Back in the old days, before hospitals, birth centers and C-sections, women gave birth naturally, at home (often even outside in nature), either unassisted or assisted by a female relative or a midwife.
These women did not have medical training, but being women, they knew the natural cycles of the female body and the way birth unfolds. They supported each other during the pregnancy, during birth and after the birth.
Fast forward to the 21st century. Thanks to the advance of medicine and medical interventions, we can enjoy cleaner and more sterile birth environments, a lower rate of infant mortality and complications. But at what cost?
Birthing is a natural biological process. As such, it is expected that a woman can handle it well, no matter the situation or environment she is in. But this is not always the case. Giving birth in a hospital or a birth center relying only on the medical staff of doctors and delivery nurses, means you are putting yourself at the hands of very capable and professional people, but ones that cannot be (no matter how much they want to) dedicated to you and attentive to your needs.
You are but one patient of many and your delivery has to fall within their time table. If it doesn’t, then in the best case scenario you will be handled and cared for by different doctors and nurses as they change shifts. In the less fortunate scenarios you may be induced or even operated on.
This is not to say that there are no situations in which a complication requires such intervention – there are and this is why we are grateful for 21st century medical advancements. However, there is value and comfort in knowing that there is a constant source of knowledge and support with you at all times. Before you give birth, during your birthing process and also after the baby arrives.
Your birth partner is one such source. Birth partners too are stressed, anxious, excited and share your sensations and feelings. They are there to support you but they cannot provide all the care you need and they cannot serve as a buffer between you and the alienated environment of a hospital room.
This is where a having a doula makes all the difference. A doula is with you long before your birth begins. You know each other and she is a familiar face and voice in a situation where you need to feel safe and supported.
If you need a few reasons to hire a doula here are some:
Support – A doula doesn’t change shifts
Your doula is there for you from the moment you call her announcing the birth has begun to the moment your baby makes it into this world safely and calmly. She will also stay with you after the birth to make sure both you and your baby are comfortable and have all your need.
Your doula will also continue your care and monitoring once you bring your baby home.
Birth Facilitator – Easier, shorter, calmer births
A study from 2012 has shown that when a doula is involved in the birth the following benefits were reported:
- 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
- Decrease in the need to induce using Pitocin (31%)
- Decrease in the risk of C-section (28%)
- 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care unit
- Higher satisfaction with the birth experience
- Shorter birth
Your advocate and counsellor in times of need
Birth is a natural process, but complications can and do occur. A Doula, working with you to prepare you for birth can also teach you and your birth partner about the process, the complications, the adverse effects of drugs and procedures and about alternatives. Once the birth has commenced, you will zone out and be completely in tune with your body and baby, and you will also be excited, perhaps anxious and not very focused. Your birth partner may or may not be able to keep their cool if anything goes wrong. If, for any reason, you are faced with a decision to make in the midst of labor, having your doula with you provides you with another voice – a voice of reason, calm and knowledge that can help explain the situation so you and your birth partner can make the best decision for you and your baby.
There are probably a million reasons more to hire a doula, but I believe the reasons above are enough for any mother to be.