to be taken anywhere after birth, you will not be left alone and have an advocate for any needs or questions you have.
What exactly does a doula do?
A doula will do anything that will support your family during birth. The word doula itself is derived from a Greek word which means ‘woman who serves.’ Because every mother is different, the way a doula will serve will change with every birth. You can see 25 ways a doula can support your birth here. A doula’s greatest skill is leading by following. This means that she is observing the mother, she is paying attention to where the mother is in birth emotionally and physically, and responding to those needs in ways that help the mother’s labor progress while bringing the mother comfort and peace. This can be anything from applying counterpressure during contractions, suggesting labor positions or helping the mother find and use her voice.
Overall, the greatest of all the doula benefits is that a doula increases the chances you will be happy with your birth experience.
When 1 in 3 women report experiencing some kind of trauma during birth, it is important that you take steps before your big day to find the right team to support you and gather the right education to guide you through your birth. By design, birth is physiologically sound. Your body is made to birth. With preparation, many moms have ecstatic births. In fact, you can see incredibly love stories written in these waterbirth pictures.and an immense amount of tenderness and accomplishment as these mothers hold their babies for the first time. At the end of the day, your doula believes in birth and believes in you. Which is something every woman needs to be reminded of as she is challenged through the process of bringing new life to earth.
If you are an expecting Seattle mom, make sure to check out our doula services. I would love to support you as you birth.