I have. You can read my son’s birth story here. The short version is that I had a 24-hour natural labor, including pushing, that almost ended in a natural delivery. And then I went on for another 13 hours with practically every possible medical intervention, but each and every one was necessary. I went through transition twice and pushed for nearly five hours total. Before my labor, I believed that intervention-free childbirth was a good goal – and I still do. However, I have never appreciated medicine so much as I did while trying to stop myself from following the biological imperative of pushing contractions; having an epidural allowed me to rest and literally gave me the energy to avoid a cesarean section and have a vaginal birth. Because of this I am even more committed now to helping women achieve a childbirth experience that results in a happy and healthy mom and baby, no matter how that occurs.
Many women become doulas because their birth experience was not what they wanted, and that is a terrific and empowering reason to do so. My initial reason for becoming a doula before I had a child was because I love pregnant women and their families, and I think childbirth is the most awesome experience (in the sense of awe-inspiring) that a person can be a part of – either as mother or as assistant. I think, at least in my case, that it helped me to be viewing things in the delivery room more from an unbiased perspective. Having said this, my son’s birth taught me a number of very valuable things that I now have to draw upon as I serve women during their labor and deliveries.
A doula can greatly enhance your experience of childbirth and the postpartum months. Your birth doula will be at your side along with your care provider and partner, as part of your team for continuous support during labor and birth. Or maybe you’d like a postpartum doula to help you through the transition into parenthood and family. Either way, finding a good fit for you and your family is critical.
A doula’s education, training, experience and credentials are important. When doulas have DONA International certification, you know that they have had the best education and training available. You can also be assured that they have a strong sense of professionalism and integrity.
You will also want to consider whether you and your partner feel comfortable with an individual doula. You will need to feel that this doula is supportive of your hopes and expectations about labor, childbirth and parenting, in addition to having a strong professional background and credentials.
Information from DONA.org
Studies have shown that husbands and partners participate more actively in births with a doula than without one. A doula will be with you in labor alongside your husband/partner, not instead of them. A partner can provide you with love and security that a doula cannot because of their experiences and relationship with you; likewise, a doula is able to provide comfort and encouragement to you and your partner throughout labor because of her experiences with the birth process. The two go hand-in-hand. For more information, please see DONA International’s topic sheet on Dads and Doulas.
Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.
DONA International doulas are educated and experienced in childbirth and the postpartum period. We are prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the postpartum period. We offer a loving touch, positioning and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel cared for and nurtured.
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth:
- tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
- reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
- reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
- reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals
Research shows parents who receive support can:
- Feel more secure and cared for
- Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
- Have greater success with breastfeeding
- Have greater self-confidence
- Have less postpartum depression
- Have lower incidence of abuse
Information from DONA.org
Childbirth should be a celebrated, empowering, beautiful, and sacred process. My goal as a doula is to assist mothers and their partners in attaining this during their childbirth experience. While I personally believe that normal childbirth is a natural event, I have previous experience in obstetrics and recognize that medical intervention, while not often necessary, is sometimes the best way to ensure that mother and baby are happy and healthy at the end of the birth process. I want to provide information, encouragement, security, and comfort such that women and their partners are able to make their own decisions and be satisfied with their choices. As a doula, I am continually humbled by my clients and their strength; I look forward to assisting each and every woman with service tailored to her unique situation.
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A birth doula
- Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- Stays with the woman throughout the labor
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience
- Allows the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level
Information from DONA.org