Doulas and the Childbirth Process
August 22, 2011Posted by pamela |
Marin Mommies is excited to present another guest article by a Marin County professional: aromatherapist, bodytherapist, birth doula, and childbirth educator Samantha Stormer of Sacred Beginnings Birth Services, based in Corte Madera. Ever wondered what exactly a doula does, and whether you need one? Samantha explains what a doula is and the role a doula plays in the childbirth process.
What Is a Doula?
Doula is the Greek term for servant. Throughout thousands of years, women have always been in service of other women to assist during the birth process, providing an intuitive and practical knowledge of just what is needed at the right time.
A birth doula (birth assistant) is a woman in service to the laboring mother and father to provide physical, emotional, and hands-on support from early labor until the baby is born. She delivers continuity of care from home to hospital, easing the transition from home to the hospital environment. Traditionally, in years past, doula has referred to Postpartum care. Many practitioners today provide services for both birth and postpartum care. Going through the birth process is emotionally and physically demanding; it has a natural flow with many variations that cannot be learned within a few childbirth classes. A doula has thorough professional training as well as many birth experiences with varied outcomes, and knows what tools and techniques to use in helping keep birth as natural and peaceful as possible.
Medical research has shown that the presence of a doula can help decrease the need for medical interventions with a 50% reduction in cesarean births, 60% reduction in epidural request, 40% reduction in the use of pitocin, 40% reduction in need of forceps, and 30% reduction in requests for pain medication…
Marshall Klaus, MD and John Kennell, MD, Mothering the Mother, 1993
What Are the Services of a Doula/Birth Assistant?
- Provide emotional and physical support to mother and partner, so they can participate in the birth at their own comfort level. A Doula does not replace the woman’s partner, who is seen to be the main emotional support person to give words of encouragement, hold her hands, give her love and be her protector.
- Assist with practical comfort measures, and suggest constructive ways for family members to be involved in the birth experience.
- Minimize the length of the labor and need for intervention, and the possibility of "failure to progress" by encouraging the mom to work with her body rather than resisting it. Giving suggestions to the partner, using various techniques, that can help at each critical stage.
- Provide consistent, continuous support throughout the labor, providing more intimacy during the birth, which contributes to better outcomes for mothers and babies. Having a Birth Assistant can empower the mother to feel safe to let go and give birth naturally.
- Recognizes that integration of mind, body and spirit can generate a more positive birth experience. A Doula/Birth Assistant believes that birth is a deeply spiritual and joyful experience that impacts a woman’s entire life.
- Give Guidance and expertise to experiencing birth as a natural process with the least amount of technical intervention (Providing there are no emergencies.) She understands that the pregnant woman’s emotions and the birth process have a great impact on the physical and emotional health of the baby’s life as a fetus through adulthood. A Doula guides the couple through this process with her life experience of many births, knowledge of labor, and hands-on techniques for achieving a natural birth.
- Create a positive team approach with each new shift of medical personnel attending your birth, and to support the vision of your birth.
A Doula's Ethical Responsibility to Health Care Providers
The doula will treat her client's caregivers with respect, courtesy, fairness and good faith. The doula recognizes that responsibility for clinical management belongs to the health care provider (physician, midwife, nurse) and the client. The doula will not interfere with clinical management beyond making suggestions to or asking questions of the health care provider and client, based on her knowledge of the client's preferences.
Samantha Stormer, BS, LMT, Ar.T, is an aromatherapist, bodytherapist, birth doula, and childbirth educator, with over 20 years experience in the healing arts. She has attended over 350 births as a doula and has developed a specialty in high-risk pregnancies. Samantha specializes in women’s health, focusing on pregnancy and labor, pre- and post-surgical massage, immune enhancement, and body therapy. She has taught aromatherapy at the University of California, Berkeley's Microbiology department, the San Francisco School of Massage, and the Integrative Healing Arts Center. Samantha trained at the Botanical Healing Arts School in Santa Cruz, and studied with Eve Taylor of London in aromatherapy treatments and at the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy. She has been featured on local television channels 4 (NBC) and 7 (ABC), and was an invited speaker at a Prenatal Psychology Conference in Nijimegen, Holland, in 2002. Call for upcoming classes (415) 924-9096.