your best chance at a natural birth
Recently, the American College for Obstetricians and Gynecologists came out with a Committee Opinion¹ that less is more in terms of healthy term, vertex babies. They essentially narrowed down the basic ideas that midwives and doulas held for decades in a more official paper kind-of-way. Let’s discuss why this is important.
THE HISTORY OF BIRTH
For centuries women have been having home births, unmedicated births and uninterrupted births without much intervention. In times of non-sterility and less medical knowledge, women and babies did lose their lives, yes, but the experience of childbirth was untampered with and it was raw.
Welcome the 21st century, where medicine is in full swing and obstetricians (doctors and many more males) are performing more deliveries than ever. The medical model of care intends to “fix” the problem with deliveries. The safety problem, the length of time problem, and the pain problem. While, their intentions were good (safer, more effective labors and less painful births). More women started to lose control over their deliveries. In turn, a greater fear of labor pain developed. In fact, sometime around the 1950s, women were KNOCKED OUT (with medication) at the time of their deliveries. They were made completely unaware of what was happening to them and left with no memory of their deliveries either!
There are mixed vibes and mixed opinions from women and providers on what is best for women during her labor experience. Some women would prefer not to feel anything and then there are some women who want to experience everything. This includes all aspects of labor and birth to it’s fullest extent.
The commonality amongst most women is this: they want a safe and satisfactory experience which leaves them happy and content with a healthy baby and a healthy mind/body for themselves.
The Committee Opinion¹ paper is important because it fully identifies the return of a more natural birth process and allows medical providers to slow down and let Mother Nature take her course (within necessary parameters).
fewer interventions in labor
Allowing women to “labor down” if they don’t have the urge to push, intermittent auscultation of fetal heart tones, intermittent IV fluid, frequent position changes, pushing as compelled, and continuous labor support¹.
A Cochran evidence review² found continuous labor support to benefit mom by:
- reducing her need for analgesia (less pain, more control & better coping)
- a shorter length of labor
- less cesarean sections
- higher satisfaction with labor and delivery
- higher APGAR scores for baby
So who can provide continuous labor support? Doulas, mothers, sisters, friends, aunts, husbands, wives, and even brothers and fathers etc. Any other person who is non-medical and is present with mom throughout her labor!
My opinion on doulas (as a former labor nurse)
Doulas are honestly awesome. As a former labor and delivery nurse, if I knew a doula was present, I knew my role as counselor, back-rubber, breathing partner and emotional support person would be somewhat relieved. So, this allowed me to focus on the medical health and well-being of mom and baby without being distracted by her pain (every 3 minutes). Not that labor and delivery nurses mind at all. It’s just sometimes partners don’t quite know how to support a mama in the throes of tremendous pain and the expectation is that the nurse does and can provide the necessary support while juggling 1-2 other patients. Also, sometimes laboring women don’t want their mothers or other family members in the room filling the role of support people. Cue the doula.
A doula is a great person for support, comfort, and just simply knowing birth things. A doula is trained to understand where you are at and what you’re going through during this tender and vulnerable state. They should have prior experience in doing this and will know how to encourage you. Additionally, it seems to take a lot of stress off your partner while they’re trying to keep it together too.
So what about your midwife?
Midwives are also awesome, but just like doctors and nurses, they are also in the role of medical caretaker for the two of you. Midwives are more involved with a women’s labor process but they should have their finger on the pulse of your and baby’s well-being in case emergent management is needed. So, I don’t see why midwives, doulas, RNs, MDs, partners and the like could not function well together when they all have one common goal: a healthy baby and a healthy mom.
doulas can be expensive
A doula could you around $1500 or more for their services. If you don’t have the dough to spend on a doula, that’s okay. My online pregnancy course, The Pregnancy Prep, is a cheaper option and can help you get ready and be prepared for labor and birth. Additionally, this course also provides access to a private birth support group that you can ask questions, relay fears and get support! My course gives you lifetime access, so it’s money well spent for all your pregnancies!
¹Approaches to limit intervention during labor and birth. Committee Opinion No. 687. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2017;129:e20–8.
²Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5.
This is not intended to replace medical advice. Please consult with your medical provider for your medical care.