Birth with a Doula in the 21
Cheryl Sheriff Registered Doula at Ideal Birth
A Mother’s Perspective
I felt a cool cloth on the back of my neck and pressure on
my lower back at the peak of the contraction. Just when I thought I couldn’t
continue her eyes met mine and she breathed with me; her energy and presence
taking me to a new level of belief in my body and my child as I worked towards
the excitement of meeting my baby.
Somehow she knew what I needed without my asking.
Intuitively she protected my space and I felt a safeness and power surging
through me. She was there just for me, my partner and my baby. She had no paper
work to attend to, no clinical duties or a change of shift that would take her
from me before my baby birthed. I felt no time pressure to perform, just an
amazing flow of energy bringing my baby to me.
I couldn’t believe we were in a hospital. I had heard so
many negative stories but this wasn’t what I was experiencing. She had
connected and communicated with the midwife discussing my desires for a calm,
quiet environment, talking through my birth plan and how my early labour had
arrived joking about doulas, birth plans and being in the water. I could see he
was quietly pleased with me as he retreated to the tea room leaving us to
As she guided him I felt my partner’s strength and calmness
as he connected with me on a whole new emotional level. The love and
contentment I felt continued to build and exploded into pure joy as I lifted my
baby onto my chest.
that this ancient tradition of doula support for pregnancy and birth has gained
new momentum in the 21 century. In our current birthing
environment we are often not supported to birth naturally and powerfully. This
is understandable in a culture where medical intervention is the normal
occurrence and caesarean sections are seen to be a “safe” alternative.
of midwifery as an art and part of everyday community life alienates women from
the normality and the empowering aspects of natural childbirth. Despite the
evidence and available skills, physiological as opposed to obstetric childbirth
has not really moved forward into the 21 century. Training for
midwives, nurses, and doctors usually concentrates on obstetric procedures. Our
current health care system places pressure on our health carers, particularly
midwives. They are usually unable to stay with a woman for her entire labour,
much as they would like to. In some circumstances they may be caring for more
than one woman at a time.
women today are probably the most prepared and well informed they have ever
been but still they go into the medical environment having to cross their
fingers and hope for the best. They are not in a position to advocate for
themselves during labour and their partners (no matter how well prepared) are
travelling their own emotional journey seeing the person they love in labour.
Studies show the presence of a doula doesn’t in any way displace the father,
but rather enhances his role. She assists in decreasing his anxiety, giving him
support and encouragement and guiding him in specific tasks, allowing him to
reach out to his partner in a more caring and nurturing way.
shows that doula support has many benefits for the progress and outcomes of
reduction on caesarean rates
reduction in epidural requests
reduction in syntocinon use
reduction in analgesia use
reduction in forceps delivery (Klaus,
Kennell and Klaus 1993)
“If a Doula
were a drug it would be unethical not to use it” John H. Kennell
trials involving over 15,000 women shows “continuous support during labour has
clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants with no known harm” Cochrane Collaboration February 2011
There is a
strong need for both parents to be cared for during the challenging and
demanding event of birth. Few other occasions in the life of a couple bring
them together in such an emotional and complete way. The experience whether
positive and empowering or negative and traumatic will remain with them always.
A positive birth builds confidence and expectation as a new family is created
and moves forward meeting new challenges as they arise.
Sheriff is a trained nurse and midwife working in Brisbane as a registered doula.
She has supported over 100 births as a doula.
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