Doula Tracie Brecka, right, and expectant mother Chanille Withman practice holding a newborn baby after birth with a doll in this undated photo.

A large part of Tracie Brecka’s job is providing support and being an advocate for expectant mothers during childbirth.

As a doula serving the Sauk County area, Brecka helps provide women and their families with support before, during and after birth. Brecka’s function as a doula is to help comfort the mother and help the family reach its birth plan goals.

“My belief is whatever they want for that birth, I’m there to support that,” said Brecka, of Reedsburg. “If they need information for choices, I’m going to help with that and be there for whatever they need.”

She meets with families early on to discuss birth plans and goals they would like to reach during birth. In those meetings, Brecka also practices techniques to use during labor with the expectant mother.

Once labor begins, Brecka provides emotional and physical support. She also assists with different birthing positions and helps alleviate discomfort in the mother.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a doula can reduce the length of labor by 25% and cut the need for a cesarean section by half.

“It’s just nice to have somebody else there, somebody not from the hospital or birth center because they are there just for you,” Brecka said. “I’m there the whole time. My focus is just on that client.”

She also meets with the family about a week after a birth to follow up on the birth plan and can help with breast- or bottle-feeding. She also may help with home duties, such as cleaning, laundry or caring for the baby while the family rests.

“One of my past births was like, ‘I just need a nap,’” Brecka said. “I said, ‘All right, you take a nap; I’ll take the baby.’ I’m just there to assist them with whatever they need.”

Brecka can be present for any birth, whether it be an at home birth, in a hospital or in a birthing center. While she can be present for at home births, she does not participate in any medical aspect of the birth, only emotional and physical support. The family would require a midwife in addition to Brecka’s services for a home birth.

In hospital births, Brecka can help doctors and nurses with support needs they may have while attending to a specific birth.

“Every hospital has been very welcoming,” Brecka said. “I’m there to help them, too, whatever I can do for them.”

Rebecca Riesterer, St. Clare Hospital’s director of birth suites, said the staff allow doulas into birthing rooms to provide support and help mothers follow their birth plan.

“Mothers will often come in with birth plans, and we want to be sensitive to those,” Riesterer said.

In addition to allowing doulas into birthing rooms, Riesterer said many physicians have lists of doulas for patients who would like the option. St. Clare staff and physicians also discuss options and benefits of doulas in their birthing classes.

Riesterer said doulas are not common at St. Clare, present at births only once every few months.

Brecka took a doula training course with Doulas of North America and is working toward becoming certified, although a certification is not required. Brecka said to become certified, a doula must have a certain number of births that meet different qualifications.

Brecka provides doula services for mothers who give birth within 58 miles of Reedsburg. The distance is set to ensure that she is able to reach the mother in enough time when they go into labor. She said she only missed one birth in her time as a doula, which was her sister’s.

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