One type of support you might consider is a doula. A doula is a nonmedical childbirth expert offering support, encouragement and information during labor and delivery. A doula "mothers the mother" and gives you emotional support as you labor.
Your doula ensures you have someone looking out for you during the entire process. She will not perform clinical tasks, such as vaginal exams or fetal heart rate monitoring, or give medical advice or make medical decisions for you.
She will, however, provide emotional and informational support to both you and your partner, so your family can more fully enjoy the birth experience together.
Whatever dreams you have for your labor, remember to be flexible. The unexpected could arise and plans might have to change, so that you and your baby are safe and healthy. If such a change of plans is necessary, it's important to remember it in no way means that you have failed.
Your doula is there to help you no matter what the final outcome of your birth experience may be.
The History of Doulas
Throughout history, women have always provided support and help to other women during childbirth. Anthropological data as well as historical artwork shows that women were rarely left alone during labor and delivery. In fact, a woman preparing to give birth was almost always surrounded by at least two other women. One, a nurse midwife, assisted with the baby’s birth, while the other provided continuous comfort and reassurance to the birth mother.
Today, this age-old practice of bringing comfort and reassurance to the birth mother, in effect “mothering the mother,” has re-emerged in the form of the modern "doula."
Research gathered by DONA, Doulas of North America, a national organization that certifies, promotes and supports doulas, shows that when a doula is introduced into the labor room, the bond between mother and infant is enhanced as well as the mother's self-esteem.
If you do not have a partner, or someone else to take the place of a partner, you may also benefit from the support of a doula during childbirth. A doula offers valuable and necessary support and encouragement through childbirth.
The doulas below are certified to practice at Woman's Hospital.