What is a doula?

One’s birthing experience is unique to each individual. At St. Clair Health, we strive to ensure our moms and babies feel safe, comfortable, and right at home.

In some cases, an individual may have a doula present during labor and delivery. You may ask, what is a doula? They are professional labor assistants who provide physical and emotional support to the individual during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum period. In addition, a doula can offer education about pregnancy through delivery. The relationship they foster allows patients to feel safe in an unfamiliar situation.

For instance, a doula might offer:

  • Attention to physical comfort through techniques such as touch and massage and assistance with breathing
  • Emotional reassurance, comfort and encouragement
  • Information about what’s happening during labor and the postpartum period, including explanations of procedures
  • Help with facilitating communication between you and the hospital staff
  • Guidance and support for loved ones
  • Assistance with breast-feeding

St. Clair’s Women and Children’s Services supports our mothers, babies and their support systems. We firmly believe that childbirth is a family event and focuses on providing a comfortable, caring and safe environment for all members. Each of our private LDRP (labor/delivery/recovery/postpartum) rooms provides a warm and comfortable setting supported by state-of-the-art technology. If an expecting mother has doula care for their labor and/or postpartum period, it’s important to notify our Perinatal Social Worker at 412.942.5922. If a patient doesn’t have a doula expert but interested in learning more, our social worker can provide additional resources.

“Our team of experts will offer your doula a tour of the unit prior to arrival and help arrange everything for a warm welcome to our Hospital. Please keep in mind that patients do not have to choose between their doula and birthing partner; their doula is a part of their healthcare team,” says Shawndel Laughner, RN, BSN, MHA, Director of Women and Children’s Services. If a patient’s doula expert would like to schedule a tour of our unit, please contact us at 412.942.5880.

If you’re considering a doula as part of your pregnancy journey, there are several benefits to adding this individual to your team of experts.

Studies have shown continuous support from doulas have been associated with:

  • A decreased use of pain relief medication during labor
  • A decreased incidence of C-sections
  • A decrease in the length of labor
  • A decrease in negative childbirth experiences

For expecting mothers and support systems, this time may be stressful, nerve-racking, exciting but it’s priceless. Doulas are the experts that prioritize the patient’s self-care, champion their needs, find the answers and resources in high-stress situations and supports them through the entire journey. Each patient has different needs and doulas are trained to meet them in holistic ways but do not replace medical providers.

During this experience, sometimes it doesn’t always go as planned but doulas are prepared to master the unknown and let expecting mothers enjoy the small moments that have the largest impact on life.