Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Doula Book - Part I The Need for Support and the Role of the Doula

Posted by Kim:

The process of becoming a certified DONA Doula has several facets and one part of the certification process is to read 5 books from the required reading list and the DONA International Birth Doula Position Paper.

To see the entire required reading list click here.

One of the first books I decided to read is The Doula Book by Klaus, Kennell and Klaus. Because of the pending births of my doula clients I literally devoured this book and was very impressed by how informative it was and how easy it was to read. In my opinion the authors did a wonderful job intertwining the description of the role of the doula and connecting it with statistically significant studies.

In this blog series I thought I would share with you some of the points I highlighted while reading the book.

Chapter 1
The Need for Support in Labor

"Continuous support from a doula during labor provides physical and emotional benefits for mothers and health bonuses for their babies. With less medical interventions, fewer complications, and shorter hospital stays, there may be financial savings as well." (page 1)

"In studies of over 5000 women... we have seen a major reduction in the length of labor, a greater than 50 percent drop in cesarean sections, a remarkable drop in the mothers' need for pain medication, and several other important and measurable benefits." (page 3-4)

"I want the doula there to assure me that everything is fine and to comfort me. I want my husband there for emotional support." (page 9)

"A recent study found that women giving birth encountered an average of 6.4 unfamiliar professionals during labor." (page 11)

"When... the caregivers goal is to reassure, relax, comfort, and inform the mother rather than to tend only to the needed medical interventions, that person takes the same supportive role as a doula." (page 11)

"With such help, parents can capture the special moments and priceless experience of their own unique childbirth." (page 12)

Chapter 2 The Special Role of the Doula

"A doula learns that she has to be wiling to take anything for an answer... The experienced doula develops enough confidence and self-esteem that she is not offended by the woman's seeming rejection of that action." (page 16)

"The woman can be completely at ease with the doula and unconcerned about having to try to please her or put on a show for her." (page 17)

"The most important assurance that a doula can give in these initial (prenatal) visits is that she will remain with the mother throughout the entire labor and not leave her alone." (page 17)

"By her presence, manner, and comforting touch, the doula creates calmness and the essence of relaxation." (page 19)

"By her words and actions, the doula models behaviors and attitudes that are almost always copied and appreciated by the father. At times a doula needs to be resolutely strong and firm, and at other periods in the labor, tender, soft, and loving." (page 22)

"A woman in labor needs total support - in order to let go completely, to allow her own system to adapt and respond to the power of the birthing process." (page 23)

List of qualities for choosing a doula (page 27)

This book is definitely right on when it comes to the role and the need for a doula. Throughout the labor of my first doula client I kept thinking to myself, man I wish I had had a doula. Why didn't I know about this? I decided to become a doula because after learning more about the role of the doula, hearing stories about Carri's client's births, and attending many birth education conferences for BINSI I was invigorated by how a doula can enhance a woman's birth experience and how dramatically the presence of a doula can effect birth.

The more I learned the more I realized that the role of the doula is not to replace the partner, but rather to be there to support both the partner and the laboring mother so that they can stay emotionally connected. While it is special to me for my moms to tell me that they felt like I was truly there for them, there is a little special extra special when the dads say they couldn't have done it without me. I never want my clients to feel like I was trying to replace them, but rather I want them to feel like I helped them be the best support they could be.

I only wish I had listened to our friend Chuck when he said "Get a doula, it is the best money spent." WHY WHY WHY didn't we listen? Well as with everything in life hindsight is 20/20. So now I have made it my mission to at least educated as many women as I can about the role of the doula and how it can enhance their birth. I still struggle with the decisions I made during my births and will always wonder how different my births would have been if I had had a doula, but truthfully being a doula has helped me heal from some of my birth decisions and has also helped me to process my births. As with everything it is a process, but I hope to use my experiences as a mother and as a doula to help women have the best birth experience. It is my goal, and BINSI's, to Honor Moms!

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