See comments below for references.
I am an experienced Labor Doula, having attended births for 18 years and have attended in excess of 250 families during labor and birth. I have provided support in almost every scenario I can conjure. I work very hard to create beautiful, fulfilling and empowering memories with families as they welcome new little ones into the world. It is a day that you will remember for the rest of your life and it is a story you will tell a thousand times, to your friends and family, to your own children, and probably to their children, and if you are very lucky, to your children's children's children. It's an important story that can be absolutely beautiful under literally ANY circumstances.
I believe that a Labor Doula is a valuable asset to every birth. The role is incredibly fluid, changing with every woman, every family, every care provider. There have been times in which I have been a woman's primary support; a single mother, a woman who's partner is out of town on business, out of the picture or serving in the military. There have been times where my clients have been surrounded by loving support of adoring husbands/wives, boyfriends/girlfriends, close friends, sisters, mothers, aunts, grandparents, Mother in law's, cousins, etc. There have been intimate births with just a couple, me, and one midwife in attendance. The role changes depending on what the woman (and sometimes her support team) need from me.
Some characteristics of the doula role, in my experience are:
- Being a presence with experience.
- Timing contractions, documenting fetal movement.
- Evaluating the progress of labor using external signs and symptoms.
- Facilitating labor progress: using positions/avoiding positions/encouraging movement/encouraging rest/using visualization/maintaining hydration and energy/acknowledging and resolving fears by translating her physical sensations and discomforts into the logic of labor progression.
- Creating the desired environment and minimizing discomfort using: conversation or lack thereof, music, candles, deep abdominal breathing, showers or baths when appropriate, aroma therapy, room temperature, keeping the area tidy, keeping certain people present, keeping certain people away, using massage, maternal touch and warm or cold compresses.
- Provide information to help clients to move to their intended birth location or request the Midwife to join us.
- Take pictures or video, or both.
- Assist the woman in making the transition to the pushing stage of labor, coaching her through until she recognizes the rhythm.
- Physically supporting women in positions when necessary to minimize the strain of holding herself in a squat, for example.
- Informing clients if I see "red flags" indicating a questionable routine intervention.
- Educating clients about alternatives to routine interventions when possible.
- Educating clients about any un-disclosed risks of intervention(s) and the procedures that accompany most routine interventions.
- Supporting and guiding clients who have expressed specific wishes, no matter how few or how many, to advocate for themselves regarding their care and the care of the new baby.
- Partnering with primary coaches so that he or she (or even they) can be in the role that the family wishes for them to be in, in the place where the laboring woman needs them to be. Knowing in advance what everyone desires from the experience allows me to facilitate those wishes and do my best to make your experience as perfect as I can under any circumstances.
- Helping women/couples understand when a deviation from their desired birth experience is necessary and being informed so that they leave the experience knowing that every question was asked (when possible) and every alternative was discussed and/or implemented (when safe). My goal is that my clients know that no matter the outcome, they made responsible choices for the safety and well being of mom and baby.
- Supporting women immediately postpartum by helping with breastfeeding, continuing to guide them in advocacy for newborn procedures, and taking care of peripheral responsibilities (ordering food, cleaning up, pushing fluids when depleted during labor, photography/videography, bringing in family members, etc) so the family can focus on falling in love.
I began my career with a certification in 1998 from the AAHCC, more commonly known as The Bradley Method. This was a dual certification in Childbirth Education and Professional Labor Support. Based on a desire to incorporate more philosophies into my curriculum, I now offer my own brand of Childbirth Education and have had the dear and distinct privilege of attending over 200 labors and births.