Category: Healthcare

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt2)

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt2)

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt2)

If you read part 1 of my blog, “How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula” you’re already going to do so well with those simple and basic preparations! Part 2, the pro tips are for the moms that go the extra mile, and basic info isn’t enough. “Give me every tip you have!”  Momma, you’re going to do so well, you’re going to have a beautiful labor and there is nothing to fear. That’s what this part 2 is about. How to prepare throughout your pregnancy to give yourself the best chance at a great birth. It doesn’t matter what kind of birth you are having, natural, cesarean, induction, etc. Good preparation will make any birth have much better results, even in getting a quicker recovery afterward. Thrive in this labor. Have a great story to tell your friends about how you laughed throughout your whole labor, about how there was no pain only enough pressure to let you know what’s happening. These labors happen all the time, but we only hear the horror stories because it is the traumatized people that are compelled to tell their story again and again. You won’t be one of those. Rock your labor with these pro tips!
1. Nutrition is Key
Nutrition is the building block that everything stands on. If you don’t have good nutrition you can be sure there will be problems. So what does good pregnancy nutrition look like? For a healthy you and a healthy baby you need to be taking a good prenatal supplement to start. I recommend Thorne, Seeking Health, or Zahler Prenatal DHA. As far as what you should be eating, it is recommended that a pregnant woman eats:
at least three servings of protein per day (for Iron)
five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day
three or more servings of healthy dairy products per day (for calcium)
foods with essential fats (Omega 3’s and 6’s)
Bone broth is a staple for pregnancy as it provides minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus and is rich in gelatin, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, and amino acids. It can also help you overcome morning sickness.
There are plenty of things to avoid and limit as well. You should limit white tuna (albacore) to no more than 6 oz a week. Limit your caffeine as well to about 12 oz a day. And while many people disagree about whether alcohol is allowed in pregnancy or not, it has been proven that even small amounts of alcohol have somewhat of an effect on the baby and your pregnancy. So better just not to risk it in my opinion. Avoid all fish that contain high amounts of mercury, anything unpasteurized or raw meat. Eating good nutrition is going to help you feel better and have more energy, which brings me to my next point.
2. Exercise for Labor
Exercise during labor is a little different during pregnancy because you’re focusing on different things. If you work out all the time, you can keep doing that, but there are certain things that help prepare your body for labor. First is Kegels, I recommend at least 10 minutes of Kegels a day. You can split it into two 5 minute segments. Kegels are fun because you can do this anytime, anywhere. In a boring meeting? Kegels! Washing dishes? Kegels!  Try it in all different positions: sitting, standing, squatting, leaning over, laying down legs up, etc. Build up the amount of time they’re held and the pressure with they’re held. In an addition to Kegels Ina May Gaskin recommends 500 squats a day for a quick labor. It may take some time to get to that point. Split it up throughout the day to do as many as you can handle. But you should be up to 500 before the birth of your baby. Walking: many midwives won’t even take on clients unless they agree to walk 5 miles each day, rain or shine. It must be important! And last, is stretching. Some may not consider this an exercise, but it certainly prepares you physically and mentally. Flexibility in labor is very helpful in an of itself, but doing split-like stretches helps open you up and prepares you to release and let go of the tension and muscle gripping in labor. This is especially important if you’re worried about: length of labor, size of the baby, tearing, or the pushing stage in general. Learn more labor exercise HERE.
3. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and Dates
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is amazing. It tones the pelvic floor, strengthens the uterus, guards the immune system, and eases morning sickness and more. This is a favorite for doulas, we love the amount of good that comes from drinking a simple delicious tea. You can begin drinking this in your 2nd trimester. Dates are another great way to improve your labor outcome. It is associated with shorter labors, higher bishop scores, going into labor more spontaneously, avoiding Pitocin and many other things. You can begin eating them at 36 weeks, read more about them HERE.
