What a Doula Can Do for Your Labor Day

By Rebecca Dundore, Gentle Hands Doula Services

The sacred event of childbirth is a defining moment in a woman’s life.  Past accomplishments will be dimmed and future ones will be compared to this day – her labor day.  As a pregnant woman prepares for her birthing day she is met with strong opinions from every corner.   Horror stories come creeping out from the dark corners.  Even people who have never given birth want to tell her what she should do. “Overwhelmed” does not even begin to describe the feeling that a new momma experiences as she is barraged by well intentioned, however misguided, advice.  Even before labor is on the horizon, a doula can become your anchor.  The doula focuses on helping you to get it all sorted out – to dismiss that nagging voice that really scared you or undermined your confidence.

As a doula for over five years, I’ve seen that prenatal support is nearly as important as labor support.  Giving birth is such a huge sacrifice.  It is an ultimate act of love and deserves respect and honor.  Having a doula for your birth is like having a wedding planner for your wedding.  You can have a wedding without a planner, and a birth without a doula, but the right one can reduce your stress level and enhance your experience.  We work together through prenatal visits, phone conversations and emails to bring you peace of mind as you prepare for a day that will be forever in your memory.  Your labor and birth should be something you look forward to, not dread and fear.  Having a doula will help you come to that place of inner strength and confidence where you can confront your fears and press on toward your goal.

When I’m preparing for a birth I always go through my doula bag.  I make sure I have all my massage tools and comfort props and that they are all clean and ready for use.  More importantly, I make sure that I’m rested and that the couple is prepared well.  My goal is to put both parents at ease – I want them to know that I’m on their team and not looking to come between them in any way.  I often show the partner how to use massage and other techniques to relieve pain.  Many partners have thanked me after a birth, stating that they could not have gotten through it without me.  With my encouragement and support, they were able to attend to their partner in a more meaningful way.  Studies have shown that the partner is more emotionally involved in the whole process if they are supported by a doula, even if it is not their first child.

A good doula is primarily concerned with supporting the laboring couple’s needs.  She does not demand that you go all “natural”.  She isn’t there to monitor your health or your progress.  She’s there to be an emotional life-line for both of you.  She’s there to support your wishes, to help you reach your goals, and to provide ideas for laboring well, etc.

In labor, women often find they need a beacon to guide them through the harder times.  A doula can be that lighthouse.  Women who have doula support are far less likely to need medical interventions during labor – and they recover faster too.  Even the baby is less likely to stay in the hospital for a prolonged time when the mother has had a doula!  Women need other women to mother and nurture them into motherhood. Labor is also a major athletic event and warrants the use of a coach and a cheerleader.  To have a guardian of your birthing day is your right.  The doula does not do what your doctor, midwife or nurse does.  Her job is uniquely focused on your emotional well being and your physical support.  You deserve it!

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