Sunday, January 22, 2006

Doulas hangin' out

My client is now a week overdue and getting very impatient (as only those who've gone a week past their due date can understand). But she still has her humor and seems to be bearing up well. It probably helps that her first child arrived on a similar timeline.

Last Thursday I went and saw T$. After squealing in disgust at her cameraphone pictures of her leg wounds [the one where the bone came through the skin is especially gorey], we did what any doulas would do to relax: watched birth-related television.

First we watched the episode of Bringing Home Baby she'd taped because our colleague Hannah was in it. And thought the show's producers chose NOT to focus on the postpartum doula story line (even though that is why the mother, a doula herself, chose to let them film her babymoon), we noticed that Hannah nontheless was always there in the background, pitching in when needed, giving space when that was what was called for. Isn't that about what a doula does? One thought: it was telling about the state of U.S. postpartum recovery that even with a doula mother and a postpartum doula friend there, the mother was up and about in nearly every shot. No camping out in bed for days with all visitors coming to her turf. She was washed, dressed and awake in most shots. Now if a doula mama can't find (or make) time in her recover, even with a doula on hand, can we expect more from all the other new mothers? Still, hurrah, Hannah, for your happy time in front of the camera. And despite what you said on your blog, I thought that aside from looking tired in a few scenes, you looked great! (and I confirmed you are the person I thought you were!)

Next we finally watched the documentary A Doula Story. I have been itchy to see this for nearly a year, since the film premired at the San Francisco film festival. What an inspirational woman. Once a teen mother herself, she now provides prenatal education, doula care, and postpartum support for single teen mothers on Chicago's west side. There are girls who are wise to the street and resigned to their plight.

Loretha (the subject of the film) says they got pregnant because they weren't able to open their mouths. If they are going to be mothers, they need to learn they have a voice. So she works with them not only to prepare for labor, but also to plan for the rest of their lives. On one of her postpartum visits, she quickly moves from fawning over the baby to asking whether the mother has registered for GED classes. With another woman, expecting her fourth child, she asks, "So once this baby is born, what are you going to do about birth control?" She accompanies the girls on their prenatal visits and requires them to come with 3 questions to ask the doctor.

And the woman knows how to encourage bonding. She tells the girls that their babies' squeezing of their fingers is a baby hug. She holds a newborn and looks and coos at her, captivating the baby. Then she has the mother call the baby's name. Invariably the baby turns. "That means she knows no one is going to love her and look out for her like you are," she says. She shows the mothers their babies are special and in need of love and holding.

Aside from the fact that T$ was in a cast, it was a great way to spend a few hours.


Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

Thanks for your kind remarks...I have yet to see Loretha's "A Doula Story" yet...though I have just missed the opportunity twice. Soon, I hope.


7:08 PM  
Anonymous drjen said...

When I was a resident doc, I had the good fortune to attend a birth where Loretha was doula. I came on shift later in the labor, and didn't know she was a doula at the time. She helped the mom wonderfully with her labor and encouraged her to move and change positions (which was not at all the norm at Mt. Sinai.) I remember catching the baby and thinking "Geez, this lady has such a nice sister!" Then I found out she was a doula! I wished every woman had such good support

11:02 PM  

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