there to reassure the mother and partner that things are progressing normally. Also, partners are often more emotionally involved in the birth, and at times it can be hard for them to see their partner in pain, but doulas offer a connected yet more objective presence. You’ll often find the doulas clapping when a woman throws up in labour, and smiling when she says “I can’t”, because we know she can, and because we know enough to understand that these are signs of great progress! Partners and doulas give a labouring woman the best of both worlds – the comfort and love of her partner and the skills, knowledge and experience of a doula.
ISN’T MY PARTNER’S SUPPORT ENOUGH? The partner has his own unique challenges in birth: witnessing the woman that he loves work through the birth process, staying awake and alert for long hours, experiencing the emotions of becoming a parent, and acting as gate keeper and facilitator as new caregivers come and go with new questions and recommendations. Labour may require long hours of demanding massage, sometimes too much for one person. And you won't judge me or treat me like
I've failed if I have medical assistance? NO WAY! Labours are unpredictable
and sometimes mums or babies need some extra help along the way. Caesareans can be life-saving procedures and are necessary in some cases. Educated decisions to receive an epidural, pitocin, and other interventions can be a huge help in having a healthy mum and a healthy baby; for example in a very long labour when the mother may really need a break in order for labour to progress. A woman shouldn't feel pressured to please anyone in childbirth, including her doula. I believe that each woman will make the best decisions for herself and her baby and I will support her in whatever those decisions may be.
IF I DECIDE TO HAVE AN EPIDURAL, WILL I NOT NEED A DOULA? Women who have epidurals can greatly benefit from having a doula there to assist them. Women don’t just disappear when it is administered; so they should continue
to be given emotional and physical support through the entirety of labour. Likewise, if you had planned on having an unmedicated birth and choose to have an epidural or any other medicated assistance, our work doesn't suddenly become irrelevant. We can offer many of the same physical and emotional supports after the epidural is administered or through a caesarean operation. A doula’s support is not just through labour, but begins in pregnancy and lasts through early parenting – something all women can benefit from, regardless of their decisions for pain relief.
WON’T THE HOSPITAL PROVIDE THIS TYPE OF SUPPORT? During a traditional hospital birth, most physicians don’t stay in the room with you continuously during labour, and midwives often must split their time between several patients, not to mention coming and going according to their shifts. Hiring a doula may be the only way to assure that an experienced coach will be with you continuously throughout the labour and delivery process.
WHEN SHOULD I HIRE A DOULA? Generally, the earlier in your pregnancy that you contact a doula the better, since most doulas will meet with you three or four times before your birth to help you prepare yourself for labour. These antenatal appointments offer opportunities to get to know each other and discuss the type of support you prefer, your birthing options, and much more.
WHAT DOES A POSTNATAL DOULA DO? A postnatal doula provides in-home support in the first few weeks with your new baby, helping you and your family adjust to the sometimes overwhelming emotional and practical demands of parenthood. A postnatal doula specialises in guiding the new parent and baby through these early experiences by offering help and is there to empower you to be the mother that you want to be.
Belinda Kelly-Mandalis is a certified birth and postpartum doula and is the founder of Beautiful Beginnings – Sunshine Coast Doula Service.
Beautiful Beginnings - Sunshine Coast Doula Service www.sunshinecoastdoulaservice.com
Belinda Kelly-Mandalis Ph: 0415 131 682
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