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I learned something new at a birth yesterday. If you have low blood platelets, you cannot get an epidural. I don’t think low blood platelets is common, but what I learned was that sometimes a woman may not know she won’t have pain medication as an option until she goes into labor.
I believe it is important for all birthing women to be educated in the normal process of birth, basic comfort measures, and have trained birth support (and don’t count on the L&D nurse being able to provide this, they are busy and many of them do not have a lot of training or experience in natural birth). You never know when you won’t be able to have an epidural, they don’t always work, and sometimes you have to wait a significant amount of time before you can get one.
Epidurals can be a positive tool used during birth, just make sure you have other tools as well.
A doula has many tools, if you hire one it can make your birthing experience more positive, no matter what happens.
Recently I’ve discovered most people do not know what a doula is. People usually know it has something to do with birth. Many people I’ve talked to think it is a midwife. Others think it is a type of nurse.
Hopefully this post will help you understand what a doula is and what she does.
What a doula does:
- Provide physical comfort by using massage, breathing and relaxation techniques, position suggestions, as well as pain relief techniques.
- Provide emotional comfort with reassurance of normality, mother’s ability to cope, encouragement, validation of feelings.
- Inform clients by answering questions with accurate information and seek out information when they don’t know the answer.
- Act as an extra pair of hands for parents by getting food for partner, extra pillows, blankets, ice chips/drinks/snacks for mother, take pictures.
- Encourage self-determination by supporting clients’ goals, making sure clients understand their choices, translate jargon as necessary.
What a doula does NOT do:
- Practice medicine, do exams (no cervical exams) or procedures, make diagnosis or prescribe treatments, give second opinions, assist physician or midwife with medical care (adjust iv, administer oxygen, etc).
- Make decisions for clients by advising or persuading clients to follow a particular course, talk about clients outside their presence, withhold approval for using or avoiding pain medications, and speak on behalf of the clients to the medical staff.
In short, a doula is a guide helping the mother and her partner through pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
For more information on what the difference is between a midwife and a doula follow this link http://www.omahabutterfly.com/whatsthedifferencebetweenamidwifeanddoula.htm
“When midwives are attending to clinical matters, birth doulas are focusing on the mother and helping her get through her contractions. Where the midwife’s first priority is the safe delivery of mother and baby, the doula’s first priority is the mother’s mental well-being, and the support of the growing family as a unit.”
*Photos taken by OpieFoto.com
This is why! Personal stories and evidence on why having a doula improves birth.