Sometimes called a labor assistant, a doula is person who assists a woman in labor. In recent years, doulas have become more popular and widespread. Research and personal experience show that a doula can be an integral part of a woman’s birth team, not only during labor but before and after.
What is a doula’s role?
The role of a doula is to act as both emotional and physical support for a woman in labor. A doula does not replace medical personnel, such as a midwife or doctor, but supplements their care. A doula should be familiar with the various positions that a woman can assume to speed labor or help make her more comfortable. She may remind the family of the things that they have learned in their childbirth classes. A doula can also provide hands on, physical comfort measures such as massage and counter-pressure.
Emotionally, a doula can also be an asset. As a woman familiar with labor or who may have experienced labor herself, she can recognize what words or affirmations can be helpful to a woman struggling in labor. Since a doula typically has some training or at least experience being around birth, she can also recognize where a woman is in labor and be a knowledgeable comfort to the family, letting them know that they are close to the end or when they should head to their birth place.
Benefits of a doula to the birth partner
It is important to note that the doula doesn’t just benefit the mother, but can be incrediblyhelpful to her partner without replacing his important role. A woman’s partner knows her on a personal level and can help her in ways that nobody else can. He has, hopefully, taken birth classes with her and learned some of the basics of birth and labor.
Sometimes, couples who prepare well together don’t feel the need for a doula, but they shouldn’t dismiss the idea altogether. During labor and birth, an extra pair of hands is almost always helpful. The doula can do hands on things and can comfort the mother, but she can also give dad a break when he needs a nap or a bathroom run. She can even help with food preparation or caring for other children, if that is what you specifically hire her to do.
The presence of a warm, knowledgeable, and skilled doula is something that, very often, the PARTNER is more grateful for than the birthing mother!
Doulas and improved birth and baby outcomes
Several studies have found that the presence of a doula vastly improves the birth experience for the mother, lowers intervention rates (like cesarean section and Pitocin), and shortens labor. Not only did the presence of a doula decrease birth interventions, it seemed to drastically lower the rates of epidural use. For a woman planning a natural birth, a doula can be a fabulous investment.
A small study, based in Sacramento, California, USA, found that doulas not only improved birth outcomes but increased breastfeeding success.
“In summary, doula care increased the odds of improved childbirth and breastfeeding outcomes.”
The same study also found that the presence of a doula shortened the second stage of labor (when mom was pushing) and improved APGAR scores. Truly, a doula doesn’t just help mom, she is good for the baby too.
How do I find a doula?
How do you find a doula that is right for you? Start by simply talking to other people in your community. Friends, your childbirth educator, your midwife, and anybody else you may know who is familiar with doulas can be helpful in getting you started in the right direction.
Sometimes local birth networks, hospitals, or birth centers have “Meet the Doula” events where you can come and meet many local doulas and find one who works best for your family.
The presence of a trained doula can have a measurably positive impact on birth outcome, lowering intervention rates, lowering cesarean section rates, improving infant APGAR scores, and even improving breastfeeding success. A doula can benefit the mother, her partner, and the baby and is often an investment the family is grateful they made.
Continuous Emotion Support From a Doula in American Hospitals
Doula Presence Improves Satisfaction and Lowers C-section
Doula Care and Breastfeeding Success
Anyone who has experienced the joy of pregnancy knows that as soon as that little blue line appears, so too does a seemingly endless list of expenses. From the fun things, like decorating the nursery and buying baby clothes, to the more serious preparation for childbirth, everything just seems to add up. Which, of course, begs the question, “Must I really take a childbirth class?”
Well, we might be a little biased, but we would answer with a resounding YES! You should take a birth class. Here are five simple reasons why the money spent on a great birth class is money well spent.
No matter where you are having your baby, whether at the hospital, in a birth center, or in your own home, you will experience labor. Labor (the contractions that build, peak, decrease and return again) is hard work. It doesn’t have to be excruciating, but it will require concentration, relaxation, and some basic understanding of what is going on.
Because women labor in order to give birth they should be prepared for the sensations of labor. Can you imagine how scared you might be going into labor if you had never seen what that looked like and had no idea what was normal?
Labor can be a beautiful time for a woman and her partner. A thorough education on how a woman’s body functions in labor and relaxation practice can help make labor something you actually enjoy rather than something to be feared.
One of the best things about a birth class is the friendships that can be formed with other like minded people in your same life circumstance. Surrounding yourself with others like you, who you may not have known before, can make the joys and trials of pregnancy that much more exciting, fun, and informative.
