Why Would I Want A Birth Doula?

To begin, the word doula comes from the ancient Greek and means "a woman who serves".  This is no doubt what a birth doula does for the expecting and laboring mama.  Birth doulas provide continuous, non-medical care which can include:

  • physical support
  • emotional support
  • information
  • breathing techniques
  • relaxation techniques
  • laboring positions
  • comfort massage
  • ensuring you are fed and hydrated
  • cues on when to travel to your delivery destination

Per a published 2012, Hodnett et al. updated Cochrane review on the use of continuous support for women during childbirth, the randomized results of over 15,000 women in 22 trials who received continuous, one-on-one support during their labor expressed that women with continuous support were more likely to:

  • have a spontaneous, vaginal birth
  • have little or no pain medication
  • experience less pain
  • have fewer epidurals
  • have positive feelings about childbirth
  • have fewer vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and C-sections
  • have shorter labors
  • lower blood pressure during labor
  • have higher success with breastfeeding

I'm having my baby at the hospital ~ can I still have a doula?

ABSOLUTELY!  Considering that floor doctors and nurses work in shifts, they may end their shift while you are still laboring.  Your doula, however, will be with you throughout the duration of your labor and delivery. 

Often times, hospital deliveries are more ideal with a birth doula present.  Hospital protocol tends to undermine a woman's confidence to give birth and a reassuring doula can help resulting in a lower need for interventions. 

I'm planning a home or birth center birth ~ is there a point to having a doula?

Birth doulas are still great to have for home or birth center births.  The medical staff (typically midwives) need their energy to focus on the medical portion of your care rather than on your emotional and physical support.  This is where a doula makes a great addition to the birth team.  A birth doula will work in conjuction with your medical staff to help achieve optimal positioning and comfort for you and your baby.  A doula can also help by giving your partner a break when they need it. 

How can a doula help my partner?

Doulas are experts with birth.  Not only can they offer information and comfort to mama, they can do the same for the partner who may be experiencing their own fears and anxieties.  A doula can also guide the partner with tips and strategies for making mama feel safe and at ease, or they can step in where a partner's strengths may be lacking.  Sometimes the doula or partner need to step away to eat or use the restroom.  Having them both present during the birth of a baby allows the option to tag team so that a laboring mama is never left alone. 

Are Doulas and Midwives not the same? 

Doulas and Midwives are not the same.  Doulas are not required to have any training, however most do and receive certification.  Midwives are medically trained and licensed by the medical board.  Unless a doula is also a medical professional (like a nurse or midwife), a midwife can do such things as:

  • take your blood pressure
  • take your temperature
  • perform a vaginal exam
  • perform routine blood work
  • catch your baby

Midwives typically arrive once a woman is in active labor or in transition and 'catches' the baby.

A doula on the other hand, is limited to the emotional, physical and informational support UNLESS they have additional training and have been hired to perform under that license.  Doulas arrive when a mama feels they are in need of support.  This can often times be much earlier that the arrival of a midwife or before heading into the hospital or birth center. 


Birth Doulas can really offer much needed and even unexpected support to a laboring mama.  The newness and unfamiliarity that birth brings is like no other on this Earth.  A doula reminds women to hold on to a deep trust and surrender beyond ourselves to help create and experience the most precious, memorable, and profound time of a woman's life.

I'm happy to connect with you about my birth doula services. Feel free to schedule a brief call HERE, or email me at info@mrsdancingmoon.com. 

Movement During Labor & Delivery: Good for the Mind, Body, Spirit and Baby’s GPS!!!

Have you ever just smacked at the back end of a ketchup bottle while it’s completely upside down only to become more frustrated? Then you later come to the conclusion that perhaps tilting it 45 degrees will give you better success at getting any out, and voila, it worked!

When teaching my prenatal dance classes, we discuss this very same thing. That a combination of rocking, swaying, circling, bouncing, and various other position changes help maneuver baby down and out of the birth canal.

The art of dance in particular has been a lifelong passion of mine since I was a young girl. When first becoming pregnant in 2007, I continued with what I loved and was encouraged to do so by my midwife. During the birth of both of my children I enjoyed being able to listen to my body and babies and move around freely as we welcomed them both to this Earth.

However I later noticed that dancing, and movement overall during pregnancy, labor and delivery, was frowned upon in American culture. Pregnancy and birth becomes the time to sit down, put your feet up, and birth on your back so that the doctor can have a clear view.

With a culture so suggestive of sitting and reclining as a way of luxury and convenience, we overlook the advantages of moving our bodies and being upright in a variety of positions (squatting, kneeling, standing, hands and knees). Women all over the world since the beginning of time have perfected birth by allowing themselves the freedom to listen to their babies and adjust their bodies as they give birth.

One of my prenatal dance students recently gave birth and wrote this statement shortly after-

“I danced throughout my pregnancy in class and at home with my 2 year old and finally during labor with my husband ~ and it enabled me to have this beautiful laboring experience that just felt good in my body.  Our bodies are built for movement AND stillness and Nicole's dance classes really celebrate movement in a way that empowers moms to listen to their instincts and know their inner strength.”

Movement, whether through position changes, actual dancing, or walking, can help create an opportunity for baby to not only move into an ideal birthing position, but to remain in position during much of pregnancy as well as help baby rotate appropriately when traveling out of the birth canal.

As told to us by Jean Sutton in “Let Birth Be Born Again”, shifting the pelvis from side to side as well as tilting it forward, gives more available space to use for baby's grand entrance into this world. She uses the imagery below to demonstrate how this is achieved.

Images from: http://optimal-foetal-positioning.co.nz/?page_id=25

Images from: http://optimal-foetal-positioning.co.nz/?page_id=25

An ideal positioned baby must rotate 90 degrees after birthing their head, so as to fit their shoulders through the birth canal. When we can offer them more available space to do this is, our babies have an easier opportunity to successfully be born vaginally, as nature intended.

If we dance during labor- using basic movements such as swaying, rocking, hip circles, shifting hips, changing positions, etc. - we can achieve more relaxation, less physical tension and are more likely to avoid the desire for drugs and interventions. 

Mentor and teacher of mine, Stephanie Larson, founder of Dancing for Birth™ also points out that by using gravity and positioning (movement) we can also reduce the risk for interventions and shorten labor lengths.

“The first step to a satisfying birth,” says Larson, “is to listen to your baby via your body—and move accordingly. For many women this means laboring and birthing actively, in a forward-leaning vertical position, out of bed.” By moving instinctively, using gravity and positioning to their advantage, women can temporarily enlarge the dimensions of their pelvis for the baby’s passage, help their babies rotate and descend, help reduce unnecessary interventions and enjoy natural pain relief. Studies confirm that this shortens labor, reduces epidural requests, and reduces c-sections.

Dance has so many other benefits on so many levels as well. It benefits the body, mind and spirit.

As a producer of oxytocin, the love hormone needed to start labor, dancing can assist with the flow of oxytocin allowing labor to start naturally without the use of pitocin, the synthetic form of it commonly used in hospitals, when both baby and mama are ready.

Dance as a cardio workout helps build stamina, endurance, strength, and cardiovascular and respiratory health, as well as keeps our minds sharp and fluid as we learn and practice choreographed sequences.

The warm up, cool down, and improvisational practices we do also assist with flexibility, relaxation, and trust in one's body, enabling for a more confident mama in labor and as a new parent.

Overall, we leave dance class with our hearts and spirits feeling full, ecstatic and joyful knowing that although we may not be in charge of our birth process (baby is), we can have an impact and help our children have a more easeful transition into this world.

I interpret this quote by birth pioneer, Penny Simkin, to ultimately say the same thing that I've been describing here- “If you can’t move the baby, move the mother.”

Many women fear the so called “pain” of birth. But as Ina May Gaskin tells us, “If there is pain, it is not something to focus on.  It is part of nature and therefore not to be feared.”  By using movement, we can navigate and even avoid a painful experience by using it as a distraction and as a guidance tool to listen to our baby's needs as they journey to greet you.

Find your groove, know that the “pain” of birth is temporary, not to be the emphasis of the birthing experience, and help your baby navigate their own GPS.

(Pre/Post natal dance class offered Tuesdays at 3:45pm at happy baby in El Segundo.  More info HERE)