4. Baby Positioning
There are many things you can do to improve the position of your baby. Most of us know that a sunny side up baby (posterior) means a longer harder labor with a ton of pressure on your back. If this is the case you should spend a lot of time on hands and knees every day doing some slight rocking. About 30 minutes to an hour every day can really help encourage your baby to move into optimal positioning. You can find out from your care provider where your baby is sitting, and then do some belly mapping to fill in the missing pieces. From there you can get to work. There is rebozo sifting, yoga, and exercise that can get baby moving. Any movement is said to be good movement because it just gives your baby more opportunity to do what it already knows to do. If your baby is breech at full term it will usually result in a c-section, so it’s best to get to work on that from 30 weeks on. A few things have been shown to help with that. The first thing is frequent deep pool diving, this creates a pressure that has been successful to turn many babies around. Having your partner speak or sing to the baby at your pelvic floor is so great. Your baby is attracted to the familiar sound and will draw near and hopefully engage when this is done regularly. The right kind of massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care have been shown to help at times as well. If all of these things fail to engage a breech baby head down, then you should turn to Version, a procedure where the doctor will attempt to turn the baby manually. For more information on how to turn a particular position visit spinningbabies.com
5. Perineal Massages
A massage for your perineum can drastically improve your chances of not tearing and avoiding an episiotomy. And not tearing is a big must for surviving labor. It may be hard to do for yourself, you’ll need a mirror and some perseverance… or a partner for this. I recommend using coconut oil or vitamin E for this procedure, and to do it every day from 34 weeks on. Detailed instructions can be found HERE.
6. Stay Loose and Breathe
Now, in labor, there are things to remember and techniques to do. This is why it’s so helpful to have a doula, she knows what these things are and how to help you in those moments. So first thing to remember is that a loose jaw = an open pelvis. There is a direct connection with the tightness in your mouth, and the tension down below. So keeping your sounds low and your jaw slack help keep the looseness needed to avoid fighting your own contractions. Then there are breathing techniques, which there is no ‘right one’ just pick one you like. They are designed to keep you breathing deeply and getting plenty of oxygen to the baby, keeping you calm, and… distracting you. That’s right. Counting those breaths through every contraction really helps to refocus you and distract from any negative feeling.
7. Mental Preparation
I am all about mental preparation. In fact, I include meditation sessions with most of my packages, and will give the instructions on how to do it if they don’t choose that package. I think it single-handedly makes the most difference in the actual labor process. So there are many avenues of mental preparation. There is childbirth classes to educate you, a Bradley or Lamaze class to instruct you, and Hypnobirthing to change your mind. I think they’re all great, but if we are being honest we all have fear during our pregnancy lingering in the back of our minds concerning childbirth. This fear is ingrained in our body and even if we chant positive mantras, our body still reacts to the unknown with fear and negativity. I believe we can have positive labor, a pain free birth, and a glorious experience (even without the medication). Since this is the ‘pro’ tips from a doula I will give you the unconventional wisdom. In addition to meditation and the things mentioned in my last blog, EFT tapping is a way to address your fears and then rid yourself of them. Watch positive labors on Youtube or join BirthTUBE on facebook. Speak out what your birth will be and how you’re creating a pathway for it to be this way. Don’t speak anything that doesn’t feel honest. Speak only the truth. Ground yourself in nature for the meditation and visualize what your birth will be like because of your preparation and incredible birth team.
If you apply all of these things well, then you’re set up for an expert birth. You’re rocking this pregnancy, and you will rock motherhood as well. Just remember to hire your doula; knowing everything does not decrease your need for actual educated support during labor – physically, emotionally, spiritually, or as an advocate.
Let me know if there is anything I missed and how you are preparing for labor!

