BABY MOON, Resources for Birth and Life

 

baby moon
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What is a Birth Doula?

Doulas and Dads

The Research

Postpartum Doulas

Doulas in Central Kentucky

When should I hire my doula?

Meet the Doulas Night

DOULAS
"Hiring a doula was the smartest thing we ever did! She made everything so much easier--not just for me, but also for my husband. Now he tells every pregnant couple we meet to HIRE A DOULA!"
-Kylena, 4/06

 

What is a doula?
A doula is a professional labor assistant who is trained and experienced in childbirth. Her role is to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth. The doula offers help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement, massage, and positioning. She also assists families to gather information about the course of their labor and their options. By helping to meet the physical and emotional needs of a laboring mother around the clock, doulas also provide invaluable support to fathers or other birth partners.

Perhaps the most crucial role of the doula is providing continuous emotional reassurance and comfort. Doulas are not employees of the hospital, and therefore have no other commitments during a your labor. This allows a doula to provide one-on-one, continuous labor support (without shift changes) throughout labor and early postpartum, according to your needs.

Having the continuous, reassuring support of a trained labor assistant chosen by you can dramatically transform your experience.The assistance of a doula throughout labor has been shown in numerous scientific trials to improve both the physical and psychological well-being of the mother. In order to better understand how a doula can help you through labor, take a look at the results of a landmark study conducted in Houston in 1991. This study of 412 healthy, first-time mothers giving birth at term showed that in doula-assisted births:

~ Cesarean section rate is reduced by 50%.
~ Length of labor is reduced by 25% (an average of 2 hours shorter).
~ Pitocin use is reduced by 40%.
~ Use of forceps in delivery is reduced by 40%.
~ Epidural requests are reduced by 60%.
~ Use of other narcotics for pain relief is reduced by 30%.

This and other studies show that women who are accompanied by doulas in childbirth are more satisfied with their birth experiences. They feel more confident, are more likely to interact closely with their infants, and are less likely to have postpartum depression. Mothers who are cared for by labor doulas are much more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding and fewer newborns have complications.

We also know that the benefits of doula-assisted births extend far beyond the birth day itself, and affect the whole family. Amazingly, 71% of first-time mothers giving birth with a doula in the 1991 study reported that their relationship with their partner was improved after giving birth, compared to only 30% in the no-doula group. By six weeks postpartum, 85% of the doula moms reported increased satisfaction with their partners, compared to only 49% of the no-doula group.

The comfort and reassurance offered by the doula is beneficial regardless of the use of pain medications. Even so, many women find that when a doula is added to their labor support team the pain of labor becomes much more manageable. Studies show that some women feel less need for pain medications, or may postpone them until later in labor. For moms considering a natural childbirth, including a doula in your birth plan can dramatically improve your odds of success. In the 1991 study, 55% of doula-assisted mothers were able to deliver their babies naturally (without anesthesia, medications, or forceps), compared to only 12% in the no-doula group.

A doula is there to help you have a safe and satisfying birth--however you define it. Your doula recognizes birth as a key life experience that you will remember all your life, and she is there to nurture and protect the memory of your birth experience, for both you and your partner.



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Doulas and Dads

Some dads who don't fully understand the doula's role feel skeptical at first and worry that they will be "replaced" in the delivery room. No one can replace the vital role that the partner (who may be the baby's father or another loved one) plays in providing support for the laboring woman. A doula cannot make some of the unique contributions that the partner makes, such as intimate knowledge of the woman and love for her and her child. At the same time, a doula's experience and reassurance of what's normal in birth can be especially comforting for dads, whose knowledge in this area may be (understandably) rather limited, and for moms who may be confused by the intensity of the sensations during labor.

The doula is there in addition to, not instead of, the partner. By insuring that his needs are met (food, drink, reassurance), and by building his confidence, the doula can actually help the woman and partner to work more closely together. As one father said, "I heaved a big sigh of relief when she (the doula) walked in. I hadn't realized how much pressure I had been feeling. She not only calmed my wife, she calmed me down."

By relieving some of the fear, anxiety, and pressure of expectations, doulas can help dads to be more fully present for the birth of their child. Ideally, the doula and the partner make the perfect support team for the woman, complementing each other's strengths.

For more information about how a doula can help you have a safe and satisfying birth as you define it, contact us or visit All About Doulas and www.dona.org.



