A doula can appear to ‘do’ very little, but the effect of her confident presence can be enormous!
Research clearly shows that labouring women who have constant emotional support from a female companion they know and trust are significantly less likely to request pain relief, are more likely to have a physiological birth (one without medical intervention or narcotic pain killers) and are more likely to have high levels of satisfaction with their birth experience.
Your doula will support and nurture you, she will feed your body and your soul and support you to get on with the work that is giving birth, whatever setting you have chosen, however your baby arrives earthside!
Many birth partners, and even some professionals, feel they should be ‘doing something’ to help a woman in labour. They can feel helpless in the face of the contractions that are challenging the woman’s strength (and often seem more painful to the observer than the woman remembers afterwards). It is common to want to take away the pain or to make things happen faster to ‘get it over with’. This is completely understandable, until you begin to pick apart what makes birth work, what makes it safe and what makes women feel empowered and pleased with their birth.
A doula will get to know woman during the months of her pregnancy so she can begin to understand deeply what makes the woman tick, what helps her feel safe, what encourages her and most importantly what she wants from her labour, her birth and the first precious times with her new baby. Doulas care for women (and their partners). Doulas want what the woman herself wants. Doulas help the woman achieve that and support her to make her own best decisions about what she and her baby want and need.
In short, a doula does what the mother wants her to do, nothing more, nothing less!
Doulas do not make decisions for a woman, they do not give medical care or advice, and they will never seek to persuade a woman to follow a path that is not her own! Doulas are there as a source of confidence, experience, love and support for a woman and her birth partners, to make the experience as positive as possible. The feedback from women shows that this works, and women who hire a doula often rate it as the single best decision they made!