by Adriana Lozada, CD, CPB, CGP
I became a doula because I myself didn’t have one for the birth of my daughter. Not having a doula is a decision that both my husband and I regret. My birth was as close as can be to what I’d laid out on my birthplan. Hire a midwife – check. No induction – check. No pain meds – check. Move all I want, no artificial rupture of membranes, labor in the tub, vaginal birth, wait for cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, delay baby procedures… check, check, check!
But it was still hard, lonely, painful and miserable. We had taken independent childbirth classes, read all the books, and thought we were prepared. We weren’t.
A doula would have come over to our house and help me realize that I was having incredible back pain, instead of thinking it was just part of labor. She wouldn’t have let me sit at the top of the stairs for hours, but would have encouraged and helped me to move around and get into positions that would help get my baby’s head off my back. She would have made sure I drank more water (dehydration can prolong labor), made me go to the bathroom more often (by the end I couldn’t empty my bladder and it was competing with my baby for prime real estate) and guided my husband as to how to best help me. She would have made sure I establish a rhythm and a ritual to get through each contraction and–in so doing–set up coping mechanisms that would get me through the car ride to the hospital, and all the constrictions of triage.
She would have done all this even before we were admitted to the hospital!
Having my own personal birth fairy at the hospital would have been even more beneficial. Most hospitals are not really set up to help women have the natural birth they desire, so having a doula tremendously helps.
A doula is the secret magical tool that can help even up the odds of having a natural birth in a hospital.
Consumer Reports recently came out with a list of “10 Things You Should do During Your Pregnancy”. Number 8 was “Get Labor Support” with the most effective labor support coming from “someone who is not a member of the hospital staff and is not in your social network”, i.e. a doula. Interestingly, of the other 9, most were things that moms will automatically get help with by having a doula: (2) make a plan and have a backup; (4) reduce the risk of an early delivery; (5) ask if a breech baby can be turned; (6) stay at home during early labor; (7) be patient; (9) listen to yourself; and (10) touch your newborn.
A doula will lessen the pregnant woman’s (and her partner’s) anxiety. She will make her feel safe and taken care of, allowing her to drift happily into labor land. This can in turn shorten her labor, make her birth a happier experience, allow her to bond better with her baby, have an easier recovery, and feel better about herself so she can be a better parent to her child.
Ideally, every pregnant woman should get to have an insurance-covered doula on her birth team. But until that changes, expecting moms need to take matters into their own hands and make ‘a doula’ the first item on their baby registry.
Professional doulas are usually trained through DONA, CAPPA, or ICEA. To find a doula near you, you can visit dona.org, cappa.net, or icea.org. You can also do a local google search by typing in your location and the word doula.
Adriana’s background is multi-layered and multi-cultural. She holds a Birth Doula certification from DONA International, a Baby Planner certification from the International Academy of Baby Planner Professionals (IABPP), and Greenproofer and Green Birth Educator certifications from the International Maternity Institute (IMI). Adriana received a B.A. in Communication Studies from Concordia University (Montreal, CA), and has ample experience as print and online editor.
Adriana is an active member in the maternity community of Rochester, serving as a steering committee member for both the Doula Cooperative of Rochester, and the Rochester Area Birth Network (RABN). She is also Newsletter Editor for the International Maternity Institute (IMI).
Born in Caracas, Adriana speaks 5 languages, and has lived in Japan, Canada, Brazil, the Caribbean and the U.S. Currently, she lives with her husband and daughter in Rochester, NY.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the International Maternity Institute.