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Friday, November 7, 2014

FYI: What do Doulas do?


When it comes to planning a family there are so many things to consider, so many things to learn. It's exciting and overwhelming. One of the major topics of discussion inevitably is about what kind of support you want during the pregnancy and labor. Questions arise such as, Does my GP deliver? Will they care about how I hope my delivery will go? What kind of support do they offer leading up to, during, and after the birth? 


For many families, the choice to use an alternative to their family doctor is becoming a popular choice for a variety of reasons. This includes approach to the labour and birth experience (using pharmaceuticals to induce/ speed up labour; ordering C- sections for women based on time- constraints rather that natural labour progression), birth support for both Mom & Dad (who really needs help breathing ;) ); and postpartum support (in- home visits vs. leaving home to go to the Dr office), among others. No longer are midwives and doulas a taboo topic, misunderstood by those who stand to benefit from their services; they are becoming a more common choice among families, respected and sought- after by those who learn about the options they have available to them. 

When I was expecting Ari I looked into my options, having watched multiple documentaries about women's birth experiences in North America comparing traditional options to the holistic ones. I made my choice to use a midwife instead of my family doctor based on the experience of a close friend who had a wonderful experience with one and what I felt was best for our family and what we hoped for for a birth experience. I wasn't disappointed. Since then I have spoken to countless women who used or will use a midwife and/ or doula for their births; one of my closest girlfriends is due in December and has enlisted the help of a doula to help support her and her husband through labour.



Since it's my goal to provide natural suggestions for my readers to consider, I am very happy to share today's post with you. If you or someone you know is planning a family, I hope you will consider all of your options, including those that lie beyond the traditional medical system. I am pleased to introduce Candie Tizzard, an experienced birth doula with Birthrite Doula. I hope she helps you understand more about what these wonderful, passionate individuals do.

TPB: What is a doula?
Candice: Historically, women labored and birthed at home with a midwife and other women in their community. Although not known as doulas at the time, these women were continuous labor support and the idea behind doulas.  Doula is Greek, meaning a woman who serves. Today it means a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born.

Studies have shown that women who have doula assisted births have shorter easier labours, less complications, reduced risk of caesarian section, and breast feed their babies more easily. Doulas provide continuous emotional, physical and spiritual support. There is a wide range of options for women in pregnancy and child birth; Doula’s strive to inform women of all their options, so they can make informed choices about their bodies and their babies during pregnancy and labour.

TPB: What support services & care does a doula provide?
Candice: Typically Doulas will offer two prenatal meetings, be there for the entire labour and up to two hours after, and one postpartum appointment. Some doula’s offer more support to the family; for example, I offer two postpartum visits to high risk, or first time families. I also offer to stay on 24 hours for two weeks after the baby is born, so I can support breast feeding.  There are various skills and services that doula’s can offer on top of this, such as use of a  TENS machine, birth pools, placenta encapsulation, photography, massage, acupuncture, acupressure, prenatal education and much more.  

It is very important that you know what it is you want out of your birth and your labour support and find a doula that best supports your desires and you click with. Interview until you find the perfect one, there is no rule that says you have to choose right away.  Doulas also have our hands in many resources in our community; we can refer out to anyone that will benefit the women and her birthing team.

TPB: How long prior to a birth should clients contact a doula?
Candice: This part varies. Some doula’s are busier than others and need more notice. Typically women will contact us at about 20-30 weeks pregnant; however, it happens at all points during pregnancy, right up to a woman in labour contacting us. I have had women contact me right after they found out they were expecting, before finding their midwife or care provider, and one who contacted me at 40 weeks 3 days!

What is the average cost?
Candice: Doulas are not covered by MSP*, and only some extended health will cover partial or all costs of a doula. I always submit receipts of my services and let clients know to submit them, even if the answer is no; it shows the need and desire for doula care during labour. The price of a doula is not regulated and you will find that prices vary across the region. Typically you can expect to pay between $600-900 or more for services, based on experience. There are volunteer services out there for families that need the support, but cannot afford to pay for a doula. Doulas understand that the cost is high; we also know that our services are worth our cost and will work with families to be able to afford our services by offering various types of payment plans and certificates.

*In BC, you have the choice between using your GP or a midwife; if you choose to use a midwife, this is covered by MSP. Doula services are not yet covered by MSP, so are additional- help get this service covered by making your desire for one known, as Candice suggests above.

TPB: Do doulas provide support post- delivery?
Candice: There are many types of doula supports out there:

Antepartum: Support high risk women who are on bed rest at home or in the hospital. The support consists of resources, small errands, emotional support, and more.

Birth: Support women prenatally, during labour and birth, and postnatal.

Postpartum: Support women through their postpartum period offering emotional support at home with small chores, some cooking, resources, and much more. Postpartum Doulas help with the women’s needs and baby’s needs, allowing women to take the time they need to take care of themselves and rest.  Some postpartum doulas do overnight care allowing families to get the sleep they need.

Child Doula: I have recently learned about this one. These doulas  support the siblings during a women’s birthing time.

Loss Doula: Support women anytime during and after pregnancy and the loss of their child, whether through, miscarriage, terminal pregnancy, or still birth. 

My midwife was the reason we had the birth experience we wanted. If we had been under the care of a GP, we would have been forced to induce labour, a choice neither Will or I wanted. Midwives and doulas not only provide assistance leading up to, during, and after birth, they also serve as advocates for the parents, helping ensure their voice is heard and respected during birth. If you are fortunate to have a GP that shares your beliefs and approach to birth, that is a wonderful thing. However, not all traditional doctors do, and for this reason I am a proud advocate for midwives and doulas. I hope this post has helped inform you about the options available to you as you begin the journey into parenthood.

If you would like more information about doulas and the services they offer, you can contact Candice via her website and find her business on Facebook & Twitter

Also make sure to learn more about her Beautiful ME Project a project Candice proudly started to celebrate women & their bodies following childbirth. 

Here are some useful links that Candice provided for readers to check out:
Links & Resources.

Videos

Thank you to Candice for all the information she provided and for her passion for what she does.

Images used with permission from Candice Tizzard, Birth and Life Photography
Logo courtesy of Candice Tizzard, Birthrite Doula

November posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique