WHAT IS A DOULA?
A doula (pronounced 'doo-lah') is a person who provides emotional and practical support in your preparations for birth, during your labour and birthing, and after your baby is born. Bristol Birth Support doulas endeavour to support a woman in whatever way she needs, and help her to feel safe in following her intuition. We encourage women to trust in their bodies, and to be active participants in the process of birth. We help women and their partners to identify their choices and preferences around birthing and parenting, and work together to find ways to meet their individual needs.
We are aware that birth can take many forms, and that with the right support birth can be a positive experience, whatever path it takes. We know that when a woman feels well supported and is encouraged to make the decisions that feel right for her and her baby, she comes away from the experience feeling positive and empowered.
We do not replace the role of the partner during the birth; we support, reassure and help them to be the kind of presence the labouring woman needs. Nor do we replace the role of the midwife, or offer the kind of clinical expertise the midwife brings. Instead, we work together with partners, midwives and other care givers to reassure, nurture and encourage the mother, supporting her individual needs and preferences. Research shows that having the support of a Doula:
Reduces risk of Caesarean birth † *.
Reduces risk of instrumental birth † *.
Reduces need for painkillers or epiduralduring birth † *.
Reduces rate of induction of labour † *.
Shortens labour †.
Increases parental satisfaction with the birth experience. †
Increases likelihood of initiating breastfeeding *.
Increases likelihood of successfully establishing breastfeeding & breastfeeding at 6 weeks *.
* Brigstocke S. MIDIRS Midwifery Digest, vol 24, no 2, 2014, pp 157-160
† Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5