Friday, December 17, 2010

Debunking Doula Myths

This is a column by Danielle Elwood from Babble, a parenting website. I have included part of it and you can find the rest here:

"The longer I’ve worked in the birth community the more I’ve learned just how many mainstream forums carry horrible inaccuracies about doulas. I wanted to write something to kind of set the record straight and let women, especially pregnant women, or women who will some day plan to have a child of their own what is real, and what is a big ol’ myth."

Myth: A doula shows up only for the birth, and leaves immediately after.
The relationship a doula builds with a mother and her family starts during pregnancy, and expands to labor and postpartum care. When labor begins your doula will accompany you fromstart to finish, and even in the hours after, no matter what setting you have chosen for your birth. After your baby is born you should expect your doula to check in on you a couple times to see how you are adjusting to your new life and roles.

Myth: Doulas are only for crazy hippies.
Contrary to popular belief, all doulas are not going to show up with bongos and magical healing crystals. Most doulas may be into natural healing, or holistic health care, but are not going to be pushy if this is something you do not want to choose for your own birth.

Myth: Doulas take over the role a husband has during labor.
This is probably the most common myth I hear. A doula’s role in labor is to not only be of help tothe mother and her partner, but to work on enhancing the relationship the couple has with the hospital staff. She will advocate for the mother and function as a liason between the couple and hospital staff such as residents and nurses. During labor, mom and dad are often too preoccupied to deal with lots of details– this is one reason a doula comes in handy.
As Penny Simkin says: “While a doula probably knows more than then partner about birth, hospitals and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman and her personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he or she loves the woman more than anyone else there.”

Myth: Doulas take the place of Midwives or OB/GYNs.
This is another huge myth I constantly hear. Many people mistakenly think that a doula takes the place of a midwife, or medical professional who handles prenatal care and delivery. Or that a doula and midwife are interchangeable. While some doulas may carry other certifications in the medical field they are not midwives or doctors and should not be treated as such. They are there to provide labor support and guidance, not medical care.Myth: Doulas cost too much!
Doulas are not only for the rich, or for those with kick ass health insurance that will cover doula care. Doulas are for all women. In some areas they can range up to about $600 for a birth, but many doulas are willing to work on a sliding scale, or even for free while working on their certification. Many hospitals across the country have programs with doulas on staff that can cost as low as $100 for an entire birth.

Myth: If you have a doula, you cannot have an epidural or pain relief.
While women who make the choice to have a doula do not typically wish to have medical pain relief during labor, doulas are not going to judge your choices for what you want during your birth. They are there to support your labor and birth, not dictate what they think you should be doing. Heck, I had a doula with my second birth and after laboring for nearly a day opted for an epidural for some sleep. There is nothing wrong with it as long as you are educated on your choices.

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