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What I provide as a professional birth assistant.

As a Professional Birth Assistant (PBA) I work for you, helping you to create the atmosphere for the birth that you want. I provide emotional support, suggestions to enhance your comfort and the effectiveness of your labor, support for your life partner so he or she doesn't have to "do it all," and confidence that comes from knowing you and the experience of attending other births.

Another important function is that of an objective consumer advocate, helping you to weigh your own desires, the medical data, and desires of the attending physician. In this way I am a sounding board for your own considerations should difficulties arise. As a PBA, I am not there to make the decision for you, only to offer you information and another perspective on our choices.

Every woman can benefit from trained labor support. Women report in clinical studies that they feel more satisfied and happier with their birth experience when they have had a birth assistant. They are also less likely to use drugs to handle labor pain, and are much less likely to need a cesarean section.

Women who have had previous cesareans or unexpected birth experiences, teen mothers, and women classified as "high risk" especially benefit from labor support.

If you are in recovery from substance abuse, physical or sexual abuse, you may have issues that will affect you birth experience. Being able to confide your fears and feelings to your support person can turn feelings of vulnerability into feelings of empowerment. There is no shame in your situation, only a greater need for support and understanding.

As your birth assistant, I work for you. I will be there throughout your labor and several hours postpartum, providing continuity through nursing shift changes and doctor visits. My goal is to provide you with emotional and physical support, so that you can relax and fully participate in the birth experience.

Doesn't the nursing staff take care of some of these responsibilities? While nurses are usually compassionate and caring, they are not able to forge a relationship with you before you labor. Shifts also change every eight hours, making continuity of care difficult. The nurse may also have several patients at one time to look after. When she or he may like to make suggestions or try a different approach, a hospital or doctor's policy may keep nurses from doing so. A nurse's first loyalty is to the hospital rather than the birthing couple.

Doctors are usually present only for the birth and offer little labor support. It is quite possible that the physician you have chosen will not be "on call" that day, and will not attend your birth. They often have several patients at one time. As your birth assistant I will be with you throughout labor and several hours postpartum, making sure you are settled with your new baby.

Amy Gilliland is a PBA in Madison, Wisconsin, where she also organized the Madison Association of Birth Assistants.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Birth Assisting
Author:Gilliland, Amy
Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Dec 22, 1992
Words:495
Previous Article:The professional birth assistant: your partner in achieving the birth you desire.
Next Article:Medical studies confirm benefits of labor support.
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