Friday, November 18, 2011

Who's Your Doula?

Have you ever thought that healthcare has become a little less personal than it has been in the past? Maybe moms want and need a more dedicated, personal, and continuous helper? Well Lindsay O'Brien is a birth doula in the New York area and she does just that. If you don't know what a doula or want to learn more, just keep reading!

So what exactly is a birth doula?

A doula supports women in childbirth so that they may have a satisfying and empowering birth in the way that they choose.  The word doula was derived from the Greek language meaning “a woman who serves”.  A birth doula, also called a labor assistant, provides continuous emotional, physical and informational support before, during and after birth.  A key role of a doula is that she provides continuous support for the mother and her partner, which means she will join a woman at any point during labor and not leave her side until after the baby is born and the family is comfortable postpartum.  

A birth doula understands the anatomy and physiology of labor and childbirth and is trained in an array of techniques to make the woman more comfortable. She is also able to recognize what a mother is going through on an emotional level during labor and offer reassurance and encouragement.  A doula does not make decisions or offer advice to a woman during pregnancy or when in labor.  She instead provides information and facilitates communication between the mother, the partner (if there is one) and the clinical staff, paving the way for the family to make informed decisions that are right for them and their baby.   As a doula, I can assist a mother in identifying, articulating and staying true to her birth preferences by providing information and unconditional support.

Birth is a transformational time in a woman’s life that she may always remember.  A birth doula’s role is to recognize that every woman’s perception of a “normal” birth is different. Whether you plan to give birth at home or in a hospital, with pain medication or have a non-medicated birth, a doula understands that each family is unique and will support your choices. The doula recognizes her role as nurturer and protector of the mother’s experience so that she may birth with confidence and remember her birth feeling satisfied and empowered.

To read more about the role of dads and doulas, click here.

Studies have shown that having a doula at your birth can result in a shorter labor with fewer complications and reduce the need for interventions such as the use of pitocin (used to induce labor) or an assisted delivery with forceps, vacuum extraction or cesarean section.  I encourage you to take a look at the clinical studies and research done supporting the use of doulas/continuous labor support by clicking here.

If you are interested in having a doula at your birth or have any questions please contact
Lindsay O’Brien at 860-608-0666 or via email at

***Thank you to the families who allowed Lindsay to post pictures***

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