Sitting together with others each week in a birth class setting can be one of the best parts of your pregnancy and birth preparation. Not only do you get to learn about birth together, but you get to know each other. For those planning a natural birth, the support of others with similar goals can be deeply comforting.
Do you want your partner at your birth? Most women would answer with a definite yes to this question. But what about this one? Have you prepared your partner for your birth?
Unfortunately, most would have to admit that not only are they fairly unprepared for their birth, their partner is even less so. A good birth class that focuses on what happens in labor and then prepares the partner with skills so that he can be helpful, is an investment that you will never regret making.
Not only does a prepared and knowledgeable partner help make a birth better, but it can strengthen the relationship and help eliminate fears for both mom and dad.
Sometimes, people express reluctance about taking a birth class because women have been giving birth for thousands of years- so who needs a class?! Women have been doing a fabulous job having babies for quite some time, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from a class.
1000 years ago there were no hospitals, no informed consent, no hundreds of choices to navigate and make before the baby even appears. Birth might be safer today than it was in days past, but it is often a little more complicated and overwhelming, too.
An in-depth childbirth class will do more than prepare you for relaxation. It will help arm you with the information you need to make choices you are comfortable with while you navigate the complex corridors of today’s maternity hospital or birth center. You deserve to make choices you feel confident in and a class can help you do that.
Many people go into childbirth frighted, unsure, and naive. It is simply miraculous what a difference a class can have on your mindset and your fear when it comes to childbirth. With a knowledgeable and experienced natural birthing mother leading the way and answering your questions, your confidence will grow. As you learn, practice, and prepare together, your fears will subside and your joy and anticipation will increase as the days tick away.
Can you really put a price on the change from scared to confident as you draw closer to your birth? You cannot put a cost on the happiness and peace of mind that a great birth class will give you!
Preparing you for labor, uniting you with lifelong friends, bringing you closer to your partner, teaching you about both hospital policies and your own inner ability- these are all simple things that great childbirth education class can give you in the days leading up to the birth of your baby.
Is it worth it? Absolutely!
Let’s start with what a doula is. A birth doula provides physical, emotional and informational support for a family through pregnancy, labor, birth and early postpartum. Doulas usually meet with birth clients for an interview and two prenatal visits prior to birth. We have a lot to cover in these meetings. We have to develop a relationship and I have to get a feel for what our rhythm will be, how you like to be touched, comforted, spoken to. And how your partner plans to help and is best supported as well. Imagine how long it takes to find this stuff out while dating. . . . at best, I’m doing this in six hours. Yup, doulas are awesome!
I want you to have the amazing birth I know you can have. I love teaching childbirth education in New Orleans, but prenatal doula visits just aren’t the time to do it. If you have not taken a class our time is often spent in a more mini-lesson fashion, than a prenatal doula visit where we discuss what you have learned and delve further into your inner birth preparations.
But what about that ‘informational support?’ As a doula, I am here to support you in your birth decisions. This is not my birth and when I’m at your birth, I won’t be talking to your health care provider. It’s just not my role. I’m there to support you and should you want to clear the room and use me as a sounding board or ask me some questions, I’m there for you 100%, but it’s too late for education. It would be wildly inappropriate for me to introduce the risks of cascading interventions during a birth. And the importance of choosing the right health care provider? red flags? prenatal nutrition to help prevent gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia? posture and exercise for optimal fetal positioning? importance of the amniotic sac? . . . . the labor and delivery room is just not the right place for these lessons, and it’s far too late.
I will support you in the decisions you make, because I want you to have the amazing birth I know you can have and the way to get it is by being empowered. When YOU make your decisions, you are empowered. I respect your body’s knowledge and your ability to birth your baby. Wanna know how else to be empowered? Information. Knowledge! Because ‘knowing is half the battle.’ gah, birth’s not a battle, but you know. . . “the more you know!”
You know what else you gain in a childbirth class? Camaraderie. Companionship. You build your parenting network and you and your partner are increasingly confident and knowledgable with a built in support network. You gain the benefit of hearing other people’s stories, experiences, empathizing with one another and being able to throw ideas out for discussion with your peers all with the guidance of a childbirth educator. As your doula, I take on the role of the best parts of a mother and bff, and I love you and poor that love into your labor and birth, but this is my job and after our prenatal visit, our professional relationship takes a pause. Hopefully we stay in touch and I get to see your amazing baby grow, I’ll provide you with referrals for anything you need, but you will need mamas and papas who are walking this path with you at the same time. People to discuss nursing, teething, poop, sleepless nights and milestones with. You will need a tribe (this is part of building your breastfeeding tool box), and a childbirth class is a great place to build that.
