Choosing a Labor Doula: Answers to Your Most-Asked Questions

Maybe one of your friends or relatives told you how great it was to have a doula during her labor. Maybe you read something about doulas online or in a magazine, book or newspaper. Now you are wondering whether having a doula would be a good thing for you, but you need more information. You have come to the right place. Find out what a doula is, as well as the benefits of doula care and then get answers to some of your most-asked questions about hiring a labor doula for your birth.

1. Why isn't a nurse or midwife all that you need for labor support?

While there may be exceptions, the demands of modern-day care in hospitals and cuts in staffing keep nurses from giving much in the way of supportive care. In fact, studies show that typical labor-and-delivery nurses spend only 10 percent of their time engaged in labor support activities, and half of that time is spent giving instructions or advice, as opposed to comfort measures or encouragement (1,4). Also, the nurse has probably never met you before. She doesn't know your individual desires or issues, and, unless you are fortunate enough to have your labor fit into one shift, you will have more than one nurse. By contrast, doulas stay with you throughout.

Midwives are more likely to provide supportive care, especially those attending home or birth-center births, but they, too, may have other responsibilities that prevent them from staying with you continuously. And like nurses, they may work shifts.

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