When I was pregnant with my 3rd daughter my
husband and I decided to work with a doula. It was an
incredible experience and it profoundly changed the way I look at
Working with a doula offered another level of
awareness. I felt educated and cared for throughout my
pregnancy and although my birth experience was completely
unexpected (I basically gave birth in the back of our car), I was
present, confident, and surprisingly calm because of what my doula
had taught me.
Many women do not even know that having a doula is an
option, so I asked Tricia Fitzgerald,
mother of 5, early childhood specialist, HypnoBirthing
Childbirth educator, and DONA certified doula to explain
her role and how working with a doula can benefit expecting
Most people have never heard of the term "doula", or if they
have, they don't know that the presence of a doula at a woman's
birth can shorten the amount of time she is in labor, decrease her
chances of having interventions like pain medications or a
C-Section, and increase her overall satisfaction with her labor and
baby's birth. Having a doula is a choice that most pregnant
women don't even know exists.
A doula offers emotional, physical and informational support for
women and their partners during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum
period. A doula nurtures and supports a woman and her partner
and affirms the couple's choices. Her job is to help parents
learn about all of the choices and options they have in pregnancy
and childbirth, but not to choose for them.
She helps parents trust themselves and their ability to make
sound decisions for themselves and their babies. She reminds
parents that when they become reflective during pregnancy and bond
with their baby they will begin to make the choices that are right
specifically for them.
Doulas often help moms come to realize that they are individuals
who have distinct beliefs, values and goals for their pregnancies
and births. We help women understand that it is perfectly
acceptable for a woman to search for a care provider and facility
that will respect these unique needs, even if this means switching
to a new birthing attendant mid-pregnancy or driving further for
more supportive care.
A doula's role during a woman's labor is very unique. She
provides continuous labor support and has knowledge of normal labor
and childbirth and an understanding of possible medical
interventions. She can help translate medical language and
procedures into understandable language and she will remind and
encourage couples to ask questions and have an open line of
communication with their care providers.
In this way, a doula essentially ensures that moms and dads can
truly engage in informed consent as they labor and birth in a
hospital. A good doula does not have an agenda; she affirms a
couple's goals and choices, even if the choices are in conflict
with the doula's personal beliefs.
When I am hired as a doula for a family I strive to preserve the
intimacy of birth by protecting the space around a laboring mom and
her partner. My goal is to ensure that the family can welcome
their baby into the world in a peaceful environment in which mom,
dad and baby are all safe and respected.
I support the family's choices; point them toward the
information they need and constantly remind them that they have
within them an inner voice and power that will guide them to make
the "right" choices for themselves and their baby. Every
pregnant woman deserves to have her choices and beliefs respected,
and a birth doula helps make this happen.
Tricia Fitzgerald lives on the southwest side of
Chicago. To learn more about her work please visit www.triciafitzgerald.blogspot.com
To learn more about doulas please visit www.dona.org and to read more about
HypnoBirthing visit www.hypnobirthing.com or
Do you know Tricia or would you like to share your doula
experience? Feel free to comment.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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