Certified nurse-midwife Djina Ariel gives an appreciative hug to Silvia Goss, a volunteer doula who calmly coached first-time parents Kirstin Oaxaca and Anthony Cochrane through labor and delivery at the Sutter Davis Hospital’s birthing center. After 14 hours of labor, the couple’s exhaustion was instantly transformed into pure joy at seeing their new baby girl, April Rose.
For new mom Oaxaca, a doula made childbirth less stressful. “Having an extra hand for comfort was encouraging,” Oaxaca said. “My husband felt like she gave him more confidence, too.”
Goss is one of more than 75 doulas on call at Sutter Davis, the only hospital in the region that supports a volunteer doula program. The service is provided free to women who want a doula present during childbirth.
Sutter’s doula program was started in 1994 by a group of Davis women to provide emotional support and labor coaching during childbirth. It now receives about 200 applicants a year. The doulas – all women except for one man – are trained in the labor and delivery process but work with hospital nurses and midwives.
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Goss, 34, a native of Germany with a college degree in psychology, has coached 12 births since joining Sutter’s program in October. A young mother herself, Goss said she enjoys helping women tap into their own strengths during childbirth. “I want to help them feel empowered.”