At Terra Organic Spa, one of our specialties is providing Pregnancy Massage. We love supporting our clients during the most important time in their lives! Massage Therapy is a wonderful way to aid a mother through her pregnancy. We receive many questions from clients on what else they could do to make their birth experience less stressful. We recommend incorporating a Doula into their birth plan.
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Elizabeth Pratt is a Doula and owner of Blessed Birth. In Elizabeth’s words her job as a Doula “is to support you in having the birth you envision.” Elizabeth was more than happy to answer a couple questions for us,Q: What inspired you to become a Doula? A: I was inspired to become a doula because I am a nurturer at heart. Doulas educate and support, but they also nurture. We are trained to recognize unspoken needs — sometimes needs that a mother might not even realize herself during labor. Historically, women had their mothers, sisters, and other female family members to aid them during childbirth, but unfortunately that has changed. As a doula my goal is to provide information, reassurance, comfort, and a supportive presence during one of the most transformative times in a woman and family’s life. Q: Being a mother of three you have a lot of experience but what has surprised you most about the birthing process? A: I think what has surprised me most about the birthing process is that woman are severely undereducated about labor and birth. We spend so much time focused on what’s happening during pregnancy (rightly so!) that many women don’t prepare for labor. Unfortunately our society has convinced women that labor always goes a certain way: your water breaks, you are immediately having extreme contractions, the pain is absolutely unbearable and there’s lots of screaming, and your baby is born 10 minutes later. That’s Hollywood’s version, that’s not how it goes in real life! Women fear childbirth because they aren’t prepared. Yes, there is pain, but it is pain with a purpose, and it is not insurmountable. If you know about ways to relieve pain naturally it is definitely possible to go that route and have a wonderful experience — and your doula can remind you of this during labor. We can recognize when a mother is moving into the transition stage, when everything is the most intense. First time moms especially need reassurance at this stage, because it is intense. (We often reassure the dads at this point too!) Pain relief has its place, and if a client wants to have IV narcotics or an epidural that’s their decision — I have personally labored and given birth to my children with epidurals and naturally. The fact is that most women are not aware that there are serious risks with anything you put in your body (for mother and baby), including epidurals and narcotics. Knowledge is power, and as a Doula I am passionate about birth and want to share what I’ve learned with others. Pregnancy and birth is a wonderful, challenging, amazing time for a family, and to be part of that ~ in a small way ~ is an honor.
Research has shown that the support of a doula during one’s pregnancy, labor and birth can make a huge difference in one’s experience:
~50% reduction in the cesarean rate
~25% shorter labor
~60% reduction in epidural requests
~40% reduction in pitocin use
~30% reduction in analgesia use
~40% reduction in forceps delivery
Source: Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth, Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus (1993).