Updated: Jan 6, 2020
I'm really excited to bring to you yet another great post by Lafayette local Nicole Ramsey of Ada's Gift Doula Services. In this post, she demystifies some stereotypes around doula services and tells us why years (and years) of research backs up the many possible advantages of hiring a doula. You can find Nicole online at her Ada's Gift website, Facebook, and Instagram. Find her other post "Practical Planning for Postpartum Self-Care" here.
Doulas have been around for a long time; for too long, many saw them as belonging solely to the realm of mystical, hippie types and their role was not well understood. That was already beginning to change when the news came out this year that Meghan Markle used one for her royal birth. Doula discussions cropped up everywhere on the internet, but the news also brought with it the associated risk of many concluding that doula services must be for the privileged few.
Although it must be said that this doula has some hippie tendencies (full disclosure: I have a child with the middle name of Snow) and that college-educated women are, at this point, the main demographic to seek out doula services, doulas are actually an asset for any pregnant or new mom (and by new mom,
we mean: a mom who has recently
had a baby, not simply a woman who has had her first baby!), no matter what her medical needs or background.
Of course, this is a bold assertion to make, but the research with doulas is pretty solid. In fact, some of it came about the best possible way for unbiased study: as an accidental side effect. As Tina Cassidy tells it in her book on birth, two male American researchers were studying maternal-infant bonding in Guatemala in the 1970s and needed written consent before proceeding. They sent a woman into a room with several laboring women to obtain signatures. Feeling sympathy for the women, she stayed with them… and quite unexpectedly, their labors went much more smoothly and quickly. The doctors were astonished. They decided to investigate this phenomenon. And their results were so fascinating (shorter labors with doula accompanied births! Fewer complications!) they kept right on studying. As Dr. Klaus, one of the researchers said, about the upshot of their work: “Fifteen published studies have shown that if you have a doula, your incidence of a cesarean is reduced 26 percent… and the birth is 25% quicker.”
Wow. It’s amazing to consider the ripple effects involved with these numbers, too! Think about how much better recovery can be if your body isn’t worn out from a long labor, for instance! And though there are many situations where a c-section is a life-giving mercy, the statistics tell us it’s not all of the cases; recovering from a c-section is HARD, and if a doula can give you a shot at not needing it, this is surely a worthwhile investment.
What do we do that’s so special? We are there for you. Every moment of your birth. Labor, delivery, and the postpartum period are very vulnerable periods in a woman’s life. Hormones surge, your body shifts its energy to growing a baby inside you and spirals energy outward, leaving you feeling literally turned inside out. Doulas get that. We hold space for you to adjust. We help with physical adjustments in labor, noticing all the little things that can add up to big things for your comfort and peace of mind. We step
back and just listen when you and your medical team are discussing your health choices, and then we support you in your decision. We are there with encouraging words when energy is draining. We believe in you when your whole body seems to be feeding you doubt.
We are there in the quiet, we are there in the storm, and we watch your strength with admiration in every moment. And it turns out, judging by the numbers, that as we support you, you get stronger still. It’s a beautiful thing, and one that ought to give every mother-to-be the confidence to seek out a doula for her birth and post-partum days.
Thanks for sharing here Nicole! Don't forget to check out her other post "Practical Planning for Post Partum Self Care" here.