• Kirsten Kessler

How a Birth Doula Can Support You


Congratulations!


Given you are reading this, you are likely expecting or just recently had a baby. This is a really exciting time! If you had your baby already, you know that birth can go differently than planned or include some unexpected elements. If you are still waiting for baby’s arrival, you likely have picked your provider and may even have a birth plan. That’s awesome…but it may not be enough to support you in your wishes and desired outcome. This is where you may want to consider adding a birth doula to your birth team.

What is a birth doula?

Birth doulas are non-medical labor and birth companions.


Their role is to support you physically, emotionally, and mentally but not medically (that’s where you provider, namely your OB or midwife comes in).

Your birth doula will meet with you during pregnancy to discuss your wishes, preferences, and establish a relationship. When you are in labor, your doula will join you whenever you ask – no matter if still at home, at the birth center, or hospital. They will stay with you the entire time, until about 1-2 hours after your baby is born. During labor, your doula will work to make your hospital room more comfortable and less sterile. They will also explain medical options if they come up and give you evidence-based information. Birth doulas will also work hands-on, apply counterpressure during contractions, and help your partner in supporting you. After birth, your doula will help protect your first couple hours together with baby so you can bond. Once you have returned home, your birth doula will visit you to process your birth story with you. It is also an opportunity to ask questions you may have about postpartum or breastfeeding.


Why opt to hire a birth doula?

Birth doulas are not just a ‘nice-to-have’ but have been shown to substantially improve birth outcomes for mother and baby.


When you hire a birth doula, your rate of c-section is reduced by 30-50%, depending on the clinical trial. Women that hire a birth doula have lower rates of interventions, epidural rates, and need for Pitocin use. Labor with a doula is on average 40min faster, and prematurity rates decrease when expecting parents are well-supported. Even more, women that birthed with a doula report higher satisfaction with the birth, baby’s APGAR score is higher, and postpartum depression rates are lower!

In short, hiring a birth doula is an incredibly valuable addition to your birth team. Furthermore, a culturally competent birth doula eliminates racial biases in the delivery room for women of color. I can’t overstate the importance of this as women of color are 5x as likely to die during childbirth than white women in Milwaukee today!


How do I find the right birth doula?

Over the past 10 years, birth doulas have gained popularity, and more enter the market daily. However, becoming or being a doula is an unregulated industry and with more than 300 training programs, quality and rigor vary greatly! When you search for a birth doula, be sure to check for credible training programs such as DONA or CAPPA. Also, confirm your doula also has expertise and experience that are relevant to you. For example, if you are a VBAC mom, ensure you hire a doula that has the experience and knows how to stack the odds in your favor.


If you find your choices overwhelming or are unsure how to navigate the landscape, our team at ‘Doulas Milwaukee’ is here to offer expertise and experience. ‘Doulas Milwaukee’ offers a quality-controlled, vetted network of doulas. We will discuss with you your circumstances and preferences and match you with a number of doulas that meet your requirements. To learn more about Doulas Milwaukee, visit their website.