Health and Wellness Begin at Birth: Your Birth and Your Decorah Doula

By: Lindsey Harman, CD(DONA)health

As Co-op member/owners and shoppers we pride ourselves on informed consumerism. Though we each have different grocery lists and unique dietary requirements, we find commonality in a desire for intentional, informed and autonomous relationships with the foundation of our health: our food and our farmers. As a seasoned Doula, I believe that the same should be true of birth.

Doulas have a unique role in birth that no other birth worker has the opportunity to embody – in allowing us to experience birth outside of a single employing institution, wherever and with whomever the mother chooses. I attend birth regularly in three different states, in various hospitals and homes with providers of all qualifications, and births where religious beliefs guide families’ choices such as Amish, Mennonite, and Hasidic Jewish communities. I trust and honor women’s instincts, and I am there to honor their needs and to witness their experience with them.

In a culture where the average prenatal appointment lasts ten minutes, where major abdominal surgery accounts for over a third of the births in our country and where our maternal death rate has doubled since 1987, I support women wanting more for themselves and for their babies. Emily Young-Johnson, Certified Nurse Midwife at Mayo adds, “Working with Doulas during my years as a midwife has been a blessing in more ways than one. The wealth of experience and ideas the Doula brings to the birth is always helpful, there is more support for the laboring mother and her family, and the mother is always more confident in her choices and the power of her body to birth her baby.”

Women who have me at their births want someone there who truly knows them and their family, supports their choices fully whatever they may be and whenever they choose to make them, believes in the natural physiology of birth, supports their partner in achieving the role they want at their birth, is trained in positioning and comfort measures that facilitate the natural progression of labor, and assists in avoiding costly intervention. As a trained Midwive’s Assistant and certifying Child Birth Educator through BirthWorks International, I also offer breastfeeding support and a variety of birth classes and gatherings in our community including the Toward Better Birth series at the Co-op, and I recently was the guest speaker at Winneshiek Medical Center’s Prenatal Power Hour.

As a Doula I work with the mother to clarify and honor individual needs and desires during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I help to process fears and concerns should they arise, and provide the unique support that a mother deserves as they prepare to welcome their baby. I accompany the mother and her partner during labor to help create an informed and satisfying birth experience in support of the choices they make. As a Doula I provide emotional and physical comfort measures, suggestions for labor progress and positioning, relaxation and focal techniques, and assist with facilitating communication. I am always saddened when I hear a mother say, “I didn’t even know that was an option!” when referring to her previous birth experience. I strive to share all potential birth options with a mother (not just the option that the provider prefers) and then support her.

I chose Doula care for both of my sons’ births and I believe the benefits of excellent Doula care to be endless. A mother of three shared the following after giving birth to her third child, and the first time she experienced a natural and non-medicated birth and doula care, “Thanks for sharing in the most awesome thing I have ever done. I will never doubt that I truly can do anything I set my mind to. I am still in awe and he’s perfect!”

Statistically, the impact of Doula care at a birth can be tremendous for both mother and baby, as well as financially. According to MH Klaus’, “Mothering the Mother”, Doula care can:
*decrease the use of an epidural by 60%
*decrease cesarean sections by 50%
*decrease the use of pitocin by 40%
*decrease the use of pain medications (narcotics) by 30%
*decrease the length of labor

The statistics of births that I have attended are actually much higher than these numbers and I would add that Doula care can increase healthy outcomes – physically, emotionally and spiritually – for the mother, the baby, the partner and the family. Certified Doula care is submittable to health insurance and can greatly reduce the cost of the overall prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care expenses. If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about Doula care, I am happy to meet for a free and confidential interview to see if I am a fit for you and your partner. Your Body. Your Baby. Your Birth. Don’t forget.

Lindsey Harman is a certified birth doula residing in Decorah. For more information and for a list of local birth related providers, check out Arrival Arts Doula Care on Facebook, email arrivalarts@gmail.com or call 563-379-6268.