March 22-28 is World Doula Week and I am thrilled to tell you more about what we as doulas do, but first I’d like to tell you why I am so passionate about this work. I have been involved in the informed birth movement for over seven years, but despite my best efforts I still wasn’t satisfied with my first two birth experiences. For my third pregnancy I hired a doula and my world was forever changed. With her help I achieved the childbirth experience I always dreamed of and a passion for serving as a doula was born in me. She gave me a gift I had never known I was missing, and I was determined to give that gift to as many other women as I could.
Shortly thereafter I became certified through Childbirth International, started my business (Empowered Birth of Baton Rouge), and jumped headfirst into birth work. It is my goal to educate and empower women to work through their fears, believe in their bodies and have their most desired and beautiful birth experience possible. Childbirth is my greatest passion outside of mothering my own children, and it is my privilege to help other women experience the same joy I have found.
“There is a secret in our culture, And it’s not that birth is painful, It’s that women are strong.” -Laura Harm
So what is a doula anyway? The word “doula” comes from the Greek meaning “servant.” A birth doula is a trained labor coach who assists you during labor and delivery, providing you with continuous emotional support, confidence, awareness, information and assistance with other non-medical aspects of your care.
The most important thing a woman needs during labor is continuous support; this means that you have someone by your side continually from start to finish. A doula never leaves your side! While medical professionals are wonderful, they also have other responsibilities and cannot attend to one patient during every minute of her labor and birth. The doula’s one and only obligation is YOU!
Women who have continuous support are also more likely to report being satisfied with their birth experience. One theory is that mothers who have continuous support produce lower levels of stress hormones during labor than women left alone or attended by inexperienced coaches. Though women in labor experience pain, your doula can help you not to suffer.
The benefits of the presence of doulas for birth and the post-partum period include (but are not limited to):
-Reduced incidence of cesareans
-Shortened length of labor
-Reduced epidural and analgesic requests
-Increased breastfeeding initiation and continuation
-Increased satisfaction of the birth experience
-Reduced incidence of post partum mood disorders
-Increased confidence in new parents of caring for their newborn
Your doula can help you before labor and delivery by answering your questions about what to expect, easing your fears, helping you develop a birth plan, and generally getting you ready for the arrival of your baby. During labor and delivery, she will provide constant, knowledgeable support physically, mentally and emotionally. She can make suggestions about positions during labor, help you with breathing through contractions, remind you to stay in control, help your relax and provide massage. She can also answer questions you and your partner have about what’s happening or any decisions that may arise.
Is a doula there to take the place of your spouse or partner? Absolutely not. We are there to serve both of you! As a doula, I both help coach Mom through labor and Dad through being the partner he desires to be. My goal is to make Dad the hero and increase the happy hormones between both partners. I talk moms through anything they don’t understand, encourage them when they feel unsure of their abilities and even run interference with family! Doulas aren’t just here for natural labor, but we serve with medicated births and cesarean sections as well. I wish for the laboring woman to feel safe, supported, confident and to have the birth she wants. You will never receive judgment, but instead support, love and a hand to hold.
I provide birth doula and post-partum doula services, placenta encapsulation, consultations, classes and am currently the only person in Baton Rouge offering belly casting! I am currently accepting clients with due dates between June-September 2015 and offer free initial consultations to answer any questions you may have!
Now have a great week, and go hug a doula!
Meghan Matt is a homeschooling mom, wife, blogger, natural-living enthusiast, director/producer of Listen To Your Mother: Baton Rouge, birth advocate and certified doula. She is married to an amazing, supportive dreamer and together they have four beautiful, dynamic children. She can be found via her website Empowered Birth of Baton Rouge, as well as on Facebook.
Meghan is currently hosting a giveaway to celebrate World Doula Week!