We know that the prospective doula has many certifying organizations to choose from. When choosing to certify as a doula, you should look carefully at each organization and choose one that has traits that will serve you best as you embark on an incredible and fulfilling doula career.
What makes Birth Boot Camp DOULA different from other doula certifying organizations?
Our doulas read many books and are expected to also own and be familiar with several more for use in their doula practice. Not only are you expected to read these books, we want your feedback. What did you learn from them? What did you love? How will these books further help you as a practicing doula? Our doulas are accountable to us, to their clients, and to themselves.
-Study guide submitted BEFORE training-
In addition to your reading, there is a comprehensive list of questions that you will receive once you have applied to become a Birth Boot Camp DOULA. As you read your books and study, you will fill this out. Two weeks prior to your training, you will submit your study guide (including reading material reviews) to our Birth Boot Camp DOULA certification coordinator, Nancy Rebarchik. Yes- two weeks BEFORE training!
We value this work being done before we meet together for our incredible training experience because it carries many advantages. All our training doulas are on the same page, with the same basis of knowledge. While some may be training as doulas after working for years as L&D nurses, and some may be attending training just after finishing high school and before giving birth themselves, all will have the same basic knowledge necessary to help them be the best doula possible for their clients. Our doula training is not your chance to learn what birth is about- you have already done that!
Maybe you have noticed that many doula trainings expect you do other learning before training also. Often this additional training involves breastfeeding education or childbirth education or both. One thing that is different with Birth Boot Camp DOULA is that we include almost all of this childbirth education and lactation training WITH the single cost of your training. The only exception to this is our requirement for a blood borne pathogens exam which can be completed for a nominal fee through a few respected organizations.
When you register as a doula trainee with Birth Boot Camp DOULA, you will receive access to our 10 week childbirth education online classes. This is INCLUDED in your cost of training. No searching your area for a birth teacher and hoping she will let you watch her teach. No coming a day early for training and paying extra to take a crash course in childbirth with your doula trainer. You get the same intensive, quality, childbirth class that is taught by Birth Boot Camp instructors as part of your training.
-Breastfeeding education and advanced lactation training-
We mentioned that your training price is all-inclusive, right? This includes two things. First, each trainee watches three hours of video, Breastfeeding: the Ultimate MRE. This video taught by an IBCLC, is a fabulous piece of breastfeeding education. Then, at training, each doula trainee has in-person advanced lactation training from Mellanie Shepphard, IBCLC which focuses on the special role of the doula in the early days of breastfeeding. There is no need for you to scramble to find a breastfeeding class in your area and “hope” that it will prepare you for the incredibly important task of assisting a new mom with her first days of breastfeeding. We provide this for all our trainees at no additional cost AND on a consistent, quality basis. This benefits both you and all your future clients. We want our doulas to be confident and capable of providing excellent breastfeeding support for their future families.
-Community and camaraderie among our instructors and doulas-
Many doulas feel so alone when they first start. They are trained up and eager to serve birthing women, but they feel lost and they themselves have no community or support. The work of a doula is both sacred and emotionally taxing. You will need community and support just as much as the women you serve. Birth Boot Camp DOULA provides this. As a company we adore our instructors and doulas and recognize that without them, we are nothing. With constant online support from your peers and trainers (see below) you will never be alone. You will always have a supportive and strong community to build you up no matter the circumstance. Whether you have attended a birth that was difficult for you, or if you just need tips on marketing and community work, we are here for you, every step of the way.
-High quality materials-
One thing that has always been important to us as a company is high quality materials for our instructors and our doulas. We want you to be proud of what you are doing and be able to easily share it with those you come in contact with. We want to make it easy for you to reach out to women and care providers in your area with professional, beautiful materials tailored for your market. Not only will you have access to marketing materials, we provide all our doulas with stock photography that they can use in their own personalized business promotional materials for print and online.
But wait- there’s more! Birth Boot Camp DOULAS have access to the Supporting Arms booklet for their clients which helps organize your pregnancy and postpartum visits and helps with what education is needed with your clients. You will love this book, and so will they. It was designed by doulas for doulas.
