What Do Doulas Do During Birth? Fan Furiously!!
A Labor Doula has many jobs during a birth and one of the most important ones is keeping the birthing mother as comfortable as possible. Because the hormones are so intense during the final stages of labor, a woman can experience temperature fluctuations that have nothing to do with the ambient room temperature. Being able to provide a cooling breeze during this time can be very effective in keeping her focused on the task at hand. This particular job takes no training and can be done by anyone, but a Doula is highly qualified to know when it is appropriate and how much to do (and of course a Doula has a fan in her bag of tricks). Other seemingly easy things a Doula does during labor and birth include hands on counter pressure when needed, ensuring the mother stays hydrated by having water at the ready, using a cool washcloth on the back of her neck and forehead in between contractions, offering honey sticks or other quick energy sources to her, helping her to move from one position to another, and providing a calming presence when things get more intense.
Although all of the above seem fairly simple and straight forward, the training a Doula receives is very thorough and prepares her well for most anything she might experience during birth and the immediate postpartum period. The Scope of Practice for a Doula does not include anything medical, but does include educating her clients with evidence-based information and supporting them physically and emotionally as needed. By the time her clients get to the birthday, the Doula has spent a number of hours with them going over information, learning their preferences, practicing comfort techniques and just getting to know each other. Once labor starts and the birthing process is in motion, the Doula can do whatever is needed within her SCOPE, knowing that her clients are empowered to make informed choices and that she can be there to provide information as needed. Having someone with them who has navigated the waters of birth more than a few times can help families experience their own births in a much more positive way.
A Doula can support the partners in ways that allow them to be more fully present for the birthing mothers and not have to “know” everything or feel overwhelmed with what is going on with the process. A Doula can help interpret the information the medical staff is sharing and support the families in advocating for themselves. And research shows that having a Doula can reduce the incidence of Cesarean Sections by up to 60%, reduce the length and intensity of labor, reduce the use of epidurals and raise the level of satisfaction with birth.
If you are looking for a Labor Doula, check out House of Doula and schedule an interview with any of our highly trained Doulas. Fanning is our specialty!
Carolyn Butler, CLD, CPD, CAPPA Faculty, Breastfeeding Educator