The Gentle Support of a Doula Can Make A World of Difference

If you are like many people who have never experienced the care of a doula, you may ask, “Why do I need a doula?”

Others who can see the benefit of a doula when a woman has no other support, still wonder, “Why would someone need a doula if they have a midwife and their husband with them during labor and delivery?”

Numerous studies have shown that regardless of having a midwife, husband or other family member present during labor, women who had doulas that were with them continuously during labor experienced marked differences in their birth experience. Overall, women supported by a doula have a higher rate of vaginal birth; experience fewer medical and surgical birth interventions; use less pain medication including narcotics and epidural analgesia; have shorter labors; and experience more positive feelings about their childbirth experience than women who do not have a doula. They have reduced personal health complications including less postpartum depression; they bond better with their babies and have better breast-feeding experiences.

Take a look at the supporting statistics below to see the amazing difference doulas are making in the lives of mothers and babies:  [SAR1] .

Increased Vaginal Deliveries: Only 12% (25 out of 204) of women with no-doula in a Houston TX study delivered naturally, compared to 55% (or 116 out of 212) of women in the doula-supported group. It is fascinating to reflect that the presence of one caring woman continuously present throughout labor resulted in such a large difference. [1]

Fewer Medical and Surgical Interventions: Researchers noted the following outcomes in doula-supported hospital births compared to routine hospital births:

  • ~ Reduced administration of analgesics by 31%
  • ~ Decreased use of oxytocin to stimulate labor by 50%
  • ~ Decreased forceps deliveries by 34%
  • ~ Decreased cesarean sections by 45%.[2]

In another study, birthing woman were put into three groups (those receiving epidurals, those receiving narcotics and those with doulas).  The outcomes showed that  33% of the epidural group, 26% of the narcotic group and only 13% of the doula-group developed a fever during labor. Also 25% of women in the narcotic group went on to get epidurals versus only 6% of doula-supported mothers. [3]

Shorter Labors — Interestingly, woman who received continuous doula support had shorter labor periods. In the one study, the average length of labor for women with doulas was 9 hours versus 19 hours for women without doulas. An amazing 10 hour shorter average labor! In a second study, we see doula-supported women having even shorter average labors (7.7 hours) compared to the group of women who had no doulas (15.5 hours). In a third study, labor length for women supported by a doula was 7.4 hours, in contrast to 9.4 hours for the no-doula group. [4]

Other Benefits: Other benefits included improved perceptions of satisfaction and psychological responses of both parents and their relationship with their baby. The doula’s knowledge of the birth process and support techniques help to alleviate parents’ tension, fear and apprehension. This reduces the release of stress hormones (adrenaline) in the mother which can slow down the progress of labor (even reverse it!). Research shows that when mothers experience stress, fear and anxiety it negatively impacts both short and long-term infant emotional and mental health[SAR2] .

Mothers with doulas report feeling more secure and feel more positive about themselves and their ability to handle challenging situations. These moms also have:

  • ~ Reduced incidence of infection
  • ~ Reduced bleeding/hemorrhage
  • ~ Reduced postpartum depression
  • ~ Increased breastfeeding success
  • ~ Shorter hospital stays.

All of these things translate into improved bonding with their babies and improved infant health outcomes. Finally, in health care systems that welcome doulas there are reduced health care system costs, and happier patients and providers.

The gentle support of a doula can make a world of difference!


Our Philosophy

Phases Doula Training Program is a faith-based approach to engaging and preparing women to provide labor support services for other women throughout the various stages of the birth cycle from pregnancy through childbirth and into the postpartum period.  Our goal is to provide one way for the seeking woman to leave an enduring legacy in this life that will produce fruits for her in the Hereafter.  Our hopeful outcome is to help women reclaim the birth process as a normal bodily function, as an important personal and spiritual growth process, and as the first stage in the spiritual, physical and emotional well-being of the infant, the growing family, and a well-balanced community.

This training is rooted in an Islamic perspective and therefore acknowledges the spiritual aspects not only of the birthing process but of the helping role of the doula.  By looking at birth from this particular viewpoint, we intend to improve birth outcomes for Muslim women and to train not on Muslim doulas but to improve the cultural understanding of anyone who serves pregnant and birthing Muslim women.

We recognize and announce the Creator’s mercy and miracle in the creation and emergence of each new life.  We see birth as one of the signs of Allah (the Creator) and thus, also recognize that within it, there are many mysteries and life lessons.  If we prepare ourselves and open our minds and hearts, God-willing, there are few who can witness this noble life process and walk away unchanged…without a deeper understanding of the One Who perfected birth, of themselves, of the women who have been chosen to give birth and of life itself.

Our doula training model is called the 7-Phase (or 7P) Doula Training Approach.  The 7 P’s are the key components in an introspective training process that prepares women to provide professional and holistic doula support services. These phases include:  Purpose, Prophetic Guidance, Pondering, Preparedness, Partnering Skills, Post-Partum, and Practicum  (Practical Application).  By designing this as an on-line training, we hope to reach more women who find it difficult to attend workshop-based doula trainings and by doing so, to increase the number of women, infants and families who have improved birth experiences and outcomes.

