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You may consider hiring a doula as labour, delivery and breastfeeding support, to help develop your birth wishes, provide comfort and help you prepare for birth.
Doulas are specially trained birth companions (not a friend or loved one) who provide educational, emotional, and physical comfort and support to women, their partners or friends/family during pregnancy, labour and delivery. Some doulas also provide support in the early days after the birth of your baby, and if you don't have a doula during birth and delivery, you may choose to have doula services during your postpartum period.
A doula doesn't provide medical care, but they can be a valuable addition to your birth team, working alongside your healthcare provider. The cost of a doula is not covered by the B.C. Medical Services Plan.
Here are some of the things a doula can do to support you:
- Help you to prepare for birth and carry out your birth plan
- Stay with you throughout your entire labour, providing emotional support and comfort measures
- Support your partner or others to participate in the birth experience
- Help to make sure that there is good communication between you, your family and members of the health care team to support your birth wishes
Did you know? Benefits of Continuous Labour Support:
- Shorten labour by about 1.5 hours
- Decrease chance of cesarean birth by 51%
- Decrease the use of pain medication by 36%
- Help partners participate with confidence
- Facilitate mother-baby bonding and breastfeeding
Some doulas provide postpartum support after the birth, usually with newborn care, and family adjustments. They also may assist with meal preparation, light housekeeping and provide evidence-informed advice about infant feeding. Doulas also are trained to provide support for your emotional and physical recovery from birth.
Benefits of Postpartum Doula support include:
- Easier breastfeeding
- Stronger parent-infant bonding
- Lower risk of postpartum depression
- Increased parent confidence in their parenting skills
- Positive sibling adjustment and enjoyment of the new baby
Many doulas are experienced breastfeeding support specialists, and may have extra training to support breastfeeding families. Breastfeeding is a challenging new skill for most mothers to learn…and babies have learning to do as well! Even if you have successfully breastfed other children, you or your newborn may have some new challenges which need extra support, especially in the beginning. A doula’s help can be invaluable through breastfeeding education skills, and connections to further support, specialists and resources in the community. For more information about doula services, visit the Doula Services Association.
The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) offers the opportunity to apply for funding for expectant Aboriginal families so they can access doula services for prenatal and birth, with some considerations for postpartum support. The BCAAFC will provide support on the standard rates of a Birth Package from certified Doula’s up to $1,000.
Photo Credit: Tanya Edgar
Resources and Links:
Continuous Support During Childbirth
How Support Teams Can Help During Pregnancy