Do You Need a Doula?

There are an array of dizzying options for how you might deliver your new baby, so how can you figure out what's right for you and your new bundle of joy? Many hospitals and birthing centers offer doulas -- a strange word that describes a birth helper. But with midwives, nurses and doctors all officiating over the blessed event, do you really need yet another person in the room? Many experts think so. A doula is a trained professional who can help make laboring shorter, reduce the need for pain medication and a more positive experience for everyone involved. Studies show they can even reduce the chance of having to have a C-section. Doulas are not medical professionals - they're not certified to deliver babies or replace nurses - but they often have medical backgrounds. In fact, doulas help take the fear out of giving birth for many moms by explaining the process and complicated medical terms.
She also may soothe the mother, finding ways to manage pain and support the mother through contractions. If you have specific ideas of how you'd like the birth to progress, then a doula can advocate for you and your birth plan when you're unable to do so. So is a doula right for you and your family? Ask those directly involved in your baby's birth - your partner, parents and doctor - how they feel about having another person in the room, helping you through the process. Spouses and partners who may not know what to do or how to be a part of the process may feel more comfortable taking direction from a doula. Many doulas also help out postpartum, recommending lactation consultants and pediatricians if needed and helping new moms establish new routines. Ask your obstetrician or midwife if she can recommend a doula and choose wisely.