I'm a Doula! | Grand Rapids Birth Doula
This blog post won't be as full of beautiful photos as some of my others, but it's equally exciting to me! There are some changes happening with my business, and as I get everything settled, I wanted to keep you all in the loop!
I recently completed a birth doula training through DONA International, a very reputable and evidence based doula organization. Along with continuing to do birth, maternity, newborn, and family photography, I have added doula support services to my work!
Maybe you already are familiar with doula work, maybe you even had a doula at your birth! However, some of you may have never heard of a doula. Hopefully the following will answer some of your questions about doula care and what I offer.
What is a doula?
Doulas offer emotional, physical, and informational support to women before, during, and after giving birth. This means pre-natal meetings to talk about and prepare for the upcoming birth, full support during labor and delivery, and a postpartum follow-up visit.
Why are doulas beneficial to women giving birth?
What is absolutely amazing to me - and what truly drives my desire to be a birth doula - is how research has shown that having a doula makes a difference in a woman's birth experience. A recent review of a number of scientific studies compared outcomes for women who had three kinds of labor support during birth: nursing staff support, family/friend support, and doula support. Data from over 15,000 women was compiled. The findings showed the following incredible outcomes (as quoted from the DONA Birth Position Paper).
"According to a summary of the findings of this review, the doula-supported women were:
- 28% less likely to have a cesarean section
- 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor
- 9% less likely to use any pain medication
- 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively"
Having a trained support person devoted to a birthing mother's emotional and physical care during the birth process makes a difference - no matter what kind of birth the woman envisions or how the baby is born.
What about the woman's birth partner?
It is important to me as a doula to support a woman's birth partner. Partners often need breaks, sustenance, reassurance, and guidance on how to support the woman they love from someone who understands the birth process well but is not focused on the medical side of care. Doulas provide all of the above to the birth partner so that they have the energy and confidence to continue to support the laboring woman as only they can.
What can I expect from my doula?
Much like my birth photography packages, my doula care involves me being on-call 24/7 during the weeks surrounding your estimated due date. When labor begins, we will be in touch by phone until in-person support is needed. Sometimes this is during early labor, sometimes during active labor. I may come support you at home before heading to the hospital or birth center, meet you at the place of birth, or come to your home birth when the time is right for you. My support continues until after the baby is born.
As your doula, I am well-trained to offer non-medical physical support during the various stages of labor. I will suggest measures to help labor progress smoothly or make labor more comfortable for you. Some examples of this are helping you move into new labor positions, supporting your rhythmic motions, trying a bath or shower, massaging you to relieve the intensity of contractions and help you relax, helping maintain a calm and peaceful birth space, and offering words of encouragement and affirmation.
We will get to know each other before your birth at pre-natal appointments, and I will provide you with the resources you want to make informed and empowered decisions about your birth. During your birth, I will never speak for you, but I will facilitate making sure that your voice is heard.
I cannot believe I have the opportunity to support women during such a life-changing time in their lives. I truly feel called to this work. Personally, I know how important it is to feel surrounded with care, to feel understood and encouraged, and know that someone is rooting for you. Women are incredibly strong, and I am eager to walk with you during some of your strongest moments!
Getting the Word Out
Getting the word out into the West Michigan community that I am offering this service along with birth photography takes hard work and time. If you feel inclined, I would so appreciate you helping me spread the word by sharing with pregnant women you know that I am a birth doula.