A Doula is a personal support person whose sole responsibility is to look after the birthing woman and support the couple in achieving their best birth. Sometimes a special friend, sister or mother fill this supportive role and is not specifically trained. Studies show that women have less medical interventions and perceive their birth experiences in a more positive light when supported in this way.
The HypnoBirthing Institute offers a certification for HypnoBirthing Practitioners (birth educators) who wish to also offer their services as a “HypnoBirthing Doula”. This certification is referred to as ‘Professional Labor Companion’ or PLC. There are other certifications available, but the training received by a Professional Labor Companion is tailored specifically for the couple who has taken the HypnoBirthing classes and so understands the power of deep relaxation and how it supports the birthing body in functioning as it is designed.
In the HypnoBirthing classes, a partner, referred to as a birth companion, attends and is taught how to support the birthing mother as she prepares for her birth, during the birth and after. Because they both participate in practicing relaxation, developing the birth preferences and understand and have faith in how the birthing body works, the birth companion is invaluable.
So, if you have a birthing companion, whether the baby’s father or not, why would you need a Professional Birthing Companion? Here are a few things you may want to consider:
1. Sometimes births can take longer than one support person has the strength, determination or endurance to last on their own. Of course this cannot be predicted, but a PLC is “back up” as it were.
2. If the birth companion is the baby’s father, he is having his own birth experience which can be somewhat emotionally overwhelming. He may appreciate having another set of hands to help with all the little tasks that need to be done so he can relax and enjoy just “being” with the mother of his child during this momentous time. He may also feel more relaxed knowing he does not need to play all roles for his partner. The pressure of having to remember all the details can be quite stressful on a birth companion and extra support takes the edge off the stress and allows him to just relax and be very present.
3. Some birth companions are just not comfortable fulfilling the role necessary for the birthing mother to feel fully supported. Whether they were not able to attend all the classes, or are just not comfortable reading relaxation scripts with the mother, it is important that both parties are open and honest about their expectations and what, in actuality, will give them both their best birth experience.
4. The Professional Labor Companion is able to objectively support the couple as they plan for the birth by sharing with them information that will help them create their positive birth experience. She can also be a less emotional voice if, during the birth, concerns arise that need to be considered and discussed. A PLC is trained to tactfully intervene on behalf of the birthing couple, if necessary. She is also available, before, during and after the birth, for the many questions that come up.
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