What do you think of when you think of labor and delivery? Usually it’s automatically pain and fear. From the time we are little, through t.v. and movies and sometimes horror stories, we are bombarded with images of a screaming woman in the throes of labor and imagine it to be the worst thing we will ever go through. But did you know it doesn’t have to be that way? Believe it or not labor can be a beautiful thing. Hard work but beautiful. That is where a doula comes in.
Ask your doula any questions that you may have leading up to the birth. We know that fear increases pain so the more knowledge you have of birth, the better. She can point you to an array of resources that will give you all the information your heart may desire.
Your doula is basically a support “specialist’. Her job is to support you (and your partner when needed, such as during a bathroom break!) when you are in labor through hands on pressure and/or emotional support. She has been trained in a variety of techniques to help minimize the pain of a contraction and dispel any fears that may creep into your head while you are laboring.
You may not know this, but a doula’s support is not only leading up to the birth and during labor. A doula will also visit you and be available by phone for some time after the baby has arrived and your transition to caring for a child or multiple children has begun.
Your doula can also be your “eyes and ears” if you will and keep you informed of any procedures that nurses or doctors may want to do while you are in the hospital, if that is your birthing location. Once you enter the “twilight zone” of labor it can be almost impossible to pay attention to anything besides your contractions. Your doula can keep you informed at this time of any decisions you may have to make, allowing you to be the one to consent or not to those procedures.
Looking back on my labor, once I entered that zone (active labor) my husband and doula were so invaluable to me that I know I could not have done my natural birth without them. The contractions over take your whole body. You cannot focus on anything but the getting through the contraction. The way I got through mine was having my husband squeezing my hips as hard as he could and my doula squeezing my head as hard as she could, all the while saying to me to relax each part of my body from head to toe. Without her repeating to relax different parts of my body, squeezing my head and reminding me to moan in low tones and not high tones, I would have never made it through…..and I did make it through!
The evidence from the Cochrane review shows that “overall, women who received continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births and c-sections. In addition, their labors were shorter by about 40 minutes and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth.”
The whole process of pregnancy and birth is an amazing time for any woman. Doula’s develop personal relationships with their clients and are a continuous support during a woman’s labor and birth. I personally accomplished my goal of an unmedicated, completely natural birth because of the support of my doula.