Q: What's a doula?
There are actually many types of doulas: birth and postpartum doulas, abortion doulas, loss doulas, death doulas, transition doulas, fertility doulas, & indigenous doulas. Doula support is for anyone needing extra support as they move through a range of life experiences.
Q: What do they do?
Doulas support their clients by providing information, resources, individualized care, and support. They're there to teach you how to advocate for yourself in tough situations. They're there to brainstorm with you; to support you in creating lists of questions to ask your provider or care team; to help you plan for the before, during, and after stages of your experience; to listen as you process the thoughts and emotions that come up during your experience; to provide lists of specialists if you're searching for additional support + MORE.
Q: Are doulas considered medical professionals?
Doulas are not medical professionals. They do not provide medical advice. Their focus is providing emotional, physical, and educational support. They specialize in one or more of these life experiences and are trained in supporting folks in various ways depending on what the client is looking for.
Q: Is doula support just a trend? Do I really need one?
As far as birth support goes, trust the research!
"The researchers were able to look at this question for six outcomes: use of any pain medication, use of Pitocin during labor, spontaneous vaginal birth, Cesarean, admission to special care nursery after birth, and negative birth experiences.
For two of these outcomes (designated with asterisks*), the best results occurred when a birthing person had continuous labor support from a doula– someone who was NOT a staff member at the hospital and who was NOT part of their social network. The researchers found that overall, people who have continuous support during childbirth experience a:
25% decrease in the risk of Cesarean; the largest effect was seen with a doula (39% decrease)*
8% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth; the largest effect was seen with a doula (15% increase)*
10% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief; the type of person providing continuous support did not make a difference
Shorter labors by 41 minutes on average; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference
38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference
31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience; mothers’ risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience was reduced with continuous support provided by a doula or someone in their social network (family or friend), but not hospital staff"