Doulas - Everything you need to know before you chose to go with or without a doula.
Meet Cori and Sarah - the fabulous team behind Dos Doulas, a New York based Doula partnership. I was lucky enough to have Dos Doulas as part of my second birth experience and it was just soooooo much better and having Sarah there was a big part of it. The laws around childbirth are different in every country and in the US state laws differ also, but the trend of having doulas present at more and more births is helping to contribute to a rise in the number of natural childbirths.
If you're considering including a Doula as part of your birth team this article should help enlighten your choices a bit more I hope.
How long have you been working as Doulas?
We have been working as partners for 13 years. We were both attending births for about a year prior to that.
How many births have you been part of?
Well…we stopped counting but we are honored to have attended hundreds of births.
Where did you do your Doula training? How long did it take? We both did our initial Doula training with Doulas of North America but with different instructors. It started with the training, which was easy, and fun and then we had to certify which is longer and more difficult. Since then we have attended many breastfeeding workshops, advanced Doula trainings, we went down to the Farm to study with the wonderful midwives there and we are both infant/adult CPR trained and certified in neonatal resuscitation. What is the role of a doula in the birthing process? Essentially, a doulas job is to make the birthing experience as positive as possible. We provide much-needed physical, emotional and educational support to the birthing family.
What's the difference between a doula and midwife?
Midwives provide the clinical care of the mother and baby. They are responsible for the hugely important job of monitoring mom and baby’s health. A doulas job is to help the family to have a positive, emotionally safe and empowering labor and postpartum experience.
When should you start to look for a doula?
That is really up to you. Most of our clients reach out to us during their second trimester but if you are unsure about your choices in terms of providers or where you want to give birth, a doula is a good place to start!
Over the years what are the major trends you've seen in the field of childbirth - good and bad? On the good side, we've noticed that families are more open to holistic approaches to healthcare in general and that they are committed to educating themselves. The Internet has made information, studies and trends accessible in a way that just wasn’t possible in the past. On the bad side, cesarean birth rates are still unnecessarily high and hospitals are not as supportive as they should be of women’s rights and choices. We have a long way to go before women to feel safe and supported wherever they choose to give birth.
You obviously are natural birth supporters - why do you think it's important to support and promote natural childbirth? We believe in a women's right to choose her own path. We know from experience that natural labor is the safest, physically and mentally healthiest, and smoothest way to have a baby. Women feel so empowered when they recognize what their bodies can do. We also know that the way we live in the world and our society does not promote connection to Nature and our natural bodies and this can often make birthing naturally extremely difficult. In these cases we are grateful to have modern medical tools readily available to women who need them, but we should not use those tools routinely.
When did women start to move away from the idea of natural childbirth - why do you think this is? Many lives have been saved by modern obstetrics. However, when the medical establishment realized they could profit from surgery, medication and management of labor they started a campaign of fear and economic division surrounding women's pregnancies and labors. Instead of simply using their knowledge to help women who needed it they coerced women to birth in hospitals and started routine management of everyone, not just high-risk women. This really started happening at the turn of the 20th century and proceeded to devolve until the 50s/60s when women were routinely anesthetized (Twilight Sleep) and were unconscious and separated from their partners when they birthed their babies! The women movement of the 60’s (back to Nature!) and the upsurge in traditional women’s healthcare (Midwifery!) did a lot to turn that around and our mothers choose to give birth naturally and with their partners by their side. Since then it seems that we have gotten further and further into our heads and into technology which again makes us fear Nature and our beautiful natural bodies. Oh, there is so much we could say about this subject and we highly recommend reading Ina Mae Gaskin’s books if you want to know more.
Recently however it's become quite popular to have a doula - do you think this is a sign that things are changing?
Yes, we've seen lots of change over the 13 years we've been doing this work. It's happening slowly. Women are talking and sharing their birth stories we love this, it is intelligent, it is empowering, this is a good sign that change is happening.