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As Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, prepares to welcome her new baby with Prince Harry this spring, she is sure to be busy making lots of decisions on nursery colors, pram options and adorable new outfits for the impending royal. One decision British papers are reporting she made is to hire a doula, which is a departure from tradition for the Royal Family.
A doula is different from a midwife or doctor in that doulas are not medical professionals. Rather, a doula offers continuous, non-judgmental support and comfort measures before, during and after birth to the parent(s). The support a doula offers can be emotional, physical and/or educational in nature. Some of the comfort measures a doula can offer includes touch techniques, breathing techniques and comfort positions to help ease the pain of labor. Doulas are there to assist the mom in labor, however, they by no means take the place of the other parent. The doula can help the partner offer the best support possible and they can also take turns offering support so no one gets too tired during the process.
Numerous studies, such as the Cochrane Review, have supported the use of a doula during childbirth to help the mother have a more positive experience during childbirth. Studies have shown that the use of a doula can decrease the use of Pitocin, the incidence of Cesarean Section and increase in the incidence of the birthing mother feeling like she had a more positive overall birth experience.
There is no word yet on whether the Duchess of Sussex will acquire a postpartum doula, which could offer educational support about breastfeeding and caring for the baby. They can also offer physical support in the form of cooking meals, cleaning and/or taking care of older siblings while the new parents bond with the baby. They also offer much needed emotional support as the mom settles into a new routine.
Whichever choices Meghan Markle makes in her journey to motherhood, we will have to wait patiently to find out. Meghan is due in April.