Amber Dayney, BA, CD(DONA), is an amazing doula and a wonderful friend. She attended the first DONA doula training I helped facilitate in Chico, and since then, she and I have worked hard together to build the doula community in Chico, often being the only two doulas to show up at our doula support meetings! We eventually helped create the Chico Doula Circle. She is an asset to families with her caring, quiet, compassionate ways. She has expanded her services to also offer postpartum doula support and placenta encapsulation. She has trained with Ina May and worked as a midwife's assistant, and she hopes to be a midwife one day. I miss her dearly and hope someday we can partner up again for births!
So my boyfriend recently related a story to me in which he ran into an old friend of his from high school. She has two kids, and when he told her that his girlfriend is a doula, she had an interesting reaction. She said that doulas are all about natural childbirth, and she wasn't into that at all. For both of her births, she utilized medicinal pain relief.
Now, I have no idea what this woman's history or story is, but I wanted to take the opportunity to clear up this misconception. Over half of the women I have supported during labor and birth have decided either on the spot, or beforehand, to use a medical intervention to decrease the intensity of their contractions. I am proud to say that most of these women had already planned to use this option, and only one time, in a prolonged labor, did a client of mine, who was planning not to use any, end up with an epidural. When a woman gets any kind of medicinal pain relief, there is still a lot a doula can do to support her during her labor and birth.
Sometimes, when a woman no longer has to focus on the physical aspects of labor, her mind will start racing. It is not uncommon for a woman to start thinking things like "Is my baby ok?" "Is everything going all right?" or even "I feel like I can't breathe." A doula's role is then to support the mother emotionally and assure her when everything is going along normally. She can help point out when the mother is having contractions, and in this way, she can still connect the mother to the fact that she is in labor.
It is a good idea to have mothers move at least every 20 minutes, to help the baby become engaged in the birth canal, and move labor along. Sometimes this can be a challenge when the mother is numb and/or unable to move her legs. The doula knows specific positions to help the mother get in, which are appropriate in this scenario.
Sometimes, care providers will want to let the epidural or other drug wear off a little before the mom starts to push. This makes it easier for her to feel when and how to push her baby out. A doula will then jump right in with the physical comfort measures she has been professionally trained to provide.
And lastly, sometimes pain relief, for whatever reason, doesn't work out. Sometimes a woman may still have 'windows' of pain where the drug doesn't numb her. Or, if her labor is moving very quickly, she may not have time to utilize the pain medication she was planning on.
Doulas are not here to judge or impose on your birth story. We support women in whatever choices are right for you. Childbirth is intense and filled with a myriad of physical and emotional ups and downs. A doula will help navigate the waters of labor and birth for any mother who desires her support.
"I come to this field as a woman, and as a daughter. I am a teacher, and also a student. A former aspiring elementary school teacher, I was drawn to this work after hearing stories from my young mother friends who had less than ideal birth experiences. I truly know that a positive and empowered pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period is integral to creating a more compassionate species."
Find Amber online at her website or her Facebook page.
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♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)