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.