These are the reasons I recommend childbirth education to all my clients. I KNOW you will have a better experience when you have taken an awesome class. I KNOW that my clients who have taken my class, have done their homework and reading will have a better experience for two reasons: 1. They know more and you know, knowledge is power! 2. Our client-doula relationship will be that much better. This is one of those situations where 1+1 is more than 2.
We lead busy lives. Give yourself these few hours of childbirth education to really savor, love and celebrate this pregnancy and prepare for the life changing event of this baby’s birth! Your doula will love you for it.Amanda has been fascinated and inspired by pregnancy, birth, and women’s health long before she became a mother. As a devoted Nurse, Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and Mother of three, she draws from experience and compassion when supporting New Orleans women who are beginning their own journey into motherhood. She believes pregnancy is a time to nurture, cherish, and connect with one’s self and baby, as well as celebrate the growing family. She understands and believes birth to be a natural process and incredible rite-of-passage for a woman. The births of her own children are the most powerful experiences in her life, and she found herself redefined by each labor and birth. Her path has led her to be a committed force in the community as a birth advocate, birth and postpartum doula, birth educator, and certified happiest baby educator. “It is a gift to be invited into a woman’s birth circle. To share in her miracle and be in awe of her strength and power is humbling. There is nothing more precious than to be present as a family is born.” Amanda also holds a BS in Biology, has advanced training in VBAC, and is co-owner of Nola Nesting, LLC.
In celebration of our 4,000th Facebook “like,” Birth Boot Camp is giving away a free copy of our new and incredible DVD, Breastfeeding: the Ultimate MRE. This two disk DVD set is so full of information, you will want to watch it again and again.
Breastfeeding: the Ultimate MRE (Meal Ready to Eat), is over three hours of breastfeeding information. From getting the proper latch, to storing your pumped milk at work, to information about normal infant sleep cycles, you will be armed with the knowledge you need to have a successful and joyful breastfeeding relationship.
Taught by IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) Mellanie Sheppard, you will find expert advice from a woman who has helped hundreds find success with their own personal breastfeeding journey. Not only will you learn from an expert, you will hear stories from women like you. Learning about how they overcame breastfeeding obstacles and the happiness they found from nursing will help you build a supportive community if one doesn’t exist where you live.
Enter now to win this groundbreaking DVD for yourself or a friend!
Simply fill out the Rafflecopter information below! It’s easy. There are several ways to enter.
All winners will be chosen randomly, through Rafflecopter and random.org.
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Breastfeeding: The Ultimate MRE can be found on Amazon.com
After the thrill of discovering you’re pregnant, most women’s high quickly drops when the first trimester pregnancy symptoms roll in. Let’s face it – bloating, constipation, nausea, indescribable gas and much more can leave you wondering, what exactly is baby doing to me? But I’ve come to realize, even in the most uncomfortable moments, why I want to experience pregnancy in my life even after it is over.
I’ve always secretly been a nap lover but was too ashamed to admit it to my fellow worker bees. I’d wonder why do I need more sleep than they do? When we are children, we are forced into naptime – but when and why does this fade away? As we grow we still eat, we still cry, we still want to be told stories before we fall asleep. Why would it be any different with naptime?
Now I proudly smile and say, rubbing my kangaroo-forming belly, “I need my sleep.” I’m not necessarily using baby as my excuse – baby has just helped me see that I have permission every day to rest and slow down – even if it’s just closing my eyes for a moment. When I slow my breath and mind, and place my hands on my belly, I experience a sacred moment with just baby and me. In that moment, no one can take away our private bond as together we drift off to another world.
My husband and I like routine… even with our food. We had grown accustomed to eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch and chicken or fish for dinner, but pregnancy cravings have left me laughing and allowed us to share some fun memories. When I craved pizza, we hosted a homemade pizza bake off – while my husband topped his pizza with spicy sausage and jalapenos, baby and I munched on turkey bacon and pineapple cheese pizza. During Easter, we made my childhood favorite – homemade eggs benedict (making sure the eggs were thoroughly cooked of course). Sundays have now become our family day in the kitchen whipping up exotic meals together.
