What’s a doula?
A birth doula is a trained labor coach who assists you during labor and delivery. She provides you with continuous emotional support, as well as assistance with other non-medical aspects of your care.
Doulas charge several hundred to a thousand dollars for their services, which are seldom covered by health insurance. Some, however, are willing to work on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay. A few pioneering hospitals even provide doulas to laboring patients who want them.
You can also hire a postpartum doula to come to your home after the birth to help you settle in with your new baby.
What are the advantages of having a birth doula?
A doula helps you before labor and delivery by answering your questions about what to expect, easing your fears, helping you develop a birth plan, and generally getting you ready for the arrival of your baby.
During labor and delivery, a doula provides constant, knowledgeable support. She can make suggestions about positions during labor, help you with breathing through contractions, and provide massage. She can also answer questions you and your partner have about what’s happening.
It’s impossible to predict or control how birth and labor will go. Will you connect emotionally with your labor and delivery nurse, and will she have time for you? How will you react to the pain? Will you have a swift delivery or a long, drawn-out labor? How will your husband or partner hold up under the pressure?
Faced with these uncertainties, many women find enormous reassurance in having a doula by their side. Research has found that women who have continuous one-on-one support during labor tend to use pain medication less often, have slightly shorter labors, and are less likely to have a c-section or a forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery. In fact, if you’re serious about trying to give birth without pain medication, a doula may be your best ally.
Women who have continuous support are also more likely to report being satisfied with their birth experience. One theory is that mothers who have continuous support produce lower levels of stress hormones during labor than women left alone or attended by inexperienced coaches.
If you’re seeing a midwife in a low-volume hospital practice, or planning to give birth at a birth center or at home, you’re likely to have continuous one-on-one support from your midwife.
If you have your baby at a hospital, it’s likely to be a different story — and hiring a doula may be the only way to make sure an experienced coach will be with you throughout labor.
In a typical hospital setting, doctors and some midwives don’t stay in the room with you continuously during labor. Labor-and-delivery nurses often have to split their time between several patients, and they come and go according to their shifts.
What’s it like to have support from a doula during labor?
Everyone’s experience is different, of course, but here’s one woman’s story of a doula-assisted labor:
“Hiring a doula is like hiring somebody who’s there just for you. When I went into labor, our doula met us at the hospital. Eighteen babies were born in the hospital that day, so our labor and delivery nurse was quite happy to have someone else there to provide emotional support and help make me more comfortable.
“Having the doula gave me enormous confidence, plus it took the pressure off my husband. He was able to relax and enjoy the experience. The doula showed him some acupressure techniques he wanted to try.
“She locked eyes with me and helped me breathe through my contractions, making suggestions about moving around and trying different pain management techniques. She could read my body signals perfectly, and knew when I was in transition (when I got sick, a pan magically materialized). She helped me remember to drink fluids and communicate my needs to the nurses.
“When it was time to push, the doula put warm washcloths on my perineum and locked eyes with me again, which was absolutely critical.
“I couldn’t have done it without her. She made me fearless, and the lack of fear is what gets you through the pain without drugs. I had complete confidence in her. If I had been looking at my husband and saying, ‘Help me through this,’ it just wouldn’t have been the same.”
How do I find a doula?
If you’re looking for a doula, try these resources:
- Download IbiOp App – Contact admin for a free consultation and get matched with your ideal Doula!
- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ibiop/id1148938880?mt=8 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=hr.apps.n207112992&hl=en
- Doulas of North America (DONA). The organization has a referral locator on its website. DONA also gives referrals over the phone at (888) 788-3662 or by email
A Brooklyn Doula brings the ancient practice into the 21st century with her new app
Yasmintheresa Garcia is a doula—a person who assists a woman before, during, and after childbirth. Doulas have been around since ancient times; the word comes from ancient Greek. However, doulas have jettisoned into the 21st century with their own app, thanks to Yasmintheresa.
The 24-year-old Afro-Dominican Brooklyn native is the creator and developer of the IbiOp app. The app provides a directory for moms to find birth workers who specialize in natural birth along with students interested in the field.
“Doulas hold everything together for the family,” says Garcia, in an interview with Black Enterprise’s Selena Hill. “It’s an ancient practice that now has turned into a career.”
Garcia is using the app as a means to launch her own private practice. The app allows women who travel, work, or who are otherwise on-the-go, access to options available in her community for gynecology services or antenatal, prenatal, and postnatal support; all at the touch of a button.
She has kicked off a fundraising campaign on Kiva.org—seeking a $1,000 loan to boost her business. With the loan, Garcia plans to hire a developer to enhance the app with tutorials and updates to make its information more accessible to users.
The loan will also help her pay for the licensing fees required to create e-commerce integration for partners to pay listing fees. She is trying to speed up the process of getting more advertisers and providers listed within the app.
