How and Why to Choose a Doula for Your Birth [Victoria Wakeman]

Video Transcript

My name is Victoria Wakeman, and I'm the doula program coordinator for Brookings Health System. I'm also a doula trainer and a certified doula.

What is a doula?

A doula is professionally educated and trained labor support, particularly a birth doula. So, we support couples through the labor and the birth. We also can help them prenatally to create their birth plan, and postpartum with their breastfeeding. So, a doula not only helps through the labor process, but she can actually help while the woman is birthing, not only to support her emotionally through it but provide information, maybe different positions that she could suggest to help the birthing process go a little bit better.

What type of training will doulas receive?

We're very lucky. Brookings Health System regularly offers doula trainings from a top doula-certifying organization. And there it's not only for birth but also postpartum doulas for anybody that would want to do that. We also offer monthly education to our doulas at our doula meeting. So, people get additional education there.

How do doulas help women during childbirth?

Doulas use a variety of tools and comfort measures and techniques to help women and their families through the childbirth experience. One of those is positions. And positions not only help the mother to be more comfortable, but it can also help the baby get into a better position for birth. We use visualization because birth is also mental. And so, when a mother is using visualization, it can actually relax her entire body. Getting into that right brain, that birth zone, which brings us to another one, which is relaxation, breathing, hydrotherapy, and aromatherapy, which all also relax her body. And when her body is relaxed, it can do the work for the labor much, much easier. We also have comfort touch. And comfort touch raises endorphins, those feel-good hormones. And so, when you raise endorphins, the pain hormones have to come down, which means mom's in less pain.

We are also informational support. So, whether a mom needs help in preparing her birth plan by having her desires for what she would like for an outcome, we help her to make that birth plan based on her own personal desires, and information that's evidence-based. We can also help her in the labor if something comes up, and she needs to make a decision. We help guide her in how to ask those questions fully to get all the information she needs to make a good decision. And we are also emotional because birth is not only mental and physical, but it's extremely emotional. And when a mom can bond with her doula that means that there's trust there, and she feels validated, and she feels she can relax and feel safe in her labor and delivery. And when she feels safe, she progresses, and she has a better experience.

What additional doula services are available?

After labor and delivery, we stay to make sure that breastfeeding is established, and that mom and baby are settled in. If parents would like further care, they can not only get additional services, having more meetings prenatally, or maybe even labor at home with a doula, but they can also have postpartum meetings as well if they would like to add that.

What are the benefits of doula support?

The benefits of doula care are statistically significant. One of those is healthier outcomes for moms and for babies. And what's better than that? That's what we're looking for, right? Number one. Number two is we have less inductions, augmentations, and interventions altogether. Number three is more efficient labors and faster labors, which every mom wants. We have less cesareans when a doula is present. We have higher Apgar scores for babies and less NICU stays. We have less desire from moms for pain management of any kind or epidurals.

We have better and longer breastfeeding outcomes for mothers and babies. We have faster and better healing postpartum. Mothers report a more satisfying and joyful birth experience. And mothers have reported they have more confidence and inner strength in general in life after having a doula support them through their labor and birth.

What is the partner's role during labor and delivery?

The role of a partner in labor and delivery is extremely important. The bond of love that they share is like no other, and cannot be replaced by a doula or anybody else. And that bond also creates a hormonal cocktail. One of the very important hormones in labor and delivery is oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. And when a father or a loved one is present in the labor process, that oxytocin level goes up on its own, and it has amazing effects on the labor and delivery.

How do doula's support fathers?

A father, the person he loves most in the world, is carrying his baby. How stressful is that when they think about, I need to know what to do, when to do it, how to do it. I need to be there for her. And we put a lot of pressure on our dads. So, a doula comes in and helps guide the father through all these things, the comfort measures, support techniques. We know when to come in and maybe put in that counter pressure, give mom a cool washcloth, and we support dad in doing that. And what we've found and studies show is moms feel closer to their partners, feel more bonded when a doula has been at the labor and delivery, and she feels that dad has done a better job overall.

How can parents choose a doula?

There are two ways, one is through the Ask A Doula, which is our once-a-month, every first Monday program where the community can come, get to know the doulas, ask us any questions that they want, interview us, and potentially choose a doula to support them, and a backup doula as well. Or they can go to the website at Brookings Health System. There, there's pictures of all of us with bios. They can read about us, they can connect with us, and they can choose a doula and backup doula that way as well. If someone decides they want a doula and they're already in labor, they can choose to have a doula. They just need to let their provider or nurse know that they would like to have a doula at the hospital, and they will put word out to us, and an available doula will come to support you.

Why do you recommend delivery at Brookings Health System?

There are so many reasons why I would choose Brookings Health System for parents to have their baby. One is it's extremely personalized care. We tailor it to you. But the technology's also there, so it comes hand in hand. We have this cutting-edge doula program with decades and decades of evidence to support the benefits of doula care, and Brookings Health System has created that for you. We also are baby friendly, and that's no easy certification to get. We have the baby cafe. So, postpartum, you can have help and support in feeding your baby, and get to know other moms as well. The providers, the nurses, and the doulas work together as a team, and it is a wonderful combination that's there just for you and your desires. So, personalized care that you need, plus the technology if you need it, and that's why Brookings Health System is the best, and that's why people come back.