2. Why isn't your partner or other family members or friends enough?
However important the father's role during labor, studies have not shown fathers to have the same beneficial effects as a woman labor companion (3). Female friends or relations could take on the doula role, as they have in the past and still do in traditional cultures. Nonetheless, few women in our culture today have the requisite knowledge, skills and familiarity with birth.
3. Does having a doula detract from the father's role?
Working as a team, the doula enhances and complements the father's care while relieving him of the perhaps unrealistic expectation that he know all and be all to you in labor (2). Fathers in one doula study liked having a doula and none felt displaced. They reported that not only did doulas help them help the moms, some of the doulas took care of them too (2).
4. Will having a doula sacrifice privacy?
Intruding on privacy may be a possibility at home births, but even in that setting, you will probably find an extra pair of hands belonging to someone known to you a welcome addition. In the busy, institutional environment of the hospital, a doula can help preserve privacy and create an intimate atmosphere. Depending on your doctor or midwife's on-call practices, she may even be the only person caring for you who is familiar.
5. Should you have a doula even if you plan to have an epidural or narcotic?
It is best not to preplan to use pain-relief medications, because they can have adverse effects on you, your baby and the labor. Through the use of comfort measures and her encouragement, a doula can help you avoid pain medication. For example, she can help you find effective positions in which to labor or push despite having an epidural. In addition, narcotics do not completely relieve pain, and if you opt for an epidural, you will still need information and emotional support.