Here we go again right? I have teamed up with The Healthy Baby Network once again to tackle a great survey on the use of doulas. This is along the same line as our Post Cesarean Feelings Survey, and will run for the next month or so in hopes of getting a good response as our previous survey got.
With this second survey, we are hoping to understand the reasons of why some women do, or do not use a doula for their births, and tackle some of the misconceptions about doulas.
One thing I have noticed over the years is many people think doulas are actual medical professionals, and use the statement of “midwife OR doula” when talking about someone to catch their baby, specifically those uninformed on home birth, or alternative natural birthing options.
Some of the other information we would like to collect regards the amount of support women who did have a doula for their birth received, their satisfaction level, the feelings of spouses and partners regarding a doula being present for birth, and even popular misconceptions about doulas.
I know a lot of my readers are doulas, and heavily involved in the birth community, so I would greatly appreciate it if you could pass this along to your clients, friends, colleagues, and maybe even post it on your facebook fan page (if you have one of course)
The more women we get to take this, the better as it will give us a more accurate collection of experiences.
I am currently working on ordering more books I am going to need for my certification, and the workshop I am taking in July, and it seems like time is flying till the Workshop! I cannot wait, and I can’t believe it is nearly May already!
Right now I am reading The Official Lamaze Guide Giving Birth with Confidence. (Just on a side note, I will be writing for Lamaze coming up on their new blog project thanks to the wonderful Amy Romano!)
But the main reason for my post today is I am starting to fully realize the need for good childbirth education, as well as reasonable access, and prices for the education. In recent months between studies showing women thinking 36 weeks is full term, or a due date, and television shows like 16 & Pregnant and A Baby Story, the message rings clear. We need more access and education.
One of the main factors, especially in young parents or skipping things like childbirth classes, or having a doula is money. It always comes down to the almighty dollar, or just thinking everything will be ok. Sadly for many of these same girls, and even women the modern maternity care system is not on their side, and they often do not even realize this until they are actually in the hospital giving birth, or being induced, or even being in the operating room undergoing a cesarean delivery.
My newest revolution in my journey comes to me with help of my children’s pediatrician, and a local program in place by the hospital I had my original cesarean at. It is called the “Young Parents Program” and is geared towards teen parents from the age 13-19. They are always looking for donations, help, and projects to really help to not only educate these girls but also prepare them for the great challenge of being a parent.
My goal is to offer these young girls free childbirth education classes after I complete this workshop, and start writing my own class.
I eventually want to also put together a group of local doulas who would be available to these same girls for their births, if they have the desire for a birth doula. It will be a long road, but hey, I got all the time in the world.
My first piece of advice to a new mother interested in birthing in the hospital is, GET A DOULA! With my first child I thought I would be able to go into the hospital with the wishes for a completely natural birth and get what I wanted, and what I had expected from birth. I was wrong.
Just as my experiences which greatly differed under OB/GYN care, and Midwife care in my post The Midwife Difference, I had greatly different experiences without a doula for my first, and with a doula for my second. If I knew what I did about hospital birth today, I would have requested money for a doula rather than baby gifts, and essentially a bunch of stuff that we would barely use for our oldest.
One of the major concerns over doula’s is the cost. Insurance rarely covers it, though they should because it lowers the costs of birth in a hospital by reducing the need or request for pain medication, epidurals, and even reduces the risk of a forcep assisted or vacuum assisted delivery. But cost being the biggest issue, many women opt to skip on a doula and use their husband or partner in this type of support capacity. I know, because I did it! And if anyone knows my husband, half way into my labor, we found him sleeping in one of the most uncomfortable looking positions. Yes, that is him to the right, sleeping on the floor with a tipped chair as a pillow while I was hooked up to pitocin. Had I had a doula, I would have probably skipped the pitocin, and the hospital, and especially the Obstetric practice I ended up with! Come time for my second child, especially given that my birth was going to be a VBAC attempt, I knew how important it was to have a doula no matter how much it may have cost our family. And it was worth it! The support I got from my doula was unlike anything my husband, or hospital staff could have ever provided me with. I knew this because I had already been through it one time, and I vowed I wouldn’t do it again under those circumstances.
But there are ways around the costs of doulas. Believe it or nor there are a lot of doulas out there. Training, well educated, attending births for decades, all kinds. And they are willing to work with you, especially if the only factor is money! If you contact local doula organizations such as DONA, or CAPPA they can point you in the direction of women who are still becoming certified and many of them would be willing to attend a birth for free, or seriously discounted rate to obtain their birth hours needed for certifications. Then there are the doulas who have been attending birth for decades willing to work on a sliding scale, payment plan, or make alternative arrangements such as bartering. Heck, some midwives even barter for services. Makes me glad I married a handy husband! (LOL!)
