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What is a Birth Doula?
The term doula is used to refer to an experienced labor companion who provides the woman and her partner both emotional and physical support throughout the entire labor and delivery, and to some extent, afterward. (Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth, Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus, 1993)
A doula can provide prenatal, labor and postpartum support. The doula does not take the place of the father/birth partner during childbirth. Rather, your doula will be there for continuous, experienced support throughout labor and delivery.
Why Would You Consider a Doula?
As you know, or can imagine, childbirth is a very emotional and physical experience. The doula is the neutral, objective person who helps you stick with your birth plan.
The father/birth partner is usually emotionally connected to the mother. Fear, anxiety and a number of other emotions may prevent the him or her from keeping the mother focused throughout childbirth. The doula remains objective, helping the mother and birth partner stay focused on the birth plan, offering various comfort measures and continued emotional and physical support throughout childbirth.
You may also have had a cesarean section with a prior birth and really want to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) this time. The doula will ask you about your previous birth experiences and offer you alternatives to help you avoid another cesarean section, unless absolutely necessary.