Working With the Laboring Brain

The Mechanisms Behind Birth Doula Support

NEW COURSE – 1 – 1.5 Nursing CE Hours:

 Dr. Gilliland explains the social, emotional, behavioral, neurological, and hormonal processes that intertwine to create the attachment experience of human labor and birth, and how our current practices influence the whether birth "succeeds" and how people relate to themselves and one another aftewards. In Part One of this talk, Dr. Gilliland explains the allegories between release of the social peptide oxytocin during normal human interaction, and the purpose of the hormone during human labor and birth.  Dr. Gilliland makes a potent argument that the social purposes of human labor and birth are designed to strengthen attachment relationships and caregiving templates in parents and children. These processes are intertwined with the limbic system’s encoding of potent long lasting memories, and the release of oxytocin and catecholamines in labor. These processes explain the effectiveness of the professional birth doula rather than family member in obtaining positive obstetric, neonatal and postpartum outcomes.

This talk examines contemporary common birth practices and makes suggestions for alterations that would enhance the possibility of spontaneous oxytocin flow and lowering perception of pain in labor. (50 minutes if adding Part 2 or 3; 60-75 minutes by itself)

  • Participants will be able to explain at least three ways the biological oxytocin and catecholamine systems correlate and influence the psychological attachment and defense systems.
  • Participants will be able to restate how the Attachment, Defense, and Caregiving Systems operate in labor to influence labor coping, bids for caregiving, and need for caretaking in the laboring person.
  • Participants will be able to explain why supporting spontaneous oxytocin flow is an advantage to labor progress, vaginal delivery, and subjective birth satisfaction.
  • Participants will be able to demonstrate at least 8 NEW strategies to promote spontaneous oxytocin release. 
  • Participants will be able to list at least four normative nursing practices that interfere with the laboring brain’s ability to produce a functioning labor and spontaneous vaginal delivery, AND adaptations to practice that reduce the negative impact. 

Part Two of this talk covers doula research and practice and the role of the doula as a cross cultural guide for families during a hospital birth experience. (Add 15 minutes)

  • Participants will be able to list three positive obstetric outcomes,  neonatal outcomes, and bonding/attachment outcomes from the birth doula support literature. 

Part Three of this talk illustrates how birthing in a hospital is a cross cultural experience for most people, but especially people of color.  It details how it is also a cross cultural experience for the careproviders as well. It concludes with a series of statements that birthing people of color have shared about their experiences and in their own words what they wish White careproviders understood.  (Add 20 – 30 minutes)

  • Participants will be able to restate why most patient care in labor and delivery is cross cultural, and why understanding this is empowering to nurses and medical staff. 
  • Participants will be able to restate the possible thoughts and influences on persons of color birthing in Meriter Hospital and why this is a challenging cross cultural experience for both White medical staff and the patient of Color. 

Please contact Dr. Gilliland for event information.

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