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt 1)

 

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt 1)

Labor and delivery can be extremely daunting. We are counting down the days from the beginning, dreading the labor, but excited to meet our little one. But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be. Honestly, you can rock your birth so well that the word survival doesn’t resonate with you anymore. As a doula, I have the amazing opportunity to guide women through pregnancy and labor and find out what works, and what doesn’t. And I have found unsurprisingly that those who prepare the most, handle their labors the best. I have some basic tips for you if you’re a first-time mom, or a mom that wants a better labor experience than before – oh that’s all of you? Okay, let’s delve into this topic and learn how to not just survive but have an incredible experience in your birth.
1. Get a Doula, or at Least a Childbirth Class.
We all knew I had to say it. It’s my highest recommendation I believe in them more than words can tell you. It makes a massive difference in your birth. And I haven’t met anyone that regretted getting a doula (maybe the wrong doula, but not a doula in general) if there are none in your area or in your budget, take a class. It will give you understanding, ease your mind, and make you more confident about your upcoming birth. Find a doula in your area HERE
2. Make a Detailed Birth Plan
Now, I have to give you the disclaimer that you probably won’t get it to happen exactly according to plan. But it goes along the lines of “Shoot for the moon, even if you fall short you’ll land among the stars.” Which may be incorrect astronomy, but you understand. Making a detailed birth plan increases your chances of having the birth you want. You’re not going to remember everything you want in those intense moments, but having someone remind you to change positions, or turning down the lights for you, adding some relaxing music, these little things make a big difference in your labor. In your birth plan also you should have procedure protocol ready for you and your baby as well. A good place online to make a birth plan (if you’re not hiring a doula) is HERE.
3. Release Your Fears
Since we know you don’t progress well unless you’re relaxed, and fear fights your natural hormones from releasing, it becomes extremely important to ward off fear. How? First, through education, learn all you can about birth, WARD AWAY FROM THE HORROR STORIES. Secondly, through prayer/meditation, take time every day to focus on the birth you want and remind yourself that you will get it. Pain-free, easy births are possible and they happen all the time. Remind yourself of all the measures that can be easily taken if something were to go wrong. Contractions are just flexing muscles and like a wave to embrace and ride. Think of pushing your baby out is like pooping out a stick of butter, easy because your body has already opened like it’s designed to and made way for your baby.
4. Relieve the Pain
The #1 pain relief option that people go for is an epidural. Epidurals have some pros and cons like everything, but after studying if you feel this is your best option, read this. There is also Nitrous Oxide which wouldn’t be my first choice as it has some seriously dangerous side effects. Then there is natural pain relief: water birth has been called ‘the natural epidural’ for good reason, the temperature and weightlessness contribute to major relief. If you’re not able to do water birth you can use similar techniques with a hot water bottle, warm cloths, or your partner holding you up to relieve you of any muscle usage (the weightlessness factor). There are instinctive position changes, massage, distraction, focus, oils, counter pressure, rebozo sifting, kissing, and many other natural ways to decrease or eliminate your pain. Your brain only has so many sensory receptors and if you combine as many of these things as you can, chances are you won’t have the space to feel pain.
5. Beat Exhaustion
Many moms confess that although they did all the right things and had a great labor in many regards they were just totally exhausted. Early labor is anywhere from a few hours to a few days or even weeks in some cases! Active labor can last up to 20+ hours, but from 6cm it’s usually between 4-8 hours. When you have to focus intensely through every contraction, those hours get very long. So first thing is preventative care. When you are in early labor many moms get excited about impending labor and find it hard to sleep. Don’t be that mom. Pretend it’s not happening and take a nap. Even if you can’t actually sleep, lying there is better than walking around trying to provoke labor to get rolling. If you were going to run a marathon in the evening would you exercise all day? No. Exercise should have happened in preparation for this day, but delivery day requires all the rest you can get. Also if you’re able to nap between contractions early on it’s a very good way to get you through the finish line. Secondly, you need fuel. Unless you’re planning on a C-Section (or believe you may need one) you have every right and responsibility to eat something. I recommend a smoothie as it is easily digestible and is good healthy energy to burn without the crash (try these yummy recipes!).

These are the basic tips to survive labor. If you don’t prepare you can expect to run into problems and pain. Every woman needs to be well prepared before undertaking this amazing feat. My next blog (part 2) is the expert tips for surviving labor and delivery. This has more to do with preparation in your body and is for someone who is very dedicated to having a great labor and delivery, and a healthier body and baby. You can expect better results when you put in the time and effort. Let me know what you did to prepare for labor!

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt 1)
The Epidural Doula.

The Epidural Doula.

The Epidural Doula.

 

“I don’t need a doula, I’m getting an epidural.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that, and I’ve had to bite my tongue.  An epidural is not suddenly going to make this an easy DIY experience.

Let’s get real here for a few minutes. Don’t worry I am not going to talk you out of your epidural, just going to educate you so that you don’t walk into this blindly.  

