1. A doula provides continuous support throughout labor and childbirth. In most circumstances, the people who are with a mother during labor will not be able to be there for the entire time that she is giving birth. A father/partner will want to take a nap, head to the snack bar/restaurant for a bite to eat, go home for a shower, or simply have a few minutes of "time out" to become refreshed. However, a doula is with the mother for the whole time she is laboring and will be on hand for whatever the mother needs and/or wants.
2. Having a doula allows the medical team to do what they are trained to do. The doctor/midwife/nurse is many times unable to be available to help the mother breathe, give massages, walk with the mother, etc. They often have several patients that they are taking care of at once. A doula has only one client at a time.
3. A doula helps the mother become more comfortable during labor by using comfort techniques such as pressure on the aching lower back, hot/cold compresses, a cool washcloth on the mother's forehead, arms, etc., as well as suggesting a warm shower to ease the pain of contractions, or possibly a change in position when the labor is slowing down or the mother is getting uncomfortable. She can help the mother with her breathing and in pushing.
4. If a partner is involved in the process, the doula is there to help the partner help the mother. The doula can give advice and guide the partner and mother through labor and delivery, allowing the couple intimate time together while still remaining nearby for consultation and physical support.
5. Doulas are affordable. In this area of East Tennesse, the going rate for a doula is between $300 and $1200 for 2-3 prenatal visits along with labor and delivery help. This most often includes one or two postpartum visits to follow up with the family.
6. A mother can call the doula for answers to any questions she may have throughout her pregnancy. These questions may include how to choose the right cargiver, concerns about breastfeeding, what to eat/not eat during pregnancy, facts on interventions during labor, etc. This will ease her mind concerning anything she may have questions about.
7. No matter when you have your baby, the doula will be there. This means that, unlike some doctors and midwives, most doulas (including me) will not schedule another birth near the time of your estimated due date. So they are almost guaranteed to be there for your birth. (I am on call 24/7 from the 38th week of pregnancy until the day you give birth. And, if I am unable to be there for the birth due to my own error, I will refund 2/3 of your fee.)
8. A doula is an advocate for the family in the labor room. She will be there to help the mother make the decisions that are right for her and her particular circumstances during labor and delivery. She can provide information that will help the mother choose for herself the best possible birth for her and her baby.
9. Studies show the benefits of having a doula with you at birth. According to a study conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration that assessed the birth experiences of over 15,000 women in 15 countries, women who have continuous support from another woman during labor experience the following benefits:
- experienced enhanced feelings of control and confidence;
- had less need for obstetric intervention;
- were more likely to give birth without caesarean, vacuum extraction or forceps;
- were less likely to use pain medications;
- had babies who were less likely to have low 5-minute Apgar scores;
- were more likely to be satisfied; and
- had slightly shorter labors.
10. A postpartum doula is available to help the mother and her partner and/or family after the birth. She may provide such services as: showing the mother how to breastfeed, bathe and diaper her baby; help with light housework (such as laundry, sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, and, preparing snacks for the mother and her partner/family, and taking care of any older siblings while the mother is with her baby. She may even be available to stay in the home and help with overnight care of the baby so that the mother and her partner can get the sleep that they will need after they bring the baby home. (My fee for postpartum care is $15 to $20 per hour.)
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