Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Introducing the Doula

Pregnant families across the province of BC are slowly joining the rising trend of people who, nationwide, are re-discovering the ancient art of doula support for labour and childbirth. More and more midwives and doctors are seeing their expecting clients walking through hospital doors with more than just their duffel bags in tow. There is a third person walking along side them, usually a woman, who has come to join them in this miraculous, difficult, and intimate moment in time... the birth of their child.

This third person, their doula, is someone who has been trained to provide continuous emotional support to both the mother and the father, who are wading into a huge, life-changing experience and can sometimes use just a little reassurance that what is unfolding is normal. The doula is also there to provide physical support, helping mom feel as comfortable as she can during this most rigorous work. She can often provide suggestions to dad so he can more effectively support his wife, enhancing the experience for the couple, and taking some pressure off dad to 'know it all'.

When this tradition of a triangle birth support team began is impossible to track, as many cultures in the world have never known birth without this component. It is safe to say that women in BC have been using other women for childbirth support since there was a BC. The female supporters have varied from sisters, mothers, friends, etc., to the now specially trained doula.

You can locate a doula near you via an internet search (google “doula + your home town + province”); in the phone book (under 'prenatal education'); or ask your prenatal teacher, a La Leche League Leader, your midwife or doctor, or other pregnant women/new moms.

Interview a few doulas to find the right fit and philosophy for you. And once you have chosen, take the time to build up that relationship of trust and understanding so that all you see during the vulnerable and amazing experience of birth, is familiar faces with a supportive touch.

- Heather McCue, for Island Child Magazine (2006)

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