Baby Tech Is Blowing Up
The baby care market is seeing exponential growth worldwide. The market was worth $44.7 billion dollars in 2011, and it is expected to increase total sales to $66.8 billion by 2017.
A sizable portion of this market is apps and technology tailored to expectant and new parents. Last years’ CES, consumer electronics show introduced a new event, The Baby Tech Showcase. Vendors demonstrated an array of technology for baby care including smart scales, monitors, and thermometers. Recently, the My Baby’s Beat app was introduced in the App store. It allows parents to hear the sounds of a baby in the womb via a smartphone.
The profession of midwifery has evolved with today’s modern health care system. But there are many myths about midwives in the United States based on centuries-old images or simple misunderstandings. You might be surprised to learn the truth about some of these common midwifery myths.
FALSE. Most midwives in the United States have a master’s degree and are required to pass a national certification exam. There are many different types of midwives, each holding different certifications based on their education and/or experience. Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) attend approximately 93% of all midwife-attended births in the United States, and as of 2010 they are required to have a master’s degree in order to practice midwifery.
TRUE. CNMs and CMs work with all members of the health care team, including physicians. Midwifery care fits well with the services provided by obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs), who are experts in high risk, medical complications, and surgery. By working with OB/GYNs, midwives can ensure that a specialist is available if a high-risk condition should arise. Likewise, many OB/GYN practices include midwives who specialize in care for women through normal, healthy life events. In this way, all women can receive the right care for their individual health care needs.
FALSE. Midwives have expert knowledge and skill in caring for women through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. But they also do much more. CNMs and CMs provide health care services to women in all stages of life, from the teenage years through menopause, including general health check-ups, screenings and vaccinations; pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care; well woman gynecologic care; treatment of sexually transmitted infections; and prescribing medications, including all forms of pain control medications and birth control.
TRUE. CNMs and CMs are licensed to prescribe a full range of substances, medications, and treatments, including pain control medications and birth control. They can also order needed medical tests within their scope of practice and consistent with state laws and practice guidelines.
Midwives cannot care for me if I have a chronic health condition or my pregnancy is considered high-risk.
FALSE. Midwives are able to provide different levels of care depending on a woman’s individual health needs. If you have a chronic health condition, a midwife still may be able to provide some or all of your direct care services. In other cases, a midwife may play a more of a supportive role and help you work with other health care providers to address your personal health care challenges. In a high-risk pregnancy, a midwife can help you access resources to support your goals for childbirth, provide emotional support during challenging times, or work alongside specialists who are experts in your high-risk condition to ensure safe, healthy outcomes.
TRUE. Midwives are leading experts in how to cope with labor pain. As a partner with you in your health care, your midwife will explain pain relief options and help you develop a birth plan that best fits your personal needs and desires. Whether you wish to use methods such as relaxation techniques or movement during labor or try IV, epidural, or other medications, your midwife will work with you to help meet your desired approach to birth. At the same time, your midwife will provide you with information and resources about the different options and choices available if any changes to your birth plan become necessary or if you change your mind.
FALSE. Midwives practice in many different settings, including hospitals, medical offices, free-standing birth centers, clinics, and/or private settings (such as your home). In fact, because many women who choose a midwife for their care wish to deliver their babies in a hospital, many hospitals in the United States offer an in-house midwifery service. And because midwives are dedicated to one-on-one care, many practice in more than one setting to help ensure that women have access to the range of services they need or desire and to allow for specific health considerations. In 2012, about 95% of births attended by midwives in the United States were in hospitals.
“We’re back took a little break for labor day hope you all enjoyed. Excited about the direction of the show and its only getting better! Today we had a chance to speak with Yasmintheresa Garcia she lets us know the origin of her work as a Doula. Describes her passion for help and informing our community about pregnancy and other health concerns. Excited to talk about the launch of her new App IbiOp where people can easily find information on Doulas and Midwives near them.”
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The 21st century lends itself to a shift in the role of women in society. Inspirational women have been around for centuries, with the 1990s giving birth to the next generation of creative and exceptional female activists.
At 24 years old, Yasmintheresa Garcia is one such outstanding individual. A Brooklyn native born to Afro-Dominican parents, she recognized her calling as a doula from a very young age. In addition to successfully managing her own doula practice, Ythedoula, Garcia is a midwife in training, community activist and vegan health coach. Doulas are not medically licensed.
Garcia gained interest in the vocation at the age of 12, when a number of fellow students became pregnant. “I started giving them advice and giving them emotional and educational support that they needed that they weren’t receiving from the community they lived in,” said Garcia in an interview.
Community uplift and female education is the reason Garcia has created a get together called Ythegirlshangout. A group for women of all ages and backgrounds come together in a sacred space to discuss everything from financial literacy to career goals and body images. “Things that we in our culture wouldn’t normally speak of in our household,” said Garcia.
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