Women commonly make many choices about their deliveries: home versus hospital, whether or not to have an epidural, alone or with husband, mother or friend etc.
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Traditionally, women giving birth have got support from their own mothers. If you don't have family nearby or even if you do, you may want someone else to provide that support. Women who receive special training to offer support during labour are called doulas. The practice of having another woman to give support is an old tradition. Doulas may help a mother find the most comfortable positions and movements or use massage and other time tested techniques to reduce tension. A doula who has been through many deliveries can often reassure a woman who may be feeling panicky or overwhelmed.
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Doulas can be good for fathers too. It's the rare father who can soothe a labouring woman's pain and anxiety as well as a trained doula especially when the father is anxious himself. To find a local doula, ask your doctor or antenatal teacher.
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Investing in a doula is a great idea - they help on so many levels - a good doula will relieve much of the stress around birthing, physically and emotionally. With a doula attending, the birth is more likely to go smoothly and holistically.