"Whenever and however you intend to give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind and your spirit for the rest of your life" - Ina May Gaskin
What does a doula do?
A doula is a woman experienced in childbirth, she is trained to provide emotional and physical support to women in labour. Throughout history and in many, many cultures all over the world, women have supported other women trough the challenges of birth. One could say that the doula provides a form of sisterhood, the doula passes on knowledge of birth acquired by generations of women. Being a doula is very much about "mothering the mother" in a time when the expecting mother needs extra care.
A doula provides continuous support before, during and after birth. In that sense, she offers a kind of support that the Swedish maternity system of today in most cases fails to do. She gets to know the woman or the couple before birth, knowing and caring for their personal wishes or fears. With the help of her presence and experience she tries to create a safe space for the laboring woman and her partner. She helps with non medical pain relief measures and relaxation, mainly through using her voice and her body. The doula is a guardian of oxytocin, one of the most important hormones of birth. No matter the choice of birth (c-section, epidural, no meds, all meds etc...), the goal of the doula remain the same: A birth that leads to an increased sense of trust, strength and pride.
The doula effect has been proven in many clinical studies: Doula support lessens the need for c-sections, medical pain relief and epidurals, as well as shortens the length of labour. But most importantly, doula support increases the feeling of satisfaction of birth! The doula can never replace a loving partner, instead she makes sure that he or she is involved in the birthing process, helping the partner being a good support person and making sure the partner is well too. Having a doula attending the birth often strengthens the relationship between the parents.