You Shouldn’t Get PTSD from Having a Baby
Childbirth in the 21st century has become increasingly “medicalized” and sometimes frightening, especially for women having their first child. Today, expectant mothers are turning to Doulas to aid them during the birth process and assist in the home and transition to parenting after the baby arrives. Linda Jones is an experienced Doula with more than 25 years experience.
What is a Doula?
“Doula" is an ancient Greek word meaning "a woman who serves." Today it refers to a trained professional who provides physical, emotional, and practical support to birthing people and their families before, during, and after childbirth.
Not to be confused with a midwife, Doulas do not perform any medical functions; instead, we act as emotional support for expectant people during labor and delivery, easing the postpartum transition to living with a new baby.
How does your practice differ from other Doulas?
There are two types of Doulas: Birth and Postpartum Doulas—I do both. I’m also well known for my specialization in twin care. I’ve been honored to assist hundreds of families in the Bay Area for over 25 years, attending nearly 1,000 births.
As a Day Postpartum Doula, I provide education and care for newborns. As a Night Postpartum Doula I primarily care for the baby or babies—so new parents can get rest. I help families understand and care for their newborn(s) and prepare them for what to expect in the weeks following birth.
Many new parents don’t know what to do with this new little 6-10 pound thing in their lives—it can bring a family to their knees. People are afraid of newborns—afraid they’re going to hurt them, but I love and have a special connection to them—newborns are my favorite age of people!
How has the work of the Doula changed in the past decade?
This is an ancient practice, not much has changed—however, there’s an increased awareness in what we do, and the profession continues to grow. Twenty years ago, there were very few Doulas to choose from—now, there are a myriad number of local Doulas to choose from. For some women it’s a steppingstone to becoming a midwife.
Education about unmedicated (also referred to as “natural”) childbirth has diminished since the last century, and we don’t have the same support systems of the past. At present, breech births, most twins, and triplets are delivered by C-section, which is becoming the most common form of birth today. New mothers are ill prepared to take on the task of caring for a newborn while they are recovering from major surgery.
What are the typical concerns a person has?
One of the main reasons I hear is that they’re afraid. Birth in America is very scary, it’s all about what can go wrong. As childbirth becomes more “medicalized,” people are often traumatized during labor. Birth should not cause PTSD!
Additionally, expectant people don’t want to go it alone. Most have their partner with them, but emotions can run high when you are in pain or distress. I’m there to act as their emotional support, to calm and reassure them, and to explain the many things that are often unexplained by the medical professionals. A Doula’s presence can empower the birthing person to speak up during their labor, I’m there to encourage that their wishes are honored, as closely and as safely as possible.
What should someone who wants a Doula do?
It’s really a personal choice. I would search for someone who is collaborative, nonconfrontational, and will work as a team with midwives, doctors, nurses, someone that you feel you can trust, and be comfortable with, to help you get close to what you want during your birth experience. Having a Doula as you approach your estimated due date also allows you to have someone who can answer questions, help calm your fears before going into labor, and allow you to labor at home longer, and lessens the hospital stay.
What are some common misconceptions about Doulas?
The stereotype of a Doula is a young, white, “hippie” woman. We are not midwives. A Doula doesn’t provide medical care—it’s not in our scope of practice.
What is your passion around being a Doula?
I am a co-founder of Black Women Birthing Justice (bwbj.org) a collective of African-American women who are committed to transforming birthing experiences for black people. Our vision is empowering black birthing people to be respected and free of unnecessary medical interventions.
How would you describe your philosophy on birth and being a Doula?
I trust the birth process and a birthing person’s ability to give birth unmedicated, if they choose to. Childbirth isn’t science—it’s nature; if you allow it to take its natural course, it usually works out quite well.
Linda Jones—The First Six Weeks, Birth and Postpartum Doula, 510-917-2783, LindaJonesDoula.com