136: Doulas and Birth Trauma Recovery
Many people still may not be clear about the role of a doula in prenatal, birth, and postpartum support. On today’s show, we’re focusing specifically on how a doula can help with trauma for the mother and reduce overall risks during the entire pregnancy and birth process.
Courtney Butts is a Licensed Master Social Worker and Certified BEST Doula in Dallas, TX. After the birth of her son, Courtney knew she wanted to serve in support to families as a doula and childbirth educator. This work has allowed her to merge two passions: working with trauma survivors and her love of all things pregnancy and postpartum. She also provides therapy focused on maternal mental health.
Alexis Edwards is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified BEST Doula, and owner of Birth 360, a private practice in Austin, TX, that provides prenatal and postnatal therapy and doula support. She is a survivor of sexual assault and an advocate for healing through birth. Her own traumatic births and journey to motherhood inspired her to become a doula with a holistic, trauma-informed practice that incorporates not only birth and postpartum support, but also recognizes the link between birth and maternal mental health.
These two women came together in January 2018 to co-create a trauma-informed support training for birth and postpartum professionals that they teach across the US. As mental health professionals and birth workers with a background of serving survivors, they bring a unique perspective on how to better support women carrying trauma through the childbearing years.
- The role of a doula in birth and postpartum: a non-medical professional who provides non-judgmental support and information to improve physical, emotional, and mental health
- How they want to provide information for their clients to be able to speak up with control and empowerment in the birthing process
- Most doulas are passionate about advocating and educating outside of birthing spaces, all to help moms have better outcomes
- How doulas help in trauma that may show up in the birthing process
- How some women navigate past trauma AND new traumas in the birthing space
- How they look for triggers and teach grounding techniques
- Balancing the boundary between the doula and therapist roles and how they hold safe space for clients in both roles
- Having conversations about potential triggers, like certain types of touch
- The information that Alexis and Courtney want medical professionals to have to bring better outcomes for moms
- The need for education, like in understanding the maternal mortality rates for black women in the US
- Supporting moms to be heard and seen, even before the birthing process
- How doulas support trauma recovery
- As a doula, being in tune with the client’s needs and understanding their birth plan wishes
- The Polyvagal Theory---referring to the vagus nerve, the longest in the human body
- How we interpret and respond to threats: fight, flight, or freeze
- How the work of medical professionals should come from a trauma-informed lens
- How Alexis and Courtney deal with clients with trauma and offer support
- The focus on grounding and finding a safe space
- How Alexis and Courtney’s training gives tools and techniques that doulas can use
- How their training helps in specific ways
- How doulas can improve outcomes: decreases in C-sections, pitocin, and pain relief meds, and an overall increase in vaginal births
Courtney: @courtneybuttsdoula (Instagram and Facebook)
Alexis: @birth360atx (Instagram and Facebook)