Friday, April 11, 2008

Operation Special Delivery, Delivers Volunteer Labor Doulas to Expectant Military Wives

Friday, April 11, 2008
For Childbirth and all that Entails…

by Michelle Schnaars

Due to the war against terror many spouses of servicemen are birthing without their husbands; and often without family or friends. The OSD motto is "A Hand to Hold ‘til They all Come Home". The volunteer Labor Doulas of OSD stand by their word...and the wives of military servicemen, giving piece of mind to both husbands and wives.

I recently had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with MaryBeth Nance who is the Director of Operation Special Delivery. MaryBeth provides answers about the program and insight into what makes this unique program special for military families.

Schnaars: When and why was OSD formed?

Nance: Operation Special Delivery began with the vision of Patricia Newton, a doula in southern New Jersey. Like many people, Patricia felt the need to personally respond to the tragedies of September 11, 2001 and she immediately saw the U.S. military and their families as indirect victims of the attacks. Because she was geographically located between Washington, D.C. and New York, she asked nearby doulas via the internet if they would be willing to donate their services to any pregnant woman who either lost her partner on 9-11, or would be giving birth without the presence of her partner due to military deployments. The response was overwhelming. Not only did doulas on the East Coast enthusiastically respond, but within one week, doulas from twenty states wanted to jump on the bandwagon. After growing too large for one person to maintain, Patricia offered the Operation Special Delivery program to CAPPA, the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association. CAPPA began running OSD on January 1, 2005. Patricia knew that CAPPA would take good care of the OSD program, due to our professionalism, care, excellent leadership team, and premier evidence-based doula, childbirth, lactation, and postpartum training and certification programs.

Schnaars: What is your web address?


Schnaars: How can someone apply for a labor doula?

Nance: Anyone who is interested in applying for services from Operation Special Delivery may visit our website at for additional information.

Schnaars: How many doulas volunteer with the program?

Nance: We currently have 600 volunteer doulas in the Operation Special Delivery program.

Schnaars: How many families have been paired with a doula?

Nance: Since March of 2005, Operation Special Delivery has served 609 families. The number of lives that we touch grows on a daily basis.

Schnaars: Does OSD offer other types of support?

Nance: Currently, OSD offers only volunteer labor doulas but we are hoping to expand in the near future to include childbirth educators, lactation consultants and postpartum doulas.

Schnaars: How many states is OSD in?

Nance: We are present in nearly every state and several locations internationally.

Schnaars: What makes this type of support necessary?

Nance: The women who apply for volunteer doulas from our program have husbands or partners who are deployed and they have no friends or family nearby, or those support people are tasked with caring for older children while the woman is in labor. No woman should have to give birth alone and especially not the women from the families who are giving so much to protect and defend our freedoms.

Schnaars: How do you find doulas who will volunteer their time?

Nance: We promote through websites, including CAPPA’s and our own, promotional brochures and posters. Many doula trainers offer our information in their trainings and a lot of new volunteers find out about our program from other doulas.

Schnaars: Are the doulas trained or certified?

Nance: OSD requires all volunteer doulas to be professionally trained. Many are also certified, however that is not a requirement to volunteer.

Schnaars: What do families say about the support they have received? What is the feed-back?

Nance: Sometimes we hear back from the families who have utilized our services and each time it is with praise and thanks for helping them make their birth experience wonderful even though they were in less than ideal circumstances.

If you would like to apply for an OSD volunteer labor doula please visit the OSD website at the address listed below.

If you area a doula and would like to volunteer your services please visit the OSD website and fill out an application.

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