Special Women – The Role of The Professional Labor Assistant

The third book that I read is called Special Women – The Role of The Professional Labor Assistant written by Paulina Perez and Cheryl Snedeker.  It took me longer to read this book than the first two.  It seemed to be all over the place and because it also incorporated monitrices into the mix, it became a little confusing at times.  I’m not sure why this book would be incorporated into training for a doula since doulas are not supposed to perform all of the procedures that a monitrice does.  It made the line between the two a little fuzzy for me.  Monitrices are another form of labor support … the easiest way for me to describe a monitrice is a cross between a doula and a midwife, basically someone who can provide some medical support in addition to their doula services.  While it is quite obvious as to what the benefits of a monitrice would be, my personal opinion is that mothers need someone to help keep the ‘medical’ side and the ’emotional’ side separate – having a doctor or midwife and a doula does exactly that.  I would think that a monitrice would be torn at times as to which ‘side’ they should be supporting, especially if complications arose.  In other words, could the monitrice really synchronize with the mother if she is also concerned with completing her medical duties?

I did come away from the book with some good information, such as:

(1) an extensive chapter on why parents need labor support and how doulas can provide that support in different types of situations (helping fathers, home care before going to the hospital, help to nurses, midwives, and doctors, shared philosopy of care, avoiding a cesarean, having the help of another woman, birth as a peak experience, VBACs, single mothers, teenage mothers, mothers with multiple pregnancies, and mothers with hypertension or diabetes), including many testimonials.  It also includes an extensive list of interview questions for the parents to ask the doula.

(2) When I was pregnant, I made the mistake of thinking that since I had a midwife instead of a doctor that I would have the additional support I needed and that my births would be less of a medical event .  I was wrong.  My midwife was absolutely fantastic, but she was expected to attend to more than one laboring woman at a time, to perform other clinical tasks, and/or to comply with institutional ideas.  If and when problems were to arise, she has to concern herself primarily with clinical management and/or the protocols of my OB (whom she was employed by) and/or the hospital in which I was giving birth, finding it difficult to manage the problem and provide adequate emotional support simultaneously.  Also, midwives who are employed by OBs and/or hospitals rarely, if ever, go to the home in early labor to be able to provide continuous support.  Even in the case of home births, it is often important to have another person there whose sole responsibility is to support the mother. 

(3) That as a doula, I will be responsible to my clients, not for my clients … that is what their caregivers are for.  Remembering this fact alone, I believe, will enable me to be better at providing for my clients.  There is also a fantastic section on the advantages of natural birth, although I will support my clients in whatever decisions they make, learning the advantages alone make me wish I had this information before the births of both of my children.

Here are a few quotes from the book that really hit home for me:

By Henci Goer on managing conflict with medical staff:  “… I described myself as a resource, similar to a book.  That is, I suggest questions and alternatives for my clients to discuss with their doctor; I facilitate communication between doctor and patient.  They may hate the idea of an outside resource, but how could they oppose informed consent?”

By Robyn Mattox on a hard, prodromal labor:  “I became a doula to make a difference in women’s births.  I can’t always change the circumstances, but I can have a profound effect on the memory that the parent will carry with them for the rest of their life.”

By Crystal Sada on learning from a birth:  “Sometimes the only things you need in your doula bag is your thumbs, a smile, and a loving heart.”

By Janice Pearson:  “Although labor support does not get the baby born, it certainly seems to help it get born the way the mother wants.”

By Paulina Perez in the Afterword:  “The labor assistant … has a wonderful feeling of knowing that she empowered those in her care … The labor assistant gains much from seeing others take responsibility for themselves, their birth, and their baby … It is a proud feeling for her to know that she has helped bring humanity and kindness back to the birthing process … She shares credit for her accomplishements through helping others accept those accomplishments more easily.”

~ by cmb0414 on February 21, 2010.

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