Benefits of Using A Doula

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Topic: What is a Doula? Why Do People Hire a Doula?

Hello everyone, this is Liz Harvey coming to you from our razorcast™ studios in New York City where we are dedicated to bringing you cutting edge interviews from many of the leading industry professionals across the United States.

In today’s episode, we are speaking with Stephanie Heintzeler. Stephanie is a German educated midwife, a U.S. educated doula, an acupuncturist and she is a certified lactation counselor (CLC). She is known as The New York Doula.

Stephanie has delivered over 1200 babies and has experience with twins, triplets, breech babies and water births. She also works with newborn parents in their postpartum stage and holds classes and seminars for moms and dads to be.

With a wealth of experience and knowledge in her field, Stephanie Heintzeler is widely considered to be one of the top doulas in the country. She is also a contributing member of our national network of industry professionals.

Today we are going to talk about a very important topic: What is a Doula? Why Do People Hire a Doula?

RC: Hi Stephanie how are you today?

Stephanie Heintzeler: I’m well thank you.

RC: Well thanks so much for being here, let’s just jump in.

Question 1: What is a doula?

RC: What is a doula?

Stephanie Heintzeler: That is a very common question. A doula is a birth coach, a birth specialist or birthing expert. The word ‘doula’ actually comes from the Greek and the translation is a woman who actually serves another woman and it’s very common if you look back in history that there are always women who help some other woman in labor and during their birth and that is what a doula does. But a doula is really an expert and specialist. She’s trained, she knows about stages of labor, interventions and it can help a couple/an expecting mom throughout the pregnancy, birth and postpartum stage.

Question 2: How is a doula different than a midwife?

RC: Okay and how is a doula different than a midwife?

Stephanie Heintzeler: The midwife is the medical part. When I was a midwife in Germany, I actually delivered the baby. I was there throughout the labor and birth but I did the medical stuff like I checked blood pressure. I checked on the baby, I made sure the epidural was sitting correctly, maybe I broke the water if necessary and I helped the mom deliver the baby. So I was more responsible for everything medically. So the baby is breathing, the mom’s doing well.

The doula is the support for everything else. Meaning that a doula is there for the mother specifically. The midwife is there for several moms who are in labor. A doula does home visits so she’s there, for example, throughout pregnancy for home visits, for childbirth classes, for lactation counseling, for postpartum health and is doing this all around service and one-on-one consultations. A midwife is taking care of a lot of people, does not do home visits.

A midwife is covered by insurance. A doula often times is not. But more and more we see the benefits of having a doula. A doula lowers the C-section rate by forty percent and many many other statistics are lowered like postpartum depression, the birth outcome, how healthy the baby, how happy, how well the breathing is going to go and mainly interventions. You have less interventions with a doula mainly, of course, because you stay at home a little longer which is what many parents would like to do and those are like the main differences.

The other is a midwife studies midwifery for three years. So it’s a huge and tremendous and big medical training. And a doula starts training with just four days. That’s the foundation to be a doula and then from then on, it’s really her experience and her extra certifications that make her a great doula. For me, midwifery experience. For others, it’s maybe acupuncture, massage therapist license. So many have other certifications as well.

Question 3: What are some of the services that a doula provides?

RC: And I know you touched on this a little bit but what are some of the services that a doula provides.

Stephanie Heintzeler: It starts in pregnancy. There’s literally mothers who call me with probably their pregnancy test in their hand and they’re like “I’m pregnant I don’t know what to do now.” So it starts with finding the right doctor or midwife depending on where you live and what you would like for your birth. So we talk about that and then we stay in touch throughout the pregnancy, there’s a lot of pregnancy consultations/updates. Maybe some queasiness, maybe some other issues so we can really help and see who would make sense for you in order to help with your problems and maybe some aches and pains in your pregnancy.

