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Doulas Guide Through Pregnancy, Birth

Deby Bracket, a birth doula who works with clients throughout Fairfield County, is well aware of the high rate of caesarian sections. According the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecolog y, thirty-two percent of all births in the United States -- nearly one in three -- happens with a C section.

"Giving birth is a unique experience for parents," she said. "And those involved in it can be particularly vulnerable to suggestions from and procedures of healthcare providers." That, she said, is where doulas can help navigate the often uncharted and unpredictable territory of childbirth.

The word "doula" is derived from ancient Greek, and literally translates as "a woman who serves." But today a doula means a trained and experienced professional who provides physical, practical and emotional support to the mother before, during and just after birth.

Deby has a masters degree in public health and is certified to teach biology and chemistry. She realized after the birth of her first child (now 10 years old) that "the person in the room with you while you give birth has a significant impact on the kind of birth experience you have." They do not assist in the actual birth. Deby and other doulas leave that to medical professionals and certified nurse midwives. Instead a doula's role in the birth process is no less profound. "Doulas guide the mother and family through the entire process. If pregnancy and birth are like the Sahara Desert," she says, "then I'm here with a map because I know the terrain. I help point you in the right direction and I also tell you what kind of clothing to pack for the trip."

It is Deby's mission to help the mother feel safe, protected and perhaps most importantly, advocated for. Because the doula is an objective party -- not a family member and not a medical professional -- she offers a bridge between the two. She also has a unique perspective on the birth experience. "I help inform the parents. If they're secure in their decisions then they might not feel pressured into doing things they might not need or want to do."

Can a doula help avert an unnecessary Caesarian section? Certainly Deby would not override the advice of an obstetrician or midwife. But in the birth process, she remains at the side of the mother, as her ally. "If my presence helps facilitate a healthy, happy birth, then everyone wins," she says.

For more information about doulas, go to Connecticut Birthpartners .

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