The Spiritual Lessons of Birth

This is a slightly edited version of an article that I  contributed to (Motherhood Column) on August 14, 2011 entitled  The Spiritual Lessons of Birth


Alhamdulillah, we are in a blessed month (Ramadan), one that encourages us to ponder on the ayat (signs) of Allah, both in Qur’an and in our lives.  Pondering is a form of worship and through it we can be blessed to gain spiritual insights.  Birth is truly an ayat and one that should cause all of us to reflect.

Allah says in Qur’an, Surah 23, Ayat 14:


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

١٤ ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ

14. Then We made the Nutfah (drop) into a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood), then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best to Create!

 As Muslims- and especially as Muslim mothers — most of us reflect on birth as an ayat of Allah.  We feel awe at how Allah has amazingly orchestrated the joining of sperm and egg and their evolution into a complex, breathing, functional new human being.  Subhanallah!  But beyond the miracle of the physical aspects of creation of the fetus, if we prepare ourselves and open ourselves, we may find that Allah has placed more for us to glean, as we are blessed to go through or witness this noble life process.  In the very next ayat after the one quoted above, Allah says:

١٥  ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ لَمَيِّتُونَ      ١٦ ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تُبْعَثُونَ

15.  After that, surely, you will die. 

16.  Then (again), surely, you will be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection.

Here, as in other places in Qur’an, Allah couples the mention of birth with the mention of death and resurrection.  He turns us from contemplating on the physical wonders of creation and the greatness of our Creator to consider our passage through this life and our evolution toward our final end.  This pondering will surely lead to different realizations for everyone, as spiritual awareness differs from person to person and even for the same person at various times in her life journey.  I think my two birth stories can accentuate my point.

 Pondering My Births

 My first story is the story of my first home birth.  I had just moved to a new city and decided upon a homebirth after meeting a wonderful sister in our community who was a midwife.  My pregnancy passed pretty uneventfully. We had planned everything and my husband (may Allah have mercy on him) was prepared to run and get the midwife when we needed her as she didn’t have a car at the time.  On a Thursday evening, I went into labor and decided to rest as much as I could.  I did actually sleep for a while but was awakened by my contractions in the early morning hours.  I really felt like I wanted to be alone and was enjoying the silence of the house at that hour.  All the children were asleep (there were 6 of them) and I wanted to drink in the stillness before the house turned into the daily energy center that it was.  So I slipped into a warm bath having a great solitary party.  But as Fajr time started growing near, I decided if I didn’t want a water birth, I’d better wake my husband and send him for the midwife.  It seemed like a second after his name left my lips, he went from 100% sleep to 100% attention and heading out the door with one arm in his coat (it was mid-November).  Then my realization… “Wait!!  Don’t go!! The baby’s coming NOW!!!”  He lunged back toward me (really!) with wide eyes and without a clue of what to do.  It looked like it was up to me.  The next thing I knew, my beautiful daughter, Inshirah, came easily into my hands.  Alhamdulillah!  It was such an easy birth and I was flying!

 Take Away Lesson # 1 – “With Allah’s help, I can do anything!”

 My very next birth was a totally different story.  I had two midwives, the same midwifery intern along with my husband and my houseful of busy children; all keeping me company as I labored.  The strange thing was that I would have contractions so strong, that I felt like I was going through transition, and then…they would just stop.  This happened once and it totally threw me off.  After a while, the contractions revved back up until I was back at what I thought was transition again.  And guess what…it stopped again!  This went on for three days until, I kept saying, “After all these births, I forgot how to have a baby!”

It was a truly humbling experience, for sure.  Eventually, the midwife suggested my husband take me out for a very early morning breakfast which was lovely.  Later, one of the midwives had to go to another birth and my husband ran the children to school.  In that transitory quietness of the house, Allah manifested that my son was born in the time it took for my husband to get back home — from zero contractions to a baby in twenty minutes.  Subhanallah!  What sweet relief!

 Take Away Lesson # 2 – “Without Allah’s help, I can do NOTHING.”

 Now these lessons were not your glibly-spoken-off-the-tongue kind of lessons; but lessons that were seared into my heart, mind and soul.  So, alhamdulillah, I truly digested these two balancing ideas that I have drawn on across the years.  Consequently, I don’t go to extremes in being too confident or too helpless, but rely on Allah to help me through whatever situation He places before me.

May Allah make us of those who do not walk away unchanged from our birthing process, but with a deeper understanding of the One who perfected birth, of ourselves, of the women who have been chosen to give birth, and of life itself.  I close with the hope that you will take time to ponder, show your gratitude to Allah, and share (if you wish) some of the unique spiritual realizations that you have gained through your births with those mothers or mothers-to-be who might benefit.


By Sabriyya Abdur-Rauf | Contribution to Saudi Life

Sabriyya is an American birth mother of 10, stepmother of 2, grandmother of 49 (and counting), and God-willing, a soon-to-be great grandmother.  She slated to complete her MS in Instructional Design in December 2015.  Sabriyya is a Doula, Educator,  Certified Herbologist, Owner of Y & S Institute, LLC. and Founder of “Phases” a new faith-based Doula Training Program.