Doulas: Not Just for Single Women

At the beginning of this video, the viewer is asked if she is giving birth as a single mother or if she fears her partner will not provide her enough support during delivery. If yes, she may want to hire a doula, or professional labor support.

Single moms and woman who don’t feel confident in their partner’s support measures can certainly benefit from a doula, but doulas should not be limited only to these groups. Any woman who has gone through labor knows how difficult it can be, and I’m sure most would agree that they appreciated any sensitive and individualized support they received during labor (including backing off when requested). I believe that every woman could benefit from a doula, and here is why.

Hospital Staff…

For women in the hospital, they will have nurses and doctors coming through during their labor. Can these groups provide individual labor support? They can help aid the mother in making decisions during labor and delivery, but may be influenced more by hospital protocol than by the mother’s wishes. Nurses can and often do help support and perhaps coach a mother during this time, but they cannot give her their undivided attention as they have other patients to attend to. The doctor usually only comes in for the delivery itself or if there is a complication- and moms have no guaruntee that they will even have their own doctor that they know and trust- only the one on call. Additionally, since labor tends to be a long event, most mothers experience at least one shift change before the birth of their baby. All of this means that consistent, enduring support from the hospital staff is often lacking for a mom in labor.

Midwives…

Homebirth midwives come only for one mother at a time, so the mom doesn’t need to worry about her attention being divided between several patients. Also, midwives tend to make more use of natural comfort measures than OBs do, and also tend to spend more time coaching the mom through labor and delivery. Overall, there is less need for a doula at a homebirth with a midwife, but a mother still might appreciate the undivided attention of a doula. Also, the midwife still needs to be free to watch for complications and take swift action if neccessary. A doula allows the midwife to focus on her most important job of monitoring the mother and baby.

Family…

What about family members? Could they provide the nonstop support that a doula would offer? It is possible and probable that they will be free to offer more support than the caregivers. However, family members may be weighted down with concern for the mother, since they may have a hard time seeing her in such pain. This concern could compromise helping her meet some of her goals for her birth (e.g., she wants a natural birth but since family members are struggling watching her hurt they ask her to give herself a break and get the epidural). Also, they may be preoccupied with anticipation for the baby, and be distracted from giving the mother what she needs. Finally, in most cases, family members are not trained in comfort measures or childbirth information as a doula would be.  

Your Partner…

Even if you do have a supportive partner, you still could benefit from having a doula. I happen to be blessed with an extremely caring, helpful, and loving husband who would do anything he possibly could to help me through labor and delivery. However, no matter how much he helps, he has never been through labor and never will be. A doula, on the other hand, has been in the same position as the laboring woman before, and she is specially trained to help her through the difficulties of labor. Note that, as Pregnancy Health Guru says, a doula does not replace your partner, but should complement his role and help him to know how to better aid you.

A Doula!

Every woman can benefit from a doula. A doula’s role is unique and separate from the caregivers’ roles. She can help mothers prepare and plan for their birth, help them to carry out their plans and make differing decisions as need be during labor, and provide individualized attention and care from beginning to end of labor, including guidance and various comfort measures. She will spend time with the mother after birth and many doulas offer postpartum care and counseling. Her job is to focus solely on the mother and help her meet her individual goals and needs. While everyone else can have many interests to look after, the doula’s job is solely to “mother the mother”- and that is priceless.

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