But what exactly is a doula?
Well, a birth doula according to DONA :
A birth doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials CD(DONA).
A postpartum doula is described as :
A postpartum doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials PCD(DONA).
Where did the word Doula come from? Seems like a funny word right? Why couldn’t they just use the word birth attendant, or support person, or something less exotic. The word doula comes from an ancient Greek word that means mothers servant or woman who serves.
Where can you find a doula? Lots of places!
DONA International – Doulas of North America
CAPPA – Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association
Find a Doula
How to Find a Doula from ehow.com
Take a couple minutes to watch the short clip above, in June the full film will be released and I can’t wait to see it as a whole. I am sure there is going to be a lot of awesome clips that really show the great need, and benefit of having a doula.
What are the benefits of having a doula? There are a lot!
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth
Research shows parents who receive support can:
Thank you to DONA International for the amazing resources above provided on their website.
I hope some of the mothers, especially first time mothers will take a couple minutes to really seriously consider having a doula for their birth.
Today in light of Easter, I am just throwing something simple together instead of my normal lengthy week ending posts.
In our house :
Around the blogs :
Be sure to tune in tonight to myself on The Feminist Breeder’s Radio show, a little late for us on the east coast as it is on at 11pm EST but it will be a lot of great information. I will be discussing the cesarean feelings survey that I have been actively working on with The Healthy Baby Network.
Also, be sure to tune in this coming Wednesday April 7th at 10pm EST for author Isa Hererra on my radio show. She recently published “Ending Female Pain” which is an amazingly informative book for women regarding female associated genital pain, sexual dysfunction, and helping to heal.
Since I have been moving through the questions relatively easily, on to questions #3 and #4 from the survey. Question number three turned out to be a very popular question with many comments. In fact I had to read through 20 pages, yes, 20 pages of comments to see which should be used or stood out the most.
Question #3 was :
Question #3 – If Elective or Planned, What was the reason?
Previous Birth was Cesarean, Doctor Recommended : 33.9% 112 mothers
Knew what to expect, was the birth I wanted: 10.3% 34 mothers
Fear of labor & Natural childbirth : 2.4% 8 mothers
Previous Traumatic Birth, Cesarean was Less risky : 6.4% 21 mothers
No VBAC Support or availability : 5.5% 18 mothers
Other : 56.1 % 185 mothers
531 mothers skipped this question
There is so much more that could be shared about this subject in general, but I am just going to share some quotes from others instead of breaking this one down because it can certainly be a touchy subject, or carry feelings for some women.
April shared this quote with us as well as gave us permission to use it
“[The] Doctor scared me into it by telling me the baby was too big to have [give birth] to without losing her”
While we do not know how big April’s daughter was born at, in my follow up e-mail contact with her she said
“Hopefully it can help someone else not be scared into a decision they may later regret.”
Lindsey shared her experience with her quote
“[I had] no trust in my body, or support from my OB”
Which was a comment that was frequent while looking through the results of the survey, and the comments that were being left by the mothers who took this survey. I think one of the common misconceptions today is women are looking to their Obstetricians for support that they are not going to receive. With the maternity care system today, the way it is set up, we should be utilizing doula’s more than we do, especially for this type of support. Or opt for care with Midwives.
We had mothers who had truly medically necessary cesarean births also :
Anya told her story of a very scary situation leading to the birth of her child “Baby was IUGR – had to come at 36 weeks with less than 24 hours notice” IUGR stands for Inner Uterine Growth Restriction.
Corrina shared “Baby #3 needed to be born via cesarean because of previous uterine rupture”
Though I wish I could say the medically necessary cesareans really took up the majority of the comments, there were some comments that just made me want to yell. LOL
But the one comment that stood out to me the most was :
I had a ‘medwife’, whom I didn’t know was beholden to the hospital. They later bought out her practice. She’d had a number of other births that day and was tired. This was the easy way out for her. I trusted her completely to take care of me and to see that I would have a vaginal birth. I was completely blindsided; my ‘birth’ was the furthest thing from my mind.
It is horrible that any woman would have to endure this kind of treatment because of their provider simply being tired, and something like this came up recently around the internet with “L&D Staff Behaving Badly“ which became widespread across the internet.
More and more women are starting to have cesareans for suspected fetal macrosomia which is just a fancy tern for a suspected big baby. But since we are all aware of the lack of accuracy in ultrasound measurements in the last trimester, these estimates should really be taken with a grain of salt.
“I was told I was having a 10-11 lb baby that I probably wouldn’t be able to deliver naturally, who ended up being 7 lbs 13 oz.”