Kinder to Myself:
Along with different food choices and more rest, I’ve found this is an important message to the mind. I’ve become more compassionate toward myself. In the past, I’d “push-on” figuring out a way to convince myself I could find a bit more energy to get through the day. I’d feel guilty when I treated myself to a cookie. Now, I’ve noticed how much more enjoyable the day can be when I listen to what my body needs and acknowledging without judgment, shame or guilt. This does not mean I’m eating endless cookies during my pregnancy. Instead, I’ve softened to the acceptance that we cannot always be perfect, but we can have a positive mindset and an attitude of gratitude during the process of life forming within us.
More than Just Me:
When my family was just my husband and I, we focused so much on ourselves that at times, it became detrimental. We’d knit-pick every little detail about one another, we were self-absorbed with goal after goal, achievement after achievement. While our personal goals are still important, we’ve gained more perspective that there’s more to life that just us. Carrying a spark of light inside me that the two of us have created reminds me of such a wonderful focus other than my own ambition-oriented desires.
My poor husband immediately noticed the impact of pregnancy in our love life. I never got the rush of hormones to leap wildly to the bedroom. Instead our decreased “pinch-and-tickle” time has left us with some new insight – it has allowed us to communicate more often and check-in as far as how each of us are feeling and what we can do on an intimate level. Although I’m not constantly eager to fully share my body while bloating, nausea and heartburn have been the first things on my mind, I don’t mind hubby rubbing his hands on me for a nice massage or treating him to some hot and steamy time in the shower together. We’re continually exploring the importance of providing what each of us needs in order to maintain a happy and fulfilling intimate marriage.
In a busy world full of distraction, it’s easy to miss some of the most memorable moments in front of our eyes or even within our own bodies. Experiencing the miracle of pregnancy has blessed me with the ability to become more mindful of the beautiful changes inside and out. While the term “Each day is a new day” sounds cliché, it is definitely the case with pregnancy. I’m amazed at noticing how different I feel each day and don’t want to miss any of it. I have grown increasingly grateful at the ability to fully notice and witness every part of the journey rather than miss each day. After all, this is one thing you will never experience again the same. No matter how many more pregnancies you have, each one is unique, just like each child.
Nesting – The Time is Now:
When it came to house projects, my husband and I would always say, we’ll get to it next month. But when each month matters with pregnancy, there comes a time you can push it off no longer. Discovering we were going to have a new addition to our family, I’ve become quite the nester – or as my husband calls me – project manager. I’ve assigned him to paint the walls – done, build the bookshelves – done. We’ve finally purchased the furniture and storage we needed, and our cozy place has now evolved from a place of inhabitance to a delightful little family den. Thanks to baby, we remembered that eventually procrastination must be put into action if you really want to make something happen.
Less Physical Competition – Discovering My Own Routine:
It’s my mother’s fault. She was a workout-aholic, and because of that, I’ve caught the addiction too. But sadly, rather than simply working out, I’ve turned it into competition. I have to be the fastest, strongest, and try my best to beat my husband. While I’d successfully achieved high physical attainment, my body has decided to ease up. No more throwing 100 pounds over my head –maybe we’ll just try 50. Baby has helped me see that I can still get a good sweat and have a good time without almost killing myself. After all, baby wants mommy around. So sprinting? Maybe a powerwalk will do.
While there are helpful standard pregnancy signs to monitor, the tiny print at the bottom of many of the things I read states, each person and each pregnancy is different. If you’ve been surprisingly entertained with unwanted birth stories, you’ll see the variety of joy, pain and length of each birth. This is the same with each of us in all aspects of our pregnancy and life. No, I’m not craving ice cream like my twin sister – I want endless amounts of blueberries. No, I’m not running to the bathroom to throw-up like my friend – I wish I could go to the bathroom sometime, but constipation has another plan. While community is beneficial and supportive, it is my wish that I can carry the mindset of individuality throughout my entire pregnancy, labor and child raising. It is my hope that we all may stop comparing and start enjoying the purity of the personal experience of pregnancy.Jessica Latham’s writing has been featured on NPR’s Perspectives series, Tiny Buddha and Thank the Now. She has written a variety of health articles for Tabata Times and various CrossFit Blogs. When not happily preparing her life as a first-time mama, Jessica, nestled in beautiful Sonoma wine country, writes about daring to live with passion and love. To read her poems, articles, and interviews, visit Rowdy Prisoners
Women are often considered of an advanced maternal age if they are delivering their baby after their 35th birthday. While there is some increased risk in pregnancy and birth over 35, most women can look forward to a wonderful and positive birth experience.
Does being 35 make me high risk?
