I can hardly believe it's been 8 years since I had my first Doula baby. Not my own baby, but the first birth I attended as a birth doula.
Growing up among the Lancaster County Amish, and attending births with my mom, a midwife, I had a pretty positive view of birth, and I knew the advantages of natural, and well supported birth very well. But that was NOT my cup of tea. So I ran off to college and studied business and accounting. I even worked in that line of work for 2 years, until my son was born.
"What is a birth doula?A birth doula is a person trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth:
When a doula is present during and after childbirth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, make more positive assessments of their babies, have fewer cesareans and requests for medical intervention, and less postpartum depression." -From Dona.org
- tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
- reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
- reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction
- reduces the requests for pain medication and epidurals, as well as the incidence of cesareans
Then my whole world changed.
It was SO completely difficult to find a good midwife in Nebraska! I moved from a locale in PA where 20% of babies are born out-of-hospital, to an area where those stats are nearly unavailable, but definitely less than 1%. Our local hospital had a midwife, but she was banned from attending home births.
Aside from health-care, birth went from a familiar process to a real and challenging personal ordeal. As I went on to have my daughter at home as well, I knew that birth was an experience that can be either harrowing or life-changing awesome, depending on the support one has, and I knew I wanted to offer that opportunity to more moms. I still knew I was not called to become a midwife.
Shortly after I began studying to become a doula, my dear friend "hired" me to attend her birth as such. The opportunity made it possible for my to go to Philadelphia, PA, and attend a Doula training program. So I count the birth of Katharine, who will turn 8 tomorrow, as the beginning of my career.
Since that time I have attended births in homes, birth centers, and hospitals. I've been there for extremely emotional experiences, peaceful natural births, and have even supported a mom and baby through a necessary c-section. I know now that being a doula is more than offering moms the opportunity of a natural birth experience, but is all about supporting a mom to feel safe and informed as she navigates this extraordinary moment when her life changes forever. Helping a mom to understand God's incredible love for us by this incredible love He gives us for our own children.
Since then my passion for birth education and good health-care options for moms, has led me to be involved with Nebraska Friends of Midwives. I've served as board member of our original founding board, treasurer, and now as a regional representative. All four of our children were born at home with a midwife.
Right now I am focusing on being home with my family, and only take on a few births a year. But some day in the future, when being on call is not such a disruption, I hope to complete certification with Cascade Christian Childbirth Association, and offer support to more women in my area.
It is a wonderful thing to pray with, and for, a mom as she labors, and to provide all the information she needs to make good healthy decisions with her family and health care provider. I am so thankful I can participate in such a wonderful thing as birth. I know that God created us for this!
Psalm 127:3Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Trials? Count it all Joy...
Pondering Big Things - Feb 17, 2007
Pondering Burdens - Nov. 6, 2009