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What’s the most important benefit of doula support?

stats4I started making the pictures focusing on all the benefits that research has suggested come with the continuous support that doulas offer through birth. (Check them out on our facebook page)  Then I had some conversations with fellow doulas about births they had supported and it really made me think about the true benefits of doula support. It’s brilliant that many women have easier birth experiences with doulas by their sides and as doulas, it’s really exhilarating to be at those births that go exactly according to what the mum had planned. But birth is unpredictable and even for those women who do everything possible to help themselves, there is a chance that baby simply won’t ‘play ball’ whether for a reason that becomes clear when they are born or for apparently no reason at all. Sometimes birth ends up taking an unexpected twist such as transfer to hospital from home or baby needing to be born by c-section. Those births are the ones when, in my experience, the birthing woman and her partner benefit most from total unconditional support in making every decision for themselves and help with understanding what’s going on.

As doulas, we often notice that most of the benefit we offer to mums and their partners is virtually complete by the time we’ve finished our ante-natal sessions. The change in people from when you meet them and they feel so uncertain about what this birth will bring them and whether they have the strength to face it to seeing them grow in confidence in their bodies and in their own ability to make the right decisions for themselves is amazing. This is why when we are there to support a birth our main function is just in being there, in staying calm in reminding them that they’ve got this and in expressing how amazing they are. The wonderful thing about women and their bodies is that for the majority of births this is enough for everything to go according to plan, to be hard work but satisfying and even enjoyable. But we can’t make any promises and ‘more likely’ doesn’t mean it’s impossible for things to take a different path. What we can promise is that we will be there 100% with women and continuing to support each decision that comes up with unbiased information and knowledge that the right decision on the day and in the moment, is the one that the birthing woman feels is right for her and her baby. This, above everything else, is the benefit of doula support. Being able to say ‘I may feel sad that things didn’t go the way I planned but I feel positive I made my choices and I know I’m amazing however my baby was born’.