A Birth Doula for Every Mother
by Allie Chee
With excerpts from New Mother
© 2012 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.
[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of an article which appears in Midwifery Today, Issue 104, Winter 2012. View other great articles and columns in the table of contents. To read the rest of this article, order your copy of Midwifery Today, Issue 104. The author’s follow-up article may be viewed here: A Postpartum Doula for Every Mother]
A majority of women—and our society as a whole—have relinquished pregnancy, childbirth and their postpartum time to the dictates of profit-driven institutions. However, many women are rediscovering that there is more to pregnancy than what we usually hear in literature and in doctors’ offices. More and more women are ready to reclaim the magic in motherhood!
A woman wanting a more natural, nurturing and sacred experience into motherhood has many resources available to support her in her goals: doulas, midwives, postpartum doulas, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, chiropractors, mother’s concierge services and more. We will discuss only one of these resources here—one that can be of enormous help during a homebirth or hospital birth: the birth doula.
The Template Birth
If you are not planning your birth—meaning you are using the hospital template that’s been prepared for you by institutions, corporations and commercially-funded committees—the odds are extremely high that:
- When you enter the hospital, you will either be placed in a wheelchair or you will walk to a labor room. You will be hooked up to an IV, one or several monitors and denied food and even beverages (other than ice chips, which in many cultures are considered something to avoid in labor).
- Depending on how “progressive” the hospital and staff are, you will be allowed or encouraged to walk around and work in different labor positions to encourage the baby into an optimal position and allow labor to progress, or you will simply be advised to stay flat on your back—which is considered by many in the birthing world to be one of the most painful and least effective ways to labor.
- Around the time you start experiencing stronger contractions and the pain sensations are increasing, hospital staff (strangers) will appear at your door encouraging the use of drugs.
- You will be checked periodically by doctors, residents, nurses and student nurses (more strangers). When you’re dilated far enough, they will move you to the delivery room where your doctor, or a stand-in if he or she has been called away to more pressing matters, will stay with you as the baby and the placenta are born.
This is all assuming that you’re not put on additional drugs to speed labor (if in their estimation you’re taking too long). While 24 hours or longer is a common length of time for a mother to labor—especially with her first baby—many hospitals encourage drugs to speed the process if it passes 12 hours.
Editor’s note: Allie Chee’s next article, “A Postpartum Doula for Every Mother,” will appear in the Spring 2013 issue of Midwifery Today.
- Block, Jennifer. 2007. Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care. Da Capo Press.
Allie Chee is the author of New Mother: Using a Doula, Midwife, Postpartum Doula, Maid, Cook or Nanny to Support Healing Bonding and Growth. She is also a certified TCM nutritionist and a homebirth mom.
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