So we are now a mere 6 weeks away from Baby Smith joining the family, and I am beginning to get just a tad bit nervous about trying the whole “birthing naturally” thing. I see the benefit of it, and really desire to do it, but when the times comes, can I handle it? Both my Bradley instructor and my cousin have emphasized that having a doula makes a whole world of difference once those labor pains kick in. So in order to make my wish closer to a reality, we’ve begun the search for the right doula — not that this is the answer to birthing naturally, but it sure will be a help! First off, what is a “doula?”
Where does the word “doula” come from?
The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek, meaning “woman’s servant.” Throughout history and in much of the world today, a cadre of women support a woman through labor and birth, giving back rubs and providing continuous emotional support.
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. Most doula and client relationships begin a few months before the baby is due. During this time, they establish a relationship that gives the mother complete freedom to ask questions, express fears and concerns, and take an active role in creating a birth plan. Most doulas make themselves available to the mother by phone to answer questions or explain any developments that may arise in pregnancy. Doulas do not provide any type of medical care. However, they are knowledgeable in the medical aspect of labor and delivery so they can help their clients get a better understanding of procedures and complications that may arise in late pregnancy or during delivery.
During delivery, doulas are in constant, close proximity to the mother at all times. They can provide comfort with pain relief techniques, such as breathing, relaxing, and laboring position. Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance. A doula acts as an advocate for the mother, encouraging her in her desires for her birth. The goal of a doula is to help the mother have a positive and safe birth experience, whether the mother wants an un-medicated birth or is having a planned cesarean birth.
Benefits of a 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 care providers.
- A doula perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman’s memory of her birth experience.
For those of you who are interested, here is an informative clip
, called “Birth Matters — Doulas Make A Difference.”