“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” Dr. John Kennell, 1998. Dr. Kennell is one of the co-founders of DONA International, the doula organization that I have been certified under for ten years. He also wrote the introduction to our book, “Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way”.
Many doctors in Pittsburgh have seen the benefit of having a doula present. Here is a film clip from DONA International about doulas and why we are helpful during birth. It describes how Doctors Klaus and Kennell came to start the doula movement. It also describes why doulas are so important and how a doula can help, you as a laboring mother.
I always tell my mom clients that if they hire me as their doula, their baby will be beautiful. Not that all babies are beautiful, some are not. But all the babies I have helped into this world, just happen to be beautiful! In fact, research shows this to be true. Mothers who have had doula support for their labors find that their babies are more beautiful, intelligent and wonderful than mothers who aren’t supported. I have just seen this happen in my life as well!
Our doula group is called “Heart and Hands” Doula Service. This is because the most important things a doula can use are her heart and her hands. They are the best tools for labor support. Everything else is just an extension of her heart for emotional support and her hands, for physical support. Her heart and hands allow her to enter into the miracle of birth and play a part in helping the birth to be a beautiful and happy event.
Your doula will help you prepare for the important tasks of birth and breastfeeding and being a new mother. Sometimes mothers don’t know how their medical and mental health pasts can effect their birthing outcomes. Here are some important issues to share with your doula:
- Previous major surgeries, they can effect you physically and your confidence in a birth setting
- Previous cryo-surgery or cerclage on your cervix which can effect your cervix opening during birth
- Previous births or miscarriages
- previous depression or bi-polar disorder which can effect postpartum depression
- Past history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse which can be triggered during labor
- Big stressors that have recently come into your life
- Previous breast surgeries which can effect breastfeeding
- Difficulties in getting pregnant
In a private setting, discuss these subjects with your doula. Your history will be part of what effects your birth and how you feel about it. Then your doula can help you choose strategies which will work best for your situation.
This is The Birth of Mary by Domenico Ghirlandiao (1449-1494 Florence). Notice how many doulas are attending the mother at her birth. One of them holds the new baby as another prepares the bath. Although this is supposed to show a Jewish birth taking place before the birth of Christ, notice how the painter depicts a scene more likely found in 15th Century Florence than in Biblical times. Ghirlandiao is showing us his birth culture and it involves doulas supporting the laboring woman.