|Publication: Frederick News-Post;||Date: Jul 3, 2008;||Section: Home & Family;||Page: C-1|
HAVING A BALL GIVING BIRTH Using a doula can help reduce negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience, reduce the need for pitocin, forceps or vacuum extractions and cesareans, and reduce a mother’s request for pain medications By KRISTA BRICK SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-POST
Any day now Sherry Quinones’ life will change dramatically, and it’s a change she’s been awaiting for nearly eight years. With the upcoming birth of her first child, Sherry is leaving nothing to chance.
She has a birth plan and a doula to help her execute it.
“I thought about this day for such a long time. I like to know as much as I can know and have a plan and a back up to that plan,” she said.
Her plan involves Antonette Hoffman-Robinson, a birth doula and lactation educator, who Quinones hired to help during the birth of her son. The word “doula” comes from the Greek word meaning “woman’s servant.” In modern times, doulas are being used to provide emotional and physical support to a laboring woman and her partner. They are different from midwives, who are trained medical professionals who can perform medical procedures and deliver babies.
According to the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators, a doula can help reduce the negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience, reduce the need for pitocin, forceps or vacuum extractions and cesareans, and reduce a mother’s request for pain medications.
Sherry said she is hoping Hoffman-Robinson’s presence will help her hold off on heading to the hospital longer and remember what she can do to help herself during active labor.
“Antonette will be a help to remind us of our goals and to execute them,” Sherry said.
Nancy Lord, coordinator of the Frederick Memorial Hospital’s Family Focus/Childbirth Education program said expecting parents are asking more often for doula information.
“They are very interested in doulas because they like the idea that dad is there to help with certain things, but it is nice to have someone who is so familiar and skilled in the area to help them also,” Lord said.
According to Doulas of North America, an international organization promoting and certifying doulas, more doulas are making their way into delivery rooms.
“I think there is more of a open mindedness to having a doula especially as natural childbirth and informed births are on the rise,” said Natashia Fuksman, northeastern regional director for DONA international. “Certainly the use of doulas has been on an increase. What we are seeing very consistently is that mothers are having far more satisfying birth experiences with consistent labor support with someone not a clinician but someone trained in labor support fulfilling emotional needs as well as physical needs.”
Doulas certified by DONA must complete a class series and a 16-hour workshop as well as attend at least three births accounting for 15 hours of labor support. The process can take up to a year. According to DONA, doula-assisted births result in a decrease in postpartum depression and a more positive birth experience. Some doulas also help mothers with postpartum care after delivery.
Hoffman-Robinson said she got into the field after feeling unsatisfied after the birth of her son Baylin by cesarean section. “Instead of being angry, I wanted to be positive,” she said. Earning her certification as a doula, Hoffman-Robinson said she focuses on empowering women in the delivery room. “I love to see these women feel good because they birthed on their terms.”
For about $450 Hoffman-Robinson (www.nascitadoula.com) helps a pregnant woman with two prenatal birth visits to create a birth plan, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for consultations, attends the birth from labor’s onset and makes a postpartum visit. She also can provide lactation education.
She has been working as a doula for two years and has had 15 clients so far. “Partners feel comforted by me because it is hard to see their spouse in pain and not know what to do. I can help to facilitate that spouse’s involvement,” she said.
Christine Myers of Frederick was a childbirth educator for six years and discovered she enjoyed being with her clients as they delivered. She is now a DONA-certified doula and has attended nearly 40 births (www.gentlepassagebirth.com).
“Husbands often still want someone else there. I can help the husband help their wife if they don’t remember what they learned. A lot of times I can take a backseat,” Myers said. “I am not a there to usurp the role of the husband, but I am backing up the role.”
She said there are misperceptions about the intentions of a doula. “Some think that doulas are just for those giving natural birth,” she said. “When you are in labor, whether the woman is having medication or not, there are some things still they need to do, like getting enough fluids, trying to change position and address the emotional stress with labor. Some may not feel pain but need to be talked through the emotional stress and have help to make medical decisions.”
Nicole Kosineski of Adamstown is still working on her certification as a doula. She got into the business after using a doula in the natural birth of her daughter a year ago.
“She was my rock,” Kosineski said of her doula. Her husband encouraged her to hire the doula for the birth.
“My husband is a wonderful man, but taking a three-day course on birth and expecting him to support me as much as someone who does this for a living would know how to do is unrealistic,” she said. “A lot more women are taking charge of their healthcare and realize they do have options. The trend goes in and out. It has started and faded before. I pray it doesn’t fade this time.”
Before hiring a doula, DONA recommends checking their experience level, asking how many births they have attended and determining the services they provide. Also important is finding out what type of on-call availability they offer and backup plan to that availability. References and fees should also be discussed.
Kosineski (www.frederickdoula.com) advises pregnant women to make sure the doula shares their philosophy on birth.
“There are doulas who will walk out if you say you are going to have an epidural or cesarean sections. Find out the philosophy of the doula you are interviewing. It is a red flag if the doula argues with nurses on medical care. A doula can help remind you of your birth plan, but the doula is not to discuss your plan with the medical staff,” Kosineski said.
For information about doulas visit www.dona.org or www.alace.org
Staff photo by Doug Koontz Antonette Hoffman-Robinson, far left, a doula, or birth coach, helps Sherry Quinones with a hip press massage.