In order to have a positive birth experience, most women need continuous labor support. This is one of the most important roles of a doula. I am committed to providing you and your birth partner with sensitive, compassionate and unconditional support. Knowing there is another woman on which to rely emotionally, one who stays by their side throughout the labor and birth process and postpartum, is of great comfort.
The word, “doula,” comes from the Greek word for the most important female slave or servant in an ancient Greek household, the woman who probably helped the lady of the house through her childbearing. The word has come to refer to “a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.” (Klaus, Kennell and Klaus, Mothering the Mother)
A birth doula…
- Recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life.
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor.
- Assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth.
- Stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor.
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions.
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and clinical careproviders.
- Perceives her role as one who nutures and protects the woman’s memory of her birth experience.
The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers and infants.
Research has shown that having a birth doula present during birth can reduce the:
· Cesarean Rate by 50%
· Length of Labor by 25%
· Use of Pitocin by 40%
· Use of Pain Medication by 30%
· Need for Forceps by 40%
· Requests for Epidurals by 60%
What a birth doula does not do…
- Perform Clinical tasks, such as blood pressure, fetal heart checks, vaginal exams, etc. I am there to provide only physical comfort and emotional support.
- Make decisions for you. I will help you get the information necessary to make an informed decision.
- Speak to the staff on your behalf. I will discuss your concerns with you and suggest options, but you or your partner will speak directly to the clinical staff.
A birth doula offers many benefits to the father or partner as well:
- Increase in father’s/partner’s confidence levels and decrease in stress.
- Alleviation of anxiety by serving as a resource for answering questions, offering suggestions and encouragement.
- Facilitating fuller participation in the birth by the father/partner.
- Filling in for the father/partner when they need to take a break.
- Being there to allow someone to accompany the infant during the first medical assessments while knowing mom is also being supported.
- The emotional relief that comes with knowing you are not alone in the supportive role.
Birth doula services include:
• Complimentary consultation (usually lasts about an hour)
• A minimum of two prenatal visits at your home to cover all of your questions, concerns, and to create a birth plan. This is a great time to discuss comfort measures and to practice various birthing positions and movement.
• On call for two weeks prior and two weeks after your due date. During this time I will not travel far from home or turn my phone off. My focus is to be rested and recharged in order to be best prepared for your labor.
• Loving, unconditional labor support, starting whenever you request but is usually when active labor begins. Specific support with things like positions, breath coaching, using birth-ball, warm and cool compresses and back/neck/shoulder/leg rubs. This may also include preparing nutritious snacks for mom and making sure partner is well fed. I will also support your birth partner with active suggestions and encouragement.
• Early breastfeeding support.
• Also includes one postpartum visit. One during postpartum recovery in the hospital and another at home. I’ll fill in any gaps in your memory of the birth and help you process your emotions.
I follow DONA International’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics for birth doulas.