What is a labor coach, or doula, and should I consider hiring one?

Essay by pinkness15Junior High, 9th gradeA+, April 2002

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One of the maddening things about anticipating labor and delivery is that it's impossible to predict or control the circumstances surrounding it. Will you connect emotionally with your labor and delivery nurse, and will she have time for you? How will you react to the pain? Will you have a swift delivery or a long, drawn-out labor? How will your husband or partner hold up under the pressure?In the face of such uncertainty, many women find enormous reassurance in seeking out a private labor coach, or doula, beforehand to assist with the delivery. In fact, researchers have noted that women attended by labor assistants have shorter labors, fewer labor complications, and fewer problems with newborns. The theory is that mothers attended by doulas produce lower levels of stress hormones than women left alone in labor or attended by inexperienced coaches. If you're serious about forgoing drugs, a doula may be your best ally.

And even if you think you might want to go the epidural route, a doula can help make the experience less stressful and more satisfying. Labor and delivery nurses come and go according to their shifts, so if you'd like to be attended continuously by one person, a doula is ideal.