What is a Birth Doula: 7 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Hire One

What is a birth doula
Picture of Bere Horthy

Bere Horthy

Doula & Registered Nurse

Pregnancy is a time filled with many feelings.

There’s joy and excitement, but also worry and lots of questions and uncertainty.

You might have already heard of a birth doula but for those who don’t know what is a birth doula — a doula is someone trained to help and support women through childbirth.

They are there to answer questions, offer help, and make the process of giving birth a bit easier.

This article is here to share some clear facts about why having a birth doula can be a good idea.

We will talk about seven amazing benefits of hiring a birth doula during pregnancy, giving you helpful information to make good choices as you prepare for your baby’s arrival.

What is a birth doula anyway?

The birth doula, even though it has been around for centuries, is still quite a new concept that is just starting to become more well-known worldwide.

A birth doula is by your side every step of the way as you adventure through pregnancy and childbirth.

They’re there to provide emotional, informational, and physical support, making the journey a lot easier and less daunting.

Now, you might have heard of midwives and obstetricians too, it’s important to know the difference:

  • Doula: They’re like your ultimate childbirth support. They offer support to you and your partner before, during and sometimes after birth. They also help you with breathing techniques and provide massages but keep in mind, they don’t offer medical advice.
  • Midwife: They are medically trained to assist during pregnancy and actually help deliver the baby, especially in straightforward, low-risk births. Midwives work either in the hospital or as home birth midwives.
  • Obstetrician: They are the doctors in the mix, handling pregnancies, deliveries, and everything that follows, especially in more complex or high-risk situations. These are the doctors who deliver babies via c-section.

The cost factor: is it worth it?

Hiring a birth doula comes with a price tag, and it can swing between $700 to $4,000.

Location, experience, and the services they offer play a big part in the cost.

If you’re in a bustling city, expect the cost to be on the higher side.

Insurance usually doesn’t cover doula services, but some doulas offer discounted rates depending on your financial situation so make sure you ask.

Though the initial cost might make you wince, think about the long-term benefits.

Having a doula by your side could lessen the chances of needing pricier medical interventions, not to mention a more positive birth experience.

positive experience gentle c section

The Science-Backed Benefits

Emotional and physical support

Having a birth doula by your side is like having a calming friend who knows the ropes.

They offer a reassuring presence that helps lower stress and anxiety during labour​.

Their support isn’t just emotional; it’s physical too.

They are there to help with breathing techniques, and massages, and to help your partner support you throughout your labour​.

Studies show that this emotional and physical support can actually shorten labour, reduce the chances of needing a c-section and make the overall childbirth experience more positive​.

Enhanced communication with healthcare providers

The journey through childbirth can be a bit of a whirlwind, and having a doula can make the communication between you and your healthcare team smoother.

Doulas help bridge the communication gap between families and healthcare providers, ensuring that your wishes are heard and respected​.

They can help explain medical procedures, encourage you to ask questions, and make sure you understand what’s happening every step of the way​.

Especially for migrant women, bilingual doulas can help bridge linguistic and cultural gaps, making communication with the healthcare team easier and more effective​.

Lowered risk of medical interventions

The presence of a doula during labour is like having an advocate who encourages natural birth methods, which often leads to a lower likelihood of medical interventions.

For instance, statistics indicate a significant reduction in the rates of C-sections when a doula is involved.

In one study, there was a significant reduction in cesarean rates and epidural use for pregnant women who were supported by a doula during their labour.

Also, having a doula can lead to fewer instances of forceps or vacuum extraction births, as they encourage and assist in natural birth techniques. They provide the necessary emotional and physical support, enabling a more natural flow of labour which often requires fewer medical interventions​​.

What is transition in labor

Reduced labour time

The emotional and physical support they offer helps to create a relaxed environment which is essential for a smooth labour process.

Studies have shown that the calming presence and the continuous support of a doula contribute to shorter labour times​​.

The stress-reducing effect of a doula’s support helps in promoting better progress in labour, making the experience less of a marathon and more of a sprint.

By keeping you relaxed and confident, a doula helps facilitate a quicker labour process.

Natural pain management

Doulas come equipped with a toolkit of non-medical pain management strategies that can be a game changer during labour.

They’re skilled in techniques such as breathing exercises, massage, and positional changes that can help manage the discomfort.

For instance, they may suggest different positions to help ease the pain and facilitate a smoother labour.

The effectiveness of these strategies is well documented.

Women supported by doulas have been found to use epidural and medical pain management less, thanks to the coping strategies provided by doulas during labour​.

postpartum doula-with-newborn-baby- how to become a postpartum doula

Postpartum support

Once the baby arrives, a doula doesn’t just pack up and leave.

They continue to provide invaluable support during the postpartum period too.

This support can range from giving advice on infant feeding practices like breastfeeding to offering tips and tricks for calming your newborn​​.

They also assist in emotional and physical recovery, ensuring new parents are coping well.

They might answer questions about infant care, provide recommendations, and sometimes even help with meal prep and light household chores​.

Their expertise in maternal postnatal recovery, infant care, and breastfeeding, makes them a great support system for the entire family during this period of adjustment​​.

Positive birth experience

Hiring a doula can significantly enhance the overall birth experience.

They bring a calming presence and knowledgeable support that can make the process less stressful and more empowering.

Doula-assisted mothers were found to be four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby, and two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby​​.

There’s a 31% decrease in the risk of being traumatised by the birth experience when a doula is involved​​.

The continuous support, the advocacy in communicating with healthcare providers, and the non-medical pain management strategies all contribute to a more positive and satisfying birth experience.

Plus, the postpartum support ensures that the positive experience extends beyond the delivery.

Unpacking your thoughts

As we wrap up this journey into the world of doulas, it’s a good time to sit back and reflect. Perhaps jot down any questions or thoughts that popped up while reading.

These notes could be a great starting point for discussions with a doula during your next consultation to make sure you find the right one for you.

Every pregnancy is a unique adventure with its own set of challenges and joys.

What’s most important is ensuring you have the right support to make the experience as comfortable and safe as possible.

Whether that support comes from a doula, a midwife, a doctor, or a combination, the goal is to have a positive, healthy birth experience.

So take your time, explore your options, and choose what feels right for you and your growing family.

Bere Horthy

As a doula and nurse, Bere's mission is to empower and educate women, families, and fellow doulas to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey.


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