- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
Labor and delivery (7)
- Doula: Do you need a doula?
- Back labor: Childbirth myth or reality?
- Cord blood banking: What are the options?
- see all in Labor and delivery
Postpartum care (4)
- Lactation suppression: Can medication help?
- Sagging breasts: Inevitable after breast-feeding?
- Low milk supply: What causes it?
- see all in Postpartum care
Doula: Do you need a doula?
What are the benefits of having a doula?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
A doula, or a professional labor assistant, provides physical and emotional support to a woman and her partner during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.
For instance, a doula might offer:
- Suggestions on pain relief techniques, such as breathing, labor positioning and massage
- Emotional reassurance, comfort and encouragement
- Information about what's happening during labor and the postpartum period
- Assistance with breast-feeding
- Guidance and support for loved ones
Often, however, a doula's most important role is to provide continuous support during labor and delivery. Although research is limited, some studies have shown that continuous support from doulas during childbirth might be associated with:
- A decreased use of pain relief medication during labor
- A decreased incidence of C-sections and forceps deliveries
- A less difficult childbirth experience
Keep in mind that while a doula might add another opinion to the mix when decisions need to be made about labor and delivery — a doula doesn't provide medical advice as a midwife or health care provider would do or replace the role of your health care team. Also, most insurance plans don't cover doula fees.
If you're interested in hiring a doula, ask your health care provider, childbirth instructor, family or friends for recommendations. You might also contact your local hospital or health department for a referral.
When interviewing a potential doula, ask about his or her training, how many births he or she has attended, his or her philosophy about childbirth, what services he or she provides and the cost. Also, discuss your preferences and concerns about pregnancy, labor and delivery.
Once you hire a doula, typically you'll meet with him or her during your third trimester to plan for childbirth.Next question
Back labor: Childbirth myth or reality?
- Lundgren I. Swedish women's experiences of doula support during childbirth. Midwifery. 2010;26:173.
- Berghella V, et al. Evidence-based labor and delivery management. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2008;199:445.
- Mottl-Santiago J, et al. A hospital-based doula program and childbirth outcomes in an urban, multicultural setting. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2008;12:372.
- Stuebe A, et al. Continuous intrapartum support. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 22, 2012.
- Green J, et al. Care practice #3: Continuous labor support. Journal of Perinatal Education. 2007;16:25.
- Stockton A. Prenatal support and preparation for birth: The doula's role. The Practising Midwife. 2010;13:26.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2010:124.
- Differences between nurse-midwives, other midwives and doulas. American College of Nurse-Midwives. http://www.mymidwife.org/Differences-Between-Nurse-Midwives-Other-Midwives-and-Doulas. Accessed Oct. 22, 2012.
- Your guide to breastfeeding. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/breastfeeding-guide. Accessed Oct. 22, 2012.
- Hodnett ED, et al. Continuous support of women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub4/abstract. Accessed Oct. 22, 2012.