 

“Pain coping”

Nobody signs up for a natural birth because pain sounds exciting. You can read that again. In a non-medicated birth, hormones flood your body making you capable of withstanding the immense pain. In the case of an epidural, your medication blocks both pain and pleasure hormones. With pain being the stronger of the two, sometimes that’s all you’re left with and you feel the pain without the endorphins to help you cope. You’re typically confined to a bed to be monitored properly, thus reducing many natural pain coping measures.  An epidural doula can help. She knows how to get you through the remaining pain. There are pressure points, massage techniques, essential oils, etc that she is trained to use effectively for pain reduction in such times. And that’s just if you decide to get a ‘parking lot epidural’. Deciding to naturally cope through labor as long as you can, has been shown to help shorten labors. Have an epidural doula by your side to get you through the toughest part, she will help you reach your epidural at the most effective time.

 

“Relaxation”

Many moms report that after getting an epidural even though their pain went WAY down their anxiety went WAY up. Someone close to you can help somewhat with this just by being by your side, but epidural doulas are trained in relaxation techniques and are some of the most naturally compassionate and empathic people (in my humble opinion). They are going to help by calming your fears – they’ve seen this before many many times! They are going to help by reminding you who you are and why you’re doing this (There’s a baby at the end of this tunnel!) And they can even take your mind off of it by creating beautiful imagery with their words. Giving you tasks relevant to you can really help anxiety; for one woman, singing hymns got her through labor beautifully! Once relaxed, most women dilate much faster -if you’re anxious, this is going to be a long labor.

 

“Breastfeeding”

Although there is no known adverse effect on baby with an epidural, there has been evidence that babies born via epidural are less likely to breastfeed than those born in unmedicated labors. The good news is that mom’s with (epidural) doulas are much more likely to succeed in breastfeeding than moms without doulas! If you plan on breastfeeding and getting an epidural, hedge your bets and hire an epidural doula. She knows how to help you and baby get a good latch, and she is there for advice and education on your breastfeeding journey.

 

“Your Birth Plan”

You won’t feel quite yourself in an epidural. Even though you will be awake  (Unless you’re choosing to nap, hooray!) many moms report grogginess, forgetfulness, and feeling ‘out of it’. If you have a birth plan, especially with instructions regarding the baby following birth, it’s important to have an epidural doula there. A dad/partner or friend is emotionally involved and therefore not often the best advocate for your birth plan when the moment arises. The doula will not speak on your behalf but will remind you, or ask you what you want when the doctor is present. The doula will pause the caregiver from performing any actions until they have your consent. That alone makes an epidural doula invaluable.

 

“Prenatal and Postpartum”

Yes, even epidural doulas will be a phone call away during pregnancy or postnatally. Many epidural doulas (like myself) will attend a prenatal doctor’s appointment with you to help facilitate communication, ask the right questions, and receive the truthful answers. An epidural doula will also check up on you postpartum. An epidural is not easy to heal from, and because it interrupts the body’s natural process of carefully cascading hormones, sometimes things go awry afterward. Having someone watching over you that knows what to look for, how to help, and who to recommend, is a tremendous lifesaver.

 

Hey mom, whatever you choose, epidural, un-medicated, or anything in between, arm yourself in education and don’t be ashamed of your choice. This birth is for you and baby, no one else. Make the best decisions for the two of you, but however your birth – I hope you choose a doula. A birth team doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart. Whenever, however, let’s make this birth glorious.

Essential Oils for Relaxation During Pregnancy

Essential Oils for Relaxation During Pregnancy

One issue that many mothers will face, especially towards the latter stages of their pregnancy is staying relaxed until it is time to give birth. Lowering the stress and anxiety is important when it comes to delivering a healthy child. Mothers who are anxious or overly concerned are not only putting themselves through a considerable amount of stress, they are also subjecting their babies to that as well. In serious cases, this may lead to complications that might have been avoided if the mothers could stay relaxed and calm. One simple and effective method for keeping calm and relaxed is the use of essential oils. For many years, essential oils have been used to help induce a natural state of relaxation. They can be used for women who are pregnant to help them relax as well.

How Essential Oils Work

Inhaling the aroma or scent of certain essential oils that are placed into the air through a diffuser or when used in massage therapy causes the mind and the body to become more relaxed. This is because the sense of smell is the only sense that is directly connected to the brain. In the back of your nasal passages, a small part of the brain is exposed which allows for direct contact to happen with the scent of essential oils.

The result is chemical changes that occur in the brain which promotes relaxation, a lessening of tension, and a reduction of stress which is important for women in their second and third trimesters. Using a diffuser means that the air itself inside the room is filled with the aroma of essential oils. Rubbing it on the skin produces a similar result and some of the essential oil will be absorbed into the body as well.

