The terms doula, montrice, labor companion, labor assistant, and birth assistant all refer to an individual offering one-on-one support for a woman in labor.
A doula is a professional who understands and trusts the process of birth. Doulas are trained to respect childbirth's physical & emotional aspects as well as the transcendent & sacred experiences of parents during birth. A doula can help facilitate a more peaceful birth experience for parents, baby, and care providers.
Advantages of Labor Support
Recent controlled trials involving over 1000 women demonstrate that the presence of a trained doula results in:
50% decrease in Cesarean sections
25% decrease in length of labor
30% decrease in use of forceps
30% decrease in use of pain medications
40% decrease in use of pitocin
60% decrease in use of epidurals
Compiled from Mothering the Mother, by MH Klaus, JH Kennell, and PH Klaus; 1993.
What a Labor Assistant Can Do for You?
Knowledgeable labor assistants can do a great deal to provide pregnant women with evidence based information and practical alternatives so that they may give birth with confidence, strength, and joy. Laboring women who feel confident and supported are much more likely to achieve satisfying outcomes than are women without such support. Labor assistants support women and their families by:
Educating parents about what to expect from pregnancy, labor, birth and their newborn baby
Educating parents on their childbirth choices
Providing a calming presence for laboring parents
Working with birth partners to create an effective support team
Imparting knowledge of relaxation techniques for faster, less painful labors
Remaining available during pregnancy and the post-partum period to answer questions, provide support and suggest resources to parents
A Summary of Doula Care
Doulas provide continuous care for the laboring woman and her partner. It is her job to help them participate fully in their experience by offering physical and emotional support and information about the birth process, commonly used technology, and natural birthing methods.
A doula creates a comfortable working relationship with birthing parents by meeting with them a few times during pregnancy. She makes herself available to parents during all stages of labor, often spending time with a laboring mother at her home before she leaves for her birth site or her care provider arrives. It is typical for a doula to remain with a client throughout labor and after birth, helping to establish breastfeeding. Doulas also provide one or two postpartum visits to help parents adjust to their babies as well as support breastfeeding and help with any difficulties new parents may face.
Fees for services range from $400-$2000 depending upon experience level, services offered, cost-of-living in the area, etc.