LONG BEACH, Calif.—LONG BEACH, Calif.—The Doulas Association of Southern California (DASC) met recently to hold their Seventh Annual Awards Banquet celebrating the many people involved in the birth community.
Probably the most encompassing description of a doula would be a “mother’s mother.” In history, it has been women supporting women in childbirth.
According to the DASC website, a doula in today’s world is a trained and experienced woman who accompanies a new mother through birth and/or the postpartum period, offering emotional support, physical comfort, practical assistance, and non-medical care, she helps moms and newborns during pregnancy, the birthing process, and thereafter as requested by the family.
Speaking at the event, Ms. Tracy Hartley, a certified birth doula since 1996 and the DASC membership director said, “The original goal of DASC was to educate doulas in the area and to help them network with each other, so that we can support women with childbirth and their newborn. It’s about education and networking. I have been a member for 14 years. I think we are accomplishing [our goal].
“Tonight we are here to honor all of the child birth community: the professionals who work with childbirth, including doctors and nurses, and we also have an anesthesiologist here who was nominated tonight.
“We also have lots of obstetricians and a lot of doctors that have come over the years, especially when they are supportive of what we are doing in helping women have babies.”
Ms. Hartley explained how working in collaboration with the hospitals has improved care giving. “When a doctor sees a woman come into the room that is 8 or 9 centimeters [dilated] and is serene and sensible and has not had any pain medication, I have had doctors tell me that they have never seen this before. Sometimes, I will make a suggestion in a situation and the doctor will say, ‘Oh, I have never thought about that.’ So I think that on a one-to-one basis, we are teaching the doctors and medical staff by letting them see what can be accomplished just by a simple human touch, by comforting words, and supporting the women. I’ve had many doctors and nurses really change the way they do their jobs after watching doulas at work.”
Regarding the number of members and interest in DASC, Ms. Hartley said, “DASC is really changing and growing. We now have about 250 members; mostly doulas, but we do have midwives, educators, and doctors as members, and other members of the community. I do think we are growing and bringing more people in from the birth community and I’d love to see us do even more.”