Book Review – The Doula Book

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Hello!! I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written here. I’m using these summer months to take a break from many of my extra activities and focus in on getting finished and accredited as a doula. Besides the Doula modules I’m going through, I get to choose 3 books from Childbirth International’s reading list to read and write a review on. Since I had to write a review anyway, I thought I would share some of it here, just in case you were interested in picking up these books.

 

The first book I read was The Doula Book by Marshall H. Klaus, MD, John H. Kennell, MD and Phyllis H. Klaus, MFT, LMSW.IMG_20160603_110807

This is a great book written for expectant parents, as well as doulas-in-training (or early in their career). First, the book lays out the need for a doula or other trained labor support for both the mother and father-to-be. The authors go into a lot of detail about how a doula can help reduce pain, the need for pain medicine, the rate of c-sections, and number of episiotomies, as well as how doulas have a positive affective on mother-infant bonding, breastfeeding, and length of labor. This book also goes into detail about the difference between the role of doulas and dads, and how they often work together in supporting the mom.

 

Almost all of the information provided in this book is backed up by studies and the authors go through and give you details on those studies so you know how accurate or inaccurate they are. I also love the pain coping strategies that are presented in the book and the emphasis placed on making the labor environment peaceful for the mom so she is able to labor effectively. I think every expectant parent will benefit from reading this empowering book, whether they choose to hire a doula or not.

 

What I enjoyed most about this book was reading about the affect that dads have on the laboring woman and how the dad and doula can work together to provide support for the mom. Since the appearance of laboring women can be distressing to new fathers, as well as the mixed emotions of concern and anxiety; the fathers cannot be objective. There is so much that is unknown and too much at stake. My favorite quote: “With the doula present, the father is never left as the sole, isolated, responsible person caring for the laboring mother.”

 

This book presented two studies done about dads and doulas in labor, and I learned that:

  • When a doula supported a couple throughout labor, the father was freed to offer more personal support and did much more intimate touching of the mother’s head and face.
  • When the pain of labor became more intense, first time fathers remained where they were or moved back, whereas the women companions moved closer and often increased their physical contact.
  • Overall, fathers were present for somewhat less time during the labor than were the doulas. Early labor fathers were in the mothers’ rooms 78% of time and late labor 95% of time. Both in early and late labor doulas remained with the mothers almost 100% of time.
  • Fathers held the mothers’ hands a greater percentage of the time than doulas in early labor, but this reversed in late labor. Overall, the fathers and doulas held the mothers’ hands about the same length of time.
Helping the mom to stay relaxed is the cornerstone to all pain coping techniques. Click To Tweet

The most significant thing I learned that was presented in this book is that how a laboring woman is listened to and responded to can affect her stress level; her knowledge of how her labor is going can calm the mother and diminish her perception of pain. The doula is there to help the mother express her needs and at times to explain to the mother what is happening. So, helping the mother to stay relaxed is the cornerstone to all pain coping techniques.

 

Having the mother stay relaxed also helps this process, because of what is happening hormonally. When the woman can relax, oxytocin strengthens the contractions of the uterus. It also allows the muscles to function properly; the longitudinal muscles to expel the baby; and the lower uterine muscles to relax, stretch, and open to release the baby.

“Many women don’t know that at this point in labor [pushing stage] there is a wonderful hormone flowing through the whole area (perineum) called relaxin, which causes the tissues to be as stretchy, strong, and supple as soft elastic. The birth canal opens like a soft angora sweater over the baby’s head.” (p. 56)

Finally, this book gave me a couple of “scripts” to think over and somewhat memorize, so that I have words to say to a laboring woman when she needs encouragement or positive images to focus on. One of the phrases I loved and will practice saying before my next birth is this: ”Remember to let your breath go through – let it go through. Just breathe it through quietly and try as much as you can to be relaxed. That’s is you see, that’s the only thing you have to do.”