Doula is a Greek word meaning “women’s servant.” For centuries doulas have been helping women through their pregnancies and managing the labor process.
March 22 to 28 is World Doula Week (WDW), and there’s no better time to celebrate the positive impact doulas have on women’s health and to spread the word about the important role doulas play in childbirth.
What is World Doula Week?
WDW is an annual weeklong event celebrated all over the world. It’s not a coincidence that WDW takes place in March, the period of the spring equinox, which, in many cultures, signals the return of fertility.
According to the event’s website, the purpose of WDW is to “empower doulas all over the world to improve the physiological, social, emotional, and psychological health of women, newborns, and families in birth and in the postpartum period.”
The importance of doulas
Studies have shown that having a doula present during labor and in the postpartum period can have numerous benefits. One major plus is that women are less likely to use pain-relief medications during labor when a doula is on hand providing support.
Doulas use massage as a calming technique during labor, helping to stimulate the production of natural oxytocin, which offers mothers feelings of well being and the ability to sustain a higher pain threshold without the use of medication.
Other doula benefits include:
- Women are less likely to have a cesarean birth
- May shorten length of labor
- An overall more positive childbirth experience
- Increases breastfeeding initiation and continuation
- Can help reduce the incidence of postpartum mood disorders
How you can get involved
Birth professionals and birth advocates are needed to become World Doula Week Local Coordinators. As a local coordinator, you’re tasked with drawing attention to the doula movement. Here are a few ways to facilitate community involvement and education during WDW:
- Organize an annual conference about topics related to birth, labor support, caring for newborns, and the postpartum period.
- Hold an expo/fair featuring workshops and demos applicable to labor and the postpartum period, as well as inviting exhibitors to promote natural birth and postpartum products and/or services.
- Host a screening of the film “Doula!” and invite a panel of doulas and other birth professionals to discuss and answer questions following the movie.
Check out the WDW website to learn more about the event and to obtain additional details about becoming involved.