Doulas making a comeback locally

Saturday, May 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

"Doula" is an ancient Greek word meaning "servant." They offer comfort and companionship to women going through labor and delivery.

As News on Six medical reporter Tami Marler explains, they are making a comeback. How quickly time flies. Just nine months ago, Shannon Ijams was giving birth to little Nate. "He's a ham." Now an explosive bundle of energy and joy.

Shannon says Nate came into the world so fast, she missed out on her epidural medication to ease the pains of labor. "So when I requested it and they said no, I really felt panic. But I had a great nurse, and Jen was just terrific about coming over and we can do this, we can do this." Jennifer Luitweiler was the Ijams' secret weapon in the delivery room, she was by Shannon's side every second. "Hand holding, ice chip getting, back rubbing - those kinds of things." Marler, "Isn't that the father's job?" Luitweiler, "The best husband in the world can completely freak out, and really need a neutral party to get things calmed down."

Shannon, "I think he was able to focus more on talking to me and just kind of being by my side and not have to worry about how to talk to the nurse and ask for different things.” Clay and Shannon also benefited from Jen's expertise before Nate was born, she helped them sort through all of their options - conventional, and unconventional.

"If everybody's getting an epidural and delivering at a hospital, then you just naturally assume that's what you have to do, but you don't. You don't have to have an epidural and you don't even have to have the baby in a hospital.”

For a little while, Jen was a "servant" to Shannon, meeting her every need during labor and delivery. If only she could stay around a while. Jennifer took a 3-day course to become a certified Doula. There are about 4,000 nationwide, and about a dozen in the Tulsa area.

To find out more about Doula services, you can CALL 888-788- DONA.