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The Vaule and Purpose of Birth Support

By Kelley Faulkner

The birthing world of today is often filled with great intervention and management. For decades, females in our country have been and continue to be exposed to a negative influences surrounding birth. Far too often mothers succumb to a near stranger to “handle” her birthing and in doing so she often relinquishes control of her body’s own perfect birthing powers. Rarely are expectant mothers given sufficient attention from their care providers and seldom are they given respect and empowerment to birth free from distraction and intervention.

During the prenatal process, mothers are left to find their own sources of information, often relying more on media portrayals and stories from family and friends than on objective material. The perception of many is that normal birth is an event that requires lots of gizmos, gadgets, and technology. While it is true that technology has offered many life-saving advantages for pregnancies with special circumstances, the greater reality is that normal birth is often safer and gentler when kept less high-tech.

Trusting the body’s natural and flawless design for birth is essential for having a relaxed and gentle birth. Every mother deserves to have the facts on birthing, and to make her own decisions about her birth based upon her unique preferences, ideals, and beliefs. This is where birth support can be a tremendously valuable resource. A doula is there to give power to the families that she touches-- focused on educating, committed to ensuring a fulfilling birth experience, and lending her emotional and physical self, as a confidant and an advocate. She offers her personal experience, her compassionate heart, and her birthing knowledge in hopes of engaging partners and inspiring each mother to follow her inner self.

The presence of a doula offers many layers of value. In most cases, doulas build a relationship with the family prior to birthing, so when the time of birthing arrives, she is a trusted part of the support circle and someone who easily blends into their birthing space. Often, the presence of the doula alone, provides a sense of calm for the family, knowing that at any time they can rely on her strength, wisdom, and understanding to make empowering decisions in their birth. She holds in her core the courage and inner force from every birthing woman that she has accompanied (including her own birth experiences) and she lends it during birth to evoke a sense of peacefulness and belonging in every birthing mother. She is in tune with everyone in the room, helping to determine comfort needs and deciding where her presence is best lent.

Without strong support networks that are customary in other cultures, many birthing mothers will feel great anxiety, stress, and even fear over her impending birth. A doula is there to provide a soothing backdrop, full of rhythm, safety, ritual, and relaxing touch and tone, helping to reduce and often eliminate birthing fears that may create and intensify pain. As the doula comforts the mother by expelling myths and revealing her calm, the mother’s fears are diminished and she is able to regain her birthright to feel confidence and trust in her body and her baby. Eliminating the tension and nurturing the mother in birthing can have enormous impact on the birthing process, as a relaxed mom is less likely to have abnormal circumstances that will require intervention. Even when intervention is found to be medically necessary or is requested by the mother, a doula can help to demolish any feeling of guilt or self-doubt, ensuring that the mother’s perception of her birth remains a positive lasting memory.

A doula’s constant presence can be a key factor in a mother feeling connected with her birth, her partner, and her Baby and giving her assurance that she can have her birth, her way. She is one element of the birth that mothers know will be unwavering in encouragement form beginning to end and, together with the other birth partners and medical staff, the doula creates circle of impenetrable strength around the birthing mom. Doulas provide not only the physical support of touch, offering various birthing ideas, but she also encourages mothers to follow their own birthing instincts and birth in a way that feels most natural to each individual.

Comfort and reassurance continues, not just through birth, but into the postpartum weeks and months, as well. Following birth, a doula continues to be an element of guidance and love for the family. She is able to bring to mind ways for bonding and, as needed, she helps to establish breastfeeding immediately following birth. Commonly, the doula remains in contact with the family at least until it is clear that the family feels strong confidence and belonging in their new structure, often throughout the first year of life.

As the beauty of birthing unfolds, a doula enriches the experience for everyone involved. The value of the support that she provides is immeasurable. Her gentle voice and solid commitment to each family throughout the birthing journey and beyond, reinforces that a mother’s doula is an ethical professional, who can be relied upon and trusted at all time. She leaves each family with joyful and fulfilling birth memories that will be cherished for a lifetime and her gifts are rarely forgotten. Likewise, each family brings their doula special happiness and recollections that are her motivation for continuing to ensure that all women she touches have a safe and satisfying birth experience.
Did You Know?
Home births have been shown to be safer than hospital birth for healthy moms???
Read more!

We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful... it's that women are strong.
- Laura Stavoe Harm

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