Congratulations, you are expecting! A new life will join you within nine months… And now all the questions start. Concerns about pregnancy, the labor and delivery process, postpartum results. Your obstetrician can answer some of your queries, but, what about the questions that come up in the middle of the night? And what if your baby’s father is not available to help during the labor and delivery? Also, do you have local family who can help support you?
A growing number of mothers are finding real help in a doula. ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) reports, “Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.” In fact, ACOG reports these results:
• 28% less likely to have a cesarean section
• 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor
• 41% less likely to need forceps or vacuum extraction during delivery
• 9% less likely to use any pain medication (like an epidural) during labor
• 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively
• Less likely to need their water broken artificially or have an episiotomy
• Less likely to experience anxiety in labor and delivery or postpartum depression
• More satisfied with their birth experience
• More likely to have a faster labor and delivery
• More likely to have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries
• More likely to breastfeed easier and longer
• Less likely to have a low APGAR score or experience decreased heart rate or labored respiration
What is involved?
Jamie Canning of Tiny Miracle Doula Services (www.TinyMiraclesDoula.com) explains her role,
“As a doula I offer physical, emotional, and informational support. That means that I help get you answers on your birth options, I provide information on common or routine procedures, and help you navigate all the tests and procedures. I help prepare you for labor by listening to your fears and concerns and am there for you to talk to and bounce ideas off of. I offer suggestions on positions that can help labor be more comfortable and faster (yes, please!). I also offer massage and foot rubs during labor and have other tips and tricks that can help get baby into an optimal birthing position (which can also mean a faster labor!).”
Doulas begin meeting with moms-to-be once the first contact has been made, then meet a few more times before labor begins. The team will discuss birth wishes, coping techniques, what to expect once labor has begun, and a postpartum plan. Usually the first meeting is around 28 weeks, with a follow-up around 36 weeks. Explained Jamie, “I show them techniques and what is in my doula bag for them to use,” explained Jamie. “I’m always available to them to answer questions and help get them information to make informed decisions about their care.”
As the due date approaches, the doula likewise draws near. “I usually go ‘on call’ for them around 38 weeks,” said Jamie, “which means I’m available 24/7 to them. They can call anytime with questions or with a heads up, ‘I think something might be going on’.”
“I absolutely meet with fathers; fathers are a key component to the labor process! Meeting with fathers before labor helps us work as a team for mom. Some dads really want to be hands-on and just need some guidance on what to do. Some just want to be the emotional support while I do the hands-on work. I help support fathers by making sure he is taken of as well and reassuring them about what is normal and what is going on.”
What about OB Appointments?
“I can go (and have gone) to appointments with clients. Sometimes they want me to go with to help discuss birth wishes or just so we all can meet and be on the same page before labor.” This is especially helpful for higher risk pregnancies, such as the birth of multiples, or V-BAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) for example.
Paying it Forward
As a first-time mother, Jamie had a doula assist with the birth of her eldest child, son Sydney (now 3). “She was so wonderful! She told me that I had options, something that I didn’t know as a first time mom. After the birth, I thought about her role in the birth and thought, this is something I want to pay forward to other women. I learned so much about pregnancy and labor during my training that I didn’t even know–even though I just went through it (giving birth)! I started working on my training just a few months after my first was born, took the training workshop, and started attending births!”
With strong mental, emotional and physical support, a track record of excellent birth outcomes, and the promise of a friendly, knowledgeable and encouraging face at your side, a birth doula is a wonderful resource for moms-to-be.
About Jamie: “I have two beautiful children, Sydney is 3 and Jayson is 22 months. They are both at such fun ages and I love to hear them laugh and play together. I’m married to my best friend Barrett!”