A Birth Doula is a person (not necessarily a woman) who gives a woman non-medical support during the final stages of her pregnancy, during labor and childbirth as well as for a time after the baby arrives, in what is known as the postpartum period.
Doulas are not required to be certified by law however many are trained and certified from organizations such as the Birth Arts International, Birthing from Within, Childbirth International, Doulas of North America, and the International Childbirth Education Association and others.
The benefits of hiring a birth doula can be many-
You get the benefit of their knowledge and experience
You get a realistic idea of what to expect when; and get clear directions as to what you yourself are supposed to do at what stage. Doubts and questions you have will be answered.
A doula may offer suggestions about labor positions and natural methods of pain management. A doula can help create a birth plan that will help enhance the whole experience of child birth and beyond.
Their earlier experiences with childbirth, offer an expectant or new mother very valuable insights into what is going on with them and why.
Older children can also feel comforted and reassured by the presence of a doula. Rather more than a loved one such as a partner or family member, who may not be able to stand seeing a woman in pain, a doula can offer calm and objective support and guidance.
Liaisoning with the hospital staff may also be easier with a doula present.
A doula can be a one-on-one support system
Whereas a hospital may be an impersonal setting where one nurse or doctor will typically be attending to many different patients. Also in a hospital setting the same people will not be available throughout because medical professionals are on call according to their shifts. Having a birthing doula present can be a huge and constant support at this time.
Emotional support is also available from a doula, which can be very valuable particularly for first time mothers. The whole experience of birth may be more positive with the help of a doula.
Research has found that the kind of support that a doula can provide to a new mother in the final stages of her pregnancy as well as through her delivery can have a positive impact on breast feeding. Having a person present for a new mother and a child can be very meaningful when breastfeeding is trying to be established – proper latching on, positioning the baby, what to do when the baby doesn’t know what to do – a doula can help with all of this and more.