March 20, 2009

Doula “Birth Assistant” Trainings Scheduled

Project Concern International’s (PCI) California Border Healthy Start (CBHS) project is providing trainings to community women to become Doulas or birth assistants. The trainings are scheduled for March 27 and 28 or June 5 and 6. These will be held at the County of San Diego Assessor’s Office in Chula Vista. The training is free and takes two full days.

The Doula training is offered to women in the target community who wish to be a part of the volunteer Doula program. Volunteer doulas will serve as birth assistants to the program’s pregnant women within our 11 target zip codes. The volunteer Doulas are provided a small stipend to assist at births.

This Doula training provides participants with a basic understanding of the anatomy/physiology of labor and birth, the psychology of labor, and the use of comfort measures and techniques for labor assistance during labor and birth. The training familiarizes participants with the hospital culture.

The Doula model is included in the project’s service to clients’ prenatal, labor, and postpartum processes. Doulas are prepared to provide assistance during childbirth and are trained to give continuous, non-medical physical and emotional support to women and their partners during labor and birth. A Doula’s expertise is in offering comfort and reassurance. A Doula helps the birthing mother feel safe and confident throughout labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period.

A Doula’s presence at birth, according to clinical studies, tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications; reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience; reduces the need for the use of labor-inducing drugs, forceps/vacuum extraction and cesareans; and reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals. Research also shows that parents who receive Doula support have greater success with breastfeeding and have less postpartum depression.

The project’s Doula manager and trainer, Catharine Chichakian, a licensed clinical midwife, describes birth assisting as, “a joyful and treasured moment as a witness to a new life.” Ms. Chichakian has attended over 1500 births in the course of her career. Her passion in life has been not only to assist women in having healthier pregnancies, births, and infant outcomes, but also in training more midwives and Doulas to reach more women. Catharine has used many methods to better assist women to have smoother, less complicated births.

San Diego’s CBHS program is improving the health of low-income pregnant women, mothers, and their babies in areas that represent the highest levels of poverty and poor birth outcomes in San Diego County by enhancing the capacity of the local maternal and child health social service systems and increasing effective outreach and recruitment into prenatal services early in pregnancy. As part of these efforts, trained Doulas “birth assistants” are available for those pregnant women who are enrolled in the program. A large segment of the population is Latina. The Hispanic population is a concern because the number of births is high and the population faces several risk factors and barriers to accessing perinatal care.

Those interested in receiving more information on becoming PCI Doulas or attending training can contact: Catharine Chichakian at 619-791-2610 ext.304 or cell-619-504-9219.

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