The word "doula" comes from Greek meaning "servant." As servants to mothers, a doula offers physical, comfort, emotional and even spiritual support for pregnancy and postpartum.
What are the benefits of doulas? Evidence Based Birth® shares these proven benefits of working with a doula that we just love seeing:
39% decrease in Cesarean births
15% increase in spontaneous (non induced) vaginal birth
10% decrease in the use of narcotic pain relief
Average length of labor decreased by 41 minutes
38% decrease in the risk for a baby having a low 5 minute Apgar score
31% decrease in the risk of the birthing person being dissatisfied with the overall birth experience
There's even benefit to having a doula who is "observing" status only - according to another article located here: https://doulawise.com/benefits-of-doulas/
Let's talk a little bit more about the type of support you receive when having a doula:
Physical support: The doula is there to get you in different positions, because having a baby on your back is the worst way to birth. Having movement gets that baby to come on down!
Comfort support: The doula is there to make sure you are comfortable. Ever heard of Orgasmic birth? Well, it is possible to have no pain or little pain during childbirth. Having a doula knowledgeable about ice, heat, birth ball, positions, rebozo Mexican shawl, etc. will help ease those labor pains!
Emotional support? Yes, your doula will cheerleader you on through your birthing marathon race to the "finish line" of having a baby in your arms!
Spiritual support? If you are a spiritual person, then I am sure your doula can help with the spiritual side. This also can be letting go of fears to praying!
Now a little bit about hiring a new doula vs. seasoned or somewhere in between? Well, there are new doulas who are just starting out. They need to get their "feet wet" so to speak - so don't be afraid to hire a new doula. Just be clear on what you want or not want done during labor and I am sure that doula will be helpful and respectful of your wishes. Also, sometimes a new doula doesn't charge a lot - so that's good for anyone with a low budget.
What about a seasoned doula? Yes, seasoned doulas - who have had around 100 births or more are great to hire because they do have experience - however, sometimes booking the experienced doula means you have to book early and quickly - as soon as you find yourself pregnant and considering a doula - you may want to book for your birth early and not wait till the last minute. (Last minute meaning like a month or two ahead of time). Seasoned doulas will be most likely charging the higher prices.
In between doulas are also great, perhaps they have gone to a few births, but haven't quite reached a landmark of 100 births - these doulas are still great to work with; they may still make rooky mistakes, but they will still be great doulas and they may charge less. So, if you are looking for not a new doula, and maybe someone with some experience- consider hiring a doula with less than 100 births because this might be just the right fit for you and your budget!
If you are not sure about a doula and her experience, just reach out to the doula and schedule a free consultation. Most doulas take free consults and this is a great way to see if you connect well with the doula or not. Most doulas kind of have a key thing they like to do to help mamas. Maybe, one doula loves doing massages while another one loves rebozo. So, what techniques are you wanting for your birth? What will help you relax the best?
Also, there are doulas who offer hypnosis techniques. I personally have done the Hypnobabies Doula course and it was a great class - though it has been awhile since I have done this with a client. Hypnobabies is not for every mama client - so respect the mama's choices on what she wants for her birth.
Anyway, I hope this blog helps mamas know more about various options for doulas and hiring a doula based on experience may or may not work. I just hope pregnant mamas out there will give new or less seasoned doulas a chance too!
We are going to make a Birthing Guide for Mamas - some tips for relaxing and affirmation cards will be in that - so look for that and or email about this!
This blog post is by Julie Larsen, author of Doing Business the Doula Way and runs DoulaMoney.com