Doulas Lower C-Section Rates? You Bet We Do!

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Another study regarding doulas and their relationship to mothers avoiding medically unnecessary C-Sections was recently published. The study compared mothers who hired doulas with mothers who either wanted doulas and were unable to hire one, mothers who were not familiar with doula work (and therefore did not know they could hire one), and mothers who did not wish to hire a doula as part of their birth team. The study looked at their birth outcomes and overwhelmingly concluded that, statistically, women who knew what doulas were and were able to hire one greatly reduced their C-Section rate.

Here’s the article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/29/doula-benefits_n_5730720.html

“The presence of a doula at birth was linked to an almost 60 percent reduction in women’s odds of having a C-section, and 80 percent lower odds of having a nonmedically indicated C-section compared with women who had no doula. (Overall, 10 percent of the women in the survey said they had no clear medical need for a cesarean delivery, yet delivered via C-section anyway.)”

Wonderful news for most of us! My heart is breaking for the 27% of women who wanted a doula, but were unable to hire one. Most were low-income families who did not have the resources to pay for a doula’s services.  This article suggests something that most of us have been shouting from the rooftops for years, WHY AREN’T INSURANCE COMPANIES COVERING DOULA SERVICES!?

Some do. Some cover up to 70% of a doula’s fee. Some HSA accounts will let you use your funds for doula services. Why not ALL? Why not Medicaid? If there was a $1000.00 (average doula rate in the U.S.) pill that decreased a woman’s odds of having a C-Section by 60% with no negative side effects and decades of studies behind it, I would consider it criminal not to administer that medication. You decrease what insurance companies pay on average for a birth by $9000.00 if doulas were covered by insurance companies. Nine THOUSAND dollars, per cesarean birth.

One of the reasons why it has not been DEMANDED that women have access to quality doula services can be found in the comments section of the article.

Robert Jackson, a Physician from Houston, Texas states
“… saying sweet things and rubbing someones back isn’t going to change c section rates. That is, unless the patient has chosen an obstetrician who is willing to do a c-section for the indication that labor hurts. Bring on the doulas but please don’t try to tell patients that this will change the anatomy or physiology of the pregnancy….”

If all a doula did was whisper sweet nothings in their client’s ear and give her a little back rub, then, by all means, this gentleman would be correct. We are skilled members of the birth team. We educate our clients, we motivate our clients, we physically move our clients. We know, operate in, and promote normal birth. We can read our clients, and help them to break through their walls, because we walk the path of labor WITH them.

No one is questioning that most of the medical staff want the best for moms and babies, but we, as doulas want the best for THIS mom and THIS baby, and we are going to work our tails off to make sure that they get their best outcome. My hope is that insurance companies will see the financial benefits, promptly, so that any woman who desires has access to doula services.

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I Wish I had Known About Doulas When I Was Pregnant

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I had a fantastic meeting, this morning!  I met with a local Non-Profit, exploring ways in which Birthworkers can effectively support women in need in our area. The Director and I had a wonderful chat about what her organization does. I was floored with the love, skill, and resources this group makes available to our community.  She then asked me what services I, and other doulas in our area provide. I told her about helping women to become educated in their pregnancy and birth choices. I spoke about the importance of goals, and helping women utilize the right tools to reach their goals. We talked about unwavering support for mothers physically and emotionally as they make preparations, birth their babies, and transition into being a family.

“…And that’s just what Labor Doulas do! Have you ever heard what a Postpartum Doula provides?”

I told her about supporting families in their home during those critical and exhausting first three months of baby’s life. It is so rewarding to be able to offer breastfeeding support, assisting with newborn care, scheduling and organizational help, keeping baby related items clean and tidy, preparing healthy snacks, taking over baby duty while parents get some quality rest or time with their other children, and helping mama take care of herself during that critical Fourth Trimester.

“Wow! I had no idea you did all that!”

What she said next is something I’ve heard pretty frequently, “I wish I had known about Doulas when I was pregnant!”

I told her, now that she knows, it’s her job to let other mamas know, so they aren’t saying the same thing in five or ten years.

Now YOU know about Doulas, too. I happen to know a few who are amazing!

Love Thy Labor,
Meghann

 

To My Clients (Before Our First Meeting)

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I know it is strange. I know it is a little awkward to be meeting someone for the first time who may end up massaging your back as you labor. I know that finding the right doula for your labor support can make a huge impact on how you feel about your birth experience. I know that you and your partner have a lot of questions about what a doula does and why you need one. I know that you are probably a big ball of anxiety and excitement that this baby will be making it’s way into your world soon. Like, reeeeaaaaaallllllly soon! I also know that we are going to get through this together!

I want you to take a deep breath. I am here to help. We will start off with introductions. You tell me a bit about yourselves and I’ll do the same. I will ask you about your family, your pregnancy, what you are thinking about for your birth, and what concerns you are dealing with. We will not be at a loss for words. You have a lot on your mind, and I want to hear everything that is important to you. I may guide our discussion with gentle questions, but I want to HEAR you. I want you to ask your questions, share your worries, and let me get a glimpse into your world.

Soon, we will be friends. Honest to goodness friends. You will be comfortable asking me ALL of your questions. We will talk about a whole lot of intimate information, and you will be comfortable doing so because you will know that I truly care about you.

When you call me to let me know that it is time, I will be so excited to share this time with you. I may squeal with joy. I will jump out of bed at 3:00 am filled with happiness, because I get to support you as you become a parent. I will tear up and we will hug. I will hold you as you labor, and help you discover how incredibly strong you are. I will breathe with you, and mop your forehead as you push your baby into this world. I will share your joy as you have your first tender moments with your baby, and help you as you figure out how to nurse for the first time.

These are the moments we will get to share. Although, I know it may be strange to meet me for the first time, all amazing relationships have to start somewhere. I’ll look forward to meeting you, soon.