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    Doulas and Support During Childbirth - Topic Overview

    How does support help during labor and childbirth?

    Having support while you're in labor and delivering your baby can be a very positive experience.

    Your support person may be your partner, a loved one, or a friend. You may get support from hospital nurses, a midwife, or a birth coach, also known as a doula. Doulas give support but do not deliver the baby.

    A support person can help you feel more control and less fear. And this can help you manage your pain better.

    Studies show that women who have a support person by their side throughout labor and childbirth are more likely to:1

    • Give birth without pain medicine.
    • Describe the birth in a positive way.
    • Give birth without the need for things like a cesarean or vacuum delivery.
    • Have slightly shorter labors.

    And you may get the most benefit by using a trained and experienced birth assistant, like a doula, whose only job is to give you constant support.

    What can you expect from a doula during labor and childbirth?

    A doula doesn't provide medical care or deliver the baby. That's the job of your doctor or midwife. The doula's job is to help make your birth experience-and your partner's experience-the best it can be.

    This can be especially helpful in a hospital setting, where labor and delivery nurses usually are busy with more than one patient.

    Before you go to the hospital (or before your midwife arrives for a home birth), your doula can:

    • Offer massages or other things that help you feel more comfortable.
    • Answer your questions or your family's questions.
    • Reassure you and your partner that everything is normal.
    • Help you track your labor.
    • Support you in the car ride to the hospital.
    • Make sure you know where to go and what to do when you get there.

    At the hospital, your doula can:

    • Help you get comfortable and stay relaxed.
    • Support your partner or loved one and make sure that he or she feels confident and helpful.
    • Remind you to breathe.
    • Make sure the hospital staff has a copy of your birth plan.
    • Remind hospital staff about your wishes, such as whether or not you want to be offered pain medicine.

    During a home birth, your doula may also:

    • Prepare the water if you want to labor in water.
    • Take care of cleaning up after the birth.
    • Reassure family members.
    • Help a birth photographer, if you have one.
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