While some research concerning birthing of 35 does show increased problems, the truth is much less clear cut. Actually, for older women there are many things that are not a higher risk for them.
In fact, one large study done in 2005 found:
“No statistically significant differences were noted among the groups [of various aged women] for threatened abortion, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, preterm labor, preterm PROM, and assisted vaginal delivery.” ¹
According to this study, many of the things that women over 35 worry about, such as gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia, are, actually, not statistically more likely for them. This knowledge alone can make a woman feel much less fearful and more capable of achieving the birth she wants.
The researchers go on to say that:
“In summary, the majority of women of advanced maternal age deliver at term without maternal or perinatal adverse outcomes.” ¹
One thing that does appear to be more likely as a birthing woman gets older is the risk of stillbirth. Even this risk, though, when examined carefully is still incredibly low in developed countries. This review of numerous studies found that:
“However, the absolute increase in risk was relatively small in studies from developed countries, with crude odds ratios varying from 1.20 to 2.23 on top of baseline stillbirth rates varying from 1.55 to 17.89 per 1000 total births” ³
Even though there is a small increase in stillbirth, it is still very low even for women considered to be of “advanced maternal age.”
Chromosomal abnormalities also show some increase as a woman gets older, but this alone shouldn’t preclude a natural birth. 6, 7
Why are women 35 and older experiencing more cesarean sections?
Women, who happen to be 35 or older at the time of delivery, have higher rates of cesarean section birth. In fact, women of this age or older are actually three times more likely to deliver by scheduled c-section.²
Researchers point out that women of this age may simply be birthing surgically more often due to their age alone (and not need), despite the relative safety of natural or vaginal birth.
“Nonetheless, maternal age alone may be a factor influencing physician decision making. It is uncertain whether the increased rates of cesarean delivery are due to a real increase in the prevalence of obstetric complications or whether there is a component of iatrogenic intervention secondary to both physician and patient attitudes toward pregnancy in this older patient population.” ¹
In essence, the researchers believe that it may be the attitudes of the physician and the patient regarding maternal age that increased these surgical births, not necessarily need. (Iatrogenic refers to an intervention or illness caused by medical treatment.) In fact, some studies found that the increased “surveillance” of these older mothers may even cause iatrogenic prematurity or babies born too early due to medical induction.²
How can I increase my chances of natural birth if I am over 35?
Just because you are over 35 doesn’t mean you can’t have a great natural birth! Research shows that this is true.
“…most will achieve a successful pregnancy outcome. Best outcomes appear to be linked to pre-existing maternal health, and pregnancy care at tertiary centers may also contribute.” ⁸
Being healthy before you get pregnant, no matter your age, can improve outcome and possibly increase your chance of having the birth you want. For example, one common risk for older women is gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes however has other risk factors independent of maternal age that contribute to it, including pre-pregnancy weight, health, and nutrition before and during pregnancy. Another risk factor for women over 35 is chronic hypertension, but research shows that advanced age alone is not responsible for these complications. Simply having a healthy blood pressure pre-pregnancy can be helpful. ¹
Leading medical groups point out that simple choices, such as eating well, exercising, and getting prenatal care, can be helpful in creating a healthy pregnancy over 35 or at any age. If you desire a natural birth, a comprehensive natural birth class will prepare you best. Look for one that includes instruction on both staying low risk and navigating common hospital procedures and testing. These issues are especially relevant to women over 35 who are often encouraged to test excessively.
Can a woman over 35 achieve a natural birth? The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Being healthy, educated and aware can help you get what you want from the birth process. Are there some risks to birthing over 35? Yes. But many of them can be minimized with a healthy lifestyle or do not prevent a natural birth.
1. Cleary-Goldman J, et al. Impact of maternal age on obstetric outcome. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2005;105:983. (If you would like to view this entire study, copy and paste the entire title into your search bar.)
2. Advanced maternal age and pregnancy outcome (British)
3. Maternal age and risk of stillbirth: a systematic review
Ling Huang, MD MSc, Reg Sauve, MD MPH, [...], and Carl van Walraven, MD MSc
4. Very advanced maternal age
5. Midwifery. 2011 Dec;27(6):793-801. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2010.07.006. Epub 2010 Oct 2.
Obstet Gynecol. 1981 Sep;58(3):282-5.
6. Rates of chromosome abnormalities at different maternal ages.
7. Table, Down Syndrome rates by maternal age
8. Very advanced maternal age
9. Mayo Clinic
The coming of a new baby is a wonderful thing. Now with the benefits of social media, there are as many ways to announce the beginning of your newest adventure as there are types of personalities. Here are a few cute (or fun or creative or just plain silly!) ways to share your joy with the ones you love.
