Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Update on "doula-hood" and other ExCITEing OpPorTuNitiEs

I can't believe another month has passed and pressure has returned to write an update on the blog.  I have been busy studying for my certificate and it is going very well.  The smooth process of studying during early mornings and nap time, assures me that it is truly from God and not something I am doing selfishly.  It has not been a burden to me or my family to complete and I know as a result it will bring much blessing. 

I have taken 6 out of 8 exams (completed reading 1 manual and 3/4's through the 2nd one and one book), completed 2 out of 6 of my other assignments, and am working on a paper currently.  My goal for this week is to finish the paper and the final 2 exams.  This puts me at 75% of being done!  And that is the hardest part of obtaining the certificate.  The easiest part is attending 2 births and writing about the experience which is what I will be doing next.  I am sad that I missed the water birth in January while we were in Arizona (she went way early).  I still have one to look forward to in March and am working hard at preparing for that one!

I have had alot of encouragement and support on this adventure over the past month.  I have also had a lot of questions asked that I thought I might be able to address on the blog so that everyone is clear.

What is a doula?
Doula (pronounced doola) is a term which is used to describe a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and immediately after child birth.

What exactly does a doula do - or what will you (I) be doing as a doula?  Doula's have many different roles and it really is up to the client as what she wants.  I could be starting a pregnancy with someone and helping her through the end...even up through postpartum.  Or I may just help someone at the beginning, but not be there at the birth, and then be there through breastfeeding and postpartum.  I am there to support and encourage my client in whatever needs they might have.  That could be helping her work through a birth plan and setting expectations for how she wants her delivery to go, taking her to appointments, making sure her  birth plan is carried out when she is in labor, taking picures, helping her with different labor strategies, listen, encourage, support, help her communicate to her doctors or family if needed, etc. 

Do you deliver the baby or give medical advice?  No.  I can give suggestions or recomendations based on things I have studied, but I will not be giving medical advice.  It is highly unlikely that I would be delivering any babies!  We'll leave that to the highly paid doctors.

Why would I "pay" you to be my coach (when I am already paying the hospital)?  There are several reasons one might pay to have a doula.  If you are planning to have a natural birth (no medications), a doula is a huge benefit.  It has been researched that if a woman who is going to try a natural birth has a "coach/cheerleader", they are more likely able to get through it then if alone or with a partner that can't support them in this way (honestly our husbands aren't always the best coach).  By doing so, a doula cost is about 1/2 of what an epidural will cost you on your medical bill. 
A recent study (here) shows these results:

Reduced the overall cesarean rate by 50%

Reduced the length of labor by 25%

Reduced oxytocin use by 40%

Reduced the use of pain medication by 30%

Reduced forceps deliveries by 40%

Reduced requests for epidural pain medication by 60%

Reduced incidences of maternal fever

Reduced the number of days newborns spent in NICU (neo-natal infant care unit)

Reduced the amount of septic workups performed on newborns

Resulted in higher rates of breastfeeding

Resulted in more positive maternal assessments of maternal confidence

Resulted in more positive maternal assessments of maternal and newborn health

Resulted in decreased rates of postpartum depression

Klaus and Kennel speculate that the mere presence of a doula had a beneficial effect on the emotional state of the mother, resulting in a decrease in catecholamines (adrenaline). This relaxed state allows uterine contractions to be more effective and reduces the occurrence of compromised uterine blood flow.

Insurance companies are taking note of the proven benefits of doula-assisted births. As a result, some providers have started to reimburse for doula care. If your company health care plan covers in-home care, nursing care, lactation consulting, or similar fields, doula care is most likely covered as well.

Why are you doing this?  I have seen first hand that most doctors/hospitals view birth as an abnormal medical emergency when it it is a normal life event.  Yes, there can be things that happen that are abnormal but most births should be considered normal and natural.  Because doctors view them as abnormal medical events, they tend to intervene when unnecessary which can make labor and delivery much worse for mothers and their babies (inductions, breaking bags of water prematurely, timing labors, etc).  I won't go into specifics here, but maybe for another post or talk outside the blog.  Alot of it comes down to the fact that doctors/hospitals want babies delievered in a timely fashion because of their work schedule and efficiences in the hospitals/workers schedules instead of letting the body do its natural thing.  If you think about it, birth has been around for...well EVER.  The main reason the birth process was brought to the hospitals was due to infections most of which we have vaccines for now.  Births use to take place at home with the help of a coach, midwife, mother, sisters, friends and family - a very supportive environment.  With the transition to hospitals, males were the only ones who were able to get an education as a doctor and that I believe led to a misunderstanding of the birth process and made it into a medical, highly intervened "project" (you know how men are!).  This has also resulted in increased c-sections and mortality rates for mothers and infants. 

