Many expectant women think about how their pregnancy and birth will go. They may read books or blogs, researching the latest fads, new research or what has been historically done for years. Most will talk to friends or family who have been there before, seeking advice on what to expect. Some will dream about the environment they want to welcome their child into, and others will focus on what life will be like after baby arrives.
Most women will be faced with an overwhelming amount of decisions regarding the birth of their child. Where do they want to give birth, where is plan B located, who will be there, how will I handle labor pains, what if I don’t go into labor on my own, what happens if labor starts too early, etc.? So many decisions to be made over the course of 9 months and for some not much has been explained why they would choose one over the other. How do you decided and who’s opinion do you trust? And all of this just gets you to the point of welcoming that child into the world, not to mention becoming parents and everything that happens after delivery. It is hard for some to navigate the web of information that surrounds pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.
I have learned that making a plan helps to alleviate some stress. Having time to research options and come up with a course of action when you are not pressed for an immediate decision is the best. But what happens when things veer off course? That’s where plan B comes in! It’s important to not only think about your ideal birth and create a plan in which everything goes ideally, and every option is still an option, but also to decide, if some options are taken away, what is still very important to you. Birth is not predictable and it’s important to be flexible in some areas when necessary. For example, options are limited when you are faced with a cesarean birth. Can you still have skin to skin contact once baby is out and you are still in surgery? Can you have your arms free to hold your baby instead of being strapped down? You can talk with your provider about what options you may still have, given the situation.
There are interventions that are scary so some people don’t want to think about or plan for. It’s important though to familiarize yourself with what possibilities are out there so you can decide ahead of time what you would do given the situation. Take a childbirth class and learn all about the birthing process and what options are out there. I encourage you to have a discussion with your provider if you have any questions about some of the possible interventions and situations surrounding birth.
It’s world doula week (March 22-28)! According to the organizers, the purpose of World Doula Week is “to empower doulas all over the world to improve the physiological, social, emotional, and psychological health of women, newborns and families in birth and in the postpartum period.”
There are so many benefits to having continuous support during labor but did you also know there is support in the postpartum period as well? Postpartum doulas receive specialized training separate from birth doulas. They are there to help families transition during what is typically called the 4th trimester. Postpartum doulas provide evidence based information in the areas of infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery, mother-baby bonding, infant soothing, and basic newborn care. The scope of care for a postpartum doula is specialized to meet the parents where they are. Some families might need more help of infant care or soothing while others might need more emotional and physical support. Unlike birth doulas who typically have an all inclusive package price; postpartum doulas typically charge and hourly rate for services.
There has been buzz about a study produced by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in 2014 and reaffirmed in 2016 about the benefits of continuous labor support during labor.
“Increasing women’s access to nonmedical interventions during labor, such as continuous labor support, also has been shown to reduce cesarean birth rates.”
These new guidelines encourage birth providers to re-examine some standard practices that might not benefit low risk mothers. It is important that ACOG is publishing information that supports more individualized labor care and re-examining practices that might impede more than aid labor. Working relationships improve as studies show doctors and other birth professionals that doulas have a positive impact during labor and delivery. More mothers hear about and hire doulas which means more mothers receive the benefits of having a supportive birth experience.
To read the statement from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists click here
There have been several studies recently on the benefits a doula can have on your birth outcome. Many people still assume that a doula is only for those who want a “natural” birth. Doulas are there to support a laboring woman in whatever way that woman desires. Whether you are having an unmedicated birth, an epidural, an induction, or a caesarean a doula can support you through your pregnancy and labor.
Journal of Perinatal Education
Top 10 reasons you should hire a doula:
- A doula has knowledge and experience about labor and birth to provide answers to questions about the birthing process
- A doula provides constant support during labor
- A doula supports you before and after labor, not just during it.
- A doula learns your wishes and desires for your labor and birth and helps you achieve them
- A doula provides support to your partner so they feel confident and comfortable assisting during labor
- A doula can help lower birth risks
- A doula helps you get information for informed decision making
- A doula can help you with breastfeeding if that’s what you desire
- A doula provides encouragement and support without judgement
- A doula is there for YOU! Her primary focus is supporting you however you need.
A doula as defined by DONA International is :
a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.
My desire as a doula is to help mothers and their partners have the best possible birth experience. Whether it be medicated or unmedicated. There are an overwhelming number of options in birth and my desire is to provide credible information about the various options so that a mother can make an informed decision about what she desires for her birth. Every woman has a different vision of what her ideal birth would look like. It is not my place to tell you how your ideal birth should look but rather support you in the decisions you have made. I bring personal and professional experience as well as knowledge gained from training and research.