How Placenta Encapsulation has Revealed to Me the Need for More Doula Support in the United States
I recently walked into an elevator and took the third floor up to the postpartum floor of a hospital. I walked down the hall and opened the door to the room I was instructed to go into. I had come by to pick up a placenta. "Knock, knock..," I called out. I slowly opened the door and there sitting on the bed is the new mom....in tears. I immediately introduced myself and give her a big hug. "Congratulations! Are you ok?" I ask. She looked up at me with swollen, tired eyes and said, " I'm not sure I can do this." I sat down and we talked for a bit. I found out that she had an unexpected c/section because of complications. Of course, the birth was not what she had expected. She and her husband had taken the Bradley classes, they did their research, they read every book that had been suggested, they even took extra breastfeeding classes. She felt that all of their "prep work" was for naught. She felt cheated. I had never meant this precious lady before I walked foot through the door. I didn't know her history, her desires for her birth. I just wanted to hug her and tell her that everything was going to be ok. But was it? It was evident how devastated she was. I didn't want to just play "Pollyanna" and pat her on the shoulder and say, "Well, at least you have a healthy baby."
Instead, I sat with her and listened and allowed her to decompress a bit. I didn't have the answers or even pretend to, I just listened. After 30 minutes, we said our goodbyes, and I told her I would see her tomorrow to deliver her placenta pills; however, I felt horrible leaving that room. I was hoping that she and her husband had the help and support they were going to need. I prayed that she was going to be surrounded by encouraging friends and family, but who knows, right? For me, leaving new parents behind that don't have the extra support of a doula can be gut-wrenching.
Ever since our practice started offering placenta services, I have been a part of this scenario many times. You see, not everyone that hires us for placenta services, hires a birth or postpartum doula, so these new parents are left to their own devices. Studies show that women that hire doulas have fewer c/sections and less chance of postpartum depression, amongst a myriad of other benefits. So am I saying that doulas are lifesavers? Absolutely not. Can parents have a good birth and postpartum experience without a doula? Yes. On the flip side, can parents have better birth experiences and healthier postpartum recoveries WITH doula support? You better believe it. Doulas do NOT have all the answers, nor should we ever try and come across that way, but we can help you navigate through the choppy waters of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care. And you know what? Just having someone there telling you, " you are doing a GREAT job!" goes a long way with new moms. Or just having someone that you can process your birth with goes such a long way. We are there, along with your care providers, as part of the team.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if all new families had doula support? Along with the care that the families receive from their midwife or physician, having the extra support from a doula, as well? Contrary to what some believe, we are not just "foot rubs and back massages;" however, that IS in our "bag of tricks" if mom needs one! Can you imagine if EVERY mom had doula support?
I love the article in Midwifery Today-, "A Birth Doula For Every Mother." https://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/birthdoulaeverymother.asp
There is definitely a "doula trend" in the country. More and more women are seeking out the support of a doula and, in turn, families are having better experiences with birth and recovery. In a country where there is a high c/section rate, minimal maternity leave, paternity leave is virtually non-existent, and postpartum depression is through the roof, we need as much help and support as we can get. Something has to change.
So how can you help? How can you make a difference? Spread the word! If you had a wonderful experience with a doula, tell your friends, your family, your co-workers. Most of our business is referral based and that, my friends, far exceeds any advertising or SEO plan out there. Educate those out there that don't have a clue as to what a doula is. Or if you are pregnant and considering a doula, do your research! Find a doula that would be the perfect "fit" for you. She ( or he- yes, he!) is out there, I promise!
As we continue to do "placenta pick-ups" at hospitals and birth centers, my hope would be that, as time goes on, there would be less and less families out there that don't have doula support of some kind. In my heart, I believe that EVERY woman deserves a doula and that no one should be left behind.
Becky Hines, CD (CBI), HCHD, RYT, PES