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The Value of Labor Support
By Teresa Howard CD(DONA)


Having a doula be with a mom in labor has many values. The initial value, if you are able to do so prior to the labor, begins during pregnancy with a relationship building that will encourage the mom's ability to relax with the doulas help based on a relationship of trust that has been built and established during this time .During this time, the doula can point the mother in the direction for obtaining more information in order to better educate herself as to what her options will be for this upcoming birth. I am available via the phone to answer questions that arise during the pregnancy. In labor the doula can act as an advocate for the couple. She can also be the clear mind that will help the couple achieve the birth that has been planned for, if at all possible. The woman will need mothering during labor and birth, a doula can act as this mother without the emotional entanglements that sometimes occur when it is actually your own mother. After the birth, a doula can assist in helping the bonding time to go smoothly and offer assistance with breastfeeding, if it is needed.

Women don't need to be "delivered" if they are allowed to give birth. Birth needs to be reconsidered as a natural process- not a medical procedure. A doula can support a woman in this, in a natural non- intervening way. She can support her ability to give birth, and thus helping to empower a woman in the process. Many times this medical interventions are the way that the medical community copes with attempting to meet this mom's needs. And many times she falls prey to interventions that will increase her chances of the unnecessary need for drugs and possibly a cesarean section. All she may need is comfort and reassurance.

Doulas act as the support a woman needs emotionally, assisting in carrying out the birth plan that the parents have selected to provide them with the "right" birth for them. She does not replace the role of the father, but enhances it. Many times a couple does not know all of their options. I initially meet with the mother or couple to offer assistance in determining the birth plan that best fits her needs and desires. A doula can point this couple in the right direction to gain this much needed additional information if they so desire. I try to educate and encourage everyone to take the responsibility for exploring their options for their birth experience, choosing the one that is right for them.

As a doula, I stay by a woman's side throughout labor, providing the emotional support, physical measures and an objective viewpoint to help her make the decisions that will enable her to have the birth experience she desires. Many times she can get caught up in the moment and not have the ability to make rational decisions. Having a doula can help to keep her grounded emotionally and a doula can be the stability to assure her the birth experience will go as she has planned, unless medical emergencies arise.

The role of a doula is multifaceted. I will attend a prenatal visit to meet the doctor or midwife you have selected. Sometimes a doula can assist the mom in planning out the questions to ask her provider. Many women feel intimidated by the medical community. A doula can be there to offer moral support. She can help give emotional support and aid in building the confidence the woman has in asking difficult questions to her provider. I can become a liaison between the medical staff and help with communication between mom and her partner. A doula does not offer medical advice, but can help with the questions a couple may need to ask before complying with advice they may not understand facilitating a decision based on knowledge.

I stay with the laboring mother throughout labor offering comfort measures- encouragement, massage, relaxation techniques, making suggestions along the way to aid in helping the mother stay comfortable. Having a third party there- not he emotionally connected family member, but someone with knowledge of laboring techniques, can speed labor along and help the mom to stay more comfortable. Many times, a husband just needs some guidance in order to best meet his wife's needs during this time. A doula can provide that guidance and reassurance.

Certainly the results are in for the way that a doula can decrease the chance of a cesarean, decrease the length of labor, reduce the needs for pain medication, and facilitate a normal, natural, non-intervening birth experience. There is no other job as rewarding. I find being a doula both exhilarating and fascinating. It is hard work but the rewards outweigh the work every time! A doula is certainly an extra pair of hands and another heart, helping each birth be a labor of love!



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