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Chat about the pregnancy and childbirth fair

September 27, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Chat with Stefanie Olson, certified birth doula, about Sunday's Great Expectations birth and pregnancy fair.

Moderator:

Hi, everyone, and welcome to our Pulse chat today. I'm Christy Little, and visiting with us is Stefanie Olson, a doula with four years of experience and a co-organizer for the Great Expectations pregnancy and childbirth fair. Thanks for joining us.

Stefanie Olson:

Hi everyone, We will be discussing the Great Expectations Pregnancy and Birth Fair. The fair will be this Sunday from 1-4 pm at the Lawrence Art Center. It is free and open to the public. From 1-2 Shawna Saubers will be offering a demonstration and lecture about infant massage. From 2-3 a panel of "baby catchers" from the area will discuss the different birth options available here in Lawrence. And from 3-4 a belly dance performance will be given.

Moderator:

Thanks for the details. Let's get to some of our reader questions ...

Moderator:

Pusscanthropus had a couple of questions, which I'll post one at a time. First, she asks what a doula does, and what kind of training is required.

Stefanie Olson:

A doula helps a woman and her family through labor. She provides physical, informational, and emotional support but does not perform medical procedures. This can mean many different things. First most doulas do some form of prenatal work to help the mother plan and prepare for birth. When the mother goes into labor her doula joins her and helps her use positioning, massage, and other comfort measures to stay as comfortable as possible and to help labor progress. The doula helps the mother communicate her wishes with hospital staff as well. Most doulas also offer postpartum support and are an excellent reference for breastfeeding information and help. If a doula wishes to be certified there are several organizations that do training. I trained with DONA. My training involved a three day seminar, a series of readings, a 10 week prenatal education class and the first three births I attended were observed.

lakotachick:

Will there be any information on how to get started as a doula? Thanks

Stefanie Olson:

There will be several area doulas at the fair that you may speak with about their training experiences but none of the national training organizations will be there. DONA has a good website that has good training information. Any of the doulas present at the fair would be happy to talk with you about getting started - it is a very rewarding career!

greenvera:

Hi Stefanie!! Do you have any literary suggestions for expecting/new father's? Also, any suggestions for mother's would be greatly appreciated. However, I have found that it is difficult to find good material for fathers and I wondered if you had any ideas or sources in mind, both in literature and in the community. Thanks!!! Vera (the other Olive's mom)

Stefanie Olson:

Hi Vera - the other Olive's Mom!!!

Of course you should hire a doula !!! A doula actually is an excellent place to start as she can help you really use the resources in the community. As you can't plan every detail of a birth a trained professional can help you in the moment work through unexpected challenges during labor. I find that the fathers I work with are just as happy to have the extra support as their wives are. A doula allows the father to be present emotionally and participate as fully as he wants to. Just lowering everyone's anxiety is so helpful.

Now other things you can do - finding a way to relax is one of the most important skills you can take into labor with you. Staying relaxed and confident helps labor progess and helps the mother stay more comfortable. Penny Simkin has a great book called the Birth Partner that gives good suggestions for positions and comfort techniques that are useful. LMH has a parent support group that is open to fathers that a new father may find helpful. Just knowing others are in a similar situation can be very comforting! You are right that there are fewer good books about the fathers role and experience. The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears also includes helpful tips for the father and Dr. Karp's book the Happiest Baby on the Block gives really good newborn soothing techniques. I hope this helps - say hi to the other Olive!!

Moderator:

Stefanie, what is the interest level right now in alternate birthing options ... like home birth, for example?

Stefanie Olson:

I think the interest in home birth and Birth Center births is still quite strong. The Cesarean rate in this country is quite high right now (up to 30% in some areas) and many hospitals are not willing to take VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean) clients. This has lead many women to seek alternative birthing options. Birth Centers and home births generally have much lower rates of Cesarean. It is so important that whatever choice the mother makes she feels like her desires are being respected and she is being listened to. This trust and confidence in a care provider can help the mother feel supported and respected and help her have a wonderful birth experience.

Moderator:

OK, everyone ... we're almost out of time, so submit any questions you've got now ...

Moderator:

Pusscanthropus also asks, "What percentage of your clients go ahead and get an epidural at the doctor's, nurse's or partner's urging?"

Stefanie Olson:

Oh I hope none of them. That particular choice is ALWAYS the mother's. I find that nurses are very respectful when the mother asks not to be offered pain medication. I can't think of a doctor either who tried to bully a mother into getting an epidural. It is often hard for family members to see a loved one in pain and they may bring up an epidural when the mother doesn't want that. I try to remind all family and friends present that the mother is doing well and what is happening is normal to minimize their concern and anxiety. If the mother decides that is what she wants her wish is respected. I go over with my clients how they want me and her partner to respond if she asks for pain medication so we know how best to help her (suggest other things first or just get the nurse.) If ever a doctor or nurse does suggest something I know the mother doesn't want I make sure she has time alone with her partner and me if she chooses to discuss if she wants the intervention.

Moderator:

Last questions from pusscanthropus: Do you attend home births, and if so, do you work with a doctor or nurse midwife? Also, are doulas professionally associated with any doctors or nurses?

Stefanie Olson:

Yes I do attend home births. As far as I know only lay midwives and certified nurse midwives attend home births in this area. I have attended births with both certified nurse midwives and lay midwives at home. In this area doulas work independently and are not associated with particular doctors or nurses. Some areas do have in hospital doula programs. Since we aren't affilliated with any one hospital local douals really have to travel. I have worked in seven different hospitals in the area and the birth center in topeka as well as at home births.

Moderator:

Well, thank you for coming in to chat with us today. Is there anything else you'd like to mention?

Stefanie Olson:

Thanks for all the interest! Any unanwered questions can be addressed Sunday! Hope to see you all there! Stefanie

Stefanie Olson:

Thanks for all the interest! Any unanwered questions can be addressed Sunday! Hope to see you all there! Stefanie

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