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Sunday, November 28, 2021

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Ask the Expert: A Mother’s Perspective Doula Services

Knowledge can be a valuable antidote to the anxiety many women experience as they move through the physical and emotional changes brought on by pregnancy, and as they anticipate childbirth. But wouldn’t it be better to get answers from a trained individual who can draw upon the experience of many different births than to keep typing queries into Google? At A Mother’s Perspective Doula Services, education is the foundation of the comprehensive support services this trained team of doulas provides to women during the prenatal, birth and postpartum phases of life. As our October Expert, Dani Keller, a labor and postpartum doula and childbirth educator, talks about her approach to educating women about this exciting and important phase in their lives.

Q: How did you decide to become a doula focused on childbirth education?

Dani: I’m a mom of four. I have always been passionate about supporting and empowering women during pregnancy and childbirth. My children are older now—my youngest is 16—so I am at a point in my life where I have more time to devote to this passion. I have some medical issues that have made it harder for me to provide the active physical support that doulas provide to birthing women, but I wanted to continue the work of helping empower women through this process. Education was a natural fit, because I also teach GED classes. My work as a doula has taught me how important childbirth education during pregnancy is. During childbirth, there is only so much time to relay important information that can help a woman cope with what she is experiencing and be aware of her options. The more we can educate women before childbirth, the better-equipped they will be, wherever they choose to have their baby.

Q: What distinguishes the approach that A Mother’s Perspective takes to childbirth education?

Dani: All of our classes are one-on-one, or private with the mother and her partner. We feel so strongly about the importance of education that my 2-hour class is built in to all of our doula support packages. I take the approach of being kind of like your best friend when it comes to birthing. I want class to be very conversational. It’s very practical and research-based, and I’m here to calm your fears about things you may have read online or heard from friends. Currently, our classes are delivered via Zoom to maintain safety amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but our intention is to return to in-person classes when it is safe. The private setting is key, and it’s something that distinguishes our approach from classes available at area hospitals. If you get a group of four or more women with different partners, that gets to be a lot of people. The partners especially may tend to clam up and not offer questions they have. If it’s just the mother and her partner, people feel more comfortable opening up about their specific concerns. I always tell people, “If this is boring to you, tell me to skip it, and we’ll move on to what you really want to know.”

Q: What are the most asked-about topics?

Dani: Most women are really concerned about what it will feel like when they go into labor. This can be different for every woman, and it’s one of those things that you have to experience to truly know, but we do equip women with knowledge that can help them have a better sense of what to expect. We spend a lot of time focusing on the emotional signposts and the physical signposts of early labor—the things most women experience. I give women practical tips for how to determine if their water has broken. Little things like that kind of make it more scientific in a way, and easier to take the guesswork out of it.

Q: What other topics do you typically cover?

We go through all of the pain-management options that the hospitals offer, as well as non-medical options, some of which a mother can perform herself. We talk about “birth plans,” but we emphasize that this is really a birth preference, because the more we “plan” things, the more we tend to be disappointed if things don’t go according to plan. A woman should always see a healthy birth as a success and an amazing achievement. We work with them to keep the planning in perspective.

Q: Is there value to having childbirth education during a second, third or subsequent pregnancy?

Dani: When it’s your second or subsequent pregnancy, you can kind of rewrite the playbook. If there are things you want to change, going back to the basics and talking through what has happened in the past can help you to see what your options are, or where you can become stronger. Every woman who has had a baby has a story, and going through that story and processing it can help us figure out what we want for the future. As an educator, going through previous birth stories can help me see where I need to meet this mother, and how I can best support her.

Q: Why is education so important to the work you do at A Mother’s Perspective?

Dani: That increased confidence of having some idea what is going to happen in situations that are so full of the unknown really helps women to be better advocates for themselves. Knowledge can also have a direct impact on how a woman feels during childbirth. When we are scared of something because it’s unknown, it causes us to become more tense. More tension leads to greater pain. Education breaks that cycle. Making education part of our overall doula services is important because all of our trained doulas work as a team. So if we uncover issues in my class that can help inform a doula’s work with a mother, I share that information so that we can deliver the best support possible. This kind of comprehensive team approach helps us provide the most personalized level of support.

To learn more, visit mothersperspective.com.

Stay tuned to the Fredericksburg Parent & Family YouTube and Facebook channels this month for a video interview featuring A Mother’s Perspective Doula Services.

Emily Freehling
Emily Freehling is an award-winning journalist who helps Fredericksburg Parent and Family's advertisers tell valuable stories through magazine advertorials and videos. Emily also produces content for a wide variety of other clients and outlets. Find her on LinkedIn and at emilyfreehling.com.

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