Agape Birth Doula Services Opens For Business, Serving Mothers In NE Kansas

Agape Birth Doula Services opens, giving expecting mothers in northeastern Kansas and surrounding areas access to a local birth doula.

For women in much of northeastern Kansas, finding a birth doula has been a challenge. However, one woman is hoping to change that. Beth West has just opened up shop as the newest doula in the area, Agape Birth Doula Services, and looks forward to serving and helping women as they prepare to meet their new little ones. West lives in Atchison, KS, with her husband and their four children. West’s own four birth experiences were quite varied: An induction, a cesarean section, and two vaginal births after cesarean (VBAC); two hospital, doctor-attended births and two midwife-attended birth center births. She says that her various experiences helped her to understand how vitally important the birth experience is. “I now see birth as a time where, among many, many other things, a woman has the opportunity to feel empowered and strong or lost and unheard,” says West. “It is my desire to help women, through education of labor and birth practices and through continual presence with them, providing emotional and physical support, through their labor and delivery.”

A birth doula can most easily be understood as a well trained and experienced birth coach and support person who assists a woman throughout her labor. A birth doula’s work begins before labor starts; she typically meets with the expectant mother ahead of time to help her prepare for her upcoming birth. Once labor begins, a doula stays with the mother, offering continual support until after the delivery of the baby. She also helps to draw the woman’s birth partner into the labor and delivery experience.

When asked why women should consider hiring a birth doula, West said, “Throughout most of history, laboring women have been surrounded by and supported by other women. There would be a trained midwife, but sisters, friends and moms would be present as well. We lost that when birth was brought into the hospitals, and women suffered because of it. The role of the birth doula is really a bringing-back of that very important aspect of birth, the role of a trained, experienced woman who is there solely to support the laboring mother. It has had a profound impact on the women who have hired doulas for their births. There have been many studies, including by the Cochran Review, that point to the benefits of all women having doulas at their births.”

The term Birth Doula is an unregulated term, much like the term “yoga instructor”. However, there are organizations such as DONA International, the oldest, largest, and most well respected organization of doulas, who offer certification for women who pass a series of trainings, work through an extensive reading list, and complete other required tasks, culminating with 3 “graded” birth experiences. Many doulas opt not to become certified, but West says that she has chosen to take the extra steps to do so. “I was drawn to DONA International because of how rigorous their certification process is. If I was going to become a Doula, I wanted to do it well,” said West. She has completed all of the primary course work, proudly taking on the title of “trained birth doula”, and is actively pursuing the completion of her certification.

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