Volunteer doulas help babies out

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Doulas are women who provide continual informational, physical and emotional support to women during labor and childbirth. Brattleboro Memorial Hospital has been offering free doula support for over 12 years. Every woman who has a baby at our hospital is welcome to have a doula with her during her labor and delivery.

Our doulas are volunteers who go through an extensive training before they start. They understand the anatomy and physiology of birth, and are trained in specific techniques that can help a laboring mother. All the doulas are eager to help women in labor, any time, day or night. They often meet with their clients ahead of time so that they have established a relationship before the birth. They find out what the woman and her family are hoping for, so that everyone can be on the same page. Our doulas also get called to the births of women who make the decision during labor that they would like to have a doula with them.

Why would someone choose to have a doula? There are many reasons. First of all, the doula does not work on a shift schedule, so she can provide continuity of care throughout the labor and delivery. Also, doulas do not have medical licenses, so they do not have to concentrate on all the important work that the nurses, midwives, and doctors have to do.

Instead, a doula can be there to provide drinks and food, offer massage, make suggestions of new positions to try and more. They are often a big help to the partner of the woman in labor as well. There are many studies that say that having a doula with a laboring mother reduces the chances of having medical interventions such as epidurals and caesarean sections, shortens the length of the labor, and increases post-partum satisfaction. We certainly have lots of happy clients here at BMH. All this, and it's free! One of the strengths of the Volunteer Doula Program at BMH is that we are integrated into the Birthing Center. We are familiar with the set-up of the rooms and we know the nurses and providers. We all work together as a team to give the best possible care to our new moms. Doula trainings at BMH are held in the spring and the fall. We are always seeking new volunteers. The next class will start in March. Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer doula, or in having a doula attend her birth, should contact Carol Schnabel at cschnabel@bmhvt.org. You can also look us up on Facebook at Brattleboro Hospital Doulas.

Being a doula is a great privilege. Doulas feel very luck to accompany pregnant women and their families on their journey to parenthood.

Carol Schnabel is the coordinator of the Volunteer Doula Program at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.


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