Many readers have likely heard the word “midwife” to describe those who help mothers give birth, usually outside of the traditional hospital context. However, our Illinois birth injury attorneys were interested in reading a story this week on a different name for those who help expectant mothers both before, during, and after birth-Doula. “Doula” is actually an ancient Greek word that means “woman’s servant.”
A recent Southeast Missourian story discussed the role of doulas, and the way that they work to help women have good pregnancy experiences and deliveries void of birth injuries. Most community members have likely never heard of the term before, and are unfamiliar with how it differs from a midwife. One local doula claims that she has perfected the two sentence soundbite to explain the profession, noting:
“I’m there for hands-on physical, emotional, and educational support before, during, and after childbirth. I’m kind of like a paid labor coach. I explain the process more than the doctor has time for and remind moms what they learned in childbirth class.”
This particular doula explains that she started in the profession because she herself had a bad birth experience. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers have learned that many midwives first became involved in the practice the same way-following a birth injury that they suffered themselves. The doula noted that in her case she wanted a natural birth but did not educate herself enough about what that meant. As a result her pregnancy ended with an induced birth, the use of forceps, and episiotomy, and severe postpartum depression afterwards.
Following her personal ordeal the woman decided to help others avoid her mistake. She began studying about osbtetrics, midwifery, and breast-feeding. She was eventually certified by the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association. She now serves as a doula as well as an independent childbirth educator and certified lactation consultant.
She explained that once she is hired by parents as a doula she works alongside doctors and nurses in the hospitals or a midwife in the home during the birth. During the birth she helps the mother to find her “zone,” staying calm, and remembering what she had learning about proper breathing. Beyond the actually aid and comfort during the delivery, the doula also spends much time helping before and after the birth. She meets with parents to discuss the birthing plan and coping mechanisms. The doula helps during the “pushing” part of the birth and then a few hours after the birth to ensure that the mother is doing alright and that the breast-feeding is going well. In addition, the doula makes a few visits to the family after the birth to check on the breast-feeding, discuss the overall birth experience, and screen for postpartum depression.
The doula urged readers to consider having help through the process. She explained that historically the role was performed by mothers and sisters. However, with changing times that family network is often unavailable in these situations. The doula believes that she helps make the life of the doctors or midwives easier, and acts as a vital resource for both mothers and fathers.
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