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Should You Have a Doula?

Using a doula is more beneficial than you might think!

It can be difficult deciding whether or not to use a doula during childbirth, but there are numerous health benefits of doing so you might be surprised to hear about. Knowing more about the benefits doulas have to offer will help you determine if using one is a good match for you.

What is a Doula?

Doulas are trained professionals who provide emotional, educational, and physical support to expecting mothers before, during and after childbirth. Doulas help new moms achieve comfortable, healthy and safe pregnancies and deliveries. While doulas don’t provide medical care, they are knowledgeable in medical-related components of labor and delivery.

Doulas act as advocates for expecting moms, and work with pregnant women and their families to achieve a childbirth they’re most comfortable with. It could be a home birth, or a birth involving no pain medications. Many doulas provide continued support right after childbirth, including breastfeeding support for nursing moms.

What are the Benefits of Using Doulas?

Doulas help expecting moms though difficult labors and deliveries, as doulas are knowledgeable in a variety of natural coping techniques. For example, they assist laboring women with breathing techniques, different labor positions, massage, and other relaxation techniques to ensure the process is as comfortable as possible.

One 2013 review published in The Journal of Perinatal Education found that patients receiving assistance from certified doulas had better birth outcomes than women who didn’t use doulas. Researchers found that women with doula-assisted births were two times less likely to have birth complications, more likely to breastfeed their babies, and four times less likely to have low birth weight babies.

The American Pregnancy Association says women who use doulas are less likely to have cesarean births (c-sections), less likely to use pain-relief medications during labor, and more likely to report positive childbirth experiences. When choosing a home birth, doulas help expecting moms determine if a trip to the hospital is necessary due to safety concerns.

Are There Drawbacks of Using Doulas?

There are so many potential benefits of using doulas during labor and delivery, that you might be wondering if any drawbacks exist as well. If you choose a doula who isn't certified or one with little experience, you may not be as happy with your results. Paying for a doula is an added cost if you end up having a hospital delivery, but your insurance may cover all or part of doula fees. Check with your insurance company to see what your plan covers.

Is a Doula Right for Me?

Many women give high satisfaction ratings after using doulas during childbirth, reports the 2013 review published in The Journal of Perinatal Education. If you decide to work with a doula, be sure the person you pick is certified — and somebody you trust and feel comfortable with.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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