The Doula Book- My Thoughts
As part of my training for DONA, I’m required to read several books on their lists. One book is called The Doula Book, and the title says it all!
The Doula Book is incredibly informational, packed with everything a woman and man should know about the importance of trained labor support. Written by three of the five founders of DONA International, it’s a must-read for anyone questioning the importance of having a doula present during labor and delivery.
One of the most interesting parts for me was Chapter 9, called The Dublin Experience. I have personally always been fascinated with the way different cultures deal with childbirth, such as how birth is viewed, who attends the births, how birth is managed, and the outcome of the parents after their birth experience.
Chapter 9 discusses care of laboring women in a hospital in Dublin, Ireland. The shorter average length of labors, decreased use of anesthesia, and decreased use of cesearan sections proves the hospital is doing something right, and the authors spent time observing this hospital to try to figure out what exactly it was. Long story short, they found that it was continuous one-on-one support from a trained nurse that shortened the length of labors, thereby reducing complications and the need for interventions.
It makes sense to me! Historical art is full of depictions of women surrounded by other women during birth, other women who were trained to help during birth and other women who had already experienced birth themselves. How comforting to be surrounded in love and supported by experienced women instead of left in a hospital room to be checked on by a nurse you’ve only met only 30 minutes prior.
Chapter 5 is called Obstetric Benefits of Doula Support, and this is what everyone wants to know about! The stats! At the time of this book’s printing, there had been 16 published,world-wide randomized studies including over 5,000 women, and each and every study points to the fact that continuous support for mothers is beneficial.
In one Houston study, 55% of the women who had a doula present with them had non-medicated vaginal birth, whereas only 12% of women who did not have a doula has a non-medicated vaginal birth. What a difference!
The entire chapter is filled with various statistics such as mothers with doulas had a reduced usage of interventions, reduced rates of maternal fever, greater success at breastfeeding, shorter hospital stays, and overall greater satisfaction with their birth experience.
In my opinion, the point of having a doula present during labor and delivery is so that the doula can serve the mom in whatever way she needs. If Mom wants her to take pictures, then Doula can take pictures. If Mom wants to be massaged, touched, or reassured, then Doula can do those things. Even if Mom isn’t sure what she wants from her doula, a well-trained doula should have ideas for what Mom needs and should be able to provide plenty of suggestions. It’s the Mother’s birth experience, and a doula should respect that.
Reading The Doula Book certainly edified my feelings on the benefits of continuous labor support for Mom, Dad, and the medical community. I can see myself referring to this book for many years to come!