“insulin-dependent GD, drs feared 11-12 lb baby, turns out he was 8.6, my smallest”
Then we had a couple mothers with HSV2 which essentially is genital herpes. There is a lot of misinformation today which makes mothers with this virus feel as though a vaginal birth is not an option for them. ICAN has a great bit of information for mothers who do have this virus, Herpes in Pregnancy which offers a great amount of information to mothers.
“Had HSV2 and since I did not know much about it, I didn’t know whether I contracted before or after pregnancy and was told a cesarean was playing it safe. I was, however, told that I could birth vaginally for subsequent births.”
It is sad to read some of this, but uplifting to see that there really are and have been some medically necessary c-sections taking place in the sea of unnecessary surgery.
I must say I am pleasantly surprised about the extreme number of news articles regarding the skyrocketing cesarean rate and how truly dangerous it is to our mothers, and babies. Women are still dying at alarming numbers and I hope that with all this coming out practice patterns of OB/GYN’s will change, because they certainly are the ones driving these numbers, not women.
Question #4 talked about support persons in labor and read :
What support did you have during labor?
Midwife : 18.2%
Doula : 9.3%
Spouse/Partner : 90.7%
Family/Friend : 37.0%
Hospital Staff : 49.2%
I do not have very much to say about this in general, but there are a couple alarming trends with this.
One thing that I am not happy to see is women depending on hospital staff for support during labor. Unfortunately in hospital situations and settings we know that nurses as well as hospital staff are completely over worked, and there are some serious shortages across the nation. Depending on a hospital staff member could be a contributing factor to the cesarean rates.
Another issue I can see is the lack of professional support, like using a doula which is connected directly with lowered cesarean birth rates. Women are depending on their partner, or husband which is what I did with my first child. I thought that I could “train” him to be my doula during my labor, but I think we all know how that ended.
Women really need to know how valuable the support of a doula is. With more insurance companies starting to actually cover doula services I hope that more women start to utilize them for births in a hospital setting.
March is Woman’s History Month, and well deserved! There are so many amazing and inspirational women out there that I am not sure we can fit them all into one month! At least we get a 31 day month though!
So what I thought I would do is take a couple women who are my personal idols, women who have been inspirational to me, women who have moved me…
My mother : Deborah. Coming from a family of 9 children, and being the third from the top in the hierarchy, she certainly did not just blend in and roll with the punches that is for sure. A single mother of two children by the time she was 18 years old, she make it work, and never looked back. Left an abusive relationship, and years down the road was a successful restaurant/bar owner in a beautiful area of Connecticut. She then met my father, and started over. My oldest sibling was graduating high school when I was born.
She has been such an amazing support system, a great grandmother to her 6 grandsons, and overall just the best example of a woman role model.
Karen Kilson : I met Karen when I started to get heavily involved in the birth community in Connecticut. When I started ICAN of Connecticut, she contacted me before anyone else about how happy she was to have ICAN locally and how much of a need there was. From then on we had an amazing friendship, and bond. We grew closer over time, and became the best of friends. She was my idol in the birth community, from being on of the pioneers of a hospital based doula program in our state, all of her certifications from DONA to CAPPA, and the library of more books than either of us could ever count. She was a devoted grandmother, not only to her own grand children, but to my children also, and she was just the brightest, and most amazing soul you could ever encounter.
She was my doula for Benjamin’s Birth, and later on that year, in late 2009 she unexpectedly lost her life.
I talk to her daily still, although she is not physically here with me, I know she is my angel on my shoulder. She guides me through my days and I know she is incredibly proud of everything I do.
Ina May Gaskin : I dont think there is really much that can be said that most of my readers do not know already about Ina May. So I will keep this one on the shorter side. My parents have constantly told me that if I was alive in a different generation I probably would have been one of the Hippies on The Farm, and I am willing to bet I would be one of those catching babies! Her education, the way she speaks, and the way she reaches out into the birth community is something I wish to be some day!
Hilary Clinton : I always thought when I was a kid that I would head into politics. I seem to have made a huge detour, but I guess I still have the chance as I do get older. But Hilary has become such a role model for me for all her accomplishments. There really is no rhyme or reason, or special meaning for this, I just think that she sets such a positive example for young women everywhere.
Esther Booth Zorn : I know many of you are probably shaking your head and wondering who the hell she is. But Esther is actually the founder of ICAN. I am sure there are a few of my ICAN ladies out there that know that one though. Over 25 years ago, it started around her dining room table as CPM also known as the Cesarean Prevention Movement. Without ICAN I can certainly say I would not be the birth advocate that I am today.
Susan B Anthony : One of the original feminists. I credit her to being such an amazing and radial woman to help so many other women in being able to be treated equally in society. Even though much of her work focused on suffrage, where would any of us be today without the simple right to vote?
I hope you enjoyed a list of some of my idols..
Who are yours?