The birth of a healthy baby is always a happy occasion. Arthur Alexander Johnson’s birthday on Monday, October 16, 2017 was an extra special birthday, representing the 2,000th doula assisted birth at Cheshire Medical Center. Cheshire Doula, Darline Harris, of Troy, NH, assisted the birth.
The Cheshire Doula volunteers have been supporting birthing mothers at the Medical Center since 1999. As trained professionals, at the request of a woman in labor, they provide non-medical support to birthing women and their families and work in partnership with the Medical Center’s labor and delivery team in providing family-centered care. They attend the mother throughout her labor and delivery and into the first hour or so after the birth, to help new families enjoy some quiet and important bonding time.
The word “doula” comes from the Greek word meaning “a woman who serves”. During labor, doulas provide continuous physical, emotional, and informational support. They are skilled in a wide range of comfort and relaxation techniques such as massage, visual imagery, and aromatherapy. They understand labor and assist even with cesarean births, providing reassurance and assisting with immediate skin-to-skin bonding time between mother and newborn.
Marilyn Buck, Cheshire Doula Coordinator, has been a certified Cheshire Doula since the program’s inception in 1999. She provides certification and on-going training to the Cheshire Doulas. “Most of us [the Cheshire Doulas] agree this is one of the most rewarding experiences we’ve ever had, other than having our own children,” shares Buck. “Our goal is to give mothers the best birthing experience possible.”
Cheshire Doula, Darline Harris, with parents Ben and Heidi Johnson of North Swanzey, NH, with sons Henry James and newborn Arthur Alexander. Together, Harris and the family marked the 2,000th doula assisted birth at Cheshire Medical Center.
“When we’ve taken that journey together, and delivery happens, we aren’t just celebrating the arrival of that new baby-we’re also celebrating the newly empowered mom.”
-Darline Harris, Cheshire Doula
Fellow residents of Troy, NH may recognize Harris from her “day job” as the Assistant Director of the Gay-Kimball Library. When asked how she came to be a Cheshire Doula, Harris responds, “Marilyn [Buck] is a friend of mine, one day she asked me if I had ever thought about being a doula. I hadn’t thought of it, but I have four sons and thirteen grandchildren, so helping a mother during her labor was very exciting to me.” Harris completed the doula training program at Cheshire Medical Center, in exchange for a two-year commitment to the program, and in November of 2016 Harris became a certified doula.
“It would be easy to say the actual birth is the most rewarding part of being a doula, but for me, it is more than that,” relates Harris of the experience, “It’s the journey I take with each new mom-to-be. I sync myself with her emotions, her discomfort, her fears and help her find the power and the strength to do this-the hardest work of her life. When we’ve taken that journey together, and delivery happens, we aren’t just celebrating the arrival of that new baby-we’re also celebrating the newly empowered mom.”
In addition to connecting with families, Cheshire Doulas are a support network to each other, “In addition to sharing tips and tricks that we learn and develop, we relieve each other as one shift ends and another begins. This involves sharing a lot of information about the mom’s state of mind and how the labor is progressing, helping the on-coming doula be prepared,” shares Harris, “This milestone birth wouldn’t have happened without my sister doulas.
To learn more about how you could become a Cheshire Doula, call Marilyn Buck at 603-354-5400 ext. 2270 or email her at MBuck@Cheshire-Med.com.