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Are Doulas Magic?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) made the following statement about doulas in January 2017: "The recommendations also suggest that women benefit from continuous emotional support and the use of non-pharmacologic methods to manage pain. Support offered by trained labor coaches such as doulas has been associated with improved birth outcomes, including shortened labor and fewer operative deliveries." Sounds wonderful doesn't it? Studies have even put numbers on these benefits. According to EvidenceBasedBirth the presence of a doula can decrease the occurrence of a cesarean section by up to 39%, decrease use of pain medication by 10% and reduce babies risk of needing resuscitation at birth by 38%. Furthermore, labor may be shortened by up to 41 minutes on average with a support person.

Does this make you want to run out and hire a doula right now because you want the perfect birth and surely having a doula means that that it will be natural without any pain or complications? A word of caution: please don't set yourself up for any unrealistic expectations. No one can guarantee any outcomes for birth. There are so many things out of our control such as complications that may arise. Even the most low risk labor and birth are unpredictable.

ACOG further suggests that: " In addition to considering use of medications or epidural anesthesia to manage pain in labor, practitioners are encouraged to offer women coping techniques, such as massage, water immersion in the first stage of labor, or relaxation techniques. Recognizing that the complete absence and elimination of pain is not what all women value, use of a coping scale rather than pain scale is recommended to evaluate the multifactorial experience of labor." In essence this is the role of the doula - to help you cope with whatever type of birth experience you are given. We can suggest position changes to increase comfort or facilitate optimal fetal descent but they may not always work. I cannot promise that you won't end up having pain or a cesarean or an epidural.

I work hard to ensure you feel well supported with the information you needed in making the decisions surrounding your birth; well supported in physical and emotional coping and comfort techniques. What I can guarantee you is respectful, compassionate care.

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