Hiring a doula is an investment in your short term and long term physical and emotional health during labor, birth, and the postpartum period. A doula doesn't replace a medical provider, husband/partner, or any other family member present. The doula is a compliment to the laboring mother's birth team. She is a trained labor support person that provides emotional, physical, and informational support during a woman's pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum.
Doctors, midwives, and nurses cannot provide continuous labor support for the mother. In a hospital or birthing center, these caregivers have many patients for whom they must provide care. Therefore, their care of the laboring woman is intermittent.
Nurses have a wide array of responsibilities to perform for several patients. She will not be available to provide continual support for each individual laboring woman. She must move from room to room, performing her tasks.
The OB may only make their appearance a couple times during labor. They may have to go from visiting the patient at the hospital while returning to their patients at their office. Most, if not all, OB's arrive at the crowning stage of birth, and leave soon after birth.
A doula provides undivided continuous labor support for the mother and her partner. She does not replace her husband/partner, but compliments him. She provides physical support such as offering drinks, a back rub, counter pressure, use of the rebozo and birth ball, massage, reassurance, and a break for the husband/partner if he requires. She offers educational information and answers questions. She facilitates communication with the hospital staff providing the necessary information that families need to make informed choices. Doulas mother the mother to ensure a positive birth experience that will last a life time. Birth doulas provide the comfort a laboring woman requires 100% of the time.
Based on six studies, "the presence of a doula reduces:
- the overall cesarean rate by 50%
- length of labor by 25%
- oxytocin use by 40%
- pain medication by 30%
- the need for forceps by 40%
- requests for epidurals by 60%"
From Mothering the Mother by Klaus, Kennel, and Klaus