The doula, a “birth coach”

The delivery country is also subject to trends. Women have been able to use a maternity hotel for several years in addition to the usual forms of childbirth, a relatively new phenomenon. However, now the Doula is also on the rise. What does this Doula do and what role does she play during the birth?

What is a doula?

The word ‘doula’ is originally from ancient Greek and meant ‘serving woman’ in that language. In the United States the word has become established in a new meaning, where the doula was more or less based on the model of the Dutch maternity nurse. In the Netherlands, a doula can best be described as a pregnancy and birth coach. She is an experienced and knowledgeable woman who provides non-medical support to the expectant parents during pregnancy, birth and, if desired, also in the period after birth.
The doula gives the woman who is giving birth a voice and stands up for the wishes and demands of the expectant mother and her partner. She mothers the mother. She coaches her throughout the entire birth , no matter how long it lasts, she puffs along, pours a drink, massages and provides mental support. She is therefore always a familiar face at the mother’s bedside. Yet experiences show that it is not only the mother who benefits from the support of the Doula. Expectant fathers are also often happy that they receive some support in guiding their birthing wives, so that they can, if desired, give free rein to their emotions later without this bothering the expectant mother.

Why a doula?

In the past, women had a network of family members (usually women in the form of a mother, aunt, older sister, friends and neighbors) who could provide support during the birth. Due to the individualization in society and the fact that childbirth has increasingly become a medical matter, this support is often no longer available. This can be experienced as stressful by some women and stress and tension inhibit dilation, which can cause the birth to take longer. A doula can take away this stress.

Reasons why people use a Doula

  • Examples of reasons are:
  • A single expectant mother who lacks the support of a partner
  • An expectant mother whose partner regularly stays abroad, which means he or she may not be present in time for the birth
  • A pregnant woman who has had a previous unpleasant experience during childbirth and is therefore dreading the next birth
  • A pregnant woman who dreads or fears the pain of childbirth
  • An expectant mother who wants continuous guidance

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Some women just seem like a nice idea or have special wishes for their delivery. This is also a possible reason to hire a doula.

Medical benefits of a doula

The best-known study on the effects of the doula is that from 1993 by the Americans Kennell, Klaus and Kennell. The results showed:

  • 50% fewer caesarean sections
  • 25% shorter duration of labor
  • 60% fewer requests for an epidural
  • 40% less use of pitocin/oxytocin (‘induction’)
  • 30% fewer requests for pain relief
  • 40% fewer forceps deliveries

This concerns an American study, the results of which cannot be fully applied to the Dutch situation. After all, we already have a unique network of midwives and maternity nurses. However, it can be said that there are benefits to be gained from using a doula in the Netherlands, as research has shown, such as:

  • Shorter opening phase
  • Stimulation with contraction inducers was required less often
  • Cutting was done less often
  • Fewer caesarean sections
  • Less need for pain relief
  • More satisfaction (among women)
  • Less postnatal depression six weeks after birth

 

Reimbursement by insurers

Reimbursement of the costs of a doula by health insurers is currently the exception rather than the rule. It is therefore a good idea to inquire in advance in writing with your insurer whether these costs will be reimbursed if you wish to use a Doula. This way you at least know where you stand – financially.

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