Like most pregnant women, you probably fantasize about what awaits you during labor and birth. While no labor is perfect, one of the best ways to make it a positive experience is to have people with you who will meet your physical, emotional, and informational needs. These people might include your partner, your mother, or your best friend.
You could also hire a professional labor-support person, called a doula, to be with you and your family. A doula is a woman who is trained to help women through labor. She's a part of your birthing team, along with you, your partner, family members, your physician or midwife, and your nurse.
The Benefits of a Doula
Throughout history, mothers-to-be have had women helping them during labor and birth. And now studies around the world document what women have known for centuries: Labor support offers many benefits for moms and babies. Among these benefits are:
- shorter labors
- decreased anxiety and tension
- decreased need for pain medication or anesthesia
- fewer complications
- decreased interventions (such as the use of anesthesia or forceps) and Cesarean births
- increased positive feelings about labor
- greater self-esteem and sense of control
- stronger bonding between mother and baby