As you all know, I am a certifying doula. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know what a doula actually is and what she does. A doula is a professional who is trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical and informational support to the mother who is pregnant, laboring, or has recently given birth. The actual word “doula” is a Greek word that means “woman’s servant.” A doula does not take the place of an OB/GYN or Midwife. I will not catch babies or perform any type of medical exams. I don’t take the place of your husband or partner and we don’t work in shifts.
So why have I decided to become a servant to women? Mostly because I believe women spend too much time and energy knit-picking each other and not enough time supporting and building one another other up. But there is another aspect of it that is harder to describe. There is something absolutely beautiful about the raw, vulnerable birthing woman that not enough people respect. Pregnancy and childbirth is not a disease and should not be treated as such. There aren’t many things that are more natural than a woman birthing. Wherever and however a woman gives birth it can be an absolutely breathtaking experience. I want every woman I serve to have the empowering experience she so deserves. I want her to be confident in her body’s ability to grow, birth, and nourish their child. But you might be wondering why I am so passionate about this. To put it simply, I have no idea.
You can thank my wonderful sister in law for opening my eyes about birthing outside of a hospital because I would not in a million years have pictured myself having a natural birth in a birthing center. I mean I thought EVERYONE went to the hospital to give birth. I had never even heard of any other options. Of course, I was only 15 when she had my niece at the local birthing center so having a baby was FAR from my mind. But when she had also decided to have her second birth there 4 years later it really got me thinking. Shortly after my nephew was born we found out we were expecting! I honestly had no idea what I was going to do. I tried to set up a prenatal appointment at an OBGYN’s office but for whatever reason ended up cancelling it and going to Lisa Ross after talking it over. I was terrified! I didn’t have a clue what I was about to get myself into. Lisa Ross opened my eyes little by little and gave me the fire and passion to do my own research and look into birth and maternity care in the US. I was shocked at what I found. I looked into the c-section rates in Tennessee and was very disappointed to discover that in 2010 it was 34.2%. That is an average of 1 out 3 births that end in c-section! I was devastated! Tennessee ranked 17th in c-sections rates. The national average was at 32.8%!! The hospital with highest rate of over 48% was McNairy Regional Hospital. Out of 186 births, 91 ended in cesareans. Tragic! The lowest c-section rate was Scott County Hospital at 20.6%.(1)
C-sections are MAJOR abdominal surgeries! They take weeks to recover and they greatly affect the breastfeeding rate. There is no reason for a first time mom who has had a healthy pregnancy end up with a c-section. Pregnancy is NOT a disease, an illness, some type of handicap; Pregnancy is NATURAL. I truly believe if every expectant mother had a doula the c-section rate would PLUMMET. Studies already show that women who had continuous labor support from a doula experienced a 31% DECREASE in the use of pitocin, 28% DECREASE in the risk of a c-section, 12% INCREASE in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth, 9% DECREASE in the use of any medications for pain relief, 14% DECREASE in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery, and a 34% DECREASE in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience! (2) I understand there are emergencies where it is in the best interest of mom and baby to have a cesarean, but when moms are routinely induced because of threats like “big baby”, they often times get labelled as “failure to progress” after they’ve been induced with pitocin and then stuck in the bed on their back with an epidural. For one, even the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that a big baby is not a valid reason to induce (3). And two, if baby is not ready, there is little you can do to coax them out without an overwhelming amount of intervention. And it seems once they start down that slippery slope of intervening, there’s not much you can do to stop it.
I am not a doula because I want every woman to have an all natural birth. I am a doula because I want women to stand up for themselves and for their babies. I want them to be informed, TRULY informed and understand what they are consenting to and what it may lead to. If someone wants to be induced, I will present them with evidence that shows benefits and risks and she can assess whether or not it is appropriate. Same with epidurals, home births, episiotomy, breastfeeding, circumcision, and anything else that may come up! Women need to OWN their births! It’s their body, their baby, they need to have it their way. I believe birth is a monumental moment in the journey of Motherhood, and should be treated with reverence.
2. Doula Stats- http://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/