My daughter, 14 years old, got me a Doula gig at her high school in her human growth and development class teaching “What is a Doula and what do they do?” She had some restrictions, “you can not embarrass me and no vulgar birthy term.” I told her I would try but I am pretty sure the word “vagina” would be mentioned. I got the “MOOOOMMM” response with a eye roll.
The teacher is starting her curriculum on pregnancy, birthing and family. She thought it would be a good idea to start the section off with inviting me into her 2 classes and educate her students about Doulas. I had 30 minutes to squeeze in all I could for these future parents.
I started off with defining what Doula means, women caregiver. We then talked about how important educating the to be parents is on their birthing experience and baby. I told them that Doulas have access to a wealth of information they can pass along to the expecting parents, so they can make educated decisions for their birth. Doulas help support the couple’s birth plan during the birthing process. Doulas provide emotional, mental, comfort measure and postpartum support. We do not replace dad but help him help her through the birthing process.
We covered the difference between an OB and midwife. Where babies can be born and how important your birthing environment and birth team is for the experience. I demonstrated how the US cesarean rate is 30% and that is high. A good question to ask your health care provider is “what is your cesarean rate?” If it high, it is totally OK to switch providers.
How does the cervix dilate they ask? By using an inflated balloon and small ball within, I was able to demonstrate cervical dilation. I squeezed the balloon to simulate contractions that would apply pressure on the baby’s body pushing the head down onto the cervix so cervical dilation can occur. The goal is cervix dilated to 10 centimeters. I had a bald headed cabbage patch doll with me, I placed my hands over the doll’s head to show them 10 centimeters and what crowning looked like. They were flabbergasted! I did get a sense of birth control was implemented by this comment. I told the girls, your vagina will go back to normal, they laughed.
We covered the stages of labor and how Doulas help the laboring couple through the entire birthing experience. Once we hit the active labor stage they participated in a contraction, breathing and movement exercise. All students, boys and girls, plus the teacher, placed an ice cube in the palm of their hand. I timed a 1 minute contraction. They all stood, swayed back and forth for movement and breathed through the contraction. They were surprised how long an actual minute could be.
How can Doulas help ease discomfort in labor? I demonstrated how to use a birth ball in labor and rebozo for a comfort measure. I explained that these are a few tools out of our repertoire we use to help a laboring mothers cope with labor. We went over other techniques like acupressure, essential oils, hip squeezes, water, tennis balls, etc can help progression and ease discomfort.
“Did you know some moms eat their placenta?” I got a yuck response and some got a little squeamish in their chairs. I explained the process of placenta encapsulation and the benefits it provides through the postpartum period and breastfeeding.
The cool thing about the Doula talks I gave, is the kids asked questions!! The girls and the boys!! One question was “once a mom has a cesarean do they always have to have a cesarean on the next baby?” What a great question!! I said “NO” and explained what a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) is. Other questions that came up, What is a cesarean? What is an episiotomy? Do I have to hire a Doula? How do I become a Doula? How much can you make being a Doula? What can the dads do to help mom before labor begins? When is a good time to hire a birth Doula? Awesome questions from teenagers ranging from 14-18 years old!! I am pretty sure the early Doula seed has been planted. When the time comes for some of them to start their family, they will remember this day and something about a birth Doula.
On the way home from school, I asked my daughter, “Did I embarrass you?'” She replied, “No, it was educational and fun, you did good mom!” She melts my heart!
Krisha Crosley CD(DONA), BBCD
Serenity Life Doula