Is A Doula Right For Me?

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Today’s hassles and bustles that we go through as we strive to make a living put a lot of pressure on expectant mothers. A mother to be today may not be able to enjoy her pregnancy, labor and newborn child given the pressures that she has to bare on a daily basis. However, if you want to have an easier time during and after pregnancy then it’s a great idea to have a doula.

A doula can be a great help to make your birthing experience a more memorable one, with beautiful memories to keep forever.

A doula will do some or all of the following for you:

  • Offer education on the birthing process
  • Prepare a birth plan
  • Position the fetus at an optimal position prior to birth
  • Massage and suggest positions to ease pain
  • Provide encouragement and reassurance to the would be mother
  • Provide photography or offer video coverage during the momentous occasion for you and your partner or family

The doula is a well trained professional birth support physician who knows what to do under any circumstances that the new mother may be going through. The following are some of the direct benefits that mothers enjoy when they work with a doula:

  • Over 50 percent fewer caesarean sections (CS)
  • A reduction in the use of forceps vacuum by as much as 40 percent
  • Reduced anxiety by up to 28 percent and a noticeable reduction in levels of post-partum depression
  • Reduced use of pain medication, by as much as 30 percent
  • A reduction in the length of labor by almost 25 percent
  • Increased breastfeeding rate

As you can see, the benefits are significant. The majority of first time mother who use a doula when they have their first child find that they cannot  go through a second pregnancy without a doula on their side! With the support of your partner and your doula, you will have one of the best times during and after pregnancy regardless of your economic status. Having the right support at childbirth makes all the difference.

photo by: Cia de Foto

So, What Is A Doula?

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Motherhood is often portrayed as seeming to be all rosy, but this is a far cry from the truth! Any new mother knows the stress and pain that she goes through before she actually gets to hold her brand new bundle of joy. To assist new mothers before taking up the challenge of motherhood, we have doulas.

Doula (pronounced “doola”) is a word that is borrowed from the Greek, and he word basically means woman servant or caregiver. However, the word in our context means a woman who is experienced and able to offer emotional and practical support to a woman before, during and after the childbirth process. The doula is seen as a person who mothers the mother.

A doula provides the right atmosphere for the new mother to bare her child, and she strives to give the pregnant woman as comfortable and satisfying a time as possible during her pregnancy. The doula also ensures that the mother to be is well attended to when giving birth and during her early days as a mother.

Today, most doulas practicing around the world have to go through some training before they get to work in the real world. Some doulas take specialized training to undertake specific tasks during pregnancy, during birth and after birth. Doulas that are specifically involved in the birthing process are very well experienced on matters relating to childbirth. Although some of the doulas might not be mothers themselves, they have a good and extensive understanding of female physiology.

Postnatal doulas on the other hand help the mother and the family by providing recommendations and suggestions to the mother and father after the birth. Postnatal doulas can also allow the new mother to enjoy bed and rest after childbirth, which is often recommended by doctors to facilitate quick recovery. This is especially useful when the birth was a difficult one, or the mother was required to have surgery – so rest and relaxation is vital to the recovery process.

The support that is provided to the new mother by the doula helps the whole family to enjoy the experience as they welcome the new addition to the family.

photo by: josemanuelerre

Yoga Labor: A Useful tool for Doula’s

Take a look and keep an opened mind about Yoga Birthing or Yoga Labor.

A good doula is always looking for another tool to put in her belt.

 

Finding the right Obestetrician for you!

When you begin working with a doula, not only will they help guide you through your pregnancy, but they will also help assist you in making the right decision when choosing the obstetrician.  If you are already working with an OB that you are comfortable with then a doula will not try to make you go to a different doctor for you care, however, they will give you a list of questions that they may think are important.  Here are five questions that you should ask before making a final decision about who the obstetrician will be helping you through your pregnancy.

