Ever since I was young I have planned on having only my husband in the delivery room with me. Not only are we quiet people, but I feel that this will be another great time for the two of us to bond as I rely on him for so much.My plans changed last week when I was looking at our hospital website (Lexington Medical Center) and found that they offer doulas for all of the laboring moms. I had only heard of doulas once before, when I was in college a professor had told us her daughter-in-law used one; I assumed this was something that only wealthy people used. Knowing that the hospital offers these for all women and for free I decided to do some research.
The word doula come from ancient Greek and means 'women helping women'. According to the brochure from the hospital, "these women have been trained to help guide you through the pain and stress that accompanies labor and delivery by providing emotional support, physical comfort measures and informational support. They are skilled in working with you, your physician/midwife and your nurse to provide support during the journey of birth, helping to create the birthing team. If you elect to use a doula in your birthing experience, she can suggest ways for family members to be involved in childbirth and help new dads ease into their roles of coach and father. Her presence does not take the place of family involvement but rather complements it. She will be as involved as you want or need her to be. Your doula will remain with you throughout labor and delivery, regardless of time or shift changes, caring for you with everything from soothing tired muscles to helping you breastfeed your baby. The doula will also visit you the next day, providing additional support, breastfeeding assistance and information."
You typically meet with a doula a couple of times before elivery to go over your birthing plans and meet a week or so after the baby is born. However, since these are provided by the hospital, you only see them during your time there.
So far this sounds great to me!! To have one consistent person, besides my husband, with me thoughout labor and to have them focus on us. Many times the people in the room are excited about seeing the baby and not about making sure mom and dad are content, this is what I really need. I will take a cpoy of my birth plan for her to review and will be comfortable knowing that she will communicate all of my requests to the doctors and nurses. For example, I want a medication free delivery, want my husband to stay with the baby when it leaves the room after birth, and do not want the little one to have a pacifier - the doula will make sure all of this is taken care of while I am exhausted and cannot yet get off the delivery bed.
Benefits of Doula Services
National studies have shown:
~reduce cesarean deliveries
~reduce the need for medication
~shorten the length of labor
~fewer forcep deliveries
~reduced use of vacuum extraction
~reduced maternal bleeding following birth
~enhance self confidence of the mother-to-be
~mothers have higher regard and increased sensitivity toward babies
~reduced incidence of post-partum depression
~fathers report greaeter satisfaction with the birth and more comfort with supporting their wives appropriately
Education of a Doula
While trying to find what a doula needs to do for certification, I was amazed to see that there are no set requirements!!! If you want to be certified through Doulas of North America you need to attend a workshop, read 5 books from a required reading last, purchase a birth doula certification packet, attend a childbirth education class, and provide a series of paperwork. After 3 years a doula needs to recertify. To be certified through Childbirth International you need to read a comprehensive set of study guides, support 2 women through lobor, read 3 books, complete a survey, and complete 2 assignments. After this you are certified for life. Surprising, yes!! But keep in mind that these ladies are not doing anything medical, they are simply a support system.
With all of this information I definitely plan on having a doula present at my first birth. I like that I choose how much they help, but know they will support me in my choices.
All information comes from Lexington Medical Center, http://www.ithacadoulas.com/, http://www.dona.org/, http://www.childbirthinternational.com/