What is a Birth Doula?
I offer doula services at home and hospital births in the Louisville area. The word doula comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "to serve." True to the spirit of this role, the word is now used to refer to a woman who is a professional labor assistant, advocating for the birthing mother and her child. Doulas have been referred to as "labor and delivery tour guides," providing physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and after childbirth.
Having a doula is an important part of your birth team. While doulas do not deliver babies, nor do they provide medical procedures such as blood pressure checks or listening to the baby's heartbeat, the play an important part from a holistic standpoint, providing the emotional component. An increasing number of OB/GYNs and labor & delivery nurses are not only approving but embracing doulas as a member of the birth team; I enjoy the interaction and, for the uninitiated, strive to put everyone at ease. I do this by introducing myself to everyone present at each birth, explaining my role as the laboring woman's (and her partner's, if applicable) emotional support while the medical personnel attend to the physical needs of the mother.
Research¹ shows that the presence of a doula can:
- Decrease the cesarean rate by 51%
- Decrease the length of labor by 25%
- Decrease Pitocin (induction medication) use by 71%
- Decrease the need for pain medication by 35%
- Decrease the use of forceps by 57%
- Decrease the use of epidurals by 60%
¹Above data from Drs. Klaus & Kennell's Mothering the Mother
Babies are unpredictable—they come when they're ready! To avoid time conflicts, I work with a maximum of three families per month (usually two). Still, I enlist backup doulas in the case that two mothers are in labor at the same time. Feel free to ask about meeting your backup doula before the big day.
Birth doula services include:
- An informal meeting where we can become acquainted and comfortable with each other. At this time I can inform you of my background, training and experience. I prefer to meet with you, your partner and any other person who will be with you during labor. This is an opportunity for you to describe your priorities, concerns, fears and questions regarding your upcoming birth, and we can discuss my role during your labor and delivery, should you choose to employ me. This meeting does not obligate you to select me as your doula.
- One to two prenatal visits where we will discuss how you and your partner feel I can be most helpful to both of you. We will also discuss any medical history pertinent to your pregnancy, labor and birth, along with assistance in preparing a birth plan.
- Help installing your baby's car seat. (I am a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.)
- Continuous support during labor and birth. I ask that my clients call when they think they're in labor, even if you don't need me to come yet. At a mutually agreed-upon time, I'll join you in your home or at the hospital and remain with you until the baby is born—providing emotional and physical support the entire time. I am on call from weeks 38-42 of your pregnancy; during this time, I do not go out of town, I do not drink alcohol and I have care readily available for my children during the on-call period.
- Helping with the first breastfeeding session, usually 30 minutes after birth.
- A written record of the birth, including what time labor started, what comments parents made, etc.
- A postpartum visit four to six weeks after the birth to review your birth experience, clarify events that took place around you, answer questions about your baby and elicit feedback about my role as your doula. I will also share my written notes from your labor and delivery.
Since training with Doulas of North America (DONA) in 2006, I have had the honor of assisting more than 80 families as they've welcomed their children into their lives. I am grateful to all of the families who have invited me to share in this most joyous day. Some scenarios I have helped women encounter include natural childbirth in the hospital and at home; birth with an epidural; twins; induction of labor; and cesarean birth. I particularly enjoy the challenge of working with families who desire a natural childbirth experience and mothers who are pursuing a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Whatever you choose, I believe that each birth is beautiful and unique!If you are interested in doula services, please click here to contact me.