Hi. Thank you for visiting the Birth Beginnings Doula Service website. My name is Stephanie Alexander. I have been a practicing doula since August of 2002. I have been married to my wonderful husband for 14 years now. We have four beautiful children. As all of my children are now school age, I am excited to continue to serve moms and moms to be in Las Vegas, NV as a doula. Please make sure and sign my guestbook before you leave so I can know what you think! This site is a work in progress so, please bear with me.
Did you know that "the presence of a doula reduces the overall cesarean rate by 50 percent, length of labor by 25 percent, oxytocin use by 40 percent, pain medication by 30 percent, the need for forceps by 40 percent, and requests for epidurals by 60 percent?" Klaus, Kennell, Klaus Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help you Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth, Perseus Books (Cambridge, MA) 1993
What is a Doula?
A Doula is a woman who attends the birthing family before, during, and just after the birth of the baby. She is trained to deliver emotional support from home to hospital, ease the transition into the hospital environment and be there through changing hospital shifts and alternating provider schedules. The doula serves as an advocate, labor coach, and information source to give the mother and her partner the added comfort of additional support throughout the entire labor. There are a variety of titles used by women offering these kinds of services such as "birth assistant," "labor support specialist" and "doula" .
Why Do I Need a Labor Doula?
Even if you have a wonderful, caring partner, Doctor or midwife, will he or she:
*Come to your home and labor with you until it's time to go to the hospital or birthing center and then stay with you until the baby is born? *Provide massage? *Provide prenatal visits in your home? *Suggest positions to ease back labor and help with pushing? *Provide counterpressure? *Stay by your head providing encouragment while you are in transition and when the baby is being born? *Offer you cold/hot packs? *Mop your brow with a cool cloth? *Take notes during labor and provide you with a written record of the birth?
If the answer to any of these questions is "NO" -- you need (and deserve) a doula!
Dads (and other Partners) and Doulas
by Penny Simkin
Many partners are concerned about what their role will be when a doula is present. To answer some common concerns, Penny Simkin with Doulas of North America (DONA) has written the following:
Myth 1: If a woman has her partner, the doula becomes redundant.
Reality: The doula may be the only person at the labor besides the partner who is there solely for the emotional well-being of the woman. The nurse, the doctor, the midwife have other priorities that compete with the emotional care of the woman: for example, breaks, shift changes, clinical responsibilities, office hours and hospital policies. The doula has few or no other priorities. She stays through shift changes, and until after the baby is born She is not just another stranger with the couple She has the woman's needs as her sole priority. In some cases, the couple will bring several other friends or family members into labor with them. Sometimes these people can be uncertain of how to help which leads to confusion and actually adds to the woman's stress. The doula can direct and coordinate the efforts of a group of people, giving them all something useful to do, so they work as a team on the woman's behalf.
Myth 2: The doula "takes over", displacing the partner and interferes with their intimate experience.
Reality: The doula can actually bring the couple closer. By making sure that the partner's needs are met (food, drink, occasional back rubs, and reassurance), the woman and partner can work more closely together. The doula allows for the partner to participate at his own comfort level. Some partners prefer to be there only to witness the birth of their child and to share this experience with the woman they love. They may not want to play an active role and do not want to be responsible for the woman's comfort and emotional security. The doula can fill in and allow the partner to participate as he wishes, without leaving the woman's needs unmet. When the partner chooses to be the major source of emotional support, the doula can supplement his or her efforts by running errands, making suggestions for comfort measures, and offering words of reassurance and comfort. During a long tiring labor, she can give the partner a break for a brief rest or change of scene. While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals, and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman's personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he loves the woman more than anyone else there. The combined contributions of partner and doula, along with a competent, considerate and caring staff gives the woman the best chance of an optimal outcome.
Myth 3: The doula has her own beliefs about how the birth should go, and imposes it on the woman or couple.
Reality: The doula's true agenda is to help ensure that the woman's or couple's agenda is acknowledged and followed as much as possible. If the doula is thoroughly familiar with the couple's wishes and their birth plan, she may actually think more about it than the couple, especially when labor is intense and things are happening rapidly. The doula can remind the staff or the couple of some items on the birth plan that are forgotten, but which later might be important. Sometimes if a birth plan is not followed, the couple later look back with regret or disappointment. The doula helps with decision-making by asking questions that will ensure that the right information is given to the woman or couple so that they can make an informed decision. She may also suggest alternatives for the couple to consider. She does not, however, make decisions for the couple.
In summary, the doula helps make the birth experience to be as rewarding and satisfying as possible. As one father said, "I heaved a big sigh of relief when she (the doula) walked in. I hadn't realized how much pressure I had been feeling. She not only calmed my wife, she calmed me down."