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Supporting Highly Sensitive People in Birth

The research of Dr. Elaine Aron has determined that around 15-20% of the human population has Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS). People with this neutral genetic trait, also referred to as highly sensitive people (HSP), are more sensitive to environmental and internal stimuli. As a result, they can become more easily overwhelmed or overstimulated by loud environments, new experiences, strong emotions, and physical sensations. Birth can be an overwhelming experience for all people, but it’s especially true for the 1 in 5 birthing people who are highly sensitive. Public awareness of SPS has been growing in recent years. But unfortunately, many birthing people may not even be aware that they are highly sensitive, and many births, especially those happening in a hospital setting, can provide opportunities for sensory overload. Doulas are perfectly positioned to help clients self-identify if they are highly sensitive and to provide support in reducing stimuli and thus the chance for stressful overwhelm during birth. In this session, we’ll share foundational information about what SPS is and how doulas can help support highly sensitive clients.