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Labors of Love:An Introduction to Doulas

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

When it comes to child birth, many mommies-to-be are experimenting with different techniques to have the best, most natural experience possible. One trend which is coming back to life is hiring a labor doula, or labor assistant, to help women and their partners through the labor process. Even our own, lovely Kim from Client Services had an experienced doula by her side to keep her serene and strong.

When it comes to getting information on something as important as a birth assistant, however, one wonders about acquiring their knowledge on the subject through a search engine. With over a thousand responses, you can’t help but speculate which pages to browse. Instead of trying to make that decision, I went straight to the experts on the subject. Our friend, Julia, at the Long Island Doula Association, LIDA, was excited to share some of her knowledge with us, to help out future-mommies make the decisions they feel most comfortable with.

You can visit the Long Island Doula Association on right on LIFamilies at:

What is a doula?: The word 'doula' is an ancient Greek word whose literal translation means 'slave to a woman.' A Labor doula provides comfort and relief measures to a laboring woman. A doula can suggest different positions to the laboring woman, can offer expertise on how to handle different phases of labor, and will stay with the laboring Mom until the baby is born. Labor doulas work very well with fathers-to-be and other family members, they can relieve each other, Dads can sometimes offer more emotional support and comfort to Mom. A doula can facilitate communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her health care providers. A doula provides individualized care for a laboring Mom. A doula can assist in gathering information about their pregnancy, labor and the options available for delivery.

A postpartum doula helps the new mother ease into her new role. A postpartum doula will focus on breastfeeding and making sure that is going well. A PP Doula will step in and take over the typical household tasks such as doing the dishes, cooking, shopping, walking the dog, laundry, running errands and light cleaning. A PP Doula can be invaluable to a family who does not have extended family to help out after the birth of a baby.

What are the benefits of hiring a doula?: The main benefits of hiring a Labor Doula are to ease fears about the birth, and to provide comfort to the laboring Mom. A doula is trained to know what positions are more beneficial to a laboring Mom and can relate to and understand the laboring Mom. A Labor doula can provide information about common procedures and terms used in hospital settings.

Studies have shown that by employing a doula, labor can be up to 25% shorter in duration, there is a significant reduction in the need for pain medication, there is a significant reduction in the need for a surgical delivery, there are higher rates of breastfeeding, and mothers who employ Labor Doulas report a happier, more satisfying birth experience overall.

Dr. John Kennell, who has studied the impact doulas have on mothers, babies, and childbirth, says, “If a Doula were a drug, it would be malpractice not to use it”

Postpartum Doulas are beneficial to everyone; their presence leaves Mom free to be with her newborn, to learn to breastfeed and to bond with her new baby. PP Doulas are especially helpful to those who are experiencing trouble breastfeeding, had a surgical birth and need longer healing time, or for those women who are without a support system of family and friends to otherwise help her during this intense transition from 'woman' to 'Mother'.

When should you first contact a doula?: This is really up to the individual, but ideally by 30 weeks Mom should be interviewing and making phone calls so when she finds the right doula for her - the doula will still have room on her calendar!

How can you find a doula in the Long Island area? Well by logging on to or calling (631)574-2205!

Two other great resources are

Long Island Pregnancy Articles > Labors of Love:An Introduction to Doulas

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