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  • Why More Women Hire A Doula To Help Them With Childbirth

    Make sure you understand a doula's role in pregnancy and childbirth before availing of their services.
    by Rachel Perez .
Why More Women Hire A Doula To Help Them With Childbirth
PHOTO BY iStock
  • A woman’s body is designed for pregnancy and childbirth, but she needs a lot of support from her husband or partner, her doctors, and more. Like raising a child, birth is a team effort.

    Many moms today hire a doula to help them with childbirth. Studies have shown that women who gave birth with a doula present were less likely to need labor interventions and pain medication, or require a >C-section (CS), and have a more positive childbirth experience overall. New moms who received doula support are also more likely to succeed in breastfeeding and less likely to develop signs of postpartum depression.

    Women who avail of the services of a doula swear that the added expense is worth it. If you’re thinking of hiring one, first, you need to understand their role and what they can do for you.

    What is a doula?

    Most pregnant moms worry about a lot of things during pregnancy and have at least some fear about childbirth, which is normal. “My doula helped me to focus on positive thoughts and use my energy on preparations for the big day, instead of stressing out on what-ifs,” mom of two Jesame Nabong-Mesia shares.

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    A doula is someone who will be there for you in your journey into motherhood and help you get the information you need to make informed decisions. There are many kinds of doulas: Birth doulas help pregnant women throughout pregnancy and birth, while postpartum doulas help new moms adjust to their new role. Fertility doulas support women who are having difficulty getting pregnant, while bereavement doulas help women who had a pregnancy loss.

    “We are there to provide physical, emotional, informational support to empower women,” says Velvet Escario-Roxas, a certified birth doula affiliated with Doulas of North America (DONA) International. Doulas also extend their support to the women’s partners during pregnancy and childbirth. They help the partners not to panic and be more involved in supporting the mother throughout the process.

    For first-time parents, a birth doula suggests prenatal exercises, helps them understand the stages of labor and childbirth, and manages labor pain through relaxation techniques. Doulas gather a lot of information about different hospital procedures and their choices for each one. They guide pregnant women in creating a list of preferences, which they can use to discuss a birth plan with their healthcare provider.

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    What does a doula do during labor and delivery?

    During birth, “doulas provide consistent and continuous presence during labor and help create a positive environment for birth to unfold. We encourage, affirm, give comfort through touch, positioning, and coach the woman with her breathing,” explains Ros Padua, a birth doula with the Pinay Doulas Collective and certified under DONA International.

    Having a doula with her during labor helped Jesame be more relaxed, so labor can progress smoothly. “She took care of everything else while I focus on my labor. She was my “speaker” when doctors and nurses have questions for me (and I can’t answer back), my cheerleader when labor was getting too painful and my husband’s supporter,” she stresses. “My doula was my birth plan’s protector,” the mom of two added.

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    After the child is born, doulas also help assure that the baby receives essential newborn care (ENC) or Unang Yakap. This includes immediate skin to skin, timely cord clamping, and non-separation of the mother and baby for early initiation of breastfeeding. They help the new mom get settled with her newborn.

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    Jesame’s doula was also a ‘shoulder to lean on’ when she was recovering from birth. Her doula checked on her physical and mental health as well, so she could better care for her new baby.

    Can a doula replace doctors or midwives?

    Doulas ARE NOT medical professionals. They are not trained to diagnose and treat pregnancy - or postpartum-related symptoms, or provide medical advice and prescribe medication. They also do not perform clinical tasks such as blood pressure checks or internal exams.

    Doctors or midwives and nurses are responsible for the physical health and well-being of the mother and baby. A doula’s role is an advocate for the mom during discussions with healthcare providers, making sure you have the chance to discuss your concerns with them. They can be instrumental in helping you achieve a positive birth experience, whether it’s CS or vaginal birth.

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