A doula helps you accomplish the birth you desire, no matter what you are planning. A doula provides physical and emotional support to you and your family. She is there from the moment she receives “the call” until after your baby is born to help you make informed decisions and act as your advocate and ally to create the birth environment that is right for you. Though she is very familiar with the birth process, she cannot provide medical advice or perform medical procedures.
The support of a doula has been proven to shorten labor and to increase the likelihood of the successful establishment of breastfeeding and mother-infant bonding. Doulas help to elevate the parents' positive feelings toward their birth and their baby, an important component in preventing postpartum depression. Studies also show that the use of a doula results in significantly decreased rates of medical intervention. Even if you plan for an epidural, you will most likely do some laboring on your own before it is administered. Epidurals often do not relieve all of the sensations they are designed to mask, and anesthesiologists may not arrive promptly. Plus, an epidural cannot give you a massage, explain what is happening, help you with your breathing, pushing and breastfeeding, or give you the reassurance and nurturing you need to birth your baby. A doula can do all those things and get you ice chips, a wet washcloth, brush your hair, or play music, to create the joyous birthing environment that is right for you.
A doula supports you and your partner. She is there to help your partner read your needs and to guide him/her in massage and relaxation techniques. She is there to give your partner a break when needed and she knows when to melt into the corner to give you two space. Most importantly, a doula is there to give you both the reassurance and nurturing you need to birth your baby.