I didn’t have a birth doula. I did have midwives that never left my side, while simultaneously allowing me to find my own way.
While photographing births in Portland I am always amazed at hospital births. Not amazed in a good way, more amazed by how often they pop in with no regard to intimacy and leave just as quickly making sure to document all procedures as the main focus , and being ‘on alert’ for something to fear.
Introducing a Birth Doula
I asked birth doula Genevieve Rowe (C.D.) who also serves as postpartum doula, what she offers. I wanted an expert to speak about what, how, and why the hospital environment could use a doula or two, and why your partner may need the support as well. It is all about an efficient birth.
Do doulas promote a healthy hospital birth?
Fear and anxiety is not optimal for a healthy labor and definitely not empowering. Science tells us that stimulating oxytocin is a reliable way to increase contractions. Fear and lack of safety do not. We all appreciate doctors and nurses. Do I rely on them for objective viewpoints that run my world? Nope.
It takes attention and communication to keep birth trauma low for the mother, so she can bond with the baby in optimal health. What is birth trauma? I have heard so many awful stories of women being ignored, even though they are bringing their issues to the nurses. This can lead to complications, stress, and overall disrespect. There is also bleeding, tears, and death. And of course, these stats are higher for minorities. Testimonies are vivid in the movie The Business of Being Born.
How is the birthing parent treated?
I asked a pregnant woman, who would walk her dog through my neighborhood, how she was doing. She mentioned the doctors telling her early on that her baby had a 1% chance of having an illness involving the baby’s liver, which could lead to death. She had been worrying about it for eight months. After her baby was born they found no issue. I am so happy doctors are prepared and able to treat this type of important issue. Maybe a kind and humane way of dealing with it would have been to be on guard to check it after birth, not burden this first-time mom and strip her ability to experience joy. I do think a doula would have told her that she should focus on what she can do, like eating healthy food and not overdoing it.
Why Genevieve became a doula.
Interviews with Portland’s Recommended Practitioners
Womb PDX offers answers to vital information