What Essential Oils Promote Relaxation

Of course, you will need to select the proper essential oils that promote relaxation so you can stay calm and relaxed in preparation for the eventual birth of your baby. The recommended essential oils are as follows:

  • Frankincense
  • Ginger
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Grass
  • Mandarin
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Ylang Ylang

All these essential oils promote relaxation in one form or another. Lavender is the most common arguably because it is the most well-known. However, the other essential oils also provide ample relaxation which helps women in their second and third trimesters feel relaxed, sleep better, and have more energy during the day.

In addition, many essential oils have antiseptic qualities which mean that they help destroy germs or bacteria. When applied to the skin, they can help prevent infections along with slowing down or even stopping potential colds and viruses which can be most uncomfortable and annoying during pregnancy.

It is important to remember that while some essential oils induce relaxation, others may induce labor to begin unexpectedly. So, you will need to avoid the essential oils of clary sage, clove, cinnamon, and rosemary. Make sure that you are not exposed to these essential oils or you might face unwanted contractions.

Essential Oils for Relaxation During Pregnancy
Rebozo For Pregnancy and Labor

Rebozo For Pregnancy and Labor

How is a Mexican shawl (rebozo) helpful for pregnancy and labor?

A rebozo is one of the more underutilized birth items that doulas rave about. This thing single-handedly has changed many people’s birth so drastically that they won’t even try going into birth without one. You’re going to want to bookmark this on your computer for later.

A rebozo traditionally is a beautiful Mexican shawl, but more recently has been used for pregnant women everywhere. You can easily use a folded sheet or long scarf as a replacement, just know that the rebozo should be about 8 feet long.

REBOZO SIFTING IN PREGNANCY

 

    If you have been told you have a breech baby, or just that the baby is not in optimal position for that point in your pregnancy, you can begin doing what is called rebozo sifting.

You can do this is many positions. An easy position would be to get on all fours or to rest on a birthing ball and have your partner wrap the rebozo around your waist (make sure you go the full width of the waist from below breasts to the hips). Once you are wrapped and feel comfortable, your partner would grab both ends, taking the weight of your belly off of you and GENTLY shifting back and forth. Once you get the hang of it, try it in different positions and see which one feels the best for you.

You can’t rebozo too often. Twice a day is ideal if you’re in a hurry to get that baby in position, but you can do as little as once a week if you’re still several months out.

What is great about this is you can only move the baby into a better position. You can’t rebozo the baby into a bad spot.

Another reason to use this in pregnancy is to prepare for the labor, so even if your baby is in a great spot, you might just get comfortable with this practice so you both can jump into the routine on delivery day!

And mom, you’re going to love doing this if your pregnancy has been rough on your back. It’s going to feel like your dessert at the end of the day to get some of that weight pulled off of you.

 REBOZO SIFTING IN LABOR

Rebozo sifting in labor is used for the same main purpose of positioning the baby ever so slightly to the least painful, most optimal location. Many times women go through the excruciating pain that is unnecessary; the baby was not quite at the right angle and hitting at the cervix. This doesn’t have to be a part of your labor. Rebozo sifting can definitely help, but also it’s not a cure-all for the pain in labor. Labor is still usually painful regardless.

The other use of a rebozo in labor is just to relieve the mom of back pain. If you really take the time to learn about all the positions you can do with a rebozo, it can help alleviate many different areas of pain throughout labor.

Now, if you’re having a homebirth this will be a really easy transition, as you’ve had all the practice and the locations for positioning yourself. A hospital birth can still be done! I would advise you to bring your birthing ball and don’t expect them to have unlimited pillows for your knees. If you don’t have access to a birthing ball, just lean in on the edge of the bed using whatever you brought or whatever is around for your knee cushioning. You can cradle it under your armpits as you crouch to the ground and your doula or partner would stand above you in front carrying all of your weight (don’t worry partner, it sounds harder than it is). You can also try it on all fours in the hospital bed with your partner or doula standing above you sifting. You will probably get weird looks from the nurses and doctors. That’s ok!

The situations you would NOT use a rebozo in.

