On October 7, seven women, six from Pennsylvania and one from Virginia. are one step closer to their dream job ' becoming a labor assistant.The Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE) visited Berks County to host a three day Labor Assistants/Doula Training Workshop at The East-West School of Massage (Wyomissing).

The ALACE is a national non-profit educational organization located in Massachusetts.

It provides training in child birth education, labor assistants, and on safe alternatives in the birthing process.

Labor assistants or doulas are hired by couples.

They guide the woman throughout the pregnancy, provide support, and educate them during the nine month process.

Doulas provide uninterrupted care for the woman by emotional support and help them avoid unnecessary interventions and caesarians.

The training seminar in Wyomissing was led by Therese Hak-Kuhn, a birth doula from North Carolina. Lasi Leavy, of Mothering and More, was the local sponsor for the event.

The intense seminar is just one of many classes and training activities these women have to endure to become a doula.

Leavy, who is a labor assistant, said the women must also:

€¢ reading literature, €¢ attending child birth classes, €¢ a written self-evaluation of six births, €¢ written performance evalu ations from three people they have provided support for, o and passing an exam.

During the seminar the women were taught about the stages of labor, ethics, how to provide support to the mother, normal births, mid-wife model vs. medical model, and options women have during birth.

Hak-Kuhn said a doula is guided by the mid-wife model and they help women remain healthy throughout the entire pregnancy.

Most of the women who took the three-day training event were inspired to become a doula because of their pregnancy experiences.

Cassandra Zieber, of Sinking Spring, wanted to become a registered nurse (RN) but her plans were disrupted when she became pregnant. After she had her baby she didn 't have time to go back to school. Then she saw and ad for this training opportunity.

"Too many people do not help each other out, especially women. I wanted to bring something positive to the world. Plus I love babies. Giving birth is an awesome thing and I wanted to share in the mother 's special moment," she said.

Angie Freeman, of Denver, PA, has four children and said wanted to become a doula so she could comfort women during pregnancy.

"I want to make a difference and make their experience better. The most important thing about doulas is about educating the mother throughout her pregnancy."

"This experience has changed my life 100 percent. I am a different person because of the training," said Amy Owen of Norristown.

For more information visit: www.alace.org.

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