Many members of the APND are able to provide professional labour and birth support for expecting mothers and their partners. Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) provide emotional, physical and informational support, based on their training in Naturopathic Medicine (a four-year, full-time, postgraduate level program). As Perinatal NDs, our goal is to help you have your ideal birth experience. A natural birth allows powerful bonds to form between the newborn and mother – bonds which inevitably expand outward to include the family, the community and ultimately, society.
A doula (meaning a woman who mothers the mother) cares for the emotional and normal physical needs of a birthing woman. Unlike the husband or woman’s chosen friend or relative, she is comfortable with labor and confident (even within the hospital system) to play the role of advocate for the birthing woman, when that is called for. Labor and delivery doulas specialize in attending labor continuously; this makes them especially valuable in hospital settings, where one-to-one care is absent. A trained doula will be able to help your partner better assist you in your birthing experience. Most partners feel a sense of relief that they are not the sole bearers of the responsibility to support the birthing woman.
A highly respected series of studies done by pediatricians Marshall Klaus and John Kennell have proven that the routine use of labor and delivery doulas is safe, effective and cost-effective. Moreover, women who have been attended by a doula are far more satisfied with their care, less likely to sue, and more confident in their own ability to make decisions after birth. A doula’s unique role is to encourage the woman’s self-confidence, help her find positions that are most comfortable and effective, protect her privacy, and to create a bubble around her that does not permit outside distractions, pressure, or fears from inhibiting the natural rhythm and progress of her labor.
Labour and birthing is an exciting but potentially emotionally stressful time for expecting mothers and their families. A Perinatal ND can provide you with guidance on how to research and prepare a birth plan and discuss emotions that may arise and how to cope with them. Professional emotional support has been clinically proven to increase the likelihood of a successful natural birth. Mothers-to-be feel a greater sense of awareness and birth experience satisfaction when they are supported emotionally. By supporting appropriate expression of, rather than ignoring or suppressing emotions often associated with the birth experience (e.g., anxiety, fear), Perinatal NDs allow expecting mothers to feel heard and listened to.
Emotional support may entail the use of external influences as well. As regulated and licensed Naturopathic Doctors, Perinatal NDs are trained to effectively and safely utilize techniques such as acupressure or acupuncture, homeopathic and botanical medicines to address the challenges that may arise in the course of any healthy labour and birth.
Birthing is not only an emotionally demanding time, but also physically demanding event. Although women’s bodies are physically “designed” for pregnancy, labour and birthing, optimal general health and preparedness maximize the odds of an obstacle-free birth. Using safe, effective, natural techniques and medicines, Perinatal NDs help expecting mothers prepare their bodies for the time ahead. Specific exercises and stretches, various labour positions and activities and potential treatments and therapies are all a part of the Perinatal ND’s toolkit to support the natural progression of childbirth and minimize potential complications.
Information is the key to power. Perinatal NDs offer guidance with respect to emotional and physical well-being and preparation, but also with respect to the questions, particularly first-time mothers may have. Resources, potential challenges and how best to interact with your primary healthcare practitioners are all questions Perinatal NDs are equipped to answer.
As licensed Naturopathic Doctors with additional training in perinatal health, Perinatal NDs are recognized as important members of the health care team. Perinatal NDs are experienced in working with midwives, obstetricians, nurses and family doctors in both home and hospital settings. Perinatal NDs are qualified to make recommendations and provide clinical interventions in the following situations:
- guidance for prelabour/early labour
- comfort measures (i.e., pain and stress management)
- baby position optimization (i.e., breech or malposition)
- labour rhythm establishment
- immune support and infection prevention (i.e., Group B Strep)
- perineum support
- guidance for partners
Perinatal Naturopathic care doesn’t end when your baby is born; we are experienced in treating infants, too!