by Darby Shier
One of the most significant and exciting times in any parents’ life is the birth of their child. However, in the Age of Information, new parents often encounter conflicting and contradictory advice from well-intentioned medical staff, family members, and the media which can lead to confusion and fear. One way to navigate this complicated time is by hiring a birth doula.
Dee Sheridan, a registered nurse, birth doula and parenting instructor, was inspired to enter the profession after having her three children and attending a home birth of a friend. While living in Boulder, Dee owned “Small Wonders Childbirth.” Her practice included attending over 500 births, teaching to over 1,000 parents as a Childbirth Educator, and producing the ” Small Wonders Childbirth, DVD.
In the late summer of 2016, Dee and her husband Ken Sammons, owner of Sammons Plumbing and Heating, were looking to downsize both their home and their community. They found Trinidad was the quiet, service minded community they were looking for. They purchased a home and officially moved in August 2017. Dee did not waste any time putting her extensive skill set to work, obtaining a job at the Miner’s Colfax Medical Center in Raton as a Quality Director, analyzing and working to modernize policy and systems within the hospital. In addition to her work at Miner’s Colfax, Dee has begun Birth Doula Training classes as a way to pass the torch and extend this incredible and much needed service to more families in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.
According to Dee, doula is a Greek word meaning highest servant and has been a part of the birthing tradition throughout history. She explains, in modern times a doula is considered a trained professional who provides continuous emotional, physical, and informational support for mothers before, during, and shortly after childbirth. The practice includes, but is not limited to, working with the family prior to the birth to outline birth wishes and education specific to the family she is serving. Birth education includes knowing the stages of labor and medical terminology so that the family can make informed decisions during the birth. The “Birth Wish Plan,” can include the family’s desires for the actual labor, as well as, learning massage techniques, personalized meditation, and deciding on who will be in the room during the delivery.
During labor, a doula helps mothers avoid unnecessary discomfort though guided breathing, meditation and massage; reassuring the partners of what is normal; helping the family enact their birth wishes; and making informed decisions using a model she named BRAIN: Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, and (what happens if I do) Nothing.
Following labor, a doula can help the parents to bond with the child, provide breast-feeding instruction and guidance, and assess for postpartum depression. Dee and the incredible women that she trains also provide a written birth story for the family to keep. According to Dee, many of her family’s read the birth story every year on the child’s birthday, which validates the positive impact of her service.
Dee also offers “Compassionate Cesarean Plans” where she provides similar relaxation techniques to mother’s who are not able to deliver naturally. Dee will provide neck massages for mothers who often experience referred pain during the operation. She will also provide encouraging words, so the mother can experience the birth even though she is numb. She also reassures mothers that are still birthing their baby who chose to come out this way, helping to eliminate feelings of fear and guilt. Dee will then either stay with the mother or go with the baby to the nursery so her partner can provide support to her while the operation is completed.
Having a Doula in the delivery room has shown to decrease the amount of medical interventions including: caesarean sections, oxytocin, pain medication and epidurals. Studies have also shown that there is a 35 percent decrease in negative birth experiences for mothers who have the emotional, physical, and informational support of a trained Doula during labor.
Dee is hoping to continue training and mentoring the next generation of Doulas. Gina Ojeda, former manager of Hot Yoga on Main and licensed massage therapist, has elevated her service to working with pregnant woman through her emerging business, “Empowered Beginnings.” In addition to taking Dee’s classes, she is trained in pregnancy and infant massage and is training to become a lactation consultant and provide placenta encapsulation for new moms. Gina and Dee have worked with Miner’s Colfax to offer Doula services for natural and cesarean sections, as well as provide onsite lactation consulting for all moms. Additionally, Dee is working with a Telehealth application called “OTTO,” that will allow her to serve mother’s from anywhere in the world.
Dee envisions helping more women to become professional doulas so they can empower their own lives and the lives of those around them. She feels this service will help grow a community of healthy moms, babies, and families.
Her advice for families preparing to bring a child into this world, “Trust your intuition. Every labor and delivery is different. Make all decisions out of love and everything will be alright.”
Dee can be contacted through her website smallwonderschildbirth.com.
From Page 52 of our Summer 2018 Issue