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Why choose a doula?
More Personal, Committed Care
Many birth providers are trained medically, and are capable and knowledgeable in the act of delivering babies. They offer many resources to families, yet are often very busy and care for multiple patients at the same time, while also completing rounds, checking vitals and completing hospital or birth center protocol.
A doula’s training enables her to stay with the mother and father of the child as her sole client; her training offers quiet nurturing reassurance and helps enhance the natural abilities of a mother and her partner through the entire course of labor, without interruption. Being committed fully to a single birth experience, the constant support and guidance – in whatever way feels natural to the birthing mother – a doula can help to shorten labors and increase comfort during birth.
Less Postpartum Complications
In a recent study by Johannesburg, in a one-day postpartum interview, results indicated that mothers assisted by doulas reported less pain during labor and at 24 hours after labor. (Johannesburg, 2005)
Feeding behavior of infants at six weeks postpartum in the testing group yielded higher success of breastfeeding (51%), less feeding problems (16%). (Johannesburg, 2005)
Infant health problems at six weeks postpartum in the doula group yielded a highly significant difference than those without a doula present: Vomiting 4%, Colds 39%, Cough 39%, Poor appetite 0%. (Johannesburg, 2005)
Increased Support of the Mother-Partner Connection
The birth partner, or father, needs special support during birth as well as the birth mother. It can be a difficult and tiring job to watch a loved one go through the emotional and physical ordeal of birth. A doula helps to relate to the father’s needs and model attitudes and behaviors that can help the father better cope with labor and assist the mother. A doula can increase the effectiveness of support by offering suggestions to the partner, giving him a supportive, specific task.
Shorter Labor with Fewer Unnecessary Interventions
In many situations, whether first or subsequent labors, the assurance and assistance of a present doula helps to greatly decrease the amount of time a woman and her partner spend in labor. A doula can help a mother in labor to lower the amount of interventions necessary for a safe, healthy birth, through support and the administration of many coping mechanisms and techniques.
In one such study, the group of mothers with a doula labored on average 7.7 hours, compared to 15.5 in the non-doula group. (Houston, 2006)
In the same study, the group of mothers with a doula experience a natural vaginal delivery 55% of the time, where the non-doula group had a 12% experience rate. (Houston, 2006)
(As linked from DONA International: http://www.dona.org/mothers/faqs_birth.php)
1. What is a birth doula?
A birth doula is a person trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.
How do doulas practice?
Doulas practice in three ways: privately hired directly by clients, as hospital employees, and as volunteers in community or hospital programs.
Does a doula replace nursing staff?
No. Doulas do not replace nurses or other medical staff. Doulas do not perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking blood pressure or temperature, monitoring fetal heart rate, doing vaginal examinations or providing postpartum clinical care. They are there to comfort and support the mother and to enhance communication between the mother and medical professionals.
Does a doula make decisions on my behalf?
A doula does not make decisions for clients or intervene in their clinical care. She provides informational and emotional support, while respecting a woman’s decisions.
What happens at...
- Discussion of pregnancy, including any medical conditions that may/may not affect the labor process, not limited to but including hypertension, preeclampsia, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, previous traumas, illnesses or histories of abuse.
- If this is a second pregnancy, a brief overview of a previous birth experience, including your feelings towards the birth and any wishes or concerns for this upcoming birth.
- A discussion of your 'ideal birth' and wishes for/outcomes of the upcoming birth to better tailor a plan on how to achieve as close to your birth preferences as possible.
- An explanation of scheduling, picking a tailored doula plan with prenatal visits, and fees for services.
- An overview of a doula's role during labor, prior to labor, and beyond, including a de-bunking of doula 'myths' and misconceptions.
- A conversation about the wishes and role expectations of the birth partner in his/her partner's labor experience.
An Initial Consult with your Doula
- An overview of how you plan to cope with pain during labor, including assessing you on a "Pain Preference Scale" for where you believe your threshold lies at the time of the meeting, keeping in mind it might change during labor.
- A more developed review birth options and preferences to tailor your labor experience to your wishes.
- An overview and practice of several comfort techniques for labor, including and not limited to acupressure, counterpressure, music, movement, laboring positions, rebozo lifting, hot and cold therapy, visualization, affirmations.
- A provided reading list and access to our lending library to help prepare you for your birth, as well as access to our list of online reading and resources.
- A provided list of area specialists, pediatricians, playgroups, support groups, and more to help you in finding great resources in your area.
- Exercises in simulating contractions and choosing and practicing coping techniques or distractions with both doula and birth partner to choose those that work for you.
- If a specific birth class methodology speaks to you, (Bradley, Hypnobabies, Birthing from Within, Birth Boot Camp, Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, etc.) a tailored list of comfort remedies according to the philosophies of that particular class will be discussed.
A First Prenatal Meeting with your Doula
- Continued practice of coping skills, distraction methods, and practice with your birth method.
- Discussion and creation of a postpartum plan to help with returning home after birth and caring for your newborn and yourself.
- Talks about natural and medical induction methods, epidural support if wanted or becomes necessary, and ways to speed labor along.
- A brief overview of the stages of labor, when to call your doula when you believe labor has begun, and ways the birth partner can help assist their partner during labor in addition to the support of the doula.
- An introduction to your back up doula to better prepare you for all and any scenarios during your birthing time.
A Second Prenatal Meeting with your Doula
- Assessment of your adjustment and comfort at home, including sleeping arrangements with your newborn, latch issues or breastfeeding concerns, personal nutrition and care of your perineum following discharge or return home from your birth location.
- If part of your package, a meal and postpartum bath herbs, sitz bath recommendations and a postpartum kit to ease your care of yourself during this fragile and gentle time of healing.
- An overview of your thoughts and feelings on your birth experience, including a typed birth essay from your doula based on her observations of the birth.
- A review, if part of your package, of your CD of birth photography.
- A brief self assessment of your emotional healing and mind after your birth process, to close the circle of care and help with assistance if emotional duress is evident.
- Distribution of your placenta pills, tinctures and additional items if they have been requested, and/or an overview on how you believe your placenta pills are helping you in the postpartum period.
- An invoice of services to provide your insurance provider, if needed for reimbursement