HARTFORD, Conn — HARTFORD - Whether you’re a soon-to-be, first-time mom or expanding your family, childbirth can be a daunting experience. Many women find that having the right kind of support during labor can make a world of a difference. For some, that support includes a birth doula.
You may be wondering: What is a doula?
As Robin Degemmis explains, “The word doula means ‘ woman who serves’ and that to me, in a nutshell, is what a doula does”
Degemmis has worked as a professional doula for more than ten years. She’s attended so many births she’s lost count. She’s also is a board-certified lactation consultant and teaches childbirth classes at Manchester Memorial Hospital.
“Nurses are wonderful, they’re amazing, but they have a lot of technical jobs to do. Monitoring the baby, vital signs for the mom, administering medications. A doula never leaves the mother. I rarely go to the bathroom or eat because that constant support is so important” said Degemmis.
That continuous support comes in a variety of ways. From a back rub to holding a mother’s hand to suggestions for positioning. That’s not to say that a doula is there to replace a partner or spouse. A doula is there to support the partner as well. Sometimes just as much as the mother.
“A lot of partners worry about that. They think the doula is going to shuffle them off to the side and say you sit there and hold her hand and I’ll take over” said Degemmis.
“The nurse isn’t in the room and she’s acting a little scary and this is the person they love the most in the world and they’re like ‘oh my goodness why is she acting this way?’. Having someone there to say it’s okay, this is normal, maybe try this and that’ll make her feel better” explained Degemmis.
While the nature of a doula’s work calls for intimate, close contact, Degemmis has supported mothers throughout the pandemic with ramped up safety measures. This will, however, vary by hospital.
Degemmis is grateful she’s able to continue working as a doula during this challenging time.
“I think it’s very sad when women have traumatic experiences, regret, or guilt about their birth. A doula, I think, is there to ameliorate misconceptions a mom may have and just give them that good feeling about their birth” said Degemmis.
If you’re looking for a doula in your area, consider visiting these websites:
Degemmis suggests meeting with a few doulas to find the right match. Pricing will vary. She recommends being upfront about your budget. Doula services are eligible for reimbursement with flexible spending accounts (FSA) and health savings accounts (HSA), but certain restrictions and/or requirements may apply. Please check with your account provider.