 

  1. How is your health?  While this is not something that you would ask when deciding on the right obstetrician for you, it is definitely something that you need to ask yourself.  You need to decide if your current health situation is going to put you at a higher risk during the pregnancy.  If it does, or if an initial examination after you found out that you are pregnant determines you may be higher risk then you need to choose your obstetrician based off of the help they will provide you to keep you at a lower risk fact.
  2. What is the doctor’s outlook?  If you are wanting to have a vaginal birth you need to find out if the obstetrician is willing to follow your wishes unless serious complications were to come up.  If this is not your first birth and you have had a cesarean in the past but now want to try vaginal birth you need to find out if the OB is willing to allow for this type of birth to take place.  Some OBs do not believe in having a vagina birth after a cesarean has already been preformed as they feel as though complications may arise.  Let the doctor know that you have a doula that you will be working with and find out how comfortable they are going to be having the doula advocating for you while you are giving birth.
  3. Are you compatible?  We have all heard of doctors that have terrible bedside manner or who treat you as though you are just another patient to them.  This can be discouraging to some people who may want more of a personal connection with the doctor that will be helping to deliver their baby.  Have a conversation with your doctor when you are interviewing them to see how open they are going to be to you.  You want to be comfortable with the doctor you choose so try to get a feel for how they are going to treat you on the first meeting.
  4. How available is the doctor going to be to you?  In my opinion this is one of the most important questions to ask.  You want to make sure that if you are going to work with a particular obstetrician that they are going to be there for you during the birth.  Some OBs will give their calls to other doctors and won’t come in to assist their patients.  If this is not something that you want to have happen you need to make it very clear to the OB that if you are going to work with them you want them you want them there during the delivery.
  5. What type of health guidelines does the doctor have for you?  This is another very important question, especially if you follow your own type of diet or if you have religious beliefs that may prohibit you from eating or taking certain types of medication.  You will want to make sure that the OB that you choose is willing to work with you in finding creative ways to maintain your health as well as the health of your baby while still following the dietary and health guidelines that you have for yourself.

 

Your doula can be apart of this process with you so that you don’t have to determine who would be the best doctor for you on your own.  If you see a lot of doctors it may start to get confusing as every doctor is different and more then likely will have a different philosophy on child birth.  Having a doula with you will also help you remember questions that are important but you may forget about during the process of finding the right OB for you and your baby.

photo by: edenpictures

Grow Your Doula Business with Local Social Networking

Making the decision to become a doula is essentially a business decision. You have to have a proper plan of action in order to be successful. Trying to do everything on your own can be difficult and finding the right resources can also prove to be hard when you are in a smaller, more rural area.

Like any business, one of the essential things to do when getting started is to engage yourself in the doula community around you. It is a positive form of networking to be involved with people who do the same thing and can obviously help teach you if you are new to being a doula.

Part of the doula certification is ensuring that you meet the requirements of continuing education courses. Most of the doula certification programs offer multiple forms of continuing education recommendations so you have the choice to pick and choose what you want to engage in to meet the hours that you need when getting re-certified. Going to meetings, seminars, or setting up support groups for doulas may be a positive way for you to not only learn, but also to gain the required amount of hours in order to keep your certification.

Getting together with people in your community and holding meetings and seminars is also a great way to get the word out there about what you actually do. In smaller areas, the services of a doula are not well known. If you find yourself in a situation like that it would be beneficial to you and your business to set up educational and informational training meetings or seminars to get the word out about the type of services you offer. Again, being a doula is a business and in order to be successful you have to build that business.

Here are a few tips to success:

  • Develop a business plan. Decide whether you want to be independent of if it is something that think you can do on your own.
  • Identify what the most important decisions are going to be for you to make when starting your business.
  • Command respect from the medical community as well as the community you live in. Get out there and get the word on the street about what you do and the type of services you provide.
  • Develop marketing strategies such as creating business cards and flyers. Do something that will get your name out there and be creative so it will catch people’s attention.
  • Set your fees and stay in constant contact with your clients. Make sure clients are aware of what they have to pay for and why.
  • Make sure to have a proper business model to protect you and your clients from liability.

