What is a doula?
I am Judy Miller. I'm a volunteer Doula with the New Beginnings Birth Center here at Brookings Health System.
What is a Doula?
A Doula is a labor and support person. We are typically non-medical staff who come in and give emotional, physical, and informational support to a mom who is in labor.
Role of a Doula
During labor and delivery I would come in and help a mother basically with her positioning, I think, would be one of my main things. We try to use the birth ball, we try to use a massage. If the mother brings in some type of music which is comforting to her we also try to keep that in mind, helping her focus.
Types of Doulas: Labor Doula
Brookings Health System offers a Volunteer Doula which would come in for labor and physical birth support. That person would come in as soon as the mother requested a Doula and then would stay with that mother throughout her labor and delivery as well as an hour to two hours after the delivery.
Types of Doulas: Postpartum Doulas
We also here at Brookings Health System offer the Postpartum Doula. That Doula would come in after the baby is delivered, probably within 24 to 36 hours and visit with that mother about her family situation, the infant bonding, infant feeding, breast feeding in particular, and answer as many questions as possible as far as how things were going to be when they get home, things to watch for.
Benefits of a Doula
I think there's a variety of reasons for a mother to use a Doula. It does help with the pain medication, it does cut down on the need for that as much. It sometimes can help cut down on the labor time because that Doula is encouraging the mother in ways that help her body adjust to the whole process and can ease that labor and help her relax so that the labor is easier and hopefully maybe shortened somewhat.
Creating a Family
We want to pull the father in or the partner as an integral part of the whole experience so that they're not left sitting off to the side in a chair, but they're drawn in and they're there when that family forms at the birth.
Inspiration for Becoming a Doula
I think being a mother myself inspired me to be a Doula. I wanted to give other women that positive experience as well. I have five children and have been in now on a number of births of my own children and step children as well as friends, clients, and I just find it always to be just a miraculous occasion and I just have always really enjoyed that. I think the main thing was I just wanted to show other women that this is something they can do, it's something we're created to do. I want them to feel empowered to give birth and to have that positive experience.
Benefits of Brookings Health System
I don't know, I guess, of any other hospital that offers a Volunteer Doula Program on a regular basis where a mother could walk in the door and say "I want a Doula" and that Doula is provided within a short amount of time. Brookings Health System has done a wonderful job in providing the Volunteer Doula Program here to this community and the Postpartum Doula Program is the first in it's nation. So Brookings Health System is really providing just on a wonderful service for any client that comes in.