A doula’s job is to give emotional and physical support to the mom and her supporters during labor and delivery of her baby. The doula/client relationship often begins during pregnancy. This is beneficial, because the doula can then grow to understand the goals and expectations for the birth, and offer preparatory tips. Doula work is not a medical position – not a midwife, medical doctor or nurse.
Studies have shown that just having a doula in the room (even without her support and participation) is very calming to the laboring mother. Statistically, women need fewer medical interventions (inducements, epidurals, caesareans) when they work with a doula. The key to a successful experience is often as simple as creating an environment that feels safe and supportive, so that the woman can go inside herself and let her body do what it knows how to do.
As a doula, I have been trained to know what positions may help the baby make its way down to the birth canal. I know how to support the woman through every contraction, encouraging her that each contraction is a step closer to the baby’s birth. When the mom feels support and encouragement, a natural hormone (called oxytocin, that is needed for uterine contractions and lactation) flows freely and helps her body soften and open naturally. This stimulates more contractions, which in turn help the baby move into position for birth. Even if medical intervention is needed, the compassionate care of a doula can help a woman get through the rough spots, minimizing the cycle of fear – tension - pain.