It is time again for another Bright Eyes Patient Spotlight. Although I enjoy all of our Spotlights, this a more personal one for me because Stefany assisted with the birth of both Nora and, more recently, Javier.
Stefany is not only my patient at Bright Eyes, she is our doula. If you are not familiar with what a doula is, DONA International states that a a doula is "a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period."
But let me tell you what I think a doula is, based on my experience. A doula is person who make one of the most important and most stressful times of your life better. They can help you understand your options and can act as liaisons with the hospital staff. They can anticipate complex or potentially problematic situations and help prepare you. Mostly they stand by you and support you, regardless of your preferred birthing method or result. In short, they are great.
Before Nora was born, I had never heard of a doula. After the birth of Nora and Javier, I am a big advocate. I jumped at the chance to learn more about what Stefany does.
Dr. B: Thanks for being willing to answer some questions, Stefany. First, how long have you been a doula?
Stefany: 6 1/2 years
What lead you to become a doula?
I had two difficult labors due to my babies not being positioned properly Although they were both head down, they were not facing the right way which created long painful labors. When I was asked to support my cousin in her labor, I felt there must be something more I could do than just be there, so I started looking up doulas. I wanted to see what they do, specifically, to help the laboring mom. While reading and researching, something clicked and I knew this was what I needed to be doing for all moms.
What is the training like?
For DONA (my ceritifying organization)an intensives workshop is required along with a substanial amount of reading. Then a certain number of births need to be done complete with time lines and evaluations from the mother, Dr. and nurse. Each birth is written up with a description as well as what the doula learned from each. A written paper on the value of labor support is required as well. We are required to attend a childbirth education series (not as an expectant parent) as well as a breastfeeding education series (again not as an expectant parent). The entire process can take anywhere from a few months to two years.
Who could benefit the most from a doula?
EVERY woman. It doesn't matter who she already has supporting her a doula is truly a necessity to have an empowering birth experience and every woman should feel empowered regardless of her delivery outcome.
What are some major misconceptions about doulas?
Many people feel they don't need a doula if they are planning a medicated birth or even a c-section. Doulas are there to empower and support moms whatever their birth decisions are to be. Regardless of delivery choices, there will always be information necessary and work to be done. Another misconception is that women who have others supporting them don't need a doula as they believe that it will be redundant. The fact is, we all have a job to do. This would be like saying I don't need my doctor, nurse or midwife because I have support. Each person has a role to fulfill. A doula is as necessary as each of those other roles and his or her role is unique to that education. Neither the support people, the nurse, the doctor, or even the midwife has the same training and knowledge a doula does.
Anything else you'd like to share?
We believe every woman should have a doula and her decision to have one should never be factored by cost. We work with a sliding fee scale to be sure every woman can afford our services. We will support all of her birth decisions unconditionally.
Thanks again, Stefany. You have such a wonderful career!
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.