Why is there a need for Doulas?

As childbirth has generally moved from home to hospital, some elements of care have been lost from the birth process. The days when an experienced family member or similar help from the immediate community would be on hand to provide the nurturing role for the new mother are long gone. As healthcare in general progressed during the 20th century the position of the community midwife evolved, but due to lack of resources these days, this service is steadily declining in many areas and the evidence is mounting of the many mothers who have suffered in one way or another as a result of this decline.

These days many women feel that they have to be in hospital to give birth to their baby where it is much more likely that a birth will be medically run by primary care givers such as midwives and Doctors and intervention methods, such as caesarean section or forceps, can be implemented if required. However as well as in a hospital setting, Doulas can also be invaluable where Mothers-to-be are considering a home birth or birth centre.

From extensive first hand experience and from numerous reports from Mums on personal birth experiences, the reality in the UK today is that many maternity units are over-stretched in terms of primary staff to mum ratios. Crucially, very often support and care (other than primary care) during and after a birth can be stretched thin to none at all in some cases. This is the point where a good Doula comes into her own.

Here are some recent research statistics on the benefits of having a Doula present at a birth:

  • Shortens first-time labour by an average of 2 hours
  • Decreases the chance of caesarean section by 50%
  • Decreases the need for pain medication
  • Helps fathers participate with confidence
  • Increases success in breastfeeding

-Findings from “Mothering the Mother” Klaus, Kennell & Klaus, 1993

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