Cheshire Doula Nikki Mather-Six Reasons (and countless benefits) for Investing in a Doula.
Have you thought about having a birth doula or postnatal doula but are unsure whether you need one? Your partner is fantastic, your mother or mother in law supportive and your best friend is your rock. Have a look at just a few of reasons a doula may be good for you and your partner and grandparents too.
1.Support you to make informed decisions. So you came away from your antenatal appointment with a whole bunch of leaflets and a folder containing an empty Birth Plan-what is next? Hiring a doula can help you and your partner to make informed decisions by supporting you to make choices suitable for your needs and she can encourage you to do some research to find out how and where YOU would like to birth. A doula can advocate for you to ensure your Birth Preferences are taken into consideration from the offset and she can be proactive in creating and protecting the birth space you want to achieve.
2.A doula is a continuous presence during your labour and birth. This ensures you have consistent support throughout your journey to motherhood. There is evidence to show the role of a doula is important in childbirth. Hodnett et al. (2012)1 published an updated Cochrane review on the use of continuous support for women during childbirth. The randomised controlled trial included more than 15,000 women and some of the outcomes are shown below. For four of these outcomes*, results where a doula was present throughout were better than all the other types of continuous support that were studied. The full breakdown of the report can be seen here.2
- 31% decrease in the use of synthetic oxytocin*
- 28% decrease in the risk of C-section*
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth*
- 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
- 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
- 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience*
3.Pain Relief-that’s right, your doula has superpowers! There are several evidence based studies3 which show the need for pharmaceutical pain relief is reduced when the woman has continuous doula support. How amazing is that?! Women who have a doula tend to feel less pain and therefore decline interventions such as continual fetal monitoring4. Synthetic oxytocin often goes hand in hand with epidural which often leads to more intervention and instrumental births, are also often declined when women are able to make informed decisions and are consistently supported by doulas throughout their pregnancy and birth. Rebozo, massage, acupressure and hypnobirthing are some of the things a doula can support you and your partner with.
- Breastfeeding-consistent support. A doula can help support you to get breastfeeding off to a good start. Doula UK responded5 to UNICEF’s report6 that women who had hired a doula significantly increased their rates of exclusive breastfeeding at 6 weeks compared to the national average. A survey found that women who chose to invest in a doula increased their chances of exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks by 23% against the national average. Doula support throughout pregnancy, birth and crucially, one to one support in the immediate postnatal period can provide you with the information, support and education needed to successfully breastfeed.
- Postnatal Depression and Doulas. Upto 85% of mothers may experience some ‘baby blues’ in the early postnatal weeks, however for 10-15% of women7 Postnatal Depression can be a significant life event. A Postnatal Doula can reduce the incidence8 of postnatal depression and listening to mum, being there for her, help to support the transition from womanhood to motherhood an easier ride by being there for the family unit as a whole with practical help cooking or light housework, enabling mum to make informed decisions and helping her to find her feet in the early weeks with a new baby.
- Bonding-The Whole Family. Research9 has shown that where a doula provides support for a woman during pregnancy, birth and in the immediate postnatal period, families are emotionally more stable, easily adapt to new family dynamics and have less negative aspects surrounding their birth. In turn these positive outcomes reduce postnatal depression and increase breastfeeding incidence as discussed above. Dad is in need of support too and the whole family are empowered by the doulas presence, partners have a sidekick to provide them some emotional support or some much needed rest during births.
Overall, there is no known evidence against the support a doula can provide and countless research based papers are available from across the world supporting the need for birth companions. All women should be enabled to have support during this precious time in their lives. Cake and tea is an obvious bonus for all! You can find a doula in your area on the Doula UK website10 or by searching doulas via Google in your area.
Cheshire Doula Nikki Mather provides support across the North West for pregnancy, birth and in the crucial early days with your newborn.