On Sunday, mothers across the country will be celebrated. However, the month also recognizes someone who is called a "mother to a mother," as May is "International Doula Month."
The word "doula" derives from the Greek word which means "a woman who serves." Today, that same word extends to describe a trained, experienced professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and after birth.
A birth doula will join a woman and her partner in labor to provide emotional support and physical comfort. They also promote communication between the mother and caregivers so that she can be fully informed, given reassurance and perspective and assist with labor support techniques.
Additionally, doulas can provide emotional and practical support to a mother and her family during the postpartum period.
A post-partum doula helps a new mother in the few weeks after her baby is born. Among the assistance given, they find resources on breastfeeding, education on newborn care, run errands and offer nighttime support along with added help with anything else a new family might need.
According to studies, a doula's presence during a birth result in shorter labors with less complications, fewer requests for pain medications and a reduction in other drugs and methods. A postpartum doula help reduce a new mother's stress and have shown to reduce the frequency and severity of postpartum depression.
DONA International is one of the oldest and largest doula organizations, boasting over 7,000 members in more than 20 countries. And a local resident, Samantha Morgan, is one of those members who wants to give mothers the opportunity to have the birthing experience that she wants.
Morgan is a DONA-trained birth and postpartum doula and is the owner of Doula Your Way. In March, she attended a birth workshop, a child education class and a lactation class, all of which are DONA-approved.
Last month, she attended a DONA-approved postpartum workshop. By attending these classes, Morgan is working toward becoming a DONA-certified birth and postpartum doula.
Also, part of her certification requires that she obtain three birth clients and three postpartum clients, in which a review is sent back to DONA following her services. And to become a postpartum doula, Morgan must become CPR certified in infant and adult CPR.
Additionally, Morgan is required to read a wide variety of materials from hospitals and different authors — such as Penny Simkin, a physical therapist who is also a doula, childbirth educator and birth counselor. Morgan also plans on becoming a childbirth educator, and by next year intends on becoming a lactation educator.
But as a doula, Morgan's goal is to "help create a birth plan for mothers to get the most out of the experience." She discusses with the mother the available options while giving evidence-based information and resources as well.
"Doulas aren’t just for the rich and famous," explained Morgan. "These days all women can get labor support without going into debt."
Following a free consultation, Morgan said that a retainer fee — about one-third to one-half of the total price — is required. While the cost is based on the needs and wants of the family, she also stated that the price is dependent on their financial status.
As a birth doula, she would be on call two weeks before and after the birth. Morgan dismisses the notion that doulas do not work with clients who opt for Cesaerean (c-section), but offer services to any mother — whether the choose the former or plan on being induced.
Considering herself an "advocate without a voice," Morgan's job as a doula is to give expectations on all the options available and discuss them with the mother and her partner, who in turn will talk with the hospital staff. However, she stressed that any final decision made is done by the mother.
In the role of a postpartum doula, Morgan would stay up to 12 weeks after the birth to help the family become confident in this new chapter of life. By giving the new mom and family some emotional room, she eventually phases herself out.
Morgan's client base not only includes Sweetwater, but other surrounding cities (within an hour's driving time) such as Snyder, Colorado City, Roscoe, Loraine, Hermleigh, Maryneal, Nolan, Roby, Rotan, Blackwell and the Champion community. To learn more about Morgan's services, visit her website at www.doulayourway.com .