Holding the space in the birthing place
These days, we don’t generally have servants. Some might be lucky enough to have a house cleaner or gardener, but many women are now returning to an ancient serving practice, with centuries of cred, the type of servant that helps bring in the baby - a doula. Doula is a Greek word meaning ‘women’s servant’ and she serves a woman well as she prepares for and experiences child birth.
Studies show that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall caesarean rate by 50%, the length of labour by 25%, the use of pharmaceutical oxytocin by 40%, and requests for an epidural by 60%. In addition, the provision of this kind of continuous support during labour is associated with reduced need for pain medications, improved maternal and foetal health and a variety of other benefits, including lower risk of induction.
The doula works alongside a midwife and obstetrician with the aim of helping the mother experience a positive and safe birth no matter what type of birth she chooses. She provides comfort with pain-relief techniques such as breathing and relaxation techniques, and massage, plus advice on birthing positions.
Massage and touch is an important doula tool used to reduce anxiety and stress during labour. Massage helps stimulate the production of natural oxytocin, the ‘love’ hormone and neurotransmitter that’s produced in the hypothalamus. It assists in causing uterine contractions, enhances feelings of well-being and drowsiness, and increases the pain threshold.
Doulas are not medical practitioners and they’re different to midwives in that they are not medically trained in obstetrics. They’re at the end of the phone to respond to questions or address concerns throughout the course of the pregnancy. During delivery they stay close to the mother and advocate for her, encourage, and help her fulfil her specific birth requirements. Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance and although they don’t provide medical care, they are knowledgeable about medical aspects of labour and delivery.
Midwives however, are educated and trained to recognize the variations of normal labours progress and to deal with deviations and intervene where there might be high risk situations. They are specialists in childbirth, postpartum and woman’s health care. An obstetrician is also there to provide successful delivery however they can perform surgery and instrumental deliveries where required and are important to care for women with health challenges and complicated pregnancies.
Care is not over once the baby has arrived, doulas and midwives will also assist postpartum if required. For added support during pregnancy, the Belly Band is a boon. It provides support for the belly and takes the weight off the lower back. The compression factor helps decrease muscle separation and assists in the case of painful pelvic instability. Belly Bands’ compression even affects the speed at which the post-baby tummy trims down because it helps shrinks the uterus faster. In the case of caesarean, the use of an elasticized abdominal binder after surgery can enhance the speed of postoperative recovery of walk performance and significantly reduce pain.