Doulas Educating Expecting Mothers

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Philadelphia woman trains doulas to assist in childbirth

Phila. woman has trained more than 100 to assist in childbirth as doulas.

April 01, 2012|By Ashley Primis, Inquirer Staff Writer

Beth Goldberg, who became a midwife after her first child, now trains doulas: “I…

Beth Goldberg couldn’t believe how the birth of her first child got away from her. It was every woman’s nightmare: A lot of drugs were used, a fetal monitor was hooked up, and there was an infection, a drop in blood pressure, and, in the end, an emergency cesarean section.

“I thought, I’m going to turn this into something good,” says the Philly resident and mother of three. “I wanted a different view of birth, to learn about it as if it is a normal, physical event.”

After spending a decade as a midwife, she has morphed her experience into a different branch of birthing: training doulas.

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As holistic living becomes more mainstream (hello Whole Foods and Lululemon), more women are embracing the idea of using a doula – a trained birth assistant – at their labor. Doulas do not deliver babies or make medical decisions for the mother. They are more along the lines of a highly experienced best friend, that can help walk laboring moms and dads through the delivery process. Even women who know they want epidurals are using them. “There’s a boutique appeal to having a doula now,” says Goldberg. “It proves you are educated, because you are taking things into your own hands.”

In the last two years, Goldberg has seen an increased interest in doula training, which she offers through her business Believe In Birth. “When the economy crashed, women were looking for ways to be their own independent business person,” says Goldberg, who has had to double the amount of sessions due to demand. “But they want to do something that has meaning and gives back.” Now, she hosts training sessions and birth education classes around the region, and has trained more than 100 women.

Besides the emotional support, many women hope that having a doula will prevent the dreaded unplanned C-section. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cesarean rate from 1996 to 2007 increased by 53 percent nationally, 55 percent in Pennsylvania, and 60 percent in New Jersey. In 2007, 32 percent of all births ended in a C-section, the highest rate ever recorded in the states, and higher than most other industrialized countries.

“Having a doula is like having Google in the delivery room with you,” says Goldberg. She teaches her doulas that their main duty is to support the parents’ needs, decipher medical jargon, and in the heat of the moment, ensure that women are making informed decisions

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Debbie Newell