A doula is on call for you and that doula specifically. So doctors and midwives – you don’t have that person – it’s always a team who is on call. So once you’re in labor and you call your doctor or midwife, there’s an answering service that will answer. Then they will call the doctor or midwife of the team who is on call right now and they will call you back. And then maybe you find out that you should come to the hospital or not yet. The doula is going to be the doula that is hired by you specifically. So I know all my clients. I know them very well and once they go in labor they give me personally a call and I am going to go to be with them during their labor and birth.

And there’s going to be childbirth and newborn care classes and breastfeeding classes. I teach a lot of classes to prepare for birth and postpartum. We do the birth support – of course being there during labor and birth and after birth there’s postpartum health and that can be a lot of different services. So it could be from cooking. Some doulas like to cook and they run errands and they get the groceries and they cook for you. Others focus more on breastfeeding counseling. Others focus more on maybe partnership, maybe helping with partner involvement, newborn care.

So every doula has her thing, what she does the most and we all work with each other so if we need something specifically, I can always put you in touch with someone.

Question 4: How does a Doula help inside the home?

RC: Great and how does a doula help inside the home?

Stephanie Heintzeler: Inside the home, it’s a lot of guidance depending on whether you’re still pregnant or if you’re in labor or it’s after the birth. First of all, you know each other so you have this trust that’s already built and you do anything that is preparation for the birth. So it could be a private childbirth class, maybe preparing the nursery, maybe checking on your other children – you just see how are they doing with having a new sibling. And then during labor and early labor at home, it’s really making sure that you have a good experience and giving suggestions and massaging you and helping the partner so he can help you or she can help you. And basically, really making sure you’re a good birth team when you go to the hospital.

Then postpartum is lactation counseling if you want to breastfeed but it can also be a bottle feed. Maybe you want to bottle feed the baby then we’ll talk about that and give you some tips and tricks and how to hold the baby, newborn care. How to calm down your baby, maybe you want to use a swaddle, maybe you want to carry your baby in a sling so we try out a few slings.

But the idea is really like to have this all around support. I have this tagline that says “Delivering the Birth You Want” and I had a couple a few weeks ago and they emailed me and said, “Thank you so much! It was definitely the birth we wanted.” And that’s what I want, right? So it’s that this couple really gets the birth they want no matter what that is and no matter whether they changed their mind or things went differently but then that you’re always supported and in control and know that there’s someone on their side and with them, someone that they know and trust.

Question 5: What would you say people like the most about hiring a doula?

RC: Great so that sort of leads me to my last question. What would you say people like the most about hiring a doula?

Stephanie Heintzeler: The main thing I think really is getting the birth you want but it’s also knowing someone who you really hired specifically for this experience and you know this person does this a few times a month or more than that even and you really feel like you have your personal coach. Like you would hire someone who is your wedding planner but as your birth planner is going to be there throughout the time as well. Your tour guide, your guide throughout this really amazing experience. And all the couples I’ve worked with have really said that they can’t imagine not having had a doula. They really can’t.

Many who haven’t had a doula, they say…I have a client right now – it’s her second baby and she didn’t have one for the first and right after her first baby, she was like okay next time only with a doula. Because she was alone, there was nobody taking care of her and she said she really needed some support and some guidance and that’s what many say. That they feel lost and alone and there’s ten different people talking to them who do ten different things and they don’t know where they can say no and what’s normal and protocol and where maybe they can opt out of it. Even things like getting split up from your partner. That’s common in some hospitals. For a while, you’re separated but then we need to know why and which hospital is actually doing that, right?

And that’s what most couples really feel is that they had this ongoing continuous support. No break, no intermission, but continuous. And that’s important for labor and birth.
RC: Okay well thank you so much Stephanie. We know you are extremely busy, so I just want to thank you for all your time and your help today.

Stephanie Heintzeler: Thank you, thanks for having me.

RC: And for our listeners across the country, if you are interested in speaking with Stephanie Heintzeler, you can either go online to www.thenewyorkdoula.com or call (917) 399-2031 to schedule an appointment.

On behalf of our entire team at razorcast™, we want to thank you for listening and we look forward to bringing you more top quality content from our country’s leading industry professionals.

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