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Do I Need A Doula? Here's What Childbirth Experts Suggest

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When I was deep in the throes of pregnancy I was adamant about the care I received. I researched the best doctors, studied up on birth plans, and even took the time to tour hospitals. Having a baby is incredible, to be sure, but it's also potentially dangerous. So I wanted to be involved in every single part of my prenatal and postpartum care. If you're preparing for "the big day" and asking yourself, "Do I need a doula?" please know that you're not alone. You aren't the first pregnant person to ask that question, and you definitely won't be the last. The answer, however, truly does depend on the type of birth you want to experience.

The American Pregnancy Association (APA) explains that the word "doula" comes from a Greek word that means "women's servant." It makes sense, as that's essentially what a doula does for a woman during birth. The APA explains further, describing a doula in the following way:

"A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience."

Having another woman (read: the right woman) by your side through labor and delivery is ultimately a powerful, supportive addition to your birth plan. And because doulas are trained specifically in childbirth, their presence may help a pregnant woman overcome any obstacles that could prevent her from experiencing an empowering, successful delivery.

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This doesn't mean the doula should replace your OB-GYN or midwife, though. Instead, they should act as your go-to emotional support system. Whether you need someone to guide you into labor positions to ease the pain of relentless contractions, or you need a soothing voice to talk you through the various stages of pushing, doulas play many roles during your labor and delivery experience.

There are great reasons for choosing to hire a doula, though it really comes down to personal choice. Fit Pregnancy points out that doulas are beneficial in regards to things we might not think about until, of course, we're in labor. Things such as helping the expectant mother via massage or verbal support are important when labor pains feel overwhelming. Even with a caring doctor and supportive partner (or family members) at your side, physical and emotional encouragement from a trained doula might make the delivery bearable. A doula can also provide advice, and answer any questions your doctor may not have time to.

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Though doulas aren't a necessity, the going rate for a good, attentive doula varies and depending on the level of services offered. Always do your research to be sure you're getting what you're paying for.

In the end, doulas may not be something every expectant woman has to have, but Parents states that, because they help the mother feel less anxious, she'll have a lower risk of complications. Not only that, but they're also an excellent source of emotional support for your partner or family members.