February 22, 2016
Sometimes I get asked in interviews or otherwise why someone might choose to hire a doula when they already are planning on having their partner or mom or another friend there for support? It's a great question to ask, and here is my answer!
You may or may not know, but there have actually been studies done on the effects of doula support on the labors and births of women. There are all kinds of benefits, which you can get a summary of by reading this article on the Evidence for Doulas. But to answer this question specifically, I would point you to the Cochrane Library (basically an online collection of databases with medical and healthcare studies and reports available freely to the public), where you will find a review of some of the evidence for doulas, and here is their conclusion:
“Continuous support from a person who is present solely to provide support, is not a memberof the woman’s social network, is experienced in providing labour support, and has at least a modest amount of training, appears to be most beneficial. In comparison with having no companion during labour, support from a chosen family member or friend appears to increase women’s satisfaction with their childbearing experience.”— Hodnett et al. (2012)Catch that? Continuous support, any support, is beneficial to labor and birth. But to get the most benefit? You want to find a third party, someone outside of your regular support system, someone with training and experience in supporting labor and birth.
The report doesn't go into why third party continuous support is so beneficial, but here are my guesses:
I don't have the level of emotional investment that your partner or family members have. Do I love and want great things for my clients? Of course! But because I am outside of your regular circle of friends and family, I am able to remain neutral in the birthing space.My training and experience gives me a more credible voice. You can trust what I am saying because you know that I have taken the time to train and research, and that counts for something! Even just the ability to hear someone say, "This is normal," can go a long way to relieve your tension and stress about the unknowns in labor.My training and experience also give me a toolbox full of ideas to help you through your labor and birth, no matter what unfolds. You can take the classes and read the books to prepare, but because I am regularly in the birthing space, I can easily recall and help you apply the comfort techniques and positions, or tell you about new ones you may not have heard of before!My support is continuous. I don't leave you once you call me to come to you in labor. Doctors and nurses may come in and out of the delivery room (and they certainly won't be laboring with you at home). Your partner or family members may need to take breaks (and so might I, but if I am working within your team of support, we will make sure you are never alone!)
Because doulas are not regulated by state laws or licensure, anyone can technically call themselves a doula. But one of the reasons that I decided to train and then pursue my certification as a doula through CAPPA, a reputable and established doula training organization, is because I believe that it benefits you, dear clients! Maintaining my certification status means that I am committed to staying up-to-date with continuing education in the world of birth and babies in order to offer you the best possible support, no matter what your birth plans include.
Hodnett, E. D., S. Gates, et al. (2012). “Continuous support for women during childbirth.” Cochrane database of systematic reviews: CD003766.