doula is a professional birth companion trained to provide continuous
physical, emotional and informational support to the pregnant woman
and her partner during labor and delivery. Women who want to give
birth with minimal or no pain medication often choose a doula to
help them cope with the pain of normal labor. If you want to have
an epidural or other pain medication, you may want a doula for
the constant support during labor. Most doulas make one or two
home visits during the last trimester of pregnancy and, if requested,
will come to your home in early labor to help you avoid going to
the hospital too soon.
Once in the hospital, the doula works as part of the childbirth
team, providing a constant, calming presence, answering questions
and helping to explain medical procedures that you may not understand.
She will show your birth partner ways to support you and may use
massage and special tools and techniques and even soothing music
to help you cope with labor. Some studies show that women who have
doulas have shorter labors, are less likely to ask for epidurals
and have lower rates of Cesarean birth.
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