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What Do Doulas Do? Why would I want one?

A doula is a support person who is familiar with labor and birth and focused completely on the birthing
woman and her partner. Doulas spend time with their clients before labor begins. They come to
understand what is important to them or what makes them nervous about their birth experience.
Doulas focus on a few specialties that no one else on the birth team will focus on, such as the emotional
components of labor and birth. Doulas help with physical and emotional preparation before labor
begins. Doulas focus on relationships and create a relationship of trust with each client. Doulas are
accessible in a way doctors and nurses are not. You can call or text your doula at any time. They also
support and strengthen the relationship between the mother and partner as well as parents and baby.

One role doulas have is involving the partner to their comfort level. Some partners would like to catch
the baby while others would rather be out in the hall. Partners are often neglected in our medical
system of birth. Doulas realize they are having an experience as well and help them have a positive
experience. Partners need breaks. They need support. They want information and often they seek
guidance as they support the birthing woman. Doulas help partners take care of themselves as well;
remind them to eat and drink, know when to grab a quick nap, or get some fresh air.

Having a doula means having your own expert, someone who knows you well, with you during labor and
birth. We don’t always know which doctor or midwife will be on call and we don’t know who the nurse
will be. With a doula, however, you do know at least one person who will be with you. Many people are
surprised at how little time their nurse is in the room with them and that the doctor comes in for just
the last few minutes as the baby’s head is crowning. Doulas remain with you throughout the entire
process. Often in early labor, doulas are in close contact with their clients on the phone or through text.
When more support is needed, physical or emotional, doulas join their clients in person.

Doulas use many tools that are comfort measures during labor. They help clients create an environment
that is personalized with elements that are comforting and familiar. One of a doulas best tools is her
hands. Doulas often use massage as a comfort technique. Doulas are an encouraging and familiar
presence during labor. There are dozens of other tools doulas incorporate for comfort including,
movement, music, information, counterpressure, heat and cold, visual focal points, how and when to
use the peanut ball and birth ball, refreshment, a shower or bath, relaxation techniques, and many
more.

Doulas help navigate the medical system, helping their clients be aware of and understand all their
options, at all times. There are many possible interventions which can feel overwhelming and a
surprising amount of strategy involved during labor and birth. Doulas also specialize in fetal positioning
which has a significant impact the labor experience and outcomes. Doulas will help with positions,
knowing what positions will provide comfort as well as fetal rotation and descent. There are ways to open the pelvic inlet, the mid pelvis, and the pelvic outlet at different stages of labor, depending on where the baby’s head is. Using different positions during labor can shorten labor, make labor more comfortable, and can help avoid a Cesarean.

Since 2005 the Cesarean rate in the United States has remained at about 32%. A recent study conducted
from 2005-2020 found those who had doula support had a Cesarean rate of 9.7%. Doulas can be
especially helpful in high-risk pregnancies or complicated labors when the emotions are often more
intense and there are more interventions to understand and navigate. Doulas support all types of birth
and all birth choices. Doulas are not just for those who desire unmedicated birth. For many who plan to
use an epidural, doulas can help know when the best time for an epidural might be and provide comfort
measures until that time. Early labor can be an ideal time to facilitate fetal positioning and decent.
Doulas can also help with comfort measures when epidurals do not work perfectly.

Doulas hope to create positive birth experiences for all people. Those who face discrimination and
health disparities in the medical system can especially benefit from doula support. Doulas help their
clients have a voice and an individualized experience as they give birth. The day you give birth should be
one of the best days of your life and all too often we find that people have negative or even traumatic
birth experiences. Research shows that a positive birth experience leads to more success with
breastfeeding as well as a decreased incidence of postpartum moods disorders. A positive birth
experience can strengthen bonds between a mother and partner and between a mother and baby and
help create a strong transition into parenting. Positive birth helps people feel empowered. Doulas focus
on a positive birth experience for each client.

Find out more at angiesdoulaservices.com or connect with Angie Rosier at 801-815-6053.

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