Historically, women have generally been attended and supported by other women during labor. However, in hospitals worldwide, continuous support during labor has often become the exception rather than the routine. "Research shows that women value and benefit from the presence of a support person during labor and childbirth. This support may include emotional support (continuous presence, reassurance, and praise) and information about labor progress. It may also include advice about coping techniques, comfort measures (comforting touch, massage, warm baths/showers, encouraging mobility, promoting adequate fluid intake and output) and speaking up when needed on behalf of the woman. Lack of continuous support during childbirth has led to concerns that the experience of labor and birth may have become dehumanized. Modern obstetric care frequently means women are required to experience institutional routines. These may have adverse effects on the quality, outcomes, and experience of care during labor and childbirth. Supportive care during labor may enhance physiological labor processes, as well as women's feelings of control and confidence in their own strength and ability to give birth. This may reduce the need for obstetric intervention and also improve women's experiences." Cochrane Database Systematic Review 2017
A doula provides educational and emotional support to pregnant, birthing, and postpartum women and their families. Doulas do not provide any type of medical care. However, they are knowledgeable in many medical aspects of labor and delivery. Doula services often include one-on-one education, prenatal visits, continuous labor support, and postpartum visits. This provides a mother the opportunity to form trusting bonds with her doula, which translates into an invaluable continuity of care. A doula acts as an advocate for the mother, encouraging and helping her fulfill specific desires she might have for her birth. During active labor and birth, doulas are in constant and close proximity to the mother. They have the ability to provide comfort with pain-relief techniques including breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, massage, and laboring positions. The goal of a doula is to help the mother experience a positive and safe birth, whether an un-medicated birth, planned induction with an epidural, or cesarean birth.
A doula does not take the place of anyone in the birthing party. On the contrary, she is there to provide assurance, emotional support, and wisdom, as well as encouragement for the birth partner's participation. As one father so eloquently stated, "Having Michelle present at our birth made all the difference in the world because everything was not all on me. Since she was there continuously guiding and supporting us during the birth, I could step back if and when I needed to. Having that freedom allowed me to relax and actually become more involved. Most importantly, it enabled me to enjoy the birth of our child."
Michelle's doula services are available for Birth Ease Method, CalmBirth, and Birth Ease Hypnobirthing students wishing to have continuous reinforcement of the relaxation techniques along with labor, birthing, and breastfeeding support once labor is active until 1.5 to 2 hours after baby is born.