A doula is a professional labor assistant who provides continual support throughout the birthing process.
Evidence shows many benefits to a doula attended birth, including:
reduced epidural requests
reduced cesarean section rate
reduced use of forceps
increased breastfeeding success
decreased risk of postpartum depression
"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."
- Dr. John Kennell
Do I need a doula if I trust my doctor?
While you may have an amazing medical care provider, your doctor or midwife cannot provide continuous support. They are responsible for keeping you and your baby safe, and their role is essential, but they probably will be with you only intermittently. They may be tending to multiple women laboring at one time, or even shuttling back and forth from the hospital to the office depending on the appointment schedule that day and how quickly your labor is progressing.
Do I need a doula if I will be giving birth in the hospital with an L&D nurse?
Your L&D nurse cannot provide continuous support. In almost every hospital a labor and delivery nurse will be responsible for several patients at once. If another patient is getting an epidural or pushing she’ll need to be with that patient, which means she will not be with you throughout labor, and you may occasionally get a different nurse when you push the call button with a question or concern.
Do I need a doula if my partner and/or mom and/or sister and/or best friend will be there?
Your family and friends can provide continuous support, and there is no question that these people provide crucial, irreplaceable support to a laboring woman. A doula cannot replace the woman’s birth partner, mother, sister, or friend. What the doula can do is complement the role of the birth partner, providing physical support such as bringing drinks and providing backrubs, as well as offering additional emotional support, reassurance, comfort, and experience (e.g. facilitating communication with a doctor, nurse or midwife, helping families to get the information they need to make informed decisions, and nurturing the birthing mother to ensure positive memories of the birthing day.) Birth doulas offer an objective perspective; they understand the physiology of birth and the emotional and physical needs of women in labor.