Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Newest Title!

I have been known as daughter, sister, cousin, mom, aunt, friend, and a respiratory therapist. My bilingual niece calls me "tia." Me...a tia! I love it!! Now I have taken on a new role that I am thrilled about....Doula.

A woman will always remember the way she is made to feel during her birth.

Why does that mean so much to me? I suppose it is because I remember how I was made to feel during my births and if I knew then what I know now I would have done things differently.
As a NICU Respiratory Therapist I saw so many interventions done at births. I watched frightened moms on their backs with babies being sucked out with vacuums and then the babies were handed to us where we were supposed to rub them, flick their feet, and make them scream until they were completely pink. The idea of putting baby to breast as soon as possible was scoffed at by many nurses who felt it wasn't important. I began to feel like I was only doing very few of these babies a service. Later on I learned that the United States has the second highest infant mortality rate of all the developed countries in the world. I also learned that we are the country with the lowest number of home births. Birthing here is a billion dollar industry and as a country we spend the most amount of money per birth out of any other developed country and the outcomes are still statistically poor. Why? We are letting our mothers and infants down here in a big way, and sadly, I think it is because hospitals have pretty much taken over the birthing process.

Now I am not saying that hospitals and doctors are not important. Most certainly they have their place in some births. There are some amazing doctors out there who have saved babies and I give them much credit. However, not all women need to be in a hospital to have their baby. In fact, being in a hospital can cause a mom to have unnecessary interventions, which lead to more interventions, which leads to more interventions...which leads to problems. For instance, an epidural is a great form of pain relief but it often slows labor and Pitocin is given to speed things along. Pitocin increases the strength and duration of the contractions, which stresses the baby. The baby's stress shows up on the monitor and now they have mom on oxygen. Finally, the baby is not tolerating the hard labor brought on by the Pitocin, the doctor comes in and declares he/she needs to do a c-section, and now we have a major surgery being done to mom and baby. There is a correlation between the use of Pitocin and c-sections. And, FYI, most c-sections are done at 4pm and 10pm. Interesting....

So how do I tie into all of this?

I have decided to become a doula. A doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical , emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth. She is usually self employed therefore works for the mother and her family and not for other institutions such as a hospital, Dr. or Midwife.

So what will this do? Well...

Benefits of having a trained doula*:

50% reduction in caesarean births
25% shorter labor
60% reduction in epidural requests
40% reduction in oxytocin use
30% reduction in analgesic use
40% reduction in forceps delivery

*From Mothering the Mother by Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus

With the rise of autism, ADHD, and other behavioral problems why are we spending tons of money on drugs to treat these problems instead of looking at what we are doing to our kids? Look at the way they were born...was it a drugged Pitocin mess? How about looking at other factors, such as food additives, baby formula, the effect of circumcision on an infant's brain, the effects of seperating mom and baby, and the additives in vaccinations. As parents we need to demand more information. As a doula I can provide a mom with that information. I can help a mom have the birth she wants, rather than the birth that everyone else thinks she should have.

Now if a mom wants to have a hospital birth that is fine with me. I had two myself. I am just there to help her through her contractions. I am there with a gentle touch, reassuring word, counterpressure, or a wet washcloth. I am there to help dad feel comfortable and to show him ways he can be helpful.

I have chosen to become a doula because I believe I have a direct effect on the well being of mothers and babies in my area. I want to pursue the information women need to make informed choices. I want to be there for those miraculous moments. I want to help a mom through the hardest journey of her life.

I highly recommend the documentary "The Business Of Being Born."

It is going to be a fantastic journey.


Dorothy H. said...

I think being is a doula is a very good fit for you! I wish you the best on this journey.