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Doula

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What is a Doula?

“Doula” is a Greek word that translates into ‘mothering the mother’, or ‘womens servant’.  She is a birth attendant who’s primary objective is to support a woman during the rite of passage of giving birth.  She is an advocate for the woman, and has her best interests at heart throughout the entire process.  A doula works with the woman prior to birth, during the birth and then after the birth to ensure that she is prepared for this process, and that she experiences it in the most empowered way.  She understands that the process of birth impacts the mothering that comes afterwards.

 

A doula is there to listen to and nurture the mother during her birth.  She understands that birth is a sacred process that requires sensitivity and awareness and she has the capacity to ‘hold space’ for the mother and her partner during the process.  She can also help you communicate with your other support members, whether that is in a hospital, birthing unit or with a private midwife and she understands that the partner has the primary role of a caregiver.  Her role is to honor the mothers desires and wishes and allow her to let go and allow birth to unfold.

A trained doula also has a tool kit of knowledge and skills to support you during a birth.  They use massage, essential oils, homeopathy, awareness, visualisations, movement, meditation, voice expression, accupressure and water (amongst others) to support your body  in opening and letting go.  She will also support the partner during the birth and she understands that the birth process has an impact on bonding and unity for the family, so the partner, if they chose, is present and active in the supportive role aswell.

According to research undertaken in the US, Klaus, Kennel and Klaus, authors of Mothering the Mother, “How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth” have identified the benefits of having a doula at your birth:

  • 50% reduction in caesarean rate
  • 25% shorter labour
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 40% reduction in oxytocin use
  • 30% reduction in analgesia use
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery
  • Improved breastfeeding
  • Decreased incidence of postpartum depression
  • Greater maternal satisfaction
  • Better mother-infant interaction

I am a firm believer of the continuum of care for pregnancy.  Already in my work I am supporting women in their prenatal preparation,  throughout pregnancy with massage  and in post natal care.  I wanted to follow this through and be able to support them also during their birth.  This repore and continual care supports the mother physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually for her rite of passage on becoming a mother (or 2nd or 3d time mother!)

As a your doula, I would.

1. Visit you three times before your birth for your preparations.  This includes helping  you decide on a birth plan and how you can make informed choices and actions regarding interventions and medical options throughout the birth according to your needs now, and if they change during the birth.

2. Be at your entire birth for support regardless of the time of day, day of the week or whether you are having a home birth, birthing centre birth, hospital birth or cesarian.  (This includes 24 hour student support for me from a supervisor over the phone, if needed, to ensure you receive the utmost of care)

3. Have two follow up post natal visits

4. Be on call for two weeks before and two weeks after your birth

Please note – as a doula I am part of your support team.  This also includes your partner (I hope so if thats what you wish), midwife and obstetrician etc.  I am not available for ‘Freebirths’ which is when there is no midwife or medical person present.

 

 

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Honouring the Sacred Process of Childbirth

As a massage therapist I come across women having experienced traumatic childbirth with their children, and with their own traumatic births as babies.  During a session they express to me their anger, guilt and grief over their personal experience when giving birth, or ‘gut feelings’ about the trauma they experienced being born.  These women hold in their bodies these memories, which for years into their adulthood impact their health and their decisions  – not to mention, their posture, digestive and reproductive health, emotional balance and personal confidence.

This sacred birth process, that is so often undervalued, needs to be supported in an elegant and empowering way, to reduce the potential for psychological and emotional trauma.  This rite of passage for mum and baby needs to open their life together in a positive and empowering way to carry them forwards, rather than hindering their path.

image credit : Christy Nielson

 

I wanted to help, not just with my clients expressed symptoms, but also in preventing these symptoms ever arising. I decided to become a certified doula.

‘Doula’ is a Greek word that means ‘woman’s servant’.  A doula is a woman offering non-medical support and information to parents in pregnancy, childbirth and the post-natal period.  She is there for you, ‘mothering the mother’, and taking care of the needs of parents during this time.  A doula is present while you give birth, and also in your preparation for birth and during the post-natal time. Doulas not only help women find the information you need, they also empower women to have the kind of birth they want.

