Part 2 - Will I have a natural birth if I hire a birth doula?
Hiring a doula does not necessarily mean a woman who wants to have an unmedicated birth experience is going to get exactly that. For a physiological birth to take place within the medical system (which is where most births happen in Malaysia), a number of factors must come together in harmony.
A doula can help another woman achieve her primary goal of a drug-free birth, but cannot guarantee it. Birth is complex and it depends a lot on how this mother and family have prepared, their own beliefs, their medical team, which facilities she is giving birth at and a number of other factors that may influence the birth positively or negatively.
This subject is extensive and would require another article of its own. So we will just keep analysing the presence of a birth doula in the birth setting for now.
A number of studies by Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN of EvidenceBasedBirth.com have concluded that having a doula in the birth setting decreases anxiety in the laboring mother. With decreased anxiety comes decreased discomfort and ultimately decreased pain or suffering.
The presence of a birth doula is also linked to a higher satisfaction on the whole birth experience regardless of how the birth happened in the end (vaginally both unmedicated and medicated or via cesarean).
Women giving birth supported by their doulas tend to require less epidural analgesia, which leads to a decreased number of cesarean births, and ultimately to better infant results.
Birth doulas also play an important role in the immediate postpartum period. Their presence is a reminder for the family and the team that babies who are attached to their pulsating cords and put directly on their mother’s chest skin-to-skin have a higher chance of transitioning into pulmonary breathing with minimal or zero trauma, which leads to better outcomes in breastfeeding right after birth, because doulas know that the “golden hour”is the most important moment after the birth and that motherbaby should be left undisturbed for bonding.
After the birth, when the woman is postpartum, her doula offers empathy and listens to this mother’s story with love. Because she was also present at the birth, she is able to help this mother in her healing journey just by listening with presence. Birth doulas can also assist women with breastfeeding, providing guidance and support. Nowadays, it is even possible to hire a postpartum doula, who integrates traditional postpartum healing techniques, breastfeeding support and more.
Read Part 3 - How do I find a birth doula in Malaysia?
Maira Magalhaes provides private Doula support, labor and birth preparation classes, prenatal yoga and regular mothers' circles. Please call to make an appointment at +6012-310 3704 or follow her on Instagram and Facebook @mairadbmdoula.