Green your birth
In a world full of technology and choices, sometimes taking a step back and looking at the big picture of birth can do more wonders than any cocktail of drugs available. At the end of the day, babies know when to come, and mothers have an inherent skill in giving birth.
But, by the statistics of cesarean births and births assisted with everything from pitocin and epidurals to forceps and vacuums, one might think that the human female body has somehow forgotten the knowhow to do its most primal job – give life to another human being.
Enter a doula, or simply, from the ancient Greek, a word meaning “a women who serves.” Not your mother, not your labor coach, and certainly not your midwife or doctor – a doula is simply a woman who serves another woman while she is in labor and gives birth, and oftentimes, during the postpardum period, as well. She is a woman whose primary goal is to support the birthing mother in whatever way she chooses.
While, many times, that does mean a drug-free, natural birth, the real end goal for doulas is a happy mom who feels like she was part of something, and who feels empowered – which in turn paves the way for a happy baby and family.
“There is a stereotype that a doula only wants you to have a natural birth,” explained Chloe French, a birth and postpardum doula from the Delmarva Peninsula. “Or someone not supportive of pain medication and interventions.”
French explained that, while the majority of her clients do wish to have a natural birth, and pain medication and interventions come with their own risks, the most important thing is that the mother feels empowered, no matter how it all turns out.
“I have attended hospital births and birth-center births and births where the mom labors extensively at home, because once you walk through the doors of the hospital, choices actually decrease and you are at the ‘mercy’ of hospital policy,” she explained.
She added that statistics show that the women who use a doula have an “enormous decrease” in the use of intervention, including a 50 percent decline in C-sections and shorter labors in first-time moms.
“When a woman feels supported, every system in her body works more effectively,” explained French, adding that there is a 40 percent decrease in the use of pitocin – a drug that mimics that body’s natural oxytocin hormone, which makes the uterus contract, but instead of coming in bursts, as the natural oxytocin does, is administered intravenously, which often means even more medications and interventions and requests for pain relief.
The less intervention there is, the more benefits there seem to be. Besides a drug-free baby, there cost benefits, as well. “All combined, there can be a $4,000 savings when all the interventions are cut out,” she said, “so there’s the economic component, as well.”
French added that, for birthing moms, labor doesn’t have to be the stereotypical scary event that they show on TV, with a woman screaming.
“It’s almost become a comedy routine now, but it can really be peaceful and almost euphoric at the same time,” she emphasized.
Flannery Weimer, a mom who used French for her first birth, in which she gave birth at a birth center in Massachusetts before French came to Maryland, said her experience using a doula was “fantastic.”
“The reason I used a doula was about five or six friends of mine all had babies within a year or so of me, and every single one of them ended up with a C-section,” she explained. “I was terrified of that. I didn’t even want drugs, and I certainly didn’t want to be cut open.”
She added that French was also a great resource for her husband, who had the normal anxiety of any first-time dad.
Weimer said she and French met several times before the birth and talked about her birth plan, and then French helped make that happen when the time came.
“She gave me options as the midwife was talking,” she recalled. “She encouraged me to get into the tub, which I did, and I was able to go though the entire birthing process without drugs or medical interventions.”
Cindy Collins, another area doula serving central Delaware and the surrounding counties, also provides placenta encapsulation – to preserve the placenta for the mother, for medicinal use under traditional medicine – and has a myriad of herbal products available, in addition to her doula services, including Womb Wellness Tea, Milkmaid Tea for nursing mothers and Divine Digestion Tea designed to help with everything from morning sickness to heartburn.
Collins takes a holistic approach to her doula services, all the while providing the individual mothers with services to meet their needs.
“I believe birth can be an enjoyable, transcending, life-changing, painless and empowering experience. I believe birth is a safe physiological event, not a medical emergency. Birth is inherently safe, interference is risky. I strongly advocate for the use of midwives and out-of-hospital births,” she said.
For more information, visit the Web sites at delmarvabirthservices.com and euphoricbirthservices.com.