Barbara Harper from Waterbirth International was here at the Portland MamaBaby Center for her Embracing the Miracle: The Science & Soul of Birth & The First Hour workshop and I felt a very strong connection with her. I have been fortunate to get to know her better and to talk with her more and every interaction leads me to the same conclusion – we were destined to meet and work together in some way. …that’s a blog post for another day.
With Barbara’s permission, I am posting the following excerpt from Gentle Birth Choices. Today I thought I’d continue to share what the leading expert in gentle birth and water birth are says about continuous labor support. There are two copies of this book (and DVD) in the lending library. Gentle Birth Choices is a book I always recommend for our doula clients as they are beginning to formulate their birth plans. I highly encourage you to add this copy to your own reading list if you haven’t read it yet and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. And now, Barbara Harper on Continuous Labor Support (p 20-21):
Gentle births are easier when the mother chooses and trusts the people around her during her labor. Very few women desire to go through labor alone. There is comfort and ease in sharing the experience and having a loving touch, a cool drink, a smile or embrace when it is most needed. Fathers can provide this type of care and relish being there when the baby is born, but women sometimes desire the presence of another woman, someone who is experienced in labor and birth to provide support and assistance. Experienced mothers, sisters, and friends can easily step into that role if the mother chooses them and feels safe with them. Some mothers seek the services of a doula, a trained labor assistant.
The professional doula is a relatively new addition in hospital birth rooms. Women have been caring for each other during childbirth since the beginning of time. Even when a woman is armed with education, the intensity of labor often takes her by surprise. A doula can bring reassurance to both the mother and father that everything is progressing normally. She can suggest position changes, provide massage, or employ other techniques to assist a woman in avoiding drugs in labor.
Nurses on busy maternity units often cannot stay in the labor room due to the fact that they have many duties and care for more than one woman in labor at the same time. Having a midwife in the hospital can sometimes provide a mother continuous support, but more often the reality is that she is responsible for many other tasks. A midwife or physician is making decisions and evaluating the medical aspects of labor, whereas a doula is there solely to provide physical and emotional comfort and support.
A doula will help a mother achieve the birth outcome that she desires. Often meeting with a family a few times before labor begins, the doula becomes familiar with what a mother and father want out of their birth experience. She will work very diligently to establish an environment that is conducive to an undisturbed birth. A doula does not make decisions for parents about their care, but helps them understand the implications of certain procedures so that they can make an informed choice. Her presence gives couples confidence in their choices. She will support women in all their choices for pain management and see that every effort is made to keep the mother and baby together immediately after the birth. A birth doula will stay with the family from the time that her presence is requested in labor until a few hours after the birth, assisting with the initiation of breast-feeding, if needed.
A doula’s purpose is to help a family create a positive and loving birth memory, fostering a great start for this precious little new being. I received a letter in the mail from a very young teenage mother for whom I had served as a doula a few months before. Handwritten on school paper, she wrote:
I am back in school and taking my baby with me to class. I thought it was about time to send you an update on us. My birth was an incredible experience, hard… but I got through it. I would tell you that your being with me made it easier, but in reality, the baby was going to come out no matter what. You kept telling me that and I finally believed you. After that it got easier. I think every mom should have a doula.
Sometimes all that is needed to keep a birth normal is simply to be present – not just physically, but in the moment with the mother. Holding the energy of the birth space is an important job that is more easily accomplished by someone outside of the emotional or the medical aspects of the birth. [emphasis mine]
Did you have a doula with you at your birth? I’d love to hear about ::your:: experience with a doula by your side. If you’d like to share your own doula story or experience, please email it to me along with your permission to post it here, among the opinions of experts, because as the Mom, you are also an expert. My email address is Kate@PortlandMamaBabyCenter.com.
To schedule an hour long free consultation with one of our doulas or monitrices, please send an email to info@PortlandMamaBabyCenter.com. We are adding doulas to our staff and are currently accepting clients due in September and beyond. It’s never too late to find a doula, we can accommodate your last minute requests, as well. If you prefer to call, the number at the center is (503) 206-7715. We also offer childbirth education at the center, as well as midwifery services.
También ofrecemos los servicios en español (hable con Kate.)