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Doula provides support during pregnancy and childbirth

by SUMMER ZALESKY Daily Inter Lake
| June 10, 2024 12:00 AM

Like many women, Anna Kreider never thought about pregnancy or birth until she herself became pregnant with her first child. 

But she quickly became captivated with the wealth of information she was reading about pregnancy and became aware of the misconceptions she had about what birth was like. 

“I was so encouraged by all these things that I was learning that totally went against the mainstream and the stories that I’d heard, because up until that point I had been under the impression that birth was a certain way,” Kreider said.

After what she described as a positive labor and delivery with her first, Kreider decided to become a doula to help women have the same kind of empowering birth experience and went on to receive her certification from Birth Arts International.  

“My experience was something that spurred me to pursue birthwork,” said Kreider. “In some ways, I wouldn't have necessarily thought of myself as a doula 10 years ago, but then I'm also able to see things that the job requires and that those things have been present throughout my life, like being nurturing, compassionate, and empathetic.”

 Doula, which comes from the Greek word “doule” means “female servant” and throughout several centuries and cultures, doulas have been present to help women navigate pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. In 1972, Dr. John Kennell, a pediatrician and researcher, studied the role of a doula, and found that their presence at a labor led to better child birthing outcomes. 

While Kreider said that birth is a normal physiological process and that she “believes in the power of undisturbed and spontaneous labor,” she also recognizes that unforeseen complications can arise, as they did with her second baby for which she received an induction.

“It's been such a joy to walk alongside women who have complications or who end up needing an induction and see that we can still come together and have a really positive experience,” said Kreider. “Women deserve to be supported throughout their childbearing years and they need to find a provider that they not only connect with but also who align with their values and philosophies. Their team should be intentionally built around their preferences whether you hire a doula or not.”

Kreider described her role as a doula not as a medical one, or a replacement of a partner, but as one of encouragement and guidance. After providing clients with evidence-based information, Kreider said that she supports women’s decisions of how they envision their birth, whatever that may look like.

“Women want to be heard and supported and figure out what they think during what is, to be frank, such an emotional time,” she said. “There's almost this aspect of counseling that comes with it. I’m walking with women as they're making these really big decisions.”

If clients decide to hire Kreider after their initial consultation, they will have three prenatal meetings during which they will discuss their preferences, any issues, and their emotional and physical state. At the birth, Kreider provides pain management resources such as suggesting different birthing positions, use of a birthing ball, counter-pressure, massage, or washcloths.

Subsequently, Kreider visits her patients twice in postpartum to discuss the birth, provide a meal, answer questions about nutrition and newborn care, and help with breastfeeding, if needed. 

“I love the interaction with clients and getting to know them and building trust which comes with those meetings beforehand. Then everything just comes to a head in the last weeks of pregnancy before going into labor and there's this different depth that I connect with them,” said Kreider. “There's this element of the unknown and having to just take things as they come and that feels exciting.”

When it comes to the options for prenatal and postnatal care across the county, Kreider said, “We are blessed with an abundance of compassionate providers in the valley,” and feels that whether she is working alongside nurses, midwives, or obstetrics and gynecology doctors, she is respected as a valuable part of the patient’s birth team. 

“I love what being a doula requires of me: to read a woman and where she's at, having to be intuitive, thinking on my feet, and problem-solving. I really do love to nurture and support and serve. And then combined with that is a passion for pregnancy and childbirth and postpartum. Those things just go hand in hand as a doula,” Kreider said.

In the future, Kreider sees herself pursuing midwifery, but after being a doula for the last five years, she has enjoyed the freedom and flexibility the job gives her so she can stay home to raise her two daughters with one more on the way. 

To learn more about Kreider’s doula services, visit annakdoula.com.