Mama Blessing Birth Doula -Durango, Cortez, Mancos, Co

MAMA BLESSING  BIRTH DOULA SERVICE

tracy@mamablessing.com
​970.799.3689

WHY A DOULA?
   
The birthing process is unpredictable, full of physical as well as emotional intensity and uncertainty. Although most labors may have this in common, it could also be said that every labor is unique. Every expecting mother (and partner) brings her own joy and fears, expectations and uncertainties to a birth. The circumstances and feelings present can set the tone for not only the birth, but also the family’s future image and roles. While the potential for physical complications warrant the presence of specialized care from a midwife, physician or nurse, the individual psychological and emotional needs of the mother and couple can be addressed by the continuous labor support provided by a trained and experienced birth doula.
    
Benefits of the Doula - the research
   
The benefits of doula support to the mother and child are well documented. Women who receive continuous labor support are more likely to give birth without medical intervention, such as caesarean delivery, pitocin and pain medications, and are more likely to have shorter labors.[1]  A study recently published from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota found that doula support is associated with lower rates of preterm and cesarean births, with an added benefit of potential cost savings for families and insurance programs.[2] In addition to the medical or physical benefits of continuous labor support, many mothers are found to feel better about themselves and their babies with the presence of a doula. A feeling of empowerment in their labor can translate to a sense of confidence as a mother. Mothers with doula support are also shown to have better success and longevity with breastfeeding.[3]

To understand why continuous labor support can result in these benefits, it is important to understand the scope of service of a birth doula. An experienced and trained doula understands that her role is limited to emotional and physical support only[4]. Whereas medical care providers will have a trained eye on the safe and healthy labor and delivery for mother and infant, a doula is a constant presence, ‘mothering’ the mother through labor. This mothering can include affirmation and encouragement, suggesting and offering comfort measures, and encouraging the couple to ask questions and communicate with care providers regarding their personal labor and delivery preferences.

Fear and tension can be a laboring mother’s worst enemies, working against the natural progression of labor on both muscular and chemical levels. Consequently, the ability to relax is perhaps the most important gift for a laboring mother. An effective doula will be knowledgeable in techniques such as varied positioning, use of heat and cold, massage, rhythm and ritual that can be used by the mother, partner and doula to enhance relaxation. By using these tools, a doula can help the mother remain calm, focused and able to tolerate the physical pain and discomfort of labor to the best of her ability. These techniques can also contribute to more efficient labor progression.

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Role of the Doula
   
The goal of the doula is “to help the mother have a satisfying birth as she defines it.”[5] A professional and ethical doula will ignore her own vision of what labor should look like and focus on the preferences and needs of the mother and partner. Knowing and understanding her clients allows a doula to better support the birth experience and guide the mother and partner appropriately. To this end, doulas will typically meet with the couple prenatally to better understand what is important to them, as well as address their questions and concerns. With this background, she can help the mother advocate for her care. A doula should not make decisions for the mother; rather she will help the couple ask appropriate questions and express their preferences to their care providers.

   
A doulas primary responsibility is to her client. In addition to following their birthing preferences, the ethical doula understands that it is her obligation to follow through with a birth responsibly. As described in the DONA Code of Ethics, this includes having a backup plan (which may include offering a backup or referred doula), being present through active labor and immediate postpartum and charging reasonable fees for services provided.[6] Responsibility also includes maintaining levels of training and childbirth knowledge that allows the doula to serve to the best of her abilities.
In essence, the role of the birth doula is to help create and maintain the culture and environment chosen by the client and provide the support needed for Mom to give birth on her own terms. The well prepared doula will serve her client under intense conditions, holding space for a calm, nurturing setting and empowering her to take an active role in her birth decisions.


1] E.D Hodnet, S. Gates, G.J. Hofmeyr, c. Sakala, and J. Weston, “Continuous Support for Women during Childbirth,” revew in The Cochrane Collaboration (Toronto: John Wiley and Sons, 2011)
[2] K.B. Kozhimannil, R.R. Hardeman, F. Alarid-Escudero, C.A. Vogelsang, C. Blauer-Peterson and E.A. Howell, “Modeling the Cost-Effectiveness of Doula Care Associated with Reductions in Preterm Birth and Cesarean Delivery,”Article first published online: Birth, 14 JAN 2016
[3] M. Klaus,  J.H. Kennell, P. H. Klaus, “The Doula Book,” 2012
[4] DONA International Standards of Practice (2008)

[5] DONA International Code of Ethics, 2008
[6] Simkin,”The Birth Partner,” 2008
    
In essence, the role of the birth doula is to help create and maintain the culture and environment chosen by the client and provide the support needed for Mom to labor on her own terms and to the best of her abilities. A doula’s awareness of the client’s expectations and hopes as well as her fears and concerns is her best tool in setting the stage for
a positive birthing experience.
[i] E.D Hodnet, S. Gates, G.J. Hofmeyr, c. Sakala, and J. Weston, “Continuous Support for Women during Childbirth,” revew in The Cochrane Collaboration (Toronto: John Wiley and Sons, 2011)
[ii] K.B. Kozhimannil, R.R. Hardeman, F. Alarid-Escudero, C.A. Vogelsang, C. Blauer-Peterson and E.A. Howell, “Modeling the Cost-Effectiveness of Doula Care Associated with Reductions in Preterm Birth and Cesarean Delivery,”Article first published online: Birth, 14 JAN 2016
[iii] M. Klaus,  J.H. Kennell, P. H. Klaus, “The Doula Book,” 2012
[iv] DONA International, “Standards of Practice, 2008