Doulas! The most underutilized resource available to expectant women!
The more and more I get out in the community and chat with new or expectant women here in our city, the more I realize that most women do not have a clear understanding of what a doula is, not to mention what the benefits really are of having a professional labour/postpartum support person on their team. Doulas are one of the most UNDERUTILIZED resources available to birthing women! We are the missing link to the health care system that can literally make the biggest difference in health outcomes across the board. Although Doulas are not medically trained, we are the ones that fill in all the blanks left behind by our current system. We have the ability to build strong trusting relationships with our clients and provide continuity of care that really supports each family through the entire process of bringing a new child into the world.
Women these days are typically left to navigate the system alone, with no sounding board to bounce ideas off as they gather information so they can make healthy choices for their families. Doulas work quite closely with their clients so that they are always supported and encouraged to learn more. We not only help with education during the prenatal period, but we are also a strong emotional safeguard for the family, especially the mother, as she moves closer and closer to her labour day. Preparing for the biggest physical and emotional event of her life isn’t something to bypass. This is a time where she really needs all hands on deck supporting and encouraging her that she will, in fact, be able to do this and will be a fantastic mother once the baby arrives!
When it comes to labour support, Doulas are there throughout the entire process! Our clients are never left alone once they feel they need more support. We want them to know that they are safe and well cared for so that they can actually ENJOY the experience, versus trying to take care of all the practical things like getting supplies, or remembering pain relief techniques. We take the heat off the dad or partner so that they can really just be there for their wife, as she embarks on this amazing journey! DOULAS HELP DAD’s TOO!!
What I want every mom-to-be to know is that Doulas make a significant impact on the overall health and safety for new moms by reducing the risk of C-section among other interventions! In fact, the AGOC has officially endorsed the use of doulas support stating:
“Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula. A Cochrane meta-analysis of 12 trials and more than 15,000 women demonstrated that the presence of continuous one-on-one support during labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and a statistically significant reduction in the rate of caesarean delivery (111). Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized.”
Slowly but surely, Doulas are making an impact!
Then we need to look and the POSTPARTUM DOULA! Now this is where we really shine! Having support within the home during those early few weeks are essential to the healthy adjustment the mother makes, as she learns the skills needed to care for her new baby. Motherhood is a learned skill but for most moms we are no longer surround by the village of our caring community to show us what we need to know, or to allow us time to heal and learn to breastfeed. Instead, we are expected to just pick up and carry on like nothing even happened.
It’s no wonder we have such high rates of PPD because we are not exactly preparing and honoring this very important time in one’s life. This time period is also referred to as “Matrescence”- The state of becoming a Mother, is similar to puberty or menopause as it is a specific rite of passage in a women’s life, that is hormonally charged that needs extra support and time to run its course. A British pediatrician and psychoanalyst by the name of Dr. D.W. Winnicott, was the first to observe the heightened sensitivities of new mothers in which he has gone on to name “Primary Maternal Preoccupation”. He describes it as follows “It gradually develops and becomes a heightened sensitivity during, and especially towards the end of, the pregnancy. It lasts for a few weeks after the birth of the child. It is not easily remembered by mothers once they have recovered from it. Only if a mother is sensitized in the way I am describing, can she feel herself into her infant’s place, and so meet the infant’s needs.”
Ultimately, the best way we can care for the new mother emotionally during this time of transition is, to be there to listen and validate whatever she may be feeling at that time. To encourage and guide her through the intense learning curve of motherhood and create a nice soft space for her to land and properly ground herself. She can then move forwards a strong, confident new mother!
My goal with Family First is to really move this profession forward, create a strong, stable, easily accessible resource for the women within the community and essentially improve the way we view childbirth by MOTIVATING new mothers so that they can embrace their power and see the joy of what birth can really be! Birth should be the most exciting and powerful day a woman will ever have, instead of being her biggest fear.
When we properly support our mothers, the ripple effects are endless!!!
If you are looking for a NEW way to plan for your upcoming birth and want to work one on one with the support of a Doula, feel free to contact me today!
Putting Your NEW Family First!
Owner- Family First Doula Service