During the amazing time of welcoming your baby, much care and attention is placed on the baby. Now, it’s your time to be the center of attention! At Mercy, you’ll be offered a volunteer birth doula – a woman who specializes in supporting and comforting you during labor. Mercy is the only hospital in the state of Iowa that offers a complimentary doula to all patients!
Doula is Greek for “woman’s servant” but many doulas describe themselves as “mothering the mother.” Doulas provide a relaxing and comforting atmosphere while providing continuous, hands-on labor support and guidance. A doula DOES NOT replace the labor partner.
A doula’s presence helps the labor partner participate at their own comfort level, showing them how and when to use various comfort techniques, and providing information. Partners are often grateful to be able to share the “coaching” responsibility with someone more experienced, and in turn enjoy more of the birth experience.
What does a doula do?
Doulas work with the medical staff and labor partner to make sure we provide the physical and emotional support needed. Doulas often are like a “tour guide.” If you’ve been to a destination you have never visited before, there is usually someone to show you around, educate, guide you, answer questions, and wants to support you to have the best experience possible…this is what having a doula is like! Doulas have been a part of several different labor and delivery experiences and can help support the family even if unexpected outcomes arise.
Doulas provide comfort measures including position changes, birthing balls, peanut balls, movement, massage and pressure point techniques. They set the atmosphere like a spa with candles, low lighting, music and essential oils if desired. Doulas have a bag full of rebozo scarves and a host of other tools. They also help encourage and guide the labor partner to help mom with her breathing techniques.
What are the benefits of having a doula?
Studies have found the presence of a trained birth doula during labor has many benefits, including shorter labors, less use of epidurals and other pain medications, lower episiotomy rates and a 50 percent reduction in cesarean section rates. Research has also shown better clinical outcomes for both mother and baby (including fewer admissions to neonatal intensive care units, better breastfeeding rates, and better family bonding).
Does having a doula mean only unmedicated childbirth?
No. It is the mother and her support person who decide on the best choices for their family. Doulas are trained to assist with a medicated or unmedicated birth. If a mother desires to have a medication-free birth experience, a doula can help with alternative pain relief measures. There are still plenty of ways a doula can support a mother who has chosen pain medication.
Mercy has had a Volunteer Doula Program for the past five years. Patients who are in active labor and choose to have a birth doula will receive them on a first-come, first-served basis at no additional cost. Not knowing demand, there will not be a guarantee of no-cost doula services; however, if you would like to guarantee a doula, you may contract with a doula and pay for it out-of-pocket. The birth doula will arrive as soon as she can once requested and will meet with you to discuss your desired birth wishes from your birth plan.
Jenn Callahan is the Childbirth Education and Doula Services Manager at Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines. As a doula, she has helped many families through labor and delivery. Jenn can be contacted at [email protected] or (515) 358-5060.
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The post is part of a series of sponsored post by Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines.