When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I decided to go to the baby show. While we were there we learned a little bit about something we had never heard of before - a doula.
Fortunately, my cousin Jackie Streich is not only a doula but is also a doctor of naturopathic medicine and took time out of her wedding planning to teach me more about field.
She says that, “The role of a doula is to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to women and their partners during labour and childbirth.” What that entails is, “help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation techniques, movement, and positioning” and she stresses that, “the most crucial role for doulas is to provide continuous emotional reassurance and comfort to the labouring mother”.
I asked Jackie what the benefits of using a doula were and she told me that studies have shown that when doulas attend births, labours are shorter with fewer complications or need for intervention, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily. Women also report greater satisfaction with their birth experience and have less postpartum depression.
Jackie told me that you should meet with a doula, “Once or twice prior to the due date. These meetings are an opportunity for the doula to get to know the parents, work on developing a birth plan as well as to teach and practice some comfort measures. The prenatal meetings are also a great time to address any concerns or fears the mother may have about the birthing process”.
Jackie said that in order to find a doula you can ask your OB or midwife for a referral or search by location on websites for doula organizations such as DONA, CAPPA, or Doula Care. She said that, “When selecting a doula it is important to meet or speak to a few different doulas to help you find a good fit” because it’s obviously important to find a doula that you are comfortable with. “Common interview questions might include getting an understanding of the doulas previous birth experience, what types of comfort measures are used, the on-call period, what the package of services includes for the fee…etc”.
A little more about Dr. Jackie - she is, "Both a naturopathic doctor and doula and is the Vice President for the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors. Due to the broad scope of practice of a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Streich is able to provide support before, during and after the birth to help the mother prepare herself both physically and mentally for the birth and have a more positive birth experience overall”. As a naturopathic doctor and doula she is able to use acupuncture/acupressure, homeopathy, herbal medicine, and massage techniques to help women cope with labour.
You can reach Dr. Jackie Streich at www.doctorjackie.ca or you can visit her Facebook page.