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The rise of the doula

Posted April 21st, 2013 in Birth Doula, Birth Doula in Fresno, Fresno birth, Fresno Birth Doula by Kathryn DiPalma

I just read this great article from WA Today and thought I would share it with you!

 

As the rate of caesarean deliveries steadily rises, so is the ‘trend’ of  pregnant women employing a birth support person – a doula – to prepare for and  help her with the big event of giving birth.

Over the past 10 years, the caesarean section rate in Australia increased from 23.3 per cent in 2000 to a peak of 31.5 per cent in 2009, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

If you don’t know what your choices are, you don’t have  any.

Caesarean rates are among the highest in Western  Australia with 33.3 per cent, together with Queensland.

She said the vocation of becoming a doula was quite accidental, and started  when one of her girlfriends, inspired by Gaby’s own positive birth experience,  asked her to be with her when she delivered her son.

“When my girlfriend had her baby, she wanted me to be there and help her  create that atmosphere. I really didn’t know what my role was, didn’t know what  a doula was, I just knew that me being there would help her be calm and focused  within,” she said.

“It wasn’t until five years after I’ve been attending births that someone  said ‘oh, you’re a doula’ and I was so shocked there was a word for it and  [after researching it] I discovered there was a whole movement.

“I was the only doula in Perth at that time as far as I knew.”

Gaby describes a doula as a support person, who gives women in their birthing  experience emotional help.

Contrary to midwives, doulas have no medical role in the birthing suite and  only offer advice when explicitly asked. But she said her real focus is  delivering effective child birth education  before the big event.

She said the vocation of becoming a doula was quite accidental, and started  when one of her girlfriends, inspired by Gaby’s own positive birth experience,  asked her to be with her when she delivered her son.

“When my girlfriend had her baby, she wanted me to be there and help her  create that atmosphere. I really didn’t know what my role was, didn’t know what  a doula was, I just knew that me being there would help her be calm and focused  within,” she said.

“It wasn’t until five years after I’ve been attending births that someone  said ‘oh, you’re a doula’ and I was so shocked there was a word for it and  [after researching it] I discovered there was a whole movement.

“I was the only doula in Perth at that time as far as I knew.”

Gaby describes a doula as a support person, who gives women in their birthing  experience emotional help.

Contrary to midwives, doulas have no medical role in the birthing suite and  only offer advice when explicitly asked. But she said her real focus is  delivering effective child birth education  before the big event.

“I used to be a doula that just turned up for the birth, but I realised after  the first 10 years – which I call my ‘apprentice years’ – that really the focus  and effort is about the work I do prior to the birth.”

The concept of an experienced woman attending birth is not new, she said, and  can be found in various indigenous cultures around the world. She said doulas  used to be called god sibs or montrice.

“Aboriginal women had them forever, known as Charrlies and in Japan they are  called Josanp,” she said.

“It’s not a new thing but has become en vogue because there is such a high intervention rate  and the medical model is so powerful in the hospitals that women’s births have  been seen as a medical procedure and not something that’s a natural  process”.

Around 2004 there was an influx of women asking for birth support, Gaby said,  who is actively involved in training  doulas.

Gaby, who describes herself as “a guardian of natural birth” is very  passionate about helping women have the most natural birthing experience they  can have and take away their fears and apprehensions.

Gaby said she believes what she calls “the cascade of intervention” was a  factor explaining the rising rate of caesarean deliveries in Australia.

“Women need to know that the smallest amount of intervention can snowball. A  lot of women end up with caesareans because they were induced.

A major focus for Gaby is tackling the trend of women electing for caesarean  births, which is also on the rise.

“They miss out on a beautiful experience. It’s the most divine experience a  woman can go through.

She said while most partners are welcoming her into the delivery suite to  take the pressure off and provide a calm and relaxed environment through her  experience, she sometimes faced hostility from medical staff.

“In a lot of the private hospitals here in Perth the midwives really are  hostile to me,” she said.

“They see me as a threat. They even got to a point where you have to sign a  consent form that you won’t speak to your client, or encourage them or give them  advice at any time.”

Gaby found that her skills are gaining acceptance by the medical profession,  and her new book A Labour Of Love II proudly features a foreword  written by Perth’s Professor Fiona Stanley.

With the new book, the sequel to her first birthing guide A Labour Of Love,  Gaby aims to “empower through knowledge to give women the birth they want”.

“If you don’t know what your choices are, you don’t have any,” she said.

“Should you need medical interventions, you can’t feel disappointed if you  have put everything into your mental and physical preparations. People spend  more money on their cot, their prams and their baby car seats etc than what they  do on education. Birth education is invaluable.”

Topics discussed in the new book also include optimal foetal positioning,  mental preparation, and techniques such as imagineering, hypnosis and several  other alternative therapies like acupuncture, acupressure and homeopathy.

Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/national/health/the-rise-of-the-doula-20130408-2hhg8.html#ixzz2R4JGqdKh

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