What is a doula?
We get this question a lot. Doulas are professional caregivers for pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. They are not midwives or nurses, so they do not provide medical care. But they are trained in physical and emotional support, and can play a huge role in helping women have healthy pregnancies and positive birth experiences.
While obstetricians and midwives are often focused on medical issues and can’t always be available on demand, doulas focus personally on each client every step of the way. Your doula is a birth expert who is there throughout your pregnancy to answer your questions and address your concerns.
Is a doula right for you?
To decide if a doula is right for your pregnancy, it helps to understand the scope of what they do.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, doulas provide information about comfort, lifestyle, diet, and exercise, as well as emotional support. Feeling anxious? Your doula may be able to address your concerns. Think digestion issues are TMI? Your doula has heard it all before.
Doulas can also offer information and advice on choosing an obstetrician, midwife, or birth setting, as well as the latest evidence on maternity care options. Whatever type of birth you prefer, your doula is there to support your personal choices.
- Childbirth: During labor, doulas provide continuous physical and emotional support, including nonmedical methods for pain management. As labor progresses, doulas can help parents understand the medical care they are receiving, discuss options and informed consent for any interventions or procedures, and help communicate with healthcare providers.
Doulas also provide support for fathers, partners, friends, or other family members who may be part of the birth team.
- Postpartum: Doulas assist new mothers with postpartum healing, breastfeeding, and bonding with a new baby. They often help with cooking and household tasks, as well as caring for older siblings. Need a nap after being up at night with a newborn? Your doula can help give you space to rest and recover.
- Advocacy: Throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, doulas play an important role as advocates. Aware of barriers and biases in healthcare, they help women to know their rights, navigate their care options, ask the right questions, and find evidence-based resources. Doulas create a safe space for women to voice their preferences and concerns, and they work collaboratively to achieve each client’s goals.
What does the data show?
Numerous medical studies show that doulas have a positive impact on pregnancy outcomes. Having a doula lowers the chances of both preterm birth and C-section, shortens labor times, and reduces the need for pain medication.
For Black women, who have disproportionately higher rates of pregnancy complications than white women and are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, doulas are a critical resource. Unfortunately, many women of color are unable to access doula care due to lack of information, cost, and difficulty finding a doula. This is where Mae can help.
How can you find the right doula?
At Mae, we believe a safe and beautiful birth begins with your choices. Mae will help you create a birth plan that reflects your unique needs and preferences. We then use fit-based matching to find an expert doula with the right skills for you. Interested in a water birth? We’ve got a doula for that. Exploring all your options for pain relief? We’ve got a doula for that. Want to prepare for successful breastfeeding? We’ve got a doula for that too.