Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do doula's differ from midwives?
- Doulas do not provide clinical tasks nor do they "catch" or deliver the baby. Non-medical skills of a doula include: explanation of medical procedures, 24 hour informational support during pregnancy and postpartum, positioning suggestions during labor and birth, massage and other non-medical pain relief measures, reassurance, help with breastfeeding preparation and beginnings, and most importantly, a constant nurturing, helpful and objective support as well as first hand knowledge and understanding of what the birthing mother is going through.
- Both midwives and doulas attend home births. However, most of the doula's work is done for families having a hospital birth. She comes to the home in early labor and then follows the mother and her birth partner to their birthing place.
2. Does the doula replace the father's or the birth partner's role?
- No. Her presence strengthens the father/birth partner's role. Pressure to know how to help the labouring mother is removed. The doula anticipates the physical and emotional needs of the birthing mother as labor progresses, and helps the father/birth partner to better help the mother during this trying time.
3. This is such an intimate and private time. Does the doula interfere with that?
- A doula assisted birth is even more intimate. Early labor can take place comfortably at home. Dim lighting, soothing music, warm water, and relaxation all are encouraged by the doula, who captures these moments on camera, and records events to create a birth story to treasure always. The emotional bond and sense of connection between mother and partner is important, and the doula knows when to stay in the background when the couple is doing well and when to jump in and offer guidance, such as position changes and breathing variations as labor progresses.
4. Why does The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists endorse doula support?
- With nursing cut backs there are rarely enough support people to help all the labouring moms. While a doula is not a nurse she is a constant presence when medical professionals leave the room. She understands the labor process. When a labouring woman feels safe and secure, labor progresses.
- Numerous studies have shown that with the presence of a doula:
- 50% reduction in Cesarean rates
- 40% reduction in forcep deliveries
- 25% shorter labors
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in oxytocin (Pitocin) use
- better mother-infant bonding
- 30% reduction in analgesia use
- reduced post-partum depression
5. Does the doula impose her own beliefs on the woman or couple?
- No. The doulas true agenda is to help ensure that the woman's birth plan is acknowledged and followed as much as possible. The doula may in fact think about the birth plan more than the laboring mother and her partner especially when labor intensifies.
- A doula helps facilitate decision-making by asking questions that will ensure that the right information is given to the woman or partner so that they can make an informed decision. She may also suggest alternatives for the couple to consider. She does not make decisions for the family.