Ensuring that you have the write business model in place when becoming a doula is an essential part of your success.  Making sure you get out there and network with many different types of organizations is also a critical part of making sure people within your community know what you do and the type of beneficial services you can offer them.

photo by: Phil Sexton

Providing Doula Services for Expectant Teens

Not only is it scary to be a newly expectant mother for the first time, but it is even more pressure if you are a teen mother or don’t have the financial means necessary to have a child. It is critical for a successful pregnancy, in my opinion, to be comfortable during the entire process. However, as a teen mother-to-be or someone that may not have the financial means or emotional support the process can be even more stressful and overwhelming.

The type of emotional support, physical support, as well as teaching that is involved in guiding a teen mother or underprivileged woman through a pregnancy takes extra patience and support. A doula has to be willing to give extra time to an individual who may not be old enough to raise a child or who may not have the financial means necessary to start a family. In most cases that I have seen, teen mothers and underprivileged women may have the support of their family members, but teaching them to do things on their own is essential to not only their life but the life of their child.

A doula has to step away from the typical role of merely just teaching a new mother about what to expect, but in a way, they are also having to teach a teen mother or underprivileged mother what it will be like to live with limited resources while also supporting themselves and their new baby. This can often times prove to be a difficult task as it takes years of experience as well as lots of patience in order to teach a teen or underprivileged mother how to support themselves as well as their baby.

However, there are doulas that specialize in working with teens and underprivileged mothers. While they provide the same sort of support that they would provide to every other woman, they also bring other things to the table, such as resources to other places in their community that can assist them such as nutritional programs as well as assistance from their local Department of Human Services for financial and medical support. These types of resources can help on both an emotional and physical level as knowing that there are options available can help provide relief during the pregnancy.

A doula that is working with teen mothers and underprivileged mothers will also spend more time post-partum then they typically would with a regular birth. Post-partum depression is more likely to happen in teen and underprivileged mothers as they feel as though they have no where to turn and that they are not fit to care for a newborn. I can speak from experience that my post-partum experience was extremely scary as I had my first child as an unwed, underprivileged mother. Looking back on it now, if I would have had some extra help from someone like a doula to help guide me through some of the new experiences I wouldn’t have faced all of the extra anxiety and post-partum issues that I dealt with.

There are specific doula programs that work primarily with underprivileged and teen mothers. Talk to your health care provider as well as your local public health or Department of Human Services office to find out if there are any doulas in your area to help assist you. It will be worth your time to have someone who can help guide you and give you the extra support you need.

photo by: michael_swan

Get Experience by Volunteering to Assist a Certified Doula

One of the things that you have to decide when deciding to become a doula is whether or not it would be the right type of lifestyle for you. Being a doula takes a certain type of individual who is open to almost anything, especially when it comes to working with expecting mothers. There is a certain amount of stress that a doula should be able to handle, as well as an ability to multitask at all times. A doula’s personal life (as well as professional life) are often combined since they are on call on a consistent basis for their clients.

In order to decide if this is really something for you, try volunteering with a doula and see them through the entire process. You can get in contact with your local hospital or public health office to see if they have the name or a way to get in contact with a certified doula in your area. While some doula’s may be hesitant to have a volunteer with them because of the privacy and confidentiality that they experience with their clients, others will be more than happy to help share their experiences.

You can also do a search on the internet to find a doula in your area. In some of the smaller areas of the United States it may be more difficult to find a doula. However, if you are willing to travel even if it’s just to experience a live birth and be there for a portion of the post-partum job of a doula it would be worth it just to feel what the experience is like as a doula.

If there are no doulas in your area, and you don’t have the means to travel a long distance try connecting with a mid-wife. While their training is a little different and they specialize in different types of care then a doula, you would at least get an introduction to child birth and care of mother and child during the birth process. Keep in mind that if you train with a mid-wife, they are most typically a certified nurse which is not something that a doula is.

You can also try to get in touch or visit some of the agencies where a doula can get their certification to see if they have any special type of programs or introduction classes that could assist you in learning more about the life of a doula and what they do for both the mother, the child, and the entire family.

photo by: greendoula

Lactation Consultants Vs Doulas: Can We Work Together?

