What is a doula? Why do I need one?
We get this question a lot.
The basic definition of a doula is:
A trained, experienced labor companion who provides emotional, physical, and spiritual support during childbirth. A doula guides, teaches, informs, and empowers a woman to have the birthing experience that she longs for.
Because the doula movement is still fairly new, many women (and men, too) question whether a doula is a necessary part of birth.
Surely, if professional, trained labor support were necessary in labor, then we would have been using it for centuries, right?
Well, yes. You see, we have been using doula support for centuries. In all cultures around the world, since the beginning of time, women have been supported during labor by experienced, loving women. Some cultures have also invited husbands to attend birth while others have not approved of the presence of men. The one thing that has always been constant is the continuous, comforting support of multiple experienced women during childbirth.
Childbirth in the developed world has changed drastically within the last 100 years. Many factors contributed to this:
- A mobile culture that encourages children to move away from home when they become adults, thus removing easy access to the loving family of women who came before us.
- Medical views that portray pregnancy as an illness and cause us to believe that pregnant women are in danger and need intensive medical treatments in order to give birth safely.
- Hospital policies that limit the number of birth companions a woman may have at her side. This means that the large majority of women giving birth for the first time in America have never witnessed childbirth. As recently as 100 years ago, this would have been shockingly unnatural to even modern, developed cultures.
- The systematic removal of midwifery as a viable birth profession. When doctors came into the birth picture (around the turn of the 20th century), they realized that most births were being attended by midwives. The medical community convinced women that birth was unsafe and they also made midwifery practice illegal and began to treat midwives as witch doctors. This is definitely changing as the value of midwives is becoming obvious once again. However, there are still some states that refuse to allow midwives to practice.
Birth in America is now in crisis. Birth professionals worldwide are working diligently to change this. Doulas are a part of this change.
The following video was created by DONA International, the organization that founded the doula movement. It’s about 15 minutes long and provides a wonderful description of the purpose and value of doula support in labor.
If you have any questions or concerns, or if you are interested in receiving more information about doula services, feel free to browse the website or Contact Me directly.