this edition of Hood Health 101 presents the positives of home birthing and doula care

Doulas are Community Birth Workers who provide continuous emotional, informational and physical support to a mother during her pregnancy, labor and just after birth. Historically, women, young and old, have always supported other women during childbirth. A Doulas job is to be a mother’s advocate. She provides much needed information to the mother during her pregnancy so that she can make informed decisions about her childbirth experience, such as what to expect during labor, birth place options covering in and out of hospital births, birthing positions and comfort techniques for labor, breastfeeding information, newborn care information, information regarding planned cesarean, vaginal birth, or unexpected cesarean, help with getting whatever resources a family may need in the local community and more.

Many women have fears about giving birth because they are not aware of the process and what to expect. Having a Doula who is trained to understand the stages of labor and the physiological aspects and emotions of a laboring woman can help to ease a woman’s concerns tremendously. Doulas do not make decisions for the mother that they are working with. Instead, they help each mother find out what her preferences are and also help her to achieve her goals by providing her with information so that she can make an informed choice about her and her baby’s care. Fathers often wonder if they will have a significant place on the birthing team if a Doula is hired. Of course they do. The Doula can actually help to ease some of the father’s concerns as well as help him to get involved in the actual pregnancy, birth and postpartum period by showing him how to massage the mother, what foods she needs for nourishment, and even how not to get yelled at as much or faint while in the birthing room. Y’all know sometimes fathers have no idea what to do, what to say, how to say it, whether or not they can touch it, if they should make a move, etc. Doulas are dope though. So they can help to ease the whole birthing scene and ensure that everyone has a role that is conducive to the mother’s progress. Since this is a very memorable event, a Doula works to keep the mother as comfortable as possible while nurturing and protecting the memory of the birth. Just after birth, Doulas stay to help a mother feed her baby whether she chooses to breastfeed or bottle feed, get herself cleaned up, and provide more physical, emotional and informational support which serves as immediate postpartum encouragement. There are many basic benefits to having a doula at a birth and they have been studied extensively for many years. As a result of these studies, it has been shown that…
-Having a Doula can reduce the length of labor by about 25% which is approximately 2.5 hours
-Doulas reduce women’s stress hormone production that could slow down or even stop labor.
-The use of forceps and vacuum extract is reduced about 30%
-Pitocin use, which is a drug used to induce labor is reduced by about 40%
-Cesarean risks are almost cut in half by about 50%
-The use of epidurals is reduced by about 60%
-When a Doula is present, babies are born more alert
-There are fewer complications when Doulas attend births
-Mothers are more confident and feel capable of giving birth and parenting a newborn when they have the support of a Doula, leading to a reduction in postpartum depression
-Mothers have less anxiety and a more positive attitude towards both their baby and the father.

Doulas are so dope, many have gone on to acquire additional training in other areas that can help women during the span of her childbearing year, such as abdominal massage, childbirth education, postpartum grief support, vaginal steaming, lactation education, herb and aromatherapy essential oil training, yoga for pregnancy, postpartum care and more.
If you are interested in having a Doula and are planning a hospital birth, ask if they have a Hospital Based Doula Program. If they don’t, ask them why. I’m serious. Doulas are Dope and Doulas save dollars. They should catch on to what other hospitals have already been successful with and look into starting a Doula program of their own. If they don’t have one or you are not planning to have a hospital birth, search on Facebook and the internet. There are many doula programs and agencies that train doulas and provide services. Many Doulas can be hired through independent contract. Families of all income levels can benefit from Doulas. There are also many grant based programs that provide free or low cost Doula services in the Hood.

-Scihonor Devotion

SciHonor Devotion, CD, CPD, CCCE, CMA, CWSP is a contributing writer
to the Hood Health Handbook set. She is a Labor Doula, Postpartum
Doula, Childbirth Educator, Homebirth Midwife Assistant and Womb Sauna
Practitioner who serves women and girls in her community through
workshop, ceremony and rites of passage. She is also Co-Owner of
Queen’s Quisine: Vegetarian and Vegan Catering Company and can be
contacted at www.facebook.com/EarthDoulas / [email protected] /
www.facebook.com/QueensQuisine