Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice #3: Continuous Labor Support

juliet's birth.45

So imagine this… Today’s the day you give birth. You have spent the last 9 months planning for today and it’s finally here. Yay! Except then you remember you haven’t done this before, or it has been a while since your last child was born. And lots of thoughts and questions start going through your head…

  • What is it going to be like? (like it is on tv? I watched this one birth on Grey’s Anatomy last week, Yikes!)
  • When do I call my care provider or go to the hospital? (I don’t want to get sent home for going to early, so embarrassing)
  • I have to remember to stay hydrated (where is my water bottle anyways? Ugh, here comes another contraction)
  • My back hurts every time I have a contractions (Is that normal!?)
  • Which midwife or doctor is on call? (I hope it’s not that one I don’t like, just my luck right?)
  • How am I going to get through these contractions? (I don’t know if I can do this)
  • I’m not having my mother-in-law in the room! (I would totally freak out!)
  • What will my partner do if I start freaking out? (They are gonna think I’m crazy!)
  • Labor can take 24 hours!? (do I just sit in bed the whole time?)
  • What if something doesn’t go as planned? (do I even have a plan?)…

You get the picture. And the more you think about it, the more you realize birth is a whole lot of unknowns. Then the thought hits you, I wish I had someone who is familiar with all this birth stuff to come with me. DING DING… let’s talk about continuous support!

Lamaze’s 3rd Healthy Birth Practice is Bring a Loved One, Friend or Doula for Continuous Support.

As humans, we are social beings. We like to be surrounded by people we know and trust, who care for us and encourage us. As women, we don’t even like to go to the bathroom alone. So why wouldn’t you want to have someone with you for one of the biggest days of your life. Especially when studies have shown that women vividly remember their births and that those memories can have a lifelong impact. Birth is NOT just another day in a woman’s life. Don’t treat it like one.

One of the best ways to get quality continuous support is by hiring a doula. A doula is a woman who provides support during labor. They provide informational, physical, and emotional support. What does that even mean? I like to explain it like this… A doula is like a best friend who knows everything about birth.

The most recent reviews of research continue to show that doulas are beneficial. Not only are they beneficial, there are no known risks. In general, women who have doulas have shorter labors (you heard me right!) and healthier babies (higher apgar scores). Doula support can reduce the need for a cesarean section, Pitocin augmentation, use of pharmaceutical pain relief, and the need for assisted delivery. Here are some numbers for you number people out there…

  • 31% decrease  in the use of Pitocin
  • 28% decrease in the risk of Cesarean
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth
  • 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborn admission to the special care nursery

These birth improvements are all great benefits when comparing numbers and statistics. (find out more at evidencebasedbirth.com/doulas) But, I think the greatest benefit of a doula is also the hardest to measure. Well-supported women are more satisfied with their birth experience. This may seem like just another tally in the “pros” column, but this is the purpose of a doula’s work and what makes doula support invaluable. One of the founders of DONA International (an organization who trains and certifies doulas ), John Kennel said…

 “If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”

– Laura Schwartz