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What is the difference between a midwife and a doula anyway?
To put it simply, a midwife CATCHES and a doula COACHES.
What is a Doula?
A doula is a woman who attends the birthing family before, during, and just after the birth of a baby. The doula is trained to deliver emotional support throughout the birth experience whether at home or hospital. She eases the transition into the hospital environment, is there through the changing hospital shifts and alternating physician schedules, and serves as an advocate, labor coach, and support partner, to give the mother and her husband or partner the added comfort of additional support throughout the entire labor.
What do I look for in a labor doula?
Choosing a doula is one of the most important decisions you can make for you and your baby. You want someone who is caring, knowledgeable, and accessible. Someone willing to take the time to go over all of your options and treat you as a person, not just a client.
What are the benefits of having a labor doula?
The benefits of doula support during labor are well-documented. In its Position Paper: The Birth Doula's Contribution to Maternity Care, DONA International, perhaps the best-known of several certifying organizations for doulas, cites the results of a meta-analysis of 15 studies of the benefits of continuous labor support. Compared with women who received only usual care (i.e. no doula) during labor and delivery, those who were cared for by a birth doula were:
- 26% less likely to give birth by cesarean section*
- 41% less likely to give birth with a vacuum extractor or forceps
- 28% less likely to use any analgesia or anesthesia (pain medications, including epidurals)
- 33% less likely to be dissatisfied or negatively rate their birth experience
*Some studies have shown even higher rates in cesarean reduction, as much as 50%.
Doula care has also been shown to result in a shorter average length of labor, to have a positive impact on breastfeeding, and to reduce the likelihood of postpartum depression. Babies born to moms who had doula support tend to be healthier and have fewer difficulties at birth. (See The Doula Book by Marshall H. Klaus, M.D., John H. Kennell M.D., and Phyllis H. Klaus C.S.W., M.F.T. and The Doula Advantage by Rachel Gurevich.)
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