Monday, November 19, 2012

Education and Empowerment

I recently attended the Birth Doula Workshop by DONA- it was better than I ever could have expected.  I enjoyed spending time with an amazing group of women all passionate about birth!  Currently I’m working on a presentation about pop culture and childbirth; between these two mediums I’m fully appreciating how important it is for women to be educated regarding pregnancy and birth.  

Did you know, only 36% of women will attend a childbirth education course??  One of the most influential days of our lives, the first day of life for our children and we don't seek professional advice to prepare for it?? Think about it- where did you get the information you've learned about childbirth?  Have you been to a birth other than your own?  Have you chatted with other moms? Perhaps you've heard some stories but have you heard about orgasmic birth?!  Are you reading the pregnancy books?  Googling every tug and pang?  Quite commonly pop culture is where we are getting our childbirth education and it couldn't be more dramatic!  Do you assume your care provider will provide you with all you need to know?  Perhaps if you're seeing a midwife she will; some of them offer childbirth education and if you're planning a home birth it will probably be expected of you.  But do you have an ob/gyn?  These are trained medical professionals.  They learn how to perform surgery and have the medical know how of labor.  Unfortunately, their first interest isn't helping you prepare for childbirth and understand the stages and emotions that you'll feel. Maybe you've hired a doula! They fill in the gaps- providing you with resources, educational tools, emotional and physical support, and so much more.

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Women need to take responsibility for their births and educate themselves on their options.  Research and understand and decide for yourself and for your baby!  Learn everything you can about labor and birth. Preparation and knowledge empowers you for your best birth.  Discuss and understand your options with your care giver throughout pregnancy; don't just let them tell you what you should do.  Just a note – words like “can’t” “never” “have to” don’t belong in birth when handed to you by someone else.  Many movements that are focusing on birth right now will use the phrase “taking back birth” but what we really need to be doing is “giving birth back,” giving it back to our bodies; trusting and understanding that bodies and babies know best.  I am thankful for our medical capabilities in this day and age and believe there is a time and place for them; sometimes that time and place is in birth as complications do arise but for the most part birth is a perfectly natural process, not an illness.  

 If women are not educated and don’t understand the emotional and physical aspects of labor they are less empowered.  
 If women don’t educate themselves so that they can have open communication with their care giver and understand what they’re signing on the consent forms, they are not really informed and therefore, less empowered.  

 I am passionate in my birth services about educating and empowering women.  Your birth experience will forever impact your life- understand it and accept it but don't leave it in someone else's hands.  It is too important to let go of this natural, beautiful thing called birth!  Embrace it! Love it! Live it!  It’s an amazing part of the Journey of Life. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

What's a Doula?

I am so passionate about my work.  I love making a difference in the lives of families and helping them to a better birth experience.  My biggest challenge? Educating women that they have options! This is their birth experience!  Most people don't even realize that they can make choices to influence a better birth experience.  Too many people have never heard of a doula despite the great statistics there are on the benefits of using a doula.  Most women don't realize that their partner is not their doula, rather the doula and the partner work as a team.  Most men don't realize how much they'll appreciate the help from a doula so that they too can enjoy the birth experience. To both you and your partner, a doula is a comforting constant, especially when in a hospital setting where there's nurse shift changes and a greater chance of interventions. 

 So what's a doula?

Someone who knows, with unshakable conviction that women were designed to have babies. Someone comfortable with the fact that labor and delivery take as long as they take, and someone that is adept at soothing a mother through the pain and anxiety of childbirth. -Crystal

A birth doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous support throughout labor.  It is a Greek word meaning "woman who serves."  A doula supports the emotional and non-clinical physical needs of the laboring mother and her partner. 

We'll save "what's a postpartum doula" for another blog. 

So why use a doula??

  • Continuous support from another woman has been proven to have a positive impact on labor. Birth Matters!
  • Having a doula as part of your birth team decreases the cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and the requests for an epidural by 60% -according to the American Pregnancy Association
  • A doula can help ease the stress of labor for the birth partner and can help him share in the birth at his level of comfort.
  • Women who use a doula report more satisfaction with their birth experience.
  • A doula helps you have Your Birth, Your Way!

I'm passionate about women knowing their options and educating themselves about their pregnancy and birth!  This is an amazing part of the Journey of life, perhaps the most important; that first moment of bonding between mother and child begins a lifetime of love.  

Contact info

Jennifer Valencia | Labor & Postpartum Doula | 928.300.1337


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