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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: We are wondering about the role of a Birth Doula in relation to the woman's/birthing person's partner. How does that work?
A: Understandably, some partners feel concerned that a doula might be an intrusion in an intimate experience, or take away from his/her/their role during the labor/birth process.
Please rest easy, my primary goal as your Doulas is to support your partnship so that you BOTH feel really great about the experience. Doula support should serve only to enhance a couple's connection, never interfere with it. This might mean that I guide a partner in a comfort measure or labor position that he/she/they may be uncertain about. Or I get a partner food or drink so that they can stay fortified as primary support person. Or I mama and I labor toegether while partner takes a shower, nap, or deals with a toddler.
My scope of practice includes unbiased informational support, so my role in terms of medical procedures, interventions, etc., in a hospital setting tends to be very helpful to both partner and laboring person.
It's often the partner after a birth, who says something along the lines of: "I don't know how we would've done that without you!" Needless to say, a lovely affirmation.
Q. There are so many things to consider! It's hard to know what is accurate information, and we hardly have any time with our care provider. How can a Doula be of help?
A. As a very seasoned Doula and Childbirth Educator, I provide unbiased, evidence-based information prenatlly and as birth unfolds regarding the various choices you may face before, during and after your birth. We will discuss such topics as:
Medical inducrtion and your choices
Standard medical protocols
How birth choices may affect breastfeeding
And so much more! If we work together you WILL feel prepared
Q: As a Birth Doula, what does it actually mean to "advocate" for a client?
A. This is an excellent question, and something that is frequently unclear--or at least can be challenging to navigate--for both Doula and families.
Often, more so than any other person on your birth team, your Doula is the one who has your, and only your, specific birth wishes and concerns upper most in her mind. We also hold the unique position of being the only birth professional on your team who has been with you continuously from the very beginning. Everyone else comes and goes. This makes a huge difference.
As such, I seek to make sure you and your partner understand ALL of the choices/decisions being presented to you so that you can make safe (that's always a given to my mind) ones, and move forward without fear and anxiety. I support you in asking questions that will facilitate your knowledge and understanding. I gently and respectfully work to both establish and maintain awareness that this is your experience, your birth, and that you are actually the most important person in the room! I do not speak for you, nor am I aggressive toward any medical staff, as this is neither empowering for you, nor in any way appropriate for such a sacred space and experience.
Q. What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
A. A midwife's ultimate responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of the mother and child. In a homebirth setting she may also provide considerable emotional and physical support, but at the hospital, that is really not her role. Nurse midwives in hospitals typically embrace the "midwifery model of care", which is rooted in the efficacy of natural childbirth and therefore less interventionist-oriented. But that varies greatly, as they, too, are required to follow hosptial protocols that may more OB-centered.
A doula is trained in the labor and birth process itself. Our scope of practice and expertise lies in providing unending emotional, physical, and informational support to you and partner. We do not provide medical guidance per se, but do help you understand what all your choices are and what they might entail.
Q. Is Home birth safe?
A. This question has been answered affirmatively many times and is grounded in solid research! Homebirth has been shown to be a safe option for healthy women and healthy babies whose normal pregnancies are full-term at the start of labor, and who are monitored and attended by professional midwives.
In a study published in the 2005 in the British Medical Journal of more than 5,000 women who planned to have a home birth with Certified Professional Midwives in the United States and Canada, the outcomes for mothers and babies were the same as for low-risk mothers giving birth in hospitals, but with MANY fewer interventions, including epidural, episiotomy, forceps, vacuum delivery, and significantly lower cesarean section rates for mothers who did transer to hospital (15% transfer rate overall)
If you're considering homebirth, your best bet is to start interviewing midwives in your area early on so you can find your best fit.
Q. What if I'm planning on having an epideral--is it still valuable to have a doula?
A. Definitely! Regardless of how your labor and birth unfold, you will benefit from the support and information. Here's why: 1) Even if 'planning' on an epidural, you may very well labor at home for quite a while before heading to the hospital, where doula support and guidance is critical; 2) even once at the hospital, hospital staff may wait until you are in active labor before administering an epideral, so you could already be having powerful contractions by then. Again, doula support is priceless at this point; 3) Your doula will help you navigate the best timing for an epidural; 4) Since informational support is part of our scope of practice, this always comes in handy regardless of birth choices; 4) during 2nd stage, you will still be pushing your baby out--and may have a lot of sensation--so again, labor support is still very important; 5) the support of a seasoned Doula--especially one who is a Postpartum Doulal as well --immediate postpartum can make a huge difference in the transition process.
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