The Evidence-based Void
You're an expectant mother. You have a solid partner and a good hospital. What could you be missing in terms of support?
Let's examine: We're asking fathers, most of whom have never been in a birthing ward since they themselves were born, to become subject matter experts on all things birth canal-related, AND be the sole source of support for the vulnerable mother-to-be. In no other area of the hospital is a family member asked to take on such a significant caretaking role as in childbirth.
It's a common perception of expectant parents that they don't need the support of a doula because in addition to the father/birth partner they will be able to utilize the hospital staff: their doctor and the nurses on duty.
A study conducted focusing on women's expectations of their nurse during labor showed that women expected their nurse's time to be spent like this:
- 29% giving emotional support and physical comfort;
- 24% giving information and advocating for the mother's wishes;
- 21% time monitoring the mother, baby, and labor progress;
- 21% doing other clinical nursing tasks related to the mother's birth; and
- 5% conducting indirect clinical tasks out of the room.*
In reality, nurses are able to spend less than ten percent of their time giving supportive care.*
Nurses have so many responsibilities, and despite the fact that they care greatly about their patients, the system does not typically allow them to spend more time giving supportive care (emotional support, informational support, or physical support).
Overwhelmed fathers. Overworked nurses.
All of this information can feel discouraging if there was no solution. Thankfully there is: hire a doula. :)
*Source: Amy L. Gilliland, Ph.D., BDT (DONA). The Emotional Support Reality for Nurses: Research Review