Yes, we realize that not all doulas live in Dallas/Fort Worth and we realize that many other doula trainings will virtually appear in your backyard for certification. We don’t do this. There are many reasons to travel for doula training. Because our training is so comprehensive and awesome, we have a big team that we bring to the table. They are too expensive to cart all over the country, so you come to us. Not only does this keep the cost of our doula training down, but it helps encourage the community and closeness of our doulas that we feel is so important to doula career sustainability.
What does sustainability have to do with doula work? A lot. There are many people who train and try out doula work but only practice for a few short and struggling months or years. We train doulas for the long haul. We want your doula practice to be sustainable for you, your family and your community. This means you don’t help a few women at a reduced price before you burn out and can’t take it any longer. You build a career that supports you and the women in your community. Doula work for the long haul is something we feel strongly about and which we support you in. We can’t express how important this is.
This plays into sustainability because no matter how perfected your double hip squeeze, if nobody hires you, you can’t use it. There are other doula programs just starting to provide business training for doulas separate from their regular training. Again, we include it along with everything else. Business training isn’t an add-on that you pay for when you have enough money- it is an integral part of your training.
Your doula trainers, Amanda Devereux and Maria Pokluda are two incredibly successful and professional doulas in their own right. They were chosen by Donna Ryan to lead this program because not only are they good at what they do, they are respected in their community and have built careers out of doula work. They didn’t take a training to become a trainer. They were hand-picked because of their unique skill set. You will learn so much from them at training (and after) that you will treasure as you build your own business. Not only that, they treasure you. They are there for you, to answer your questions, provide support, and even be a shoulder to cry on, if that is what you need. You won’t realize how much this matters until you need it.
You have probably never heard of the term “relational support” and you wouldn’t be alone. This is something sadly unique to Birth Boot Camp DOULA but one of the most important parts of our training. In fact, this will help you in your doula business more than learning tricks or jam packing your doula bag with fancy comfort do-dads.
You are a passenger on the journey of pregnancy, labor, and birth with a woman and her family. Knowing how to support them on an emotional level is a gift you give to them, their birth, and yourself.
Birth Boot Camp DOULA is a new program right now, but it is not a recycled version of all the other existing doula programs out there. You would be surprised how many current and already certified doulas come train with us for this reason (and those listed above.) We provide something unique that you will get at no other training. You get it for one price, in one place, with a quickly growing group of amazing women who will mentor, support, and lift you up in the years ahead as you practice as a fabulous doula. Join us. You won’t regret it.
No Certification Births For Birth Boot Camp DOULAS
Tradition is wonderful, but sometimes it becomes necessary to question why a certain tradition lives on. In the doula certification world, there is a long tradition of “certification births” that must be finished before you are officially a doula. While there are good intentions behind the certification birth requirements for doulas, in truth, requiring certification births that meet strict guidelines only serves to devalue the doula profession as a whole.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the woman who cuts the ends off her pot roast before putting it in her (large) pan. When her mother notices, she asks why she is doing that. The daughter had never even thought to question why it was done, it was just something she’d seen her mother do all her life. Come to find out, the pan her mother cooked the roast in always seemed too small, so she cut the ends off the pot roast, but she should have just bought a new pan!
What does pot roast have to do with doula certification? Doula certification programs have always required certification births. To keep with tradition, we considered this requirement as part of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program. As we started asking ourselves hard questions about the purpose of certifying births, we determined that just because they have always been part of the process, doesn’t mean they are still useful. In fact, a strict certifying birth requirement can hold a doula back professionally. In effect, it is time that doula certifying organizations metaphorically “buy a pan that fits”. At Birth Boot Camp DOULA we do not require certification births to become a doula. We have found a better way.
Why Require Doula Certification Births?
What constitutes a “certifying birth”? First, some organizations require the doula to be at the birth for a set amount of time for it to count towards certification. Birth Boot Camp teaches that labor is variable and takes as long as it needs, so setting a minimum time is not compatible with what we know about birth. Second, at Birth Boot Camp, we feel that women don’t need vaginal exams to progress in labor. To require a doula to be present from an arbitrary dilation calculation is not supported by our philosophy and continues to promote the erroneous idea that dilation is the only way of measuring labor progress. A final concern is that the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program has a huge emphasis on relational - not just physical - support. We train our doulas to connect with their clients so that they can best serve them. A certain number of certification births does not give us information about a doula’s skills in this area.