  • High-risk pregnancy. If you are having complications or you are in danger of having a high-risk pregnancy, you absolutely need to speak with your care provider first and foremost and make sure that the rebozo will be not a problem.
  • If you have seen any signs of the possibility of a miscarriage, you should not be using the rebozo.
  • If you do not think you can be very gentle, don’t use it or try it. Being rough with the rebozo could jerk around the baby and/or the placenta or cause other problems. But when used gently it is considered safe.

If you’re still unsure of positions or what exactly to do, there are a ton of youtube videos that can help walk you through. Remember practice, practice, practice! Good luck on your rebozo journey, I hope it works amazingly for you!  

How To Choose Your Perfect Doula

Choosing The Perfect Doula For Your Particular Birth Is Important

For every would-be parent, bringing a new life into the world is a crazy but very special experience. To make the pregnancy and labor leading up to the birth great, it is so important to find the right birth doula to fit your needs and desires.

Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do when interviewing for a doula for your birth team!

DO make sure the doula is supportive of your choices from the get go. Go over your desires for your birth and how important each thing is to you. Most doulas are very supportive, but some have their own agenda. So if you have a doula that keeps trying to get you to change your mind on something you’re fully committed on – drop her! That will not play out well in the delivery room.

DO make sure the doula you are interviewing is inclusive and doesn’t ignore your husband or children in the interview. This day is about you becoming a mom, but also he’s becoming a dad, and other children get to be ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ If she isn’t paying attention to them now, she won’t in the birth room later. The spouse is often too shy or sometimes lacks the understanding to ask for things in that intense delivery room, but a good doula is going to make sure he is included to the extent he wants to be. When it’s time for the children to meet their newest sibling, the doula should create the right environment for that to happen.

DO ask about pricing. Why are they the cheapest you found? Why are they more expensive than most? What is included or not included? What kind of experience are they bringing? Is it worth more to you for a doula that has been doing it longer?

DO ask about discounts and insurance. Has this doula ever successfully gotten insurance to cover part of her services? Does she offer discounts if you book her in your first trimester or if you’re due next month? Or if you pay her off by a certain time? Or if you’re a family needing assistance due to unfortunate circumstances?

DO have the doula provide some massaging on you in the interview! I know it sounds crazy, but you want to make sure that her touch isn’t annoying/too rough/too soft/etc. While you’re at it, make sure she has essential oils to massage you with, if essential oil benefits are something you’re looking forward to! I will be writing a blog here soon on the benefits of essential oils in birth.

DO find someone that’s warm, open, and makes you feel very comfortable. Just because she is knowledgeable and nice doesn’t mean she is right for you. The delivery room is a very vulnerable place and you shouldn’t have someone who’s presence in the room makes you feel uncomfortable, that goes for your entire birth team!


DON’T do all the talking. This is a common thing doulas do to make it seem like they’re a perfect fit for you. They just have you do all the talking, they nod their head and agree with everything you might say. You think she is perfect until the day of, which by then is too late. Find out what is important to you in a birth doula and ask her who she is and what she does. What are her beliefs in birthing and why should you hire her.

DON’T wait until the last minute to hire your doula. The earlier the better, you will usually get a lot more benefits from her. If you are not sure what to ask your doctor or midwife, your doula can help you by either making a list of questions with you or attending your appointments with you. She can help you make a birth plan. Sometimes it’s free, and sometimes it is included in her birth classes. She can also give you or recommend great prenatal sessions. She should also be able to answer all kinds of questions about your birth and what to expect and how to treat your body and prepare it for labor.

 

I am a Christian Kansas City Doula advocating for a powerful mama. Wherever she wants to birth, however, she wants to birth. Let’s make it glorious.

How To Choose Your Perfect Doula
What Is a Doula and Do I Really Need One?

What Is a Doula and Do I Really Need One?

What is a Doula?

Doula comes from the Greek word doulē  meaning ‘female slave.’ It has come more modernly to mean a woman who is trained to effectively assist another woman in childbirth.

A doula in a more expansive form is a person trained to help mothers (and fathers!) in the preparation, delivery, and postpartum process of giving birth. The doula is not a medically-trained assistant, but rather a skilled professional that provides emotional, informational, physical, educational, and yes, even spiritual support during the birthing process. A doula is trained to provide unbiased support so that the mother can feel confident to make good decisions in a high-pressure environment. The doula will assist in many physical aspects including Rebozo sifting, position changing for optimal delivery, massage, relaxation and breathing techniques