Today, March 22nd, is World Doula Day! It's a day to celebrate not only doulas but birth and women. World Doula Week is getting bigger and bigger with events held all over the world.
I am a birth doula and want to raise awareness, not only for myself and for my business, but for birthing women. Every woman deserves a birth that she wants and every woman deserves to be treated with respect.
I've put together some posts on doulas and other birthy subjects that I will be posting early next week. I hope you enjoy. And please feel free to share your story, especially if you had a doula for your labour. I would love to hear about it. Today we'll start with the basics.
If you had asked me 4 years ago before I was even pregnant what a doula was, I wouldn't have been able to tell you. It just wasn't something I was aware of, but I wish I had been.
What is a doula?
A birth doula is a trained labour companion. She provides emotional and physical support during pregnancy, stays with a labouring woman until the baby is born, and for a bit after the birth. She is usually quite knowledgeable about birth and the natural flow of things as well as any complications that may arise. She is there to help a woman and her partner achieve the birth they want, whatever that may be.
A postpartum doula offers emotional and practical support after the birth. She can help with newborn care, chores around the house, and lends an ear.
Why would you need a doula?
There are some pretty impressive stats about having a doula by your side. Labours tend to be shorter and with fewer complications, the incidence of using drugs for induction, using forceps for vacuum for extraction, and ceasarians is reduced, and the mother tends to have a more positive experience overall. And then there are the benefits to baby: a higher breastfeeding success rate and happier mothers (higher self-confidence and lower rates of postpartum depression). (Adapted from DONA International.)
I think Dr. Kennell said it best: "If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."
Resources to learn more
There are some great resources to help you learn more about doulas and what to look for in one.
DONA (Doulas of North America) International - An international organization that provides information on doulas and also trains and certifies doulas. I have completed my training through DONA and am a member.
DoulaCARE - A Canadian non-profit organization that helps promote doulas and provides professional support to trained doulas. I am also a member of DoulaCARE and have meet some really great doulas in Ottawa at the monthly meetings.
The Doula Book - This book is about everything I've mentioned here and more. It's a great read for anyone who is pregnant and considering a doula.
If there is anything you would like to know about doulas let me know in the comments or send me an email. I would love to know if you had a doula at your birth or if you'd consider one in the future.