A pilot program, "Labor of Love Doula Program," will be introduced to Warren County at a presentation planned fro 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, in Conference Room B at Warren General Hospital.
A birth doula - a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born - is basically a birth advocate, according to coordinator Julie Thompson.
A doula is a "birth advocate," Thompson explained, "that missing link in the delivery room, a source of information who helps with the physical and emotional support that is needed in a birth. A doula is that one-on-one support person who does not take the place of the partner or the caregiver."
Coordinators believe a doula can be an integral part of the birth process, Thompson expressed.
"A woman remembers her birth vividly her whole life long and it is a doula's job to help empower her and help support her through the decisions she makes that are best for her and her birth."
Doulas can offer comfort measures, massage, position changes and more when helping with the birth of a baby.
In this developing local program, a doula will follow the family through her labor, go to her home or to the hospital when labor begins, then stay with her until she delivers and is successfully breastfeeding, if that is her wish, Thompson explained.
A post-partum doula can then provide eight hours of in-home care in whatever way that family needs, Thompson continued.
Doulas will be certified through Dona International or working through their certification process, which takes six months to a year to complete.
"We believe in our vision," Thompson explained, "A doula for every woman who wants one."
"Our mission is to make every woman's birth a better experience for her by being there for her every step of the way," Thompson said, and "by empowering her to make informed decisions. Our goal is healthy bonding and attachment for new mothers and their babies. We have evidence based data to show funders how having a doula present at a birth helps lower intervention rates when a doula is present at the birth, 28 percent less likely to have a cesarean section, 31 percent less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor, nine percent less likely to use any pain medication and 34 percent less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively."
Thompson said the local OBGYN office, Warren General Hospital and local midwives have been fully supportive for the last 15 years doulas have been in this area.
The group will have Dr. Honore Satcho as medical advisor and Troy Onink as financial advisor. Officers are Tammy Maze, president; Amanda Green, secretary; and Cristen Wilkins, treasurer. Board members are Rebekah Windsor, Stacy Cronmiller, Abby Wenzel and Christine Clark.
Speakers from the group will be available for speaking engagements to let the community know what the program is all about. If any group is interested in having either a board member or one of the four doulas (Julie Thompson, Anne Hernandez, Sarah Edwards or Julie Blick) speak, call Thompson (814) 489-3796 for further information.
"We believe that when a mother is nurtured, they are then better able to nurture their own," Thompson concluded.
The program is located out of Praise!Fellowship in Russell. The group also will teach childbirth education classes at the church and have general meetings there. Donations to the Labor of Love Doula Program can be mailed to 7451 Market Street, Russell, PA 16345.