We would love to hear your ideas too. Leave them in the comments!
~A darling way to announce a new baby- the tiny coffee cup with the expected due month on it!
~If you have older children, have them each hold a chalkboard with their birth order marked on it. For example, the oldest would hold a chalkboard with “#1” on it and the so on and at the end of a the picture would be a chalkboard sitting by itself, with the appropriate number for the newest family member. This also works beautifully for a first baby, as shown below. This couple used their simple initials in a heart for this tender announcement.
~Print a puzzle with a picture on it announcing the new baby for family to put together. (This one works great as a Christmas or birthday present.)
~Address a card to each family member with an enclosed “letter from the baby” announcing their coming birth.
~Take pictures of the entire families shoes lined up. Mom, Dad, older siblings if applicable, and lastly some tiny baby shoes! This one is great to share with social media. Add in each member of the families birth year using photoshop for some extra fun.
~For family members give a gift with the announcement inside. This one is especially wonderful for a long awaited baby.
~Make a family “movie” ending with mom and dad holding a positive pregnancy test.
~For a pregnancy announced around the time of a holiday, incorporate seasonal themes. This family had an older sister hold eggs marked “big sis” and shared the photos with family members for Easter.
~If you have older children, a simple shirt with the words, “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” are a cute way to both announce a baby and involve the older children. Or, if you are more creative, you can make your own shirts like the one above!
~Give the grandparents a brag book or photo album with only the first sleeve filled- with your ultrasound picture! Not only is this a cute way to announce a pregnancy, but it gives excited grandparents a place to document the growing of their loved one.
~T-shirts for extended family members, especially grandparents are a cute idea. Just have shirts made (or find some you can buy) that say, “Grandma” or “Grandpa” on them.
~A baby picture frame presented as a gift, only instead of a picture it it, have a note with the expected due date in it.
~Simple, but sends the message! Just sharing the picture of that positive test is a great way to tell your friends about your exciting news!
We express gratitude to all our readers who helped with the ideas for this post. In particular we would love to recognize some of our amazing instructors who submitted ideas and pictures. You can find more childbirth educators online.
Dani Long – www.YourBirthAdventure.com in Washington state
Cori Gentry – www.BirthMakesSense.com in California
Joni Yankus – firstname.lastname@example.org in Texas
Kendra Parry – www.BirthAsIntended.com in Utah
Rachel Johnson – www.DFWBirthClass.com in Texas
Preparing for birth is a unique time in a woman’s life. Many women spend their lives looking outward, seeking to serve others. But in labor and birth a woman has the opportunity to be at the center for a brief moment, and to have those around her serve her, listen to her, and help her in any way they can.
Occasionally, however, those close to a birthing woman use it as an opportunity to fill their own needs or express their own fears to the mother or those closest to her. While it may seem obvious to most, dumping our own emotional baggage on a pregnant or birthing woman is actually inappropriate. Sadly, there are many who have missed the boat on this particular subject.
How many birthing women are surrounded by people (including family) at their birth that they didn’t even want present? How many pregnant women must listen to the horror stories of others simply because they have a round belly and are, obviously, expecting? Birth, however, is not about making those that surround a woman happy and comfortable. A great birth team seeks to make the mother and her closest loved ones happy and supported so that they and the baby can have the best experience possible both physically and emotionally.
The Goldman and Silk “Ring Theory,” as discussed in this LA Times article, explains the idea that during times of extreme stress (such as turmoil or illness) the person most affected or at the “center” has the privilege of receiving emotional support, and the ability to “dump” outward. That is, the person at the center can ask for help, and the people outside can offer.
The idea that “support goes in, needs expressed go out” doesn’t just apply to illness; it works beautifully in labor, too.
When a woman is in labor she should be at the center of the circle, the center of attention, and the person who is focused on. She can request anything from those around her. Support should always flow towards the center from the outer circles, and requests should flow outward. For example, random strangers should not act as though the birth is theirs or that their needs are more important than those of the laboring mother. The mother should not have to support her partner, doula, or family. When the focus
of support stays on the mother, the entire labor goes better and she feels safe and secure.
Remember this simple rule of birth etiquette when attending a birth. Remember, also, that very soon that laboring woman will be a mother and all of her attention will be focused outward on her precious child. We can focus our love and support on her for a few hours to help ensure that both mom and baby receive the best start possible.