Feature Friday: April Millar

April and I go way back–like 20 years way back. I’ve been to her birthday parties, taken a sewing class with her, (where she sewed her own prom dress, people), worked at the same company together and have loved watching her delve into motherhood like it’s no ones business. She has in fact made a business out of motherhood. She is a doula. Don’t know what that is? Read on, dear friends.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–My name is April Millar and I am a doula. I have been attending births as a doula for the last 5 years, I love it! What could be better than witnessing the sacred event of childbirth without actually being in labor? Let’s start at the beginning because there may be some of you that are thinking doula, huh?? What in the world is a doula? A doula is a person a couple hires for support while in labor. What kind of support?

Emotional Support. Childbirth is one of the most vulnerable things one ever does for both the mother and the father. As a laboring woman you can feel completely exposed and defenseless, at the mercy of your body and baby and those around you. You know you need help but you don’t know how people can help, or even what help you actually need.  Think about how beneficial it would be to have someone there telling you that you are doing a good job, that what you are experiencing is normal, or a good sign of getting close to the end. Many people say, that’s why my husband is there, he can do all that. Which is very true but let’s think about the fathers for a second; a man goes into the hospital with his pregnant wife and unborn child. He watches as his wife goes through anguish to bring their baby into the world wanting and wishing to take upon himself everything she is feeling. He feels helpless, not knowing what he can do to ease her burden. He holds the role of protector but in this situation he is as vulnerable as possible as he watches everything he cares about in the world out of his control and in the hands of others. Doula’s are not only the emotional support for moms but dads too. And doula’s are exceptionally good at helping dads help moms, never taking over the role of companion but enhancing that raw bond between couples as they embark on the most amazing experience ever.

Physical Support. Whether you are planning an unmedicated birth or an ASAP epidural, most women will experience the sensation of labor. Through counter-pressure, rebozo techniques, or tricks we have learned from the trade, all our clients think we are pure magic because we have skills and knowledge that will reduce a laboring mama’s discomfort by up to 30%. Sign. Me. Up.

Informational Support. Making educated decisions is, in my opinion, the number one best thing you can do for your entire experience of pregnancy, birth, and beyond. In fact I have found that a woman will have a positive birth experience, no matter what happens in her birth, including unforeseen circumstances and interventions IF she feels as though she had control in the decision making process. There are many, many, options throughout all of pregnancy and birth. It’s hard to have done all the research beforehand especially for first time moms who typically at their pre-natal appointments their care provider comes in for 10 minutes, makes sure baby is doing well then asks, “Any questions?” “Uuuuuuhhhhhh no?” inside your mind is screaming “what questions am I supposed to have? Is all of this normal? I have another living being growing inside my body! I don’t even know where to start with questions! Millions of other woman have given birth successfully I don’t want to be the first one to question the process.  And even if you have done a lot of research and made decisions as to how you want your birth to go, a lot of times you are faced with unanticipated situations and that is where a doula is extremely helpful especially in a hospital setting. Doulas are birth junkies, they read medical studies for fun, so as things arise they can offer informational support ie: in letting you know if there are other options for a procedure that is being offered, or even a translation of the medical jargon being spouted by the staff, ect. Doula’s will never make decisions for you, but they can help you have all the information you need to make an educated choice yourself. Having a positive birth experience is crucial, it affects how a woman views herself, her body, her self-esteem, which webs out and touches all aspects of her life.

Doula’s are hired by you to be your advocate. You can’t have too many people on your team when it comes to the well-being of you and your baby. So no matter the birth you are planning for, do yourself and family a favor and hire a doula.

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