Today I recieved a book in the mail that I ordered about childbirth.  The copyright was 1944.  At first I was alarmed that it was so old and possibly out dated.  Then suddenly I was relieved to know that birth is a long lived normal process that can't out date.  Yes, there are medical advances and new things we can learn about the process, but as a whole, it stays the same.

In Bloomington/Normal, I will say that we are very blessed to have good doctors who for the most part, want to see us have the birth experience that we want. You may have noticed that even both of our hospitals are turning the labor and delivery units into "birthing centers" to be more accomodating to those who want to have a more natural-like birth setting. This is also good news to me as they may actually hire certified labor nurse/doulas on staff! Don't start a rumor...I didn't say they are, I said they might...this may lead to that. So at your request, you could have a labor coach and it would be part of your hosptial bill (I think that is how it will work).

Are doula's only "good" for those who want a natural birth (with no medications)?  No.  (see benefits above) I am here to see to it that you have the birth experience that you want.  I am neutral when it comes to receiving medications to relieve pain in labor or going natural.  My job would then be to go through the benefits and risks to both so that YOU can make the decison for yourself.  The more prepared you can be before labor and delivery - the better you will be feeling (calmer, fears subided, etc).  In whatever you decide, I am here to support and encourage you.  If it is with no medications, I have learned techniques to dealing with pain in natural ways. 

If you have further questions, you can always email me, post a comment/question on the blog, or see me.  I would love to answer them. 

Two more ExCiTInG things to note and pray over with/for me
1) All of this studying has got me thinking about going back to school - nursing school.  I actually love to study and go to school and this topic is so fascinating.  I would love to be a nurse!  Of course I am leaning towards labor and delivery but going through clinicals might change my mind.  I have done a little research at ISU and at Heartland and now just trying to decide if I want to do it, if timing is right, where I am going to go and if this part of God's plan for me.  My leaning is towards Heartland since I already have an associate there and most of my general credits would be applied to this degree.  I really just need to set up an appointment and see how much work it is going to be.  I don't want it to take away from my family especially with all the other things we have going on! 

One thing that convicted me a little was Sunday's sermon.  He talked about how we put our fulfillments on earlthy things instead of on God.  Including in this is the finding fulfillment in education or wisdom (work, power, possessions, people, addictions are also things we seek fulfillment out of).  This is what he read out of Ecclesiastes 1:16 - 18 "I thought to myself, 'Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone...I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.  Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.  The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increaseknowledge only increases sorrow"  What Solomon is saying is that all of it doesn't matter and will not fill us...only God can do that (I know you have heard me say this many times).  It leads to emptiness and requires us to build our own kingdom and not let God do the building.  So I guess what I am saying is that I need to be careful that I am letting God build my kingdom.  I think I have the right reasons for wanting to further educate myself but I want to be sure.  Prayer and seeking God's direction will help me know.  Please pray for me in this decision.

2) Costa Rica
In 2010, I shared that I really wanted to go on a mission trip and was praying for the right opportunity.  I am pleased to announce that I will be going with a team in June 2011 to Costa Rica!  I don't have a lot of information at this point but I did attend one meeting and prayed that God would direct my path on this.  We will be going with a local eye doctor in town who will be giving free eye clinics.  We will be helping at the eye clinic with glasses fittings, giving out sunglasses, and other eye care "duties".  We will also be doing something with the children as far as a "bible school" and there will be opportunity to do some labor-type work (building a fence or something of that nature) for our missionaries that live there.  I am very excited for this opportunity and am hoping that I will have the chance to help some pregnant women or maybe even help with a birth!!

2011 is going to be a BIG year for me!  I am very excited!!  My new motto "I'm closer to heaven in 2011!"

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