Do you know the benefits of doula support?

Doulas- Finding your Match
What a wonderful addition to your natural birth!

As a Bradley Method® Childbirth Educator, I’d like to briefly cover why doulas can be such an excellent adjunct to Bradley Method® classes when you are wanting to birth your baby naturally.  I’ve had several couples in my classes who choose to work with a doula.  They have been very grateful for the extra pair of hands, encouragement and expertise!  Here’s what Elisa, mother of Isla, has shared about their birth experience with the combination of Bradley® classes and an excellent doula:

They say that the only things we fear are the things we don’t understand and nothing proved that more to me than labor. One of the most asked questions to pregnant woman (behind “When are you due?” and “What are you having?” of course) is “Are you nervous?”.  I never was. People thought that was funny, but it was true. I was never nervous or fearful of what was about to happen. The Bradley classes had prepared me so well on what would happen during labor, I only felt excitement. I understood the process of labor, therefore I wasn’t afraid of it.

If the Bradley classes were our best investment in preparing for childbirth, our doula, Jun-Nicole Matsushita was our second best! Having Jun-Nicole freed my husband to concentrate on coaching me and using what we learned during Bradley classes, not worrying about things that needed to be done. When I look back, I am amazed how Jun-Nicole was steps ahead of us during labor-getting what we needed next all ready. When I wanted to be in the tub, it was filled. When I thought I should eat something, there was food. All of this happened without us knowing and allowed Micah to never leave my side. Neither one of us worried about anything during labor, it was all taken care of before we realized it needed to be done.”


One very important thing when choosing a doula is to interview several to see who is the best fit.  Just like hiring your caregiver (doctor/ midwife), you want to be sure that this is someone who you are excited to have as part of your birthing team!  Another good idea is to ask each doula if you can call some of her past clients as a reference.  It’s also very powerful to talk with other new parents who have experienced a birth much like what you are hoping for– here is where you will get some of your best referrals and recommendations!


In the majority of “Bradley Method births”, the father plays the key “coach” role.  And in other Bradley births, another person close to the mother takes the “coach” role.  Many couples seek a doula who does not interrupt this important “mom-coach” relationship, but rather is that perfect extra pair of hands in the background helping the process to flow as naturally as possible!
Why use a doula? 
(Adapted from

A doula provides continuous non-clinical support to a woman and her coach during pregnancy, birth, and the early weeks of parenting. A doula at your side during labor is focused solely on you and your partner to provide emotional support, practical assistance, and a calm, consistent, objective presence. Part of a doula’s role includes suggesting appropriate comfort measures such as position changes, performing light massage, and assisting with guided relaxation. She may make suggestions to help your coach best support you, while yet allowing him/ her to fully experience the birth as a loving participant. Throughout your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period your doula can help you understand basic terminology, procedures and medical practices to further your efforts to make informed decisions. Your doula should be part of a whole team, where each member has a special role to play in supporting you for your birth.

Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth. Review.” 2007. The Cochrane Collaboration. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd. “Results: Sixteen trials involving 13,391 women met inclusion criteria and provided usable outcome data. Primary comparison: women who had continuous intrapartrum support were likely to have a slightly shorter labour, were more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth and less likely to have intrapartum analgesia or to report dissastisfaction with their childbirth experiences…. Authors conclusions: All women should have support throughout labour and birth. “Social Support by Doulas During Labor and the Early Postpartum Period.” Hospital Physician, September 2001. Bruce A. Meyer, Jane A. Arnold, and Debra Pascali-Bonaro.

In summary, doula support can also result in:

  • reducing the length of labor by 25%
  • reducing your chances of having a cesarean birth by more than 50%
  • reducing mothers’ requests for epidurals by 60%
  • reducing mothers’ requests for other pain medications by 30%
  • reducing the need for oxytocin augmentation or use of a vacuum or forceps by 40%
  • a higher incidence of breastfeeding success
  • a mother and partner who consistently report high levels of satisfaction with their birth experiences.

(In my Resources section, you’ll find the Iowa City Doulas link- to date, I’m not aware of a comparable link for all of the Cedar Rapids doulas- please let me know if you know otherwise!) :) I wish you the best in finding that perfect doula match for your birth!)  Also nationwide, you can find local doulas at

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