Q. What is a doula?
The word doula comes from a Greek term meaning "woman who serves". DONA defines a doula as "a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support for the mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible". A doula is not a doctor or a midwife who is medically trained to help deliver a baby. Her only purpose is to support and comfort the laboring pregnant person throughout the entire birth. All of the doulas with TCDP are trained and hold this value in their work.
Considering the fact that laboring pregnant people are doing the very important job of bringing new life into the world, it would seem sensible to value them and their experience of birth. Yet, pregnant people who give birth in the US today often do not feel they have been respected or treated right during this process. Pregnant people are at their most powerful and yet their most vulnerable at this very special time. They deserve to be respected, comforted, listened to, and encouraged.
Every labor is different. During your labor, your doula will respond to your cues in order to provide the individualized support you need. Your doula may coach your breathing, massage your back, and wipe your forehead gently with a cool washcloth. They may answer your questions, teach you comfort measures until you find one that works for you and whisper words that you find encouraging during your contractions. Other interventions may include sitting quietly and bringing you confidence simply by being there or giving you a foot massage. It all depends on how you and your labor progress and what you need in the moment. TCDP doulas believe that birth is a beautiful and sacred experience and that a positive birth experience is a powerful stepping stone on your journey in parenting. We believe that you are beautiful and capable and we attend your birth to help you to tap into your own beauty and power.
Q. Is there proof doulas really help?
It is now known that continuous labor support during childbirth from a labor companion or doula improves outcomes for pregnant people and their babies. An updated 2012 Cochrane systematic review (this is one of the most highly regarded types of reviews) concluded that “Continuous support during labour has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm.” With this support, pregnant people are less likely to require an epidural, instrumental birth, or cesarean; their labors are shorter; they are less likely to express dissatisfaction with their birth experience; and their babies are less likely to have a low apgar score at birth. Another review published by the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health found that continuous support by a female companion throughout childbirth strengthened mother-infant bonding, along with increased breastfeeding success and other positive results.
Q. What does this mean?
The evidence says that having a doula at your birth will make it more likely to have a positive experience, and a healthy baby, and less likely to have complications during your labor. While labor and birth may be a short period in the larger picture of parenting, the experience of birth has also been shown to have an impact on a pregnant person's sense of self, and to be of great importance in establishing a positive start for parenthood. A 2010 study identified five primary domains that women related to “good” birth experiences: self-determination, respect, personal security, attachment, and knowledge (Namey & Lyerly, p. 771). This amazing combination of support and love for the laboring woman is best offered in the form of a doula. In fact, in the Listening to Mothers II Survey, doulas received the highest ratings for a source of support throughout labor!
Q. How much do TCDP doulas charge?
Our doulas are all volunteers so we do not have a fee. In exchange for our support, some families will write a birth story to share on our website or give us permission to use their birth photos that they have approved.