The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek, meaning “a woman who serves.” A doula today refers to a professional trained to provide emotional, physical and informational support to women throughout their pregnancy, birth and the early postpartum period. End of life doulas offer comfort and companionship to dying patients.
I became a fully certified birth doula in November 2019 through Long Island Doula Association (LIDA). It took almost 2 years to get all qualifying requirements of number of births attended, books read and classes attended to finally receive my certification. I also have to keep up the certification every 3 years. As Penny Simkin, the pre-eminate educatior and doula of birthing said, “The combination of partner and doula, along with a caring staff gives the woman the best chance of an optimal outcome.”
Statistics show that having a birth doula present results in less need for major labor interventions such as cesarean, forceps delivery, vacuum extraction or epidurals. Women do not require as much pain medication and have quicker labor and delivery.
A doula does not provide any type of medical intervention. A doula provides information, physical and emotional comfort measures. A doula provides continuous labor support no matter what decisions Mom makes. She can also advocate for Mom’s rights and wishes during labor and birth. The doula can help Mom and her partner make decisions about medical procedures such as epidurals, episiotomies and other medical interventions.
The added benefit I can bring to a laboring Mom is use of acupressure points to decrease labor pains, decrease tension and anxiety, decrease headache or nausea if it occurs. I can also engage the partner to help with the acupressure points, particularly around the lower back and sacrum areas. I also use essential oils to keep Mom calm and focused.
Please contact me if you know a woman who would like birth doula support. Next month I will explain what a post-partum doula does.