KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Shanae McClenton has her hands full with one-month-old Solidad and one-year-old Steven.
She gave birth to both of these beautiful and healthy babies naturally, without drugs, with her husband and her doula by her side.
“The best thing she did was keep me off the operating table” McClenton said.
Doula means ‘a woman who serves’ in ancient Greek.
They provide physical, emotionaL and informational support during the labor and birth process.
“Doula does no medical care, and midwives do," doula Sally Reilly said.
It’s a lot about reassurance and coaching laboring mothers, and their partners, through comfort measures.
Demand for doulas is on the rise.
According to DONA International, the oldest and largest doula associations in the world, more than 6,500 birth and postpartum doulas have been certified to date. That’s more than triple the number certified in 2002.
“Sally made sure everyone from nurses to my husband understood my wishes. And as long as nobody was dying she made sure those wishes were fulfilled," McClenton said.
All kinds of families hire doulas.
And no, you’re not destined for a home birth or can’t use pain medications if you hire a doula.
Both of McClenton's births started in a birthing facility. She moved to the hospital when there were complications. Reilly was with her the entire time.
“I think we give up on moms way too soon because they say I can’t do it anymore but they can’t figure it out either” Reilly added.
For parents to be Ruby and David Munyan, having a doula at the hospital with them gives them piece of mind and confidence.
“It’d be great if I could have a human dictionary at my fingertips who already knows about everything and will be able to suggest things at a whim," Ruby Munyan added.
After 35 years of being a childbirth educator and doula and 800 births, Reilly says only 20-percent of the babies she’s helped bring into the word happen at home. Thirty-percent are in birth centers and half are in hospitals.
“Families are fortunate today because we have three great choices to have your baby. I think it’s where you feel safe” Reilly said.
Every couple has a backup doula since they’re on call 24-7. There are also postpartum doulas who provide support after baby is born.