This month's topic at the Meet Your Doula event in Mena will be breastfeeding since it is World Breastfeeding Month! Come learn about the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby, how to help your baby get a good latch, how to tell when your breastfed baby is getting enough, and about your rights under the law regarding breastfeeding in Arkansas. We will be at the Polk County Library in Mena from 5-6 pm and hope you can join us!
After a really awesome birth experience as a doula at Mercy in Hot Springs, I have to say how impressed I am with the doctors and nurses working in labor and delivery. Everyone involved was very supportive and respectful of the couple's birth plan and honored their wishes. The nurse who was present for the labor and birth was really helpful and knowledgeable. She was also very encouraging when we were changing the mother's position to assist in the descent of the baby. The nursery nurse was very supportive of breastfeeding and offered to help the mother if she needed it. All of the medical providers were also very respectful of my role as a doula as part of the mother's birth team. Everyone worked together to help this mama have her best birth!
When I decided to seek training as a doula, I had a few different options available. I ended up choosing CAPPA, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association, for a number of reasons and I am so glad I did. The wonderful Polly Perez authored their position paper on evidence based doula care. I love the first sentence of the paper - "Childbirth is not simply a medical event." This really speaks to the heart of what a doula does for a woman, her partner, and family.
A CAPPA Certified Labor Doula is there to support a woman during pregnancy and labor. The paper goes on to say, "women in labor... also require emotional support, information, reassurance, encouragement, respect, and love" in addition to the proper medical care they receive from their healthcare providers. Most hospital deliveries will have many different nurses and possibly different doctors involved in the process of a labor and birth. A benefit of a doula being part of the birth team is the ability to provide continuous support. CAPPA's position also states, "The labor doula does not leave the laboring woman, maintaining continuity of care throughout the labor and birth."
A CAPPA Certified Labor Doula "will not perform any medical tasks, such as fetal or maternal monitoring, vaginal exams, blood pressure, or other vital signs." The role of the doctor, midwife, and nurses is to monitor the medical well being of the mother and baby while the doula is available to ensure the comfort and emotional well being of the mother and her partner. Doulas also do not make medical decisions for the mother, rather they provide information so she can make informed decisions.
Doulas are not just for moms wanting to "go natural". When a woman decides to labor with medication, a doula can help with position changes, comfort measures, and providing information. CAPPA believes that "A labor doula is also very beneficial to a woman who has chosen pain medication as she continues to labor." The training that CAPPA provides "focuses on teaching non-medical comfort measures such as massage, positioning, breathing, relaxation, how to assist the laboring mother and her partner emotionally, how to provide unbiased and evidence-based information."
The skills that I have learned through my training give me the tools to support all choices a mother makes regarding her birth. I am proud to call myself a CAPPA Certified Labor Doula and to live up to the CAPPA standards of providing excellent, evidence based service to my clients. It is my goal to support all choices of the women and families I support in Mena, Hot Springs, and Fort Smith.
World Breastfeeding Week began yesterday, which kicks off World Breastfeeding Month! Since I live in a state with one of the lowest breastfeeding rates, this topic really gets me thinking about how to better support moms who want to breastfeed. It is a fact that not all women want to breastfeed, and some women that do want to breastfeed are legitimately not able to. Then there are the women who could go either way, depending on how easy or hard breastfeeding is for them.
This group of women, in particular, need extra support in the earliest attempts at nursing to boost their confidence and skills in nursing their new baby. This is an area where our hospitals must improve. Nurses in hospitals need better training regarding breastfeeding and I believe each hospital should have a lactation consultant for further expertise when it's needed. Many women struggle at first and having help during the first few days can make all the difference.
Until hospitals meet this need, we can still support moms who want to try and breastfeed. Moms should educate themselves before their baby arrives by taking a class, reading, and attending La Leche League or other supportive meetings. It is wise for a woman to know how supportive her partner is about breastfeeding, since being supported daily at home can help her reach her breastfeeding goals. Another good idea is to hire a doula for support during labor as they can help get the baby latched on soon after birth and they can help with some breastfeeding problems.
For women who are having difficulty breastfeeding, there are many resources available. One of the best is the La Leche League as they offer support from a diverse group of breastfeeding women, many of whom have experienced difficulties with breastfeeding themselves. There are different online resources such as breastfeeding.com and kellymom.com that offer helpful information and support. Many WIC offices have Breastfeeding Peer Counselors available to teach and assist moms. There are also IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who are breastfeeding experts with vast knowledge and skills; they usually work in hospitals. Hopefully we can do a better job of encouraging breastfeeding in our communities and support moms that want to breastfeed by providing the help they need.
About the Author
Trista Tetro, CLD
I am a CAPPA Certified Labor Doula serving families in Hot Springs, Fort Smith, and Mena, Arkansas. I believe every birth is different and women have their own ideals for each birth. My goal as a doula is to help my clients achieve their birth desires, whatever they may be. I feel privileged to serve families as a doula during the exciting journey to parenthood.