Giving birth can sometimes seem scary and stressful, but a doula might be able to alleviate some of those fears.
"In essence, a doula is just somebody to support you and love you through this process of becoming a mother," says Erin Swart, a certified doula.
She says doulas help mothers with informational, emotional, and physical support.
Anything from coming up with a birth plan to talking about concerns and even giving you a massage during your contractions.
Swart says a big part of the support she gives is encouraging the mother through labor.
"You are an amazing mom, you were made to mother this baby. You were made to birth this baby and you can do it," she says.
Swart says a lot of people confuse doulas with midwives. She says the difference is doulas have no medical training, and doulas don't leave -- it's a continuous support.
Laura Callaway, a midwife at Midwives of Macon, says she recommends doulas frequently.
She says having a parent or partner to support you is great, but it's an emotional experience for them as well.
"They're having their first baby, they're having their first grandbaby. That can be very emotionally taxing, and to see the mother going through that, it's hard for them to support her in a way that she probably needs it," Callaway says.
Callaway says when a doula is involved, birth outcomes are better.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the length of labor is decreased 25% and the overall Cesarean rate decreases 50% when a doula is present.
"It's nice when you got a person there who can help keep the patient calm," says Callaway.
"Talking to her and believing in her, telling her, 'You can do this,'" says Swart.
According to Callaway, using a doula after birth can have benefits, too, like higher rates of breastfeeding.
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