One of the things that any new mother must decide is whether or not they are going to breast feed their newborn or if they would rather bottle feed. While a doula can give you information and ideas about both, unless she is a board certified lactation consultant she may not be able to properly teach you what you need to know about breast feeding.

There are different types of certifications that a lactation consultant may have. They can either be an international board certified lactation consultant, a certified lactation educator, or a certified lactation consultant. All three of these certifications have different training material but what they all have in common is that in order for you to become certified you must have at least 90 hours of training in the first five years.

While working in the health care industry as a nurse, midwife, or a doula is a plus it is not going to mean that you are automatically qualified to be a lactation consultant. There are multiple topics that are covered in your training from general education topics to introduction to medical terminology. You will be required to take these classes either in a formal classroom or as online courses but must take eight of the general education courses and six of the continuing education courses in order to gain your certification as a lactation consultant.

One of the other things to consider when becoming a lactation consultant is whether or not it is truly the career path for you. You have to be sure that you are going to be completely comfortable working with lactating women. It is a very private thing for a new mother to expose herself to a stranger, especially after the birth of their baby. If a person is working with a doula that is a lactation consultant then she will already have that level of comfort as you would have been working with that doula throughout their pregnancy.

To become a lactation consultant you must decide between the five different pathways that you want to take. The biggest between the pathways is how much time you have to put into classes as well as how much time you will be required to work with new, lactating mothers. You will also be required to take a test on a variety of different subjects such as anatomy, physiology, ethics, legal issues, etc. before you can even become a lactation consultant. The test will be given after you have taken the general education courses or continuing education courses that were discussed earlier.

If a doula also doubles as a lactation consultant they can provide an enormous amount of help to new mothers. They can help to build a bond between mother and child by teaching positioning a latching, how to tell if your baby is getting enough to eat a time, and how to involve your partner in the process of breastfeeding so that they can also build a trusting bond.

References:

http://americas.iblce.org/faqs-about-becoming-an-ibclc

Are home births safe?

One of the current trends happening in the world right now is the increase in home births. There is much debate on whether or not giving birth at home is truly safe and mother and baby. However, more and more women are choosing to take this alternative route because of the fact that it offers a unique sense of comfort and privacy that giving birth in a hospital can not offer.  There are many different things to consider when you are thinking about having a home birth.

First and foremost is it the safest option for you? If you are already struggling with your health in your pregnancy, chances are you would be better off giving birth in a hospital where they can monitor any condition that you may be experiencing. If you are having issues and you do attempt to still have a home birth, chances are you will end up having to move from your home to a hospital if serious complications arise. While a doula can be there to help support you during your home birth, they can not give you emergency medical care if you are already facing a high risk pregnancy.

The second thing to consider is how much stress it’s going to put on your body. With home birth, the entire process is natural. There are no last minute drugs that can be administered for pain should you decide that you need them. This of course is why it would be a great idea to have a doula by your side during your home birth. They are trained to help with pain management and to relieve stress which in my opinion would be critical when attempting a home birth.

When making the decision to have a home birth, you should talk to plenty of health care providers to weigh your options. You need to determine if it would be the best fit for you and if you and your partner are truly ready for how different it will be then a hospital birth. Discuss the differences with your doctor and try to make contact with other women who have had their own home birth experiences. This way you know exactly what you are getting into if you decide that a home birth is the route you want to go.

In terms of whether or not they are safe, it is a matter of opinion. Some studies show that it makes an expectant mother more comfortable giving birth in the privacy of her own home. But studies also show that complications can and do arise from time to time that can be life threatening to either the baby or the mother. This is a very important decision that you are about to make and it is not one that should be made without doing all of the research you possibly can on the topic. Some medical studies suggest that there is a higher likely hood of infant death then there is when giving birth in the hospital. Again, this all depends on your health, as well as the health of the baby.

You should discuss all of the possible outcomes with a doula and a number of health care professionals before making this decision. While a doula can provide comfort and care, they can not prepare you for a bad outcome.

