Approximately 1 woman out of every 4 considers that her labor and delivery experience was a traumatic birth. With 4 million births in the US per year, that is one million women per year who experience traumatic births. (Source: Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth (PATTCh.org) By having a massage doula with her during birth, a pregnant woman can increase her odds of not being part of these statistics.
Feelings of a traumatic birth tend to occur if the mother feels that she or her baby were in some type of danger during the labor process. These feelings can also occur if the woman feels that she was out of control and helpless during the labor. Having a massage doula helps to reduce both of those, due to the loving presence of a birth support provider.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not outside the range of possibility if the traumatic birth experience is not dealt with. As a massage doula, you should know the signs of birth PTSD. The signs are: nightmares, dwelling on the birth, avoidance behaviors, and reluctance to talk about the birth. Other signs are avoiding postpartum obstetric appointments, blame or negative feelings toward people who were part of the birth, anger, and sleep disorders. If these signs are present for more than a month after the birth, the mother likely has some degree of birth PTSD.
During labor support, if a massage doula believes that her client’s birth expectations are not being met, she needs to try to focus her client on getting through the moment and help her deal with the trauma as it happens, to help prevent long term negative consequences. After the birth, encourage her to get plenty of sleep, exercise, use some type of relaxation method (massage, yoga, etc), or seek counseling. You can also refer them to http://pattch.org/resource-guide.
To become trained as a massage doula, click here: Massage Doula Certification
To find a certified massage doula in your area, click here: www.massagedoula.com