(NaturalNews) A natural birth can be a long, grueling and exhausting experience for a woman. Some husbands or partners may lack the experience to help their loved ones cope with hours of labor. A doula, derived from a Greek term which means "women who serve", assists women during pregnancy and labor. She generally makes the birth experience a positive one for a new mom.
Traditionally, a woman would have been supported through labor by a close friend or relative. These days, some women do not have a sister, mother, aunt or friend to support them through the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. A doula helps by providing help and support to the woman and her partner.
What does a doula do?
A birth doula helps during pregnancy by offering her expertise to answer questions related to birth and to generally prepare the expectant mother for labor. She offers continuous support during the birth itself by comforting and soothing, offering a massage or making other suggestions to make the laboring woman feel as comfortable as possible.
A postpartum doula assists with breastfeeding issues, newborn care, household chores and other adjustments immediately after a birth.
Many people choose to hire a professionally trained doula because a labor nurse or midwife simply may not have the time to comfort and support the mother emotionally or help her through pain at this time.
According to DONA International, "Studies show that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily."
In addition, women using the services of a doula during labor have been shown to have:
- 50% reduction in Cesarean rate - 25% shorter labor - 60% reduction in epidural requests - 40% reduction in Pitocin use - 30% reduction in analgesic use - 30% reduction in forceps deliveries
How much does a doula cost?
Expect to pay around $200 for a doula in a rural area or up to $1000 in a large city or areas where the cost of living is higher. Some doulas-in-training may offer their services for free.
Others work informally or part-time, so their services may be negotiable or allow for a customizable range of services at a reasonable cost.
Questions to ask a doula at an interview
Prospective parents may think about asking a doula how many births she has attended, what is her level of training and experience, what her fee includes and what back-up plan she has in cases of emergency.
Fleur Hupston is a professional freelance writer. She is passionate about natural, healthy living and is currently studying to be a naturopath. She divides her time between writing for Natural News and various other sites, home schooling her children and studying part time.