References:

http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/home-births-rise-safe-205400504.html

http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1357628/doula-for-a-home-birth

photo by: eyeliam

Natural Childbirth – Can a Doula help to avoid Caesarean Births

One of the number one fears that many women have when they get pregnant is whether or not they will have a cesarean section. I know that when I first became pregnant the thought of a cesarean section almost consumed me and at times sent me into panic, especially when I learned that my health was not that great to begin with. While I had some support by my side during these times, I feel that if I would have had a doula present I would have felt more at ease and not worried so much about the idea of a cesarean section.  Multiple studies all over the United States and abroad have suggested that having a doula present for your pregnancy and your birthing experience.

While there is no one way to pinpoint exactly what type of services a doula is providing that makes women so much more comfortable, the fact of the matter is that they are obviously doing enough to help support natural birth. At times it is necessary to have a cesarean birth not only for the health of the baby but also for the health of the mother. Emergencies can come up during any pregnancy that are unexpected which require a cesarean section. However, a doula will do whatever she can to help support you and avoid a cesarean section if you want a natural birth.

There are multiple things that a doula will do for you to prepare you for the birthing process. Many of these things are designed to help you avoid an unnecessary cesarean section. Here is a list of things that doula’s do to help women prepare and help avoid cesareans.

Educate

Part of a doula’s job is to help educate not only the mother, but the partner and family unit as a whole. While most women would prefer to advocate for themselves, the fact of the matter is that when the birthing process starts it becomes difficult for them to articulate what they want or need. When women are under a lot of stress or if they can see that their partner is stressed there is a likelihood that the birth may last longer and not go as planned. Having a doula present can greatly reduce this type of stress for both mother and partner.

Research your care providers

Maybe you have been with the same family doctor for years and you trust them with your life. But do you trust them with your delivery? How much experience does the doctor you work with really have? Does the doctor prefer natural birth or do they push for women to be induced and have a cesarean? Having a doula by your side during the first phase of picking your care provider can sometimes mean the difference between the natural birth you may want and an unnecessary cesarean section. If you find yourself uncomfortable with the doctor you choose because their philosophies change, find a different provider. While this can be stressful, you want to make sure that you are doing what YOU want to do.

Keep moving

One of the best things that my doctor did for me was to make me keep moving. 20 hours into labor I was no longer making any progress. My doctor informed me that if I didn’t make progress within the next hour I was going to have to go down for a cesarean section in order to help avoid infection. He then proceeded to let me know that the best way to avoid that was to get up and walk as much as I could for as long as I could. He was right, shortly after getting out of the bed and walking I was ready to being pushing. Doula’s are well aware that the more a woman moves, the faster a pregnancy will move along. They also know that laying in a hospital bed for the entire pregnancy will prolong the birth. Most of the time after a certain amount of hours, a doctor will recommend a cesarean. With a doula present, they can let the doctor know that this is not your wishes and can recommend different types of strategies in order to help move the pregnancy along. A doula knows that if there’s nothing life threatening there is no real need for a cesarean section. By making a woman keep moving instead of laying in the bed the entire time it will help move the process along faster.

Take care of yourself

One of the worst things that I did during my pregnancy was not take care of myself the proper way. Because of that I became high risk during the early part of my pregnancy. I was unable to turn the process around and because of that the talk of cesarean came up fairly early. I know now that if I would have had a doula present at the beginning she would have been able to help me make better choices in terms of my health and come up with a better dietary and exercise plan. While it doesn’t seem like your diet and exercise make a difference on whether or not you have a cesarean, the fact of the matter is the healthier you are, the more likely it will be that a natural birth occurs.

The above mentioned things are issues that a doula can address with you from the time she is hired. Most women don’t want a cesarean as it takes longer to heal as well as takes more time to go adjust to life with your baby. Cesarean is a surgical procedure and obviously takes more time to heal from then having a natural birth. A doula can provide comfort techniques both during the pregnancy as well as during the birth that can help you completely avoid all possibilities of a cesarean.

References:

http://banned-from-baby-showers.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-list-of-things-you-can-do-to-avoid-c.htmlf

http://inlandempirebirthdoula.com/html/doula_benefits.html

 

photo by: daemonv