What is a Doula?
A Labor 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.. Perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman's memory of her birth experience." ~ unknown
Your doula is your spokesperson, your advocate, and your birth coach. If you are birthing in the hospital, chances are you are going to see many nurses, doctors, and residents as they change shifts. This can be difficult for a woman who is trying to maintain her birthing rhythm. A doula builds a bubble around the birthing woman - so she feels safe, protected and able to birth in the way she needs to.
There are several studies out there that encourage the use of a doula. Research shows that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of the labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60%.*
*Klaus, M., Kennell, J., Klaus, P. Motheringthe Mother.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1993.
Doula is a Greek word meaning "mother servant". The word "doula" is used for an experienced birth companion who provides continuous physical, mental and emotional support throughout pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period. Their role is to help women have a safe, fulfilling and empowering birth experience.Your doula is your voice during labor and delivery, allowing you to achieve the birth you desire.
What does a doula do?
Doulas are jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the birthing room. They not only provide support for the laboring woman, but they also provide support and reassurance for the father/partner and any family members present. Many people report a feeling of calm reassurance when the doula is around. Below is a handful of techniques that doulas use in the birth room:
- *Doulas suggest labor and birthing positions for comfort and pain relief.
- *Doulas help mom get into her birthing rhythm.
- *Doulas utilize the power of touch for pain and provides massage therapy as well as other comfort measures as needed.
- *If an intervention is being proposed to you by hospital staff, your doula will be able to explain what it's for, the side effects and will help you make an informed decision based on your wishes and desires.
- *Provide reassurance for the mom as well as any partner or family member present.
What about the father's/partner's role in childbirth?
A doula does not take over this role - but instead compliments and enhances the father/partner's experience. The doula and the father/partner work together to assist the mother in every way she needs to be assisted. The doula also assists the father during labor, suggesting comfort measures he can help with as well as stepping in when he needs to step out.
"My husband (partner) is my left hand and my doula is my right."- Doulas Making a Difference
What is a Holistic Doula?
In addition to the traditional doula services, I am able to offer my clients more comprehensive natural health packages. Naturopaths and healers have known for a long time that the woman's state of being (mentally, emotionally, and physically) has an impact on how they birth, and on the baby's state of well being. Women who seek naturopathic and homeopathic care during pregnancy report less of the common ailments of pregnancy, including: less morning sickness, constipation, insomnia, heartburn and an increased level of energy.
Many women don't like to take any medications during pregnancy because of their potential harmful effects on their baby. Dana Ullman (a skilled homeopath) says the following about using homeopathy during pregnancy and labor:
"The relative safety of the homeopathic medicines make them invaluable in pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. "There's nothing safer." says Ananda Zaren, a nurse, midwife, and homeopath in Santa Barbara, California, who has used homeopathic medicines in hundreds of births. Besides being safe, the medicines are quite effective in treating various common problems of pregnancy. Zaren adds, "The medicines help strengthen the woman physically and psychologically." Homeopaths have been known to joke that pregnancy is an excellent time to receive homeopathic care since two people (the mother and the fetus) get a remedy for the price of one. The medicines not only improve the health of the mother, they also benefit the fetus. Although no formal statistical analysis has yet been carried out, homeopaths have commonly observed that the children born from women who have received homeopathic care during pregnancy seem healthier than others. Homeopaths make this conjecture by comparing the children of women from previous pregnancies without homeopathic medicines with the offspring of later pregnancies in which the mothers have received the medicines.
It is generally known that the health of the woman greatly affects the health of the fetus. Since pregnancy can be particularly stressful to a woman's body, women often experience exacerbations of previous health problems or various new symptoms. Some of these common symptoms and conditions are nausea, abdominal gas, vaginal infections, bladder infections, herpes, insomnia, anemia, backaches, breast swelling and swelling in general, constipation, hemorrhoids, leg cramps, skin eruptions, and varicose veins." -From this article
A woman's emotional wellbeing during pregnancy is so important, not only for her and baby, but also for what her delivery will look like as well. SInce homeopathy is truly a holistic medicine, it works on the whole person - mentally, emotionally and physically.. With homeopathy and naturopathy, the actual birthing process is smoother, less painful, and with fewer complications. And where complications may arise, a holistic doula is equipped with the necessary tools to aid and assist where appropriate. For more information on natural health & medicine, you can find my health blog here and my Montreal doula blog here.