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The Research
If statistics bore you, skip to the summary: Studies show that the more attention a woman receives in labor, the better the outcome for the mom, baby, and family.

Repeated studies have shown that in doula-assisted births:

~ Cesarean section rate is reduced by 50%.
~ Length of labor is reduced by 25% (an average of 2 hours shorter).
~ Pitocin use is reduced by 40%.
~ Use of forceps in delivery is reduced by 40%.
~ Epidural requests are reduced by 60%.
~ Use of other narcotics for pain relief is reduced by 30%.

New Cochrane Review on effects of "Continuous Support for Women during Childbirth." (Fifteen trials involving 12,791 women.)

Synopsis:
"Continuous labor support reduces a woman's likelihood of having pain medication, increases her satisfaction and chances for 'spontaneous' birth [with neither cesarean nor vacuum nor forceps], and has no known risks.

"Supportive care during labor may involve emotional support, information, and comfort measures. Such care may enhance normal labor processes and thus reduce need for obstetric intervention. Women who received continuous labor support were less likely to use pain medications and were more likely to be satisfied and to give birth 'spontaneously' . In general labor support was more effective when it was provided by women who were not part of the hospital staff."


Thorough Listing of Articles and other Published Comments on Doulas



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Postpartum Doulas
Postpartum doulas are women experienced in and knowledgeable about pregnancy, birth, postpartum care, infant care, and breastfeeding. A postpartum doula comes to the home and helps to care for the woman and her baby after the birth by providing help with newborn care and instruction, mother care, assistance with breastfeeding, general family and household support, assistance with other children in the home, and additional resources, as needed.

Some of the benefits of postpartum doula care include increased rates of successful breastfeeding, less maternal exhaustion, frustration, and apprehension during the early weeks, greater understanding of newborn emotional and physical needs and behavior, earlier bonding due to increased maternal confidence, and reduced rates of maternal postpartum depression (and/or shorter duration of depression if it occurs).

Postpartum doulas typically care for women and their families during the first 12 weeks after birth. They charge an hourly rate, so you can use them as little or as much as you need--maybe just once or twice, or on a daily or weekly schedule.

See Doulas in Central Kentucky for a listing of Postpartum Doulas.



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Doulas in Central Kentucky
The Doulas in our area have a wide variety of experience and expertise in all birth settings. They typically charge $250 - $1000, depending on their level of experience. This fee includes at least one prenatal visit and one postpartum visit. It is important to meet more than one doula, so you can be sure you are getting someone with whom you feel comfortable. We recommend that you hire your doula before around 25 weeks, and the earlier the better if you have a particular doula in mind. (Some doulas book up as much as 4-5 months ahead.) Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Doula.

The primary certifying organization for doulas is Doulas of North America (DONA).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Doulas work independently and are not affiliated with Baby Moon. They do not carry any endorsement or guarantee from Baby Moon. We encourage you to ask questions, check references, and find a doula who fits with your individual goals and needs.

For a list of Birth and Postpartum Doulas providing services in Central Kentucky,
or for a referral for a doula who might fit with your individual circumstances,
please contact us!


 

When should I hire my doula?
If you know that you will be hiring a doula, there's no time like the present. Hiring your doula early means that you are more likely to get your first choice (some doulas may be booked as much as 4-5 months ahead). We recommend that you attend our FREE planning class for more information, and interview at least two doulas before 5 - 6 months of pregnancy.

Many women and couples don't realize that they want or need a doula until much later in their pregnancy. Or, they wake up one morning and realize the third trimester is here--surprise!! That's OK. There are almost always ways to fit you in to someone's schedule (although you may not be able to get your first choice).

If finances are an issue in your decision to hire a doula, please contact us. New doulas may be willing to offer services for a reduced fee or on a sliding scale, in order to gain more experience.

Doula support can transform birth experiences. We believe that every woman and couple who wants a doula should have one. We'll help you find a way to work it out!



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Learn More About Doulas
Join other expectant parents to learn more about planning your pregnancy and preparing for your birth. We'll talk about what doulas do, the benefits of doula services, and how to find the right doula for you. Learn about childbirth options and positive birth experiences! FREE.

We are currently in the process of creating a new offering in this area, watch for more information coming Fall, 2011!



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