Birth Team Members
Key Players on Mother's Labor Support Team
When it comes to pregnancy, birth, and parenting, today's
mothers want to share everything with their partners/family members/friends. Today, a family's participation in birth preparation
classes, the presence at prenatal visits and in the delivery suite is a familiar occurrence. The mother wishes to be surrounded
by caring individuals that are actively involved. They wish to share the baby's moment of birth. Sometimes we forget what
the expectations are when playing the role of a "labor coach". During this exciting time, it may be difficult to be emotionally
available when watching the mother during the labor process. A labor doula can help not only the mother, but also her birth
team (partner/family members/friends) to experience this special time with confidence.
The word "doula" which comes
from ancient Greek, today refers to a woman trained and experienced in childbirth. A doula provides continuous physical, emotional,
and informational support to the expectant mother and her partner during labor, delivery and in the immediate postpartum
period. The wisdom and emotional support of experienced women at birth is an ancient tradition.
Studies show that
when doulas are present at birth, women have shorter labors, fewer medical interventions, fewer cesareans and healthier babies.
Recent evidence also suggests that when a doula provides labor support, women are more satisfied with their experience and
the mother-infant interaction is enhanced as long as two months after the birth. With doula support, birth team members tend
to stay more involved with the mother rather than pull away in times of stress.
A doula DOES NOT replace the love
and support of the mother's birth team. The doula can provide information for the family members and friends, assist with
comfort measures, help the birth team to remain actively involved during the laboring experience (making suggestions and providing
examples of helpful techniques), explain medical procedures and help the family to feel more relaxed.
midwives and nurses are responsible for monitoring labor, assessing the medical condition of the mother and baby, and treating
complications when they arise. But childbirth is also an emotional and spiritual experience with long-term impact on a woman's
personal well being. A doula is constantly aware that the mother and her birth team will remember this experience throughout
their lives. By "mothering the mother" during childbirth the doula supports the new mother and her chosen support members
in having a positive and memorable birth experience.
The birth team members presence and loving support in childbirth
is comforting and reassuring. The love they share with the mother and her child, their need to nurture and protect the mother
are priceless gifts that only they can provide. With her birth team and a doula at her birth, a mother can have the best of
both worlds: her birth team's loving care and attention and the doula's expertise and guidance in childbirth.