Day In The Life of A Doula

Today we're remixing Mommy Unplugged with a little informational Q&A with Birth S.I.S.T.A.H Bry -- a New Orleans Doula!

Millennials are now researching and inquiring about doulas to assist them along in prenatal and postpartum pregnancy. This feature will give a little insight and answer some questions that you may be wondering about doulas.

Read below how Birth S.I.S.T.A.H Bry helps assist many moms along in their journey of motherhood:

What does being a Doula entail?
A doula is a woman that is professionally trained to support women during pregnancy, labor and childbirth, and the postpartum period. Doulas provide informational, physical, and emotional support to expecting mothers and their partners. The informational support may include childbirth/pregnancy education and help with finding different resources that are needed during pregnancy and postpartum. The physical support that doulas, or birth companions, provide is continuous during labor and childbirth. She will assist with comfort techniques, labor positions, breathing, and relaxation. Labor and childbirth differs from woman to woman. With that being said, sometimes the only physical support you may be giving is your presence. Sometimes, knowing that she is safe and supported is all the laboring woman may need. Doulas help keep their clients emotionally stable. We show up and reassure our clients that we are there for them. During the postpartum period, doulas will provide emotional support to new mothers being that childbirth can bring on so many new and different emotions. They will also make sure mothers and baby's health are in the shapes they should be in. If they are not, the doula would give advice on ways to become better or provide resources to get help. Doula is a Greek word meaning a woman who serves. Simply put, the doula serves the women during their journey to motherhood! I go by Birth S.I.S.T.A.H Bry' and the acronym explains my role perfectly. I Serve, Inspire, Support, Teach, Assist and Heal women! 

What made you decide to become a doula?
My decision to become a doula came after reading a blog post. Yes, I read one of my instagram followers' blog on how and why she became a doula and decided to get trained. Okay, so let me tell you how it happened. I was in a very unfulfilled place in my life. I had recently withdrawn from Xavier University of LA where i was working toward of a degree in Psychology with hopes of becoming a Clinical Psychologist. That was something I knew I would enjoy for the rest of my life. I am easily the "counselor" of the group, with a level head and welcoming spirit that allows anyone to open up to me. At some point, school became extremely depressing for me. I became totally uninterested and had lost all of my drive. When I noticed my unhappiness, I thought it would be a good idea to withdraw and not waste any more money or time (XULA is FAR from cheap).  At this point I was working full time at Whole Foods Market as a Front End Supervisor (as I am currently) and recently starting to "soul search". Trying to figure out what exactly am I gonna do with my life. One late night as I'm scrolling down my IG timeline, i stopped to read a post from @J.Chavae.I can't remember what this particular post was about but I do remember always feeling like she would always post something that resonated with me. I left IG to go on her website to read a few of her blog posts. I stumbled across one titled "Becoming a Doula" or something like that. Mind you, I had NEVER  heard of the term "doula" but curiosity struck me. In the post, She explains this profession and the role of a doula and I instantly knew this is what I wanted to do. What I NEEDED to be doing. I quickly began my google research on what a doula was and found a doula training in New Orleans shortly after. The first day of the 40 hour training with Nicole Deggins of Sista Midwife Productions was confirmation for me. The great thing about this training was not only that I learned so much information about pregnancy and childbirth, but I learned so much about MYSELF and what it was to be a woman serving your community. I did not leave that training the same way I had came. I had grew as a WOMAN! Learning the importance of serving other women during such a transformative period of her life, being able to actual assist in bringing life into this world, it fed my soul completely. At the age of 24, I had found my calling. Every woman needs support during this special time. I know the damage that can be done when she is alone, unsupported and not educated on what is going on with her body and her baby. I have always known that I was gonna serve others for a living. It Took me a while to figure out in which way. Being a woman with 3 sisters and being raised by a very nurturing and supportive mother, serving women is second nature. I find so much joy in assisting women while they bare life. I am a doula because I've learned that birth is the revolution, and if I can help a women bring life into this world, I can help start a GREAT revolution!  

Can anyone request to have you as a doula? Are there certain requirements?
There a couple of things that are important to me when booking a client. 
1. Location. I'm currently only serving women that are delivering in New Orleans and the surrounding cities. The closer you are, the easier it is for the both of us. I can't promise my presence when you are delivering 2 hours away. Pregnancy and childbirth are unpredictable, therefore I have to be accessible at all times. Location can affect accessibility. 
2. Chemistry between myself and the potential client. In order for me to serve someone efficiently, we both have to be comfortable with one another. Although I want to help EVERY woman, it's just not possible. If I don't think we could work as a team, I would decline. Sometimes it could be the opposite case, the client may feel as though I'm not what/who she would want to support her. 
3. Important things like expected due date, delivery location, expectations, etc will be discussed during a free consultation. Following the consultation, the potential client is given time to decide whether or not she wants my services.  

Is there anything specific that you would recommend?
My philosophy is that our bodies and babies know how to birth. There is a divine purpose for only allowing the WOMAN to be able to give birth. It's what we do, and our bodies know how to do it. Therefore, interventions are unnecessary UNLESS there is a true medical reason for them. Like i said before, pregnancy and childbirth is unpredictable so things happen. When the baby or mother health is at risk, interventions should be considered. In these cases they actually can save lives. With all that being said, I would recommend anything natural if no one is at risk for any complications. The placenta is the baby's life source. This is what has been sustaining baby with all of her nutrients, oxygen and essentials. Once the baby is delivered, keeping the placenta attached will only allow for the baby to receive ALL of her blood supply. When the placenta is cut immediately after birth, baby only receive 66% of her blood supply. Obviously cutting the placenta immediately after birth isn't dangerous, being that it happens everyday. But why not allow your baby to receive ALL of whats hers? 
Drugs during labor and childbirth is a personal decision for mother. There are pros and cons of drugs. While drugs can help maintain the pain, they also affect baby and mother's physical condition. I suggest every mother to do her own research on any drugs that she would consider. As a doula, I am there to support you during whatever birth you decide to have. Natural, Cesarean, natural with epidural or induction. That does not matter to me, my job is to give you information so that you can make informed decisions for yourself and your baby and to serve you in anyway I can. If you would like me to simply stand by your side during a c-section, thats exactly what i will do! I serve women during labor and childbirth, no matter WHAT that looks like.  

Walk us through what it's like to be a Doula in a birthing session. How does it make you feel?
During the labor and childbirth, I am simply the assistance to the mother. I support her in any way she needs me to. The doula does not perform clinical tasks such as cervix exams, heart rate checks, etc. The OB-GYN or midwife can only do that. What I will do is whatever I can to make sure mother is as comfortable as she can be during such transition. During contractions, I will suggest movements and positions to better cope with the pain. I will provide massage and other comfort measures to the laboring woman if she would like. I encourage and motivate her verbally. Every woman is different and needs/wants different support. My most important role as a doula is to show up and hold space! When a woman knows she has someone there that is on her side and who is working WITH her and her body, that alone makes the experience 10 times better. During a birth, I put all of my energy into the mother. Whatever she needs, I'm there to give (if it is within my power). Once baby is delivered, I step back and let mother and partner have their moment with their new baby. I'll stay with them until I know they are all okay or until baby has successfully latched for breastfeeding. Once all of those things are checked, I leave the birthing site and REST lol. Doing this work can be exhausting but it is even more REWARDING! Upon leaving a birth, I sometimes have trouble resting because my adrenaline is pumping like crazy!! Watching a women give birth is so powerful and amazing! I give thanks for being able to assist women during such a sacred act.

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