Value and Purpose of Labor Support

The Importance of Labor Support

Posted on December 15, 2009. Filed under: doula, Value and Purpose of Labor Support | Tags: , , , , , , |

I actually had to write an essay about this for my doula certification. I will add it to this post later but for now I wanted to share with everyone what my friend and doula (well, one of them, I am actually having two) Karen had to say about being on my birth team.

Go HERE to read her blog post about it.

Karen is doing such great work to help women have better births. She has not formally trained as a doula but she has as a childbirth educator. She is a wealth of knowledge, especially here in Korea as far as the birth culture is concerned. She spends a good bit of time pointing women in the direction of the information that they need and because of this has helped many women have good birth experiences. I am very proud of her and proud ot have her on my birth team.

I will also have a Korean doula on my team. Her English name is Janice. She is a new doula and also trained as a childbirth educator. She works for a milk bank in Seoul, helping to get donated breast milk to mothers who do not want to use formula but cannot breast feed for some reason. She is also an RN here in Korea but does not work as a nurse any more. Her English is great as she lived in Hawaii for a few years and she is just all around a very nice person. I have referred doula clients to her and she will attend her first birth in January. Karen has also referred a client to her. By the time my birth comes around she will be fairly seasoned and experienced. Her role in my birht is different from the typical doula however, in that the will be in the background. She will be there to help communicate to the Korean hospital staff and admin and through the postpartum time at the hospital.

Because I am using Hynobabies I prefer for my support team to be in the back ground and my husband to be my main support if necessary. Karen and Janice will be there if I need them and that for  me is such a huge confidence booster. I wish every woman could have that kind of support in birth.  My hope is that one day every woman will.

The Value and Purpose of Labor Support

Labor support can be priceless to a mother. As Doulas we often times do put a price tag on our services and time but the benefits received outweigh the cost. Studies have shown that by hiring a Doula a mother can reduce her need for pain medication, increase overall satisfaction with the birth experience, drastically reduce the risk of a cesarean and reduce the risk of assisted delivery by forceps or vacuum extraction. The studies have  also shown a reduction in postpartum depression for mothers who had a Doula or continual labor support by a person trained in birth. I believe that much of this is the result of an increase in confidence levels by both the mother and the father. I have had several second time mothers tell me that their birth with a Doula was so much better than their first birth without one because they knew they had someone there whose sole purpose was to tend to her physical and emotional needs.

Part of labor support is empowering a mother to have confidence in her ability to birth. Having someone available for the entire length of labor provides security and confidence for the mother as practitioners are typically caring for multiple patients at a time or have other responsibilities such as the clinical needs of the mother and the baby. There is also paperwork that must be done and shift changes that bring in new people to the birth environment. Having a constant throughout the entire labor process provides a sense of familiarity and safety for a laboring mother. Doulas also help the mother and father both communicate with the staff which is necessary in a time such as labor when the parents are usually distracted with the labor itself. While it is not the role of a Doula to speak for the parents to the practitioner she should advocate in order to help the mother or partner speak for themselves. Helping the mother and partner ask the questions appropriate to their situation and navigating the terminology used is also often helpful.

Supporting a mother emotionally during labor and birth helps the mother to believe that she can do it. Sometimes being told that she can do it is all that a mother needs to hear to keep going strong during a long labor. Understanding that laboring women are vulnerable and that the birth space should be protected is very important. Laboring women should have peace and quiet and no unnecessary interruption and holding that space for a mother is a priority. When a Doula and a partner help create a peaceful and safe environment for a laboring mother often times practitioners will follow suite and respect that space. It allows a sense of calm for the mother that helps her to maintain stamina through labor. Emotional support doesn’t end at the birth however. Helping a mother to process her birth experience is equally important. In unforeseen complications or unexpected situations or traumas a mother needs the continued emotional support to facilitate healing. Being especially sensitive to these needs helps to reduce postpartum depression and negative feelings towards her birth.

Labor support also includes physical support for the laboring mother. Every woman has a different need in labor whether is continual touch, massage or counter pressure while other women want very little physical touch. Often times women will not know what their need will be until labor has progressed and it is important to be able to understand what the mothers needs are and at what time her needs are the greatest. Incorporating the partner into the physical aspect of labor support is often very affective as they usually already have a certain intimacy between them as a couple.

The needs of a laboring and birthing woman are very complex. Mothers deserve the continual support of a Doula, someone trained in labor support. I believe that if all women had a Doula that most of them would be able to birth without medication and with little medical intervention. The cost of maternity care would lower as a result and there would be higher success rates in breastfeeding. Postpartum depression rates would also lower. I believe that every woman deserves a Doula and that every woman that wants one should have one.

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