“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”
By: Emily Accrocco
Doula-what? Doula-who? What the heck is a doula anyways? Doula comes from the ancient Greek word for a “woman who serves.” Women have been helping women have babies for centuries and this has carried on into the modern world. Doulas are everywhere, and are trained and experienced professional birth support workers. Most women who become doulas see becoming a doula as a calling, a vocation. They have a passion for pregnancy, new mothers and families and new life. A doula provides physical, emotional, mental, and informational and partner support. A doula does not take the place of the father or birth partner. If anything, a doula increases partner involvement during the laboring process. The family is born in the delivery room and the presence of a doula reduces pain, anxiety, discomfort and fear during birth for both the mother and the father. Doulas are mostly hired because a family or mother desires a natural, unmedicated birth, but are still extremely helpful with a medicated birth. As doulas, we hope to empower mothers to give a new start at life while helping create a healthier generation.
I’m drawn to pregnant bellies. I can’t stop chasing the mothers down and asking, “Do you have a doula?” Many, if not all respond, “What is a doula??” This was the same reaction I had when I was pregnant. When I did some research, I was floored. There IS a support person used purely for labor and delivery. It can be affordable, or pricey, depending on the doula’s experience and practice area. Most doulas that haven’t been certified through various agencies, including DONA or CAPPA, provide free birth support, but fees for experienced doulas can be up to $1000. We will also provide you with a list of community resources. A doula does not do anything medical—we provide hot and cold therapy, massage, advocacy, aromatherapy, reflexology and various physical and emotional comfort measures for relief, continuous phone or email support and are on call for you two weeks before and after your due date. A doula is with a mother 100% of the time during labor and delivery and is there to ensure that a mother has the birth that she wants and to remind her that she has options during her birth experience.
If you hire a doula, you will meet at least twice prenatally and discuss your birth preferences and prepare and investigate ways to avoid unnecessary medical interventions. Doulas spend a lot of time educating families on healthy pregnancies, changes during labor and delivery, newborn and postpartum care as well as breastfeeding. There are also postpartum doulas that charge by the hour and visit you at home assist with light housekeeping as well. Doulas work in hospitals, birth centers and during homebirths! Birth is seen as a transitional and natural process, where a doula is witness to a woman becoming a mother. It is one of the most powerful experiences on earth and most humbling to the doula.
Facts About Doulas:
The presence of a doula at your birth:
~ increases birth experience satisfaction and postpartum bonding
~ lowers c section rates
~ lowers medical intervention rates
~ shortens labor
~ reduces fear and anxiety about labor and delivery
~ lowers level of stress hormones
~ lowers chances of postpartum depression
And much more!
Emily grew up in Barnstable, Cape Cod and after graduation, attended University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She earned a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Women's Studies. In 2010, she gave birth to her daughter Lena Rose with the assistance of a doula. She had never considered or been educated about natural childbirth or hiring a doula. Emily had an amazing experience and it motivated her to become a doula herself. Her dream was to work with teen girls and as a labor and delivery nurse, but found doula-ing satisfies both passions. Emily believes in the transitive powers of childbirth on women and believes that every woman should have doula support to have the most fulfilling birth and most positive experience. Childbirth is so empowering and humbling at the same time, that to be a part of another's special moment means so much to the doula. Birthing is a spiritual event and women can take back the personal power and innate strength to give birth without excessive and unnecessary medical interventions. Emily works as a mental health counselor for children and adolescents. She draws on her experiences in social work and birth work to be successful in both fields. She is currently a midwifery student and has dreams of opening a pregnancy and birth services center on Cape Cod.
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