Denver Catholic

DCR - August 14, 2013

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10 I HEALTH AUGUST 14, 2013 I DENVER CATHOLIC REGISTER Catholic hospital provides free bilingual labor assistance AMALIA Cordova, right, poses with a new mom at St. Anthony North Hospital in Westminster. BY MARY CATHERINE MEYER Doula practice is ancient. Yet, offering female friendship to expectant mothers may be just the care some women need to choose life in today's world. One of the only hospitals in the country offering free bilingual doula (labor assistance) care to its patients and the only center to do so in Colorado, St. Anthony North in Westminster has served 7,000 women since the doula program began in 1999. The exotic Greek word remains enigmatic to many. "Doulas are supportive companions to women—labor assistants—giving continuous care throughout labor and delivery. They give emotional, physical and educational support—non-medical support," said Kathleen Harrington, director of St. Anthony's doula program, which is unique in providing doulas who translate for Spanish-speaking patients during delivery. Amalia Cordova, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico and gave birth to her first child before learning English, said the trauma of her language barrier and difficult labor experience caused her desire to help women through pregnancy and delivery. "I didn't know what they were telling me and they didn't know what I was telling them," she said of the doctors for her delivery, "But that minute that I was suffering, I thought if I learned English I'm going to help women who are doing this. I promised God and I don't break my promises to God." Cordova came to the United States to learn English and fuel her career as an accountant in Mexico. Instead she met her husband, an American citizen, was married and eventually moved to Colorado where she began volunteering as a Spanish translator in hospital delivery rooms throughout the Denver area. Doctors and nurses then working with Cordova encouraged her to pursue the training program and become a certified doula. St. Anthony North hired her almost immediately. "God had everything to do with what I became," Cordova said, recalling her father's skepticism about her continuing education after fifth grade. "His mind was, 'Why do girls her patients during labor. She and the other 13 doulas at the hospital are on call throughout the week—vigilant and ready to serve. "Some patients don't have anybody," explained Cordova. "They open up to us. They bond to us. They say whatever they feel. They appreciate that they have someone who advocates for them, who explains for them." The care doulas give is profoundly natural. Harrington said using a doula reduces the rate of Caesarean sections, epidurals, the length of first-time labors and decreases neonatal complications. It also increases the likelihood of first-time breast feeding. "I really believe," said Cordova, "that women's bodies know what to do when they have babies." They simply need someone to tell them this, to be with them if they feel alone, she added. "It is one-on-one, personal support," Harrington said. For more information or to make a donation in support of this program, contact the St. Anthony North Health Foundation at 303-650-7345. need to go to school so they can get married and have kids?'" she recalled. To pay for her secondary schooling, she found a job at 12 years old, cooking, cleaning and caring for the dozen children of a wealthy family while also taking night classes. Cordova told her story gently, peacefully. She made a promise to God, and he to her, she said. The persevering spirit that fortified her throughout her edMary Catherine Meyer: 303ucation also enables her to rise 715-3215;; at any time of night and be with His parents can't help him. They pray for someone like you. Free cleft surgery Your support can provide free treatment for poor children with clefts. which takes as little as 45 minutes $250 Surgery. $125 Half surgery. $50 Medications. $ Zip and costs as little Mr./Mrs./Ms. City Address State as $250, can give Telephone eMail Credit Card # Expires desperate children Visa Discover Signature MasterCard AMEX not just a new N13081F78NQAZF6 My check is enclosed. smile – but a Smile Train, P.O. Box 96210, Washington, DC 20090-6210 new life. " of the most productive charities—dollar for deed—in the world." —The New York Times Donate online: or call: 1-800-932-9541 Smile Train is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit recognized by the IRS, and all donations to Smile Train are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS regulations. © 2013 Smile Train.

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