Birth can be a chaotic and unpredictable process. A small birth team is a good approach and a doula can be a vital part of that team. A labour that extends into its twentieth hour (or more) will be taxing on all involved. At times like this the team can be stretched thin and, despite everyone’s best intentions, the focus on the mother’s birth plans and support of the practices she selected to help her—be it massage, aromatherapy, or just plain encouragement—can get lost. At that point the birthing mother may not be literally alone, but she may very well feel alone.

Doulas are equipped with the skills, techniques and resilience to support the mother and take the pressure off tired partners.   They do not take the place of a partner, but rather complement the partner’s role while upholding the integrity of the process and the birthing mother’s wishes.  Doulas appreciate that the birth process is a sacred time that impacts the mothering that follows.

Doulas are not medically trained and therefore are not responsible for any of the roles that midwives and obstetricians play. They are instead there to hold the psychological and physical space for the mother, allowing her to relax when she is in her most vulnerable state.  A trained doula is experienced in relaxation techniques, position options and natural and safe comfort measures to help pain management.  They are great listeners, nurturing companions and respectful of the mother’s needs and wishes. Doulas also recognise that birth is not simply a medical event but a time to honour the wisdom of the female body, and the memory and capacity it has to birth. A doula can also help with the decision making process if the birthing plan needs to change.  A doula will never make the decision, but can facilitate and clarify communication between staff and mother and take the pressure off the partner who would otherwise be the sole person to mediate this process.

copyright © 2012 Fiona House

 

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Pre Natal and Female Care the Mayan Way

Have you ever considered your uterus to be the doorway between the infinite and the finite? Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Not according to the ancient Mayan traditions and culture.  The Mayans believe that your uterus is the ONLY spiritual organ in the body and is a being that lives inside of you and exists as her own entity. She is alive, has a consciousness of her own, she creates, and she sheds. She lives to create. Without even knowing the word or concept of the sacral chakra, the Mayans knew that she was the creative centre of the being. If she does not create babies, then she creates art, music, literature, gardens and dreams! However, if things are out of balance, she will create fibroids or endometriosis as a way of garnering your attention. She is the doorway, the gateway, and the passage that everyone on this planet had to pass through from the infinite to Earth!  The Mayans believed that because of this it is an honour to have a uterus. It is a special gift to be able to create life and to give birth.

Did you know that we need to take care of our uterus? Are you taking care of yours?  Is she happy? Are you planning a baby? There are many signs that things are not harmonious within your uterus. Firstly, society teaches us that a “normal” menstrual cycle consists of cramps, dark clotty blood, mucousy blood, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, lower back pain, headaches, depression, nausea; just to name a few. No one informs us that this is not okay. When a woman has a healthy menstruation, it should be bright red, fresh, runny blood, like when you cut your arm and it drips out. A little mild cramping at the beginning, no lower back pain, no headaches, no bloating and no dark red or brown blood. Having issues with your menstrual cycle (or lack of) is a sign that your uterus may be tilted to one side, sitting low, or just surrounded by congested tissues. The great thing is, that there is a way to change this. This is particularly important if you are planning a baby.

The Mayans carried through their culture a simple abdominal massage to improve the health of the female cycle and reproductive system, to ensure the uterus is sitting in its correct position and to prepare the woman for pregnancy and childbirth (also for post natal care). The work is focussed on the five flows of the body – arterial flow, venous flow, lymphatic flow, nerve flow, and Chu lel (chi). When there is an imbalance in one of these areas, a blockage occurs, then the signs and symptoms of reproductive issues entail. By encouraging and strengthening these five flows, the body is able to bring itself back into balance and healthier functioning. The uterus can be prepared for pregnancy and women can enjoy their menstruation as an opportunity to reconnect with their body. It is a great time to write, dream, read and be still in the shedding.

Mayan Abdominal Therapy is a beautiful way to reconnect with your body and establish a relationship with your uterus. This ancient technique empowers women to make changes to their health and prepares them for the beautiful experience of pregnancy. It is also a wonderful way to bring the uterus back into alignment and healthy functioning after childbirth.

Copyright © 2012 Fiona House