Thursday, 2 May 2013

What Doulas Do

As I childbirth educator, I recommend women get a birth doula (here's a list of birth doulas in Korea). You might also be interested in how birth doulas set their fees. Doulas help women before, during, and after giving birth as well as with breastfeeding and postpartum care. Birth/labour doulas help women during the birthing process and postpartum doulas help them afterwards. They do not offer you medical advice, but can help you explore your options.

Doulas work for you and keep your goals for your birth in mind. Whereas doctors, who may schedule an emergency C-section for you because it's a Friday night. Doulas can act as a buffer between you and the doctor. While they are involved in your birth, they are also able to take a step back and are cool, calm and collected during stressful times.

Many doulas are women and have given birth themselves. They know that women's bodies are capable of giving birth. Doulas can be used for anything from a drug-free birth to a C-section.

Research shows using a doula during labour can provide many benefits 
  • 50% reduction in the cesarean rate 
  • 25% shorter labor 
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests 
  • 40% reduction in synthetic oxytocin use 
  • 30% reduction in analgesia (pain relief) use 
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery 
  • Your baby is also less likely to be admitted to the NICU 
  • Women who have doulas are more likely to rate their birth experience positively. 
Some studies even show that a doula is more effective than the hospital staff and the mom's family and friends. Need more reasons to hire a doula? Check out these top 10 reasons to hire a doula and these 20 reasons to hire a doula.  

What does a doula do exactly? 
  • Provide comfort and empathy
  • Suggest childbirth education classes
  • Suggest birthing centers
  • Help you with your birth plan
  • Help you labor at home if you wish or meet you at the birthing center. 
  • Massage/touch
  • Breathing
  • Encouragement
  • Ideas for relaxation
  • Support you and your goals
  • Communicate with doctors and nurses
  • Suggest different labouring and birthing positions
  • Remind you to eat or drink
  • Remind you to go to the bathroom
  • Remind you of your birth plan
  • Take photos: check out these amazing birth photos!
  • Jot down notes for your baby's first year book
  • Ask the dad to cut the cord
  • Ask for the baby to be placed on the mom's chest
  • Help with breastfeeding
  • Offer birthing, newborn care, first aid, health, or breastfeeding classes
  • Have mom and baby groups
  • Do belly masks
  • Do prenatal massage
  • Offer pregnancy yoga
  • Have postnatal exercises
  • Do placenta encapsulations or placenta paintings
  • Help with postpartum issues
  • And much more.

Do doulas replace dads? 
No! Not at all. Dads are usually glad to have a doula there. Doulas provide guidance and are very experienced. Men may have a hard time seeing their partner go through birth and feel helpless when they can’t help. Doulas help comfort and guide a woman through the birth. Doulas do not take the dad’s place. Rather they take the stress out of the situation and allow the man to show his support for his partner.

How expensive are doulas?
Some people don't want to hire a doula because they think they will be too expensive. Honestly, doulas aren't as expensive as you might think they'd be. Most doulas in Korea charge about 800,000 to 1 mil won. You may think that's a lot, but on average they spend about 40 hours with you. They'll answer your emails, phone calls, and meet with you before and after birth as well as being with you during your entire labor.

You have to also consider this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will only give birth to this baby once. And when you consider that hiring a doula decreases your chances of getting a C-section or epidural, you may actually save money if you get a doula.

I honestly think that doulas are worth their weight in gold. Apart from choosing a birthing center/hospital that aligns with your way of thinking, hiring a doula is one of the best things you can do to get the birth you want.

"Doulas: Professional Labor Support." Pregnancy & Childbirth. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2013.

Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.

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