Second Opinion Magazine
I loved the time in my life when I was carrying our babies and anticipating each labor and birth. It was undeniably the most challenging chapter of my life, but also the most rewarding! I had empowering birth experiences with a great support team who listened, and I longed to continue to be involved in the world of pregnancy and birth. There was a purpose in my heart to be a voice for and provide guidance to other women. One day the role of a doula was mentioned...and I could not wait to get started!
In 2003 I was invited to attend several births, and through word of mouth, my journey as a doula began. Early on I became a member of DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America) and followed the guidelines to become a certified birth doula. More recently, I have expanded my role to include postpartum doula support and placenta encapsulation.
As a birth doula, I am generally contacted directly by the woman sometime during the course of her pregnancy. As her doula, I provide prenatal visits, during which time we talk about her pregnancy and discuss previous prenatal visits, any complications, and her feelings and needs as they pertain to this pregnancy. I also ask how she envisions her birth and what would make it a positive experience from her point of view. That sets the tone for how we will work together to achieve her goals.
As we get closer to the due date, we talk about the natural stages of labor and birth along with what one might expect, for example, possible interventions, medication and natural remedies for pain relief, positions, and options along the way. I also offer assistance in creating a birth plan to express her preferences and desires, encouraging her to make decisions for her and her baby. In addition to our prenatal visits, I offer phone and email support during both the pregnancy and in the postpartum period.
As she enters the active phase of labor, I join the expectant mother at whatever point she (or her partner) requests, whether at her home or the hospital. As a birth doula, my role is to provide physical, emotional and informational support to mothers and their partners during labor and birth. We weave together her partner’s care and attention and my knowledge and experience. I offer reassurance along with help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning with a focus on the Spinning Babies® techniques. I also assist families in gathering information about the course of their labors and their options in the moment.
My role as the birth doula remains the same whether the mother is planning a hospital or home birth, including if the need arises where medical circumstances require hospital/traditional doctor care. I strive to keep the mother encouraged and empowered, reminding her that she is strong and able to maintain an active role in her care, nurturing her as she maneuvers through the journey of labor and birth (and beyond)!
About a week after the birth of the baby, I make a home visit to talk about the birth experience and to answer any questions the new family may have, whether it pertains to the emotional or physical wellbeing of the new mother or the baby.
As a postpartum doula, I provide support to the new family including newborn care, sibling adjustment, light housework (laundry, dishes, etc.) and meal preparation. I also offer evidence-based information on newborn feeding, emotional and physical recovery from childbirth and other issues related to the postpartum period.
The benefits of birth and postpartum doulas are numerous and include a reduction in interventions, improved postpartum mental health, and comfort and reassurance. According to a 2017 Cochrane Database Systematic Review, continuous support in labor “from a person who is present solely to provide support, is not a member of the woman’s own network, is experienced in providing labor support, and has at least a modest amount of training (such as a doula), appears beneficial.”
For further information, visit https://www.dona.org/what-is-a-doula/benefits-of-a-doula/.
Fun fact: My epidural rate is 23.5%; WI rate is 59% 
My cesarean delivery rate is 16.4%; WI rate is 26.6% 
1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/cesarean_births/cesareans.htm; 2. https://thefamilyway.com/general/do-you-know-the-epidural-rate-in-your-state/