Continuous Doula Accountability
If the purpose of certifying births is accountability and experience, there is a better way. Birth Boot Camp DOULAS are accountable, not only for the first few births they attend, but all of them throughout their career with Birth Boot Camp DOULA! Based on the number of Supporting Arms booklets they order for their clients in a given year, our doulas are required to fill out a Birth Summary for 80% of them. We aim for 100% but realize this isn’t always possible. Our doulas, like Birth Boot Camp Instructors, keep statistics to be transparent and measure their own effectiveness so we can make changes as needed. Accountability for a doula should last far longer than her three certifying births.
An evaluation form is sent to every Birth Boot Camp DOULA client so that they may evaluate the care they received from their doula This form does not actually go back to the doula, but to our Doula Certification Coordinator, who can then share the evaluation with the doula if the client gives permission. So, the two evaluations are coming from the doula and her client, not a care provider who may have spent only minutes in the doula’s presence. Care providers and nurses may be willing, but generally they have no relationship with the doula or any incentive to help her reach her goal of certification. The most important opinion is that of the birthing mother. We seek her views on the birth and role of her doula and value them highly. At Birth Boot Camp DOULA, certification births are not held over the doula’s head, and ongoing evaluations simply become a part of constantly striving to be a better doula.
Changing the Culture of “Free Doulas”
It is impossible to have a conversation about “certification births” without addressing “free doulas.” At Birth Boot Camp DOULA, we talk a lot about professionalism, scope of practice, and sustainability. Doulas being forced to complete certification births perpetuates the problem of couples always looking for a “free doula” and a culture that undervalues the unique supportive role of female birth workers. Birth Boot Camp DOULAS complete a heavy workload, followed by an intense 3-day workshop. They complete an exam at the end of the workshop, and upon passing, they are declared certified. They are ready to work! We recommend they charge a starting wage at their discretion, charging not below $300. A Birth Boot Camp DOULA will never be encouraged to work for free nor will she be so desperate for her certification births that she feels compelled to work for free.
Doulas Supporting Doulas
Birth Boot Camp DOULAS leave training with all the skills, knowledge and business savvy to be incredible doulas. She is not left to figure things out on her own, as she has a tremendous support team at Birth Boot Camp Headquarters and among her fellow Birth Boot Camp DOULAS. We have created an avenue to launch new Birth Boot Camp DOULAS to success and help them to reach their goal of having an enjoyable, profitable, and sustainable career as a doula.
Our doulas are enrolled in a mentorship program where they receive ongoing guidance and continue their development in several ways including a one-on-one consultation with one of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA creators and trainers, Amanda Devereux or Maria Pokluda. Our mentorship program is designed to develop each Birth Boot Camp DOULA’s relational support skills, business model, support them through their early births, and enhance what they learned through Birth Boot Camp DOULA training.
At Birth Boot Camp DOULA we have aimed to create a unique and superior doula certification program. We are not afraid to break tradition in order to make better doulas who can have lasting careers where they are compensated for their efforts. There is no doula certification program that offers the training, materials, and ongoing support that Birth Boot Camp DOULA does. Join our ranks today!
Preview Of "Supporting Arms," Birth Boot Camp DOULA's Client Booklet
Every Birth Boot Camp DOULA client receives the incredible "Supporting Arms" booklet from their Birth Boot Camp DOULA. We are so proud of this little book and our doulas love it. The "Supporting Arms" booklet contains wonderful and useful information for both the doula and her client. What is in "Supporting Arms"?
Information on when to contact your doula.
A coupon for an online Birth Boot Camp childbirth class.
A place to write down local resources recommended by your Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
Information you will cover in your 1st and 2nd prenatal visits with your Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
Tips for birth and relaxation for you and your partner.
Useful information and pictures about what happens in labor.
A relaxation practice exclusive to Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
Incredible breastfeeding and postpartum information.
All in full color, gorgeous pictures!
