Friday, June 8, 2012

Functional Friday No. 29

My favorite local doulas and their facebook page.

With all my pregnant friends around me and some of my favorite bloggers too (1.2.3. and 4.) I thought I should take a few minutes to discuss the function and importance of a doula in any birth setting.

I didn't even know what a doula was until I was pregnant.  I had read a few books and discovered the term.  I actually didn't have a doula, although my Midwife's assistant did act like one, if not better (if that's possible).  If and when I get pregnant again I will definitely have one or more doulas present at my birth.  I love them.  And no matter how supportive my husband was and or will be; he doesn't have a vagina, never had a menstrual cramp (let alone birth cramp in his life), nor will he ever understand the workings of a woman's mind in labor as well as another woman.  In effect, rendering him useless during labor. Oh wait, that's not true he did hold my legs up while I was pushing, and in some families I've know dads to hold cameras.

Anyway, a doula is a women who has been professionally trained on how to support someone in labor.  Now, I know many women like myself consider having a sister or mother present for labor and that can be just as good. IF that women has also attended dozens to hundreds of other births, is well knowledged on both the hospital or birth center policies and/or your birth plan.  If she's not, she may not be able to advocate for you in a hospital setting.  Nor may she be able to assist you in a home setting, if she's never seen a natural birth before.  So while I may ask my sisters and mother into the room at my next birth, I doubt I will ask them to support me as a doula would.

The amazing thing about a doula is her ability to reduce pain and rates for c-sections! A doula will make a cesarean section 26% less likely.  The use of forceps or vacuums 41% less likely.  The use of analgesia or anesthesia 28% less likely and reduce negative birth experiences by 30% (source).

If your first birth was a C-Section and you were told you HAVE to have another, you might want to think again.  Many women are choosing to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) and a doula can help you accomplish this goal.  Depending on your health many doctors will attempt a VBAC on a case by case basis.  More information about Cesareans and VBACs can be found on the American Pregnancy Association's website.

And a doula doesn't just stop at the birth. Many doulas will come and check on mom and dad and baby at home, allowing mom to bath, or allowing dad to not worry about cooking dinner and instead enjoy his family.  Doulas' rates vary but for a small fee they will often help with cleaning and cooking if desired.

More information about doulas here, here and here.

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