"Ask me for strength and I will lend not only my hand, but also my heart."
~ Unknown

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Kind of a Doula am I? ~ Sherel's Philosophy

You may have noticed over the past couple weeks my colleagues have each written a blog post about what their philosophy is of being a doula and supporting birthing families. It is our goal to each contribute on a regular basis to bring our readers information on birth and to help you to get to know us a little better. I guess that I am the procrastinator of our group because I volunteered to go last and I am still down to the deadline trying to get my thoughts down in print.
I think that the most wonderful thing about doulas is that each one is different and has their own philosophy on how they support parents during pregnancy and the birth experience. I think this is wonderful because each family has their own ideas of what kind of birth they will have and what kind of support they will need along the journey. It is so important that expectant parents get the kind of support that works best for them.

I feel that my main role as a doula is education. I have learned from my own births and those that I have attended that good preparation makes a world of difference when a woman is deep in the throes of labor. Even with good preparation there comes a point where having loving and gentle support is the one thing that keeps many women going.

I often wonder when I read the research on birth why so many doctors choose to use so many medical interventions when many studies show the harm of them such as induction and epidurals. Then I hear mothers speak of their own births and how they scheduled an induction because then all of their family could be there and wouldn’t miss work or how mothers would never give birth without an epidural because they are “not that brave”. I have heard this over and over again from mothers who have no enthusiasm about the birth event and are only grateful to have it passed and receive their beautiful healthy babies. I realized that doctors all too often hear this version of birth from the expectant mothers they work with. Expectant mothers who approach birth with fear and trepidation wanting only to be rescued from the pain are the norm in our society. Whereas, those who educate themselves about how they can birth peacefully and beautifully with their bodies doing the work to bring their newborn into the world, are looked at as strange and even crazy.

Birth can be beautiful and peaceful and mothers can show the medical providers that there is another way to give birth without the pain medication and the lithotomy position for pushing. However, it isn’t about educating the doctors and OBs, the research is out there for them to see, it is about educating mothers so that they can choose other options besides medication. Mothers need to be informed that they can birth without fear. If the majority of mothers asked for births without medication and asked to be upright during pushing and for freedom to move during labor, the medical system would change. The evidence would be there for all doctors and L & D nurses to see and mothers would go on to be advocates for natural, un-medicated birth.

This is why I feel that as a doula I need to make the option available for all women to have the resources to be in charge of their own births. I feel that pregnant mothers are given 9 + months to prepare themselves and their minds and bodies for the birth event. My role is to help families to educate themselves in choosing the best birth for them and to choose the right support people. I do not feel that I need to be present for every woman’s birth as birth is very sacred and women need people surrounding them that they are comfortable with. I have seen firsthand the difference that a doula can make who is sensitive to the needs and comfort of all who are present. I know that having a doula at birth in the hospital can keep a woman from fighting her body and help birth to progress more smoothly. However, I feel that birth in the hospital can change if enough women are educated about their bodies before entering the hospital. That is my goal as a doula and someday as a midwife, my desire is to see mothers who ask for change in birth and reject medication for themselves and their babies.

My birth philosophy is that I want to be there for all women of all ages and with all histories and give them the tools that they need to experience a beautiful and fulfilling birth experience so that they will share their stories with those around them so that someday the landscape of birth will change and babies will come into the world free of fear and ready for the adventure that is life.

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