Birth Matters: National Doula Week

Happy National Doula Week! We are so thankful for our team of volunteer doulas!

This week in Birth Matters we are celebrating doulas with some inspiring images and links.

The Huffintonpost acknowledged doulas this week with "58 Stunning Photos That Show The Bond Between Mothers and Doulas." Below are a few of my favorites, but check out the photographers of these images for some seriously powerful birthing images.

Image by Isabell Steinert

Image by Carolina Leipnitz

Image by Chanda Williams

Image By Paulina Splechta

Image By Paulina Splechta

Image By Krista Evans

I came across this Evidence for Doulas article today that summarizes the effects of doula support during labor and delivery. According to this piece, with the continuous labor support provided by a doula women expereinced:

31% decrease in the use of Pitocin

28% decrease in the risk of C-Section

14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to the special care nursery

34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience

(Dekker, 2013)

This piece also identifies doulas themselves to be a form of pain relief! This notion is based on the evidence that with doula support "women are less likely to request epidurals or pain medication" for "women who have a doula are statistically more likley to feel less pain when a doula is present." Reading this gave me chills!

Doulas. Are. Pain. Relief.

To continue our celebration of doulas, here is a great video called "What Is A Doula and Why Are They So Beneficial?" It nicely outlines the role of a birth doula, explaining how other mammals like elephants also use doula support system during labor.

Yet another wonderful description of birth doulas is provided by Birth Takes A Village, a resource created by a birth doula and childbirth educator based in Vancouver. Here are a few of my favorites from their list titled "What Does A Doula REALLY Do?":

"She will wipe your brow & remind you to breathe"

"She will squeeze your hips (trust me, it feels GOOD!)"

"She'll help your partner fell confident"

"Sometimes your doula may even let your membranes release on her"

"She will share in your emotion"

"She will step back while you enjoy some really precious moments"

(Austin, 2012)

Another way in which doulas support birthing women is through words of encouragement, validation and affirmation. As doulas we need to pick words or phrases that will resonate with each individual woman. However, every birth is unique and sometimes it is difficult to find the right words. The australian website Trust Breathe Birth has a collection of free, printable birth affirmations that might just be the right thing to say. For the doulas reading, put a couple in your back pocket for the next birth you attend.

*All of these links are meant to inform, create dialogue and provide a variety of perspectives. Birth occurs in many places, through many different paths and what is most important is that informed decisions are exercised, a birthing woman is supported and the experience is empowering.

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