Birth with a Doula in the 21st Century Article by Cheryl Sheriff Registered Doula at Ideal Birth

By: Ideal Birth Doula Services for pregnancy and birth  18-Apr-2011
Keywords: Doula, Pregnancy Support, Doula Services

Birth with a Doula in the 21 Century

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 progressed.

 My obstetrician 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 continue.

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.

 

 

How amazing 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.

The decline 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.

Birthing 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.

Research shows that doula support has many benefits for the progress and outcomes of labour, including:

50% reduction on caesarean rates

25% shorter labour

60% reduction in epidural requests

40% reduction in syntocinon use

30% reduction in analgesia use

40% 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

Twenty one 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.

Cheryl Sheriff is a trained nurse and midwife working in Brisbane as a registered doula. She has supported over 100 births as a doula.

 For more information please visit

 

 

Keywords: Doula, Doula Services, Pregnancy Support, Pregnancy, Birth, Childbirth Support, Labour

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