Historically, the birth of a baby has been a family event. Throughout much of human history, a woman has given birth surrounded not only by her birth attendant, but by female family and friends who bring their combined experiences to help make her labor and delivery as easy as possible. Nowadays, this is no longer a given. Many women live far from family members or find that their close friends and family may not have any prior birth experience to share with them. This lack of support and knowledge can often complicate the birth experience, especially for a woman who is planning an unmedicated labor and delivery.
In the modern, mobile society, many couples need an extra person to help them navigate the birth process, someone to replace the knowledgeable family members of the past. This is where a doula comes in. A doula is an experienced birth attendant that can be hired by a couple to help them during labor and delivery and even after the baby comes home. Sounds like a great idea- why wouldn’t most obstetricians be thrilled to have a doula in the labor and delivery room? Unfortunately, many OBs have a misconception of the role of the doula or have had an isolated bad experience and feel that their role in the process will be threatened if a couple has a doula there.
Ideally, a doula is an asset to both the laboring woman and to the medical staff. She can help a woman find different ways to transcend the pain of labor, she can help translate medical terminology and what is going on, she can support a couple in the decisions they make during the birth process. A doula, an expectant couple and their medical team all have the same goals- a healthy mom and baby, achieved by as natural a process as can safely happen.
Tamar Gottfried is a Board Certified Obstetrician/ gynecologist practicing general Ob/gyn in Mesa Arizona and affiliated with Banner Desert and Banner Gateway Medical Centers. She can be contacted at 480-545-0059. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be medical advice. See a medical professional before making medical decisions