How does "Supporting Arms" benefit the doula?
Our two doula prenatals are unique and structured to build relationships. As explained by Amanda Devereux, a program developer and trainer for Birth Boot Camp DOULA, "The focus of the prenatal appointments is on relational support, not on education. This really creates an incredible doula-client relationship and that moves into some amazing births!" With Maria Pokluda, Amanda worked hard to create a training that teaches doulas how to do this. Together they created "Supporting Arms," a beautiful, full color book that provides information that you would otherwise spend a lot of time going over. "Supporting Arms" goes hand in hand with the structure of the prenatal appointments. Conducting prenatals, and the postpartum visit in this way contributes to sustainability within the profession, so that our doulas can have long and fulfilling doula careers and clients who they have excellent relationships with.
What do doulas say about "Supporting Arms"?
At Birth Boot Camp our mission is to help prepare couples for amazing natural births. One way we strive to do this is by supporting our instructors and doulas with the best training, preparation and materials we can possibly offer. We love that all of our doulas can take materials with them to their visits and interviews that look professional and that provide information that is above and beyond. They love that they don't have to photocopy dozens of papers from various sources and staple them together for each new client.
Nancy Rebarchik, a Birth Boot Camp instructor, doula, and administrator for the doula program says, "The Supporting Arms booklet fills in the gaps for my clients between the end of their Birth Boot Camp class series and D-Day. My clients find it so reassuring in the last weeks of their pregnancy. Their confidence translates into more peaceful end to their pregnancy, and fewer panicky phone calls and texts to their doula. It's definitely a win-win!" You can find Nancy in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at www.empoweringbirthdfw.com.
Hailie Wolf, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Abilene, TX notes the focus on postpartum baby care and mother wellness. "One of the things I really love about the "Supporting Arms" booklet is the great breastfeeding and postpartum support information. Moms always laugh about the pictures of what to expect from baby's first poops, but they always end up finding them helpful! The mental health self check list is also a wonderful tool." You can find Hailie in Abilene and at www.countrybumpkinbirthservices.com
Andrea Winn, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Spokane, Washington, says, "There is really nothing else out there like the Supporting Arms booklet. It is complementary to a thorough childbirth class, but it can definitely stand alone as a great reference as well! In addition to a comprehensive childbirth class and a supportive birth team, the Supporting Arms booklet is another amazing tool to have in your toolbox!" You can find Andrea at www.firstcomeslovebirthsupport.com.
Maria Pokluda, co-creator of Birth Boot Camp doula and the "Supporting Arms" booklet describes why this material is designed the way it is. "I love that our Birth Boot Camp DOULAs are walking into prenatals and interviews with this beautifully designed booklet. It immediately shows that our doulas are professionals and prenatals done using the Supporting Arms materials ensure that the client and doula develop a strong relationship which is a huge step towards working together perfectly during labor." You can find Maria in the Dallas are of TX or at greatexpectationsbirth.com.
Our format is organized, simple, and polished. We love it, our doulas love it, and we know their clients love it! Already we hear our doulas reporting that in interviews their clients ask, "How can I get that booklet?!" The answer- Hire me! So, without any further ado, here it is!
Preview Of "Supporting Arms," Birth Boot Camp DOULA's Client Booklet
We are excited to share this guest post today from Megan Hughes, BBCI, about four reasons dad needs a doula. We often talk about why the birthing mother needs a doula, but the truth is that a doula can benefit dad just as much. There are many reasons a couple can both benefit from the presence of a doula, here are just four of them.
4 Reasons Dad Needs A Doula
My Name is Megan Hughes and I am a Birth Boot Camp childbirth educator in Fort Worth, Texas. I teach a 10 week intensive course for natural childbirth that’s geared towards moms AND dads. My class schedule and location can be found on my website at www.birthhigh.com along with my musings and rantings over all things birth and pregnancy related.
A couple weeks ago during one of my natural birth classes, a colleague of mine came as a guest speaker to talk about the function of doulas in labor and birth. It got me to thinking about my own pregnancy and my husband’s response as one that may be fairly typical – and thus worth addressing. Many of the points she brought out were too good to be left alone and so I have included them within my ponderings.
There is a lot of information out there expounding on the virtues of doulas. A decent awareness of how important a function they serve to a laboring mother has been raised and is continuing to gain more attention all the time. What I want to concentrate on in this particular post is why doulas are important to DADS.
Statistically speaking, births where a doula is present are generally shorter, less complicated, and many mom’s report, less painful.
This is all well and good when considering birth in general terms. No dad wants his partner to be in more pain and for longer than she has to be. I have found, however, that in many cases, Dad’s enthusiasm for doulas may wane in view of their price point. Rates for doulas can vary drastically. Some may charge nothing or only the cost of their expenses. (Usually these are working on their certification) The tradeoff is a lack of experience. Others may charge very little, $100-$200 while still others may charge from $700-1000+. Location and experience all factor in to the price of a doula.
In today’s society, with health costs rocketing ever higher, having a baby can get quite expensive – especially if mom is planning to stay home with the kids. The financial stresses placed on the father as a sole income provider can be severe. At this point many dads feel that while a doula would be nice…ultimately doulas may be a luxury and therefore an extra expense that bears considerable scrutiny before diving right in.
It is not my intention to beat up on Dads for perhaps having this mindset. After all, yes, moms CAN have babies without a doula present. My real purpose is to highlight why doulas are important to Dads in particular and why they also have a personal stake in determining a doula’s value.
REASON #1: Doulas Are Personal Birth Encyclopedias
This is especially fortunate for those couples who have not taken childbirth classes or where mom took a class but Dad did not. During labor and birth questions and concerns may arise, especially for first-time parents. Depending on the couple’s birth location and care provider, staff may not have the time (or frankly the inclination in some cases) to sit down and fully explain exactly what is happening, why is happening, and what (if anything) needs to be done. A doula's role is different than that of a nurse. This is where doulas come in handy for Dads as they are able to explain and translate the medical and technical jargon. They are also versed in offering different alternatives to choose from when considering options for any given situation. i.e. labor is stalling out. Instead of going straight for the Pitocin a doula may offer some suggestions to try first such as changing positions, getting upright, walking, calling a chiropractor, etc.…
This sort of knowledge and experience can be tremendously helpful for Dad as labor wears on and mom makes the trip to “labor-land.” As is common, mom withdraws into herself, concentrating on what she must do. Dad becomes mom’s advocate and possibly defaults into making some decisions for her and the baby. How much of an advantage would it be to have the knowledge and resources on hand from an objective party whose SOLE interest is the well-being and healthy outcome of the birth? Doulas do not work for the hospital, the birth center, the nursing staff, the grandparents or extended family. They work for YOU! They work for Mom and Dad. They are thus enabled to provide options and alternatives as an unbiased party.
Even if the couple HAS taken childbirth education classes, it is sometimes easy to forget things you’ve learned in the heat of the moment. Having a doula there to remind both mom and dad of the choices available or just offer general encouragement to help keep both parties emotionally and mentally grounded.
REASON # 2: Doulas Call Time-outs
Some couples may consider hiring a doula because they are unsure of themselves in the face of medical opposition and feel like having a doula is kind of like hiring their own personal referee. And while it’s true that a doula can be useful in helping mom and dad express their wishes, she is not a gladiator. She does not fight your battles for you. She is not your voice. She does remind you that you HAVE a voice.
Many Dads may be intimidated by the fact that they are their partner’s advocate; some prefer to entrust any responsibility for their partner’s care to the medical “birth professionals.” I don’t believe this is done out of indifference but rather out of fear that some preference they should push for or decision they should make could somehow end up harming mom or baby. (Much of this fear can be taken away though education, which is why it is so important for dad to attend birth classes with mom.) This attitude doesn’t just occur in hospitals but in every location from hospital to homebirth.
It is at this proverbial ‘fork in the road’ type decision where Dad has that ‘deer in the headlights’ expression that a doula may pipe up with a simple, “Can we have a few minutes to talk this over privately?” It’s a simple sentence but the effect can be profound. Even just a quick timeout where everyone takes a breath and a step back can give a couple a chance to regroup and decide for themselves what their voice will sound like.
This also applies to the over defensive Dad that just isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with a provider. Having someone there to call a timeout may help Dad to regroup and possibly come up with a better way to communicate his partner’s needs and wishes in a manner that will be more likely to see them filled.
REASON #3: Doulas Share The Heavy Lifting
For those Dads who have never participated in a birth before- labor support can be a very intensive manual labor job. Depending on how long mom labors, DAD may need a chiropractor before all is said and done! With the possibility of hours of continuing contractions in which Dad may bear mom’s weight partially or wholly, applies hip squeezes and counter pressure…or the myriads of other physically taxing comfort measures that are so helpful. Having a partner to share the physical burden can make the difference between a tired but still functioning dad, and a stressed out, exhausted, and overwhelmed Dad. Remember, the attitude and energy in the room affects how mom labors as well.
Even if Dad doesn't do much of the physical labor support, having someone there to tap him out so he can run to the bathroom or get a quick bite to eat, or even just a small break to gather his energies can be extremely helpful. After all, it’s not like mom can hit pause on the contractions so Dad can take a pee break or because his arms are sore and cramping up.
REASON #4: Doulas Shine UP Dad’s White Knight Armor
I think it’s safe to say that pretty much every man wants to be a hero in his partner’s eyes. One of the great things about this period of time between partners is that it is an opportunity for Dad to shine in his capacity as protector and care-giver. And doulas can provide that extra spit to make Dad shine like Prince Charming.
The thing is, in 20 years a woman may or may not remember the name of her doula. She will ALWAYS remember her partner’s attitude and actions at birth. Therefore it is not the doulas place to horn in and replace Dad as mom’s anchor but rather to help in whatever capacity she can to enable DAD to be mom’s rock and anchor.
For example, she might suggest quietly a comfort measure that Dad could do – maybe mom needs a cool rag on her forehead. Of course a doula could just do it herself but by enabling Dad she has enabled the one person with whom mom has the strongest, most personal connection, to show how much he loves and cares for her by being her comforter.
As much as a mom my like her doula, ultimately it will be the tender touches and enduring constancy of DAD’S support that will mean the most to mom. And that is as it should be.
So for the Dads that want to help, want to be there for their partners, and just aren’t quite sure how to go about it, having a doula to be your trusty squire will make being the White Knight an easier and more assured role.
So when considering a doula, Dads, consider your personal stake in her and get involved! They aren’t just a luxury or an extra expense. They are an asset to YOU! Go with your partners to meet and interview them –you will be working with them quite closely so it would be a good thing to have a hand in the selection process.
After all, every White Knight needs a trusty squire in a fairy-tale ending!
If you are looking for a comprehensive natural birth class in the Fort Worth area, then check out Megan. She can be contacted via e-mail at mhughes (at) birthbootcamp (dot) com. Visit her at www.birthhigh.com for more musings. She teaches a 10 week intensive course for natural childbirth that’s geared towards moms AND dads.
One common belief about doulas is that hiring a doula will automatically "empower" you. This isn't quite the case. What is true is that doulas can help you empower yourself. We love this guest post from doula and VBAC mom, Alex Rounds. Read it and share it with someone you care about. A doula just might improve their birth.
Doulas do not empower women, women empower themselves. But having a doula helps.
A few years ago,I had to explain what doulas are to family members, friends and acquaintances. Now the work is a little less strange and doula work is a little better understood. I see fewer confused faces when I introduce myself as a doula. It’s nice.Word is spreading that women with continuous support from doulas are more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births,shorter labors, less use of interventions such as anesthesia, epidurals and cesareans, and even have babies with higher APGAR scores (Hodnett E., Gates, S., Hofmeyr, G., & Sakala C. 2013).
Still many people don’t know what doulas are and many who would like doula support do not have it.I’m happy to share that rates of doula support are increasing because that tells me more women are having better births withlower rates of interventions. As Kozhimannil et al found, doula support in birth lowers risk of cesarean by as much as 60-80% and increase comfort and satisfactionfor one of the biggest events in the lives of parents (2014).Butmore women want doulas. We are an underutilized resource and thebody of evidence for the effectiveness of doula support is growing. If you think you might want a doula, don’t hesitate. We want to help.
Maybe you have heard of the “cascade of intervention” that can lead to more medicalized birth and cesarean.That’s one thing we can help temper. Sometimes it may feel like an intervention is the only option, and one intervention often leads to more. Doulas help women and their families evaluate choices and make sure expecting parents are aware of their options.Medical interventions come with risks, some may seem small, but risks are cumulative and some have known long term consequences.
Doulas work with women to help them use and build their own strength. We help women realize their own strength by supporting them. We are there to offer physical comfort, emotional support, and provide up to date, accurate, evidence-based information to the best of our abilities aiding the process of childbirth. Through this process fewer interventions are needed or elected by the informed and supported family.
Doulas do not preventwomen from using medical interventions but offer alternatives so that women may choose what is right for them and do not feel the need for interventions. Doulas do not empower women, but they do help women empower themselves.
We support women and their families. And when women do choose interventions, it’s usually with more time to talk about their choices, receiving more information and after offering or exhausting non-medical strategies.
Echoing the long held assertions of natural birth advocates,the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2014) recently sited doula support as an effective and harmless strategy for preventing unnecessary cesareans. Cesareans carry risks that many women, even those who have undergone them, are unaware of according to the Listening to Mothers Survey II (2006). These include:“severe maternal morbidities––defined as hemorrhage that requires hysterectomy or transfusion, uterine rupture, anesthetic complications, shock, cardiac arrest, acute renal failure, assisted ventilation, venous thromboembolism, major infection, or in-hospital wound disruption or hematoma––was increased threefold for cesarean delivery as compared with vaginal delivery,” including complications that effect long term reproductive health.
In the last few years, we have begun to see the cesarean rate dropping very gradually from a high of 32.9% to 32.7% (Hamilton, B.E., Martin, J.A., Osterman M., & Curtin SC, 2014)/ The efforts of many to improve maternity care, from individuals, consumer advocate organizations, labor doulas, medical professionals, medical organizations and collaborative organizations made up of all of the above, are beginning to turn the tide. But we still have a long way to go.
The late, great Marsden Wagner (former Director of the Women and Children’s Health for the World Health Organization)wrote, “labor and birth are functions of the autonomic nervous system and are therefore out of conscience control. . . two approaches to assisting at birth: work with the woman to facilitate her own autonomic responses - humanized birth; override biology and superimpose external control using interventions such as drugs and surgical procedures - medicalized birth.” Doulas are clearly part of the humanizing model. In a way that an untrained friend, partner and even your own Mother (probably) can’t, a doula can help guide and engage a willing support team, including moms, partners, siblings, kids and occasionally medical providers connecting the team to the laboring woman and improves outcomes as well as satisfaction. Friends and loved ones can help women feel better about their birth, but they don’t reduce the use of interventions (Cochrane, 2012).
Doulas help women so women can make choices about their care. We can’t guarantee outcomes, but we can help women improve theirs. I hear people say that doulas empower women. I don’t agree. Doulas do not empower women, women empower themselves. But having a doula helps.
If you think you might want a doula- then you probably should. If you don’t already want a doula, maybe you should consider the conclusions Hednet, et all came to… “All women should have support throughout labor and birth.” A doula is one of the best kinds of support you can have for your labor and birth.
In a nutshell, Alex Rounds is a moderately well-adjusted human being. She is a member of La Leche League, a Breastfeeding Counselor, and Mom. She has three fun, quirky and ever-challenging sweet kids. Presently, Alex's time is consumed with homeschooling, studying midwifery, volunteering, providing breastfeeding support, and attending birth as a doula. You can find Alex at www.AlexTheDoula.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/alexthedoula.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine. (2014) Obstetric Care Consensus Series- Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean. Delivery. Number 1. 2014, March
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Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Osterman MJK, Curtin SC. (2014) Births: Preliminary data for 2013. National vital statistics reports; vol 63 no 2. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2014.
Hodnett E., Gates, S., Hofmeyr, G., & Sakala C. (2013) Continuous support for women during childbirth.Cochrane Database Systemic Review. 2013 Jul 15;7:CD003766.