What is a Birth Doula? Should you hire one?


Written by: Jessica Medrea

The childbearing year is an important formative time for women, their babies and their families. It is not a coincidence that cultures across history and across the world have practiced special care for pregnant, birthing and newly postpartum mothers. I believe these traditions are the root of the modern doula practice. 

In our modern society we have excellent medical technology and systems to take care of any medical testing, monitoring or management that you want or need as a pregnant person. However what’s usually missing from this type of care is nurturing emotional and physical support from someone who has no other agenda. 

Yes, you might like a medical professional to take your vitals and chart them. But maybe you would also like someone to make sure your partner is ok, brew some tea and rub your back while you labour. Also often missing from the modern birth experience is detailed informational guidance about what the experience of pregnancy and birth are like and what options are available. These missing pieces are where the role of a professional doula fits in.

Birth doula support during pregnancy can help guide your family in educating yourself and give you the confidence to make clear choices about what is an optimal birth experience for you. During birth, continuous labour support from a doula has been shown to enhance the physiological labour process and reduce the occurrence of unnecessary interventions. 

Here’s a comprehensive review of the evidence on this at the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. And here’s a summarized version by Evidence Based Birth.

In addition to having statistically improved health outcomes, women who hire doulas also report higher satisfaction with their birth experience. This is no small thing for such an important life transition. 

Birth doulas are trained to provide continuous one-on-one care including information, physical comfort and emotional support to birthing women and their families. We have no medical or clinical certification and do not give medical advice or perform clinical exams/monitoring. Instead we can nurture and support you with things like:

·       Providing information about your choices

·       Helping you work through fears and self-doubt

·       Being your advocate and enhancing communication with your medical team

·       Helping to explain what is happening at each point during labour

·       Suggesting techniques in labour for coping and comfort

·       Soothing touch, or more importantly showing your partner how to do this well

·       Creating a calm and comfortable environment 

·       Keeping you (and your partner!) nourished and hydrated

·       Physically supporting you to get around or maintain comforting positions

·       Reassurance and encouragement

·       Truly being with you and holding space for you

If you have midwifery care you can still benefit from a doula. In fact many midwives strongly encourage their clients to hire one. Your midwife’s main responsibility is the medical health of you and your baby and they will usually only join you for the later part of labour when your baby is soon to arrive. When they are with you they’ll be attending to those medical tasks, charting, testing, etc. The doula’s job is to give you and your partner confidence and attentive support starting right from early labour through til post birth. Your physical comfort and emotional wellbeing is our focus.

A doula does not replace your partner! Your partner is your number one support. A skilled doula will help them to best support you and handle logistical tasks so your partner can focus on being 100% present for you. Plus, if they need to eat or go to the washroom, having a doula present means they don’t have to worry about leaving you alone. For more on how doula support benefits partners, check out my blog post “Doulas are for partners too!

If you’re pregnant I’d love to talk to you even more about how hiring a doula can benefit you and see if we click well to work together. 

You can check out my website at www.jessicamedreabirth.com. I offer complimentary, no-obligation consultations which you can book on my website or by email: [email protected]

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Dr.'s Pavin & Erin Rakhra

We’re Dr. Pavin and Dr. Erin Rakhra, your local chiropractic team serving East Vancouver. We’re passionate about your family’s health and well-being, providing top-notch care tailored to your needs. Trust the best chiropractors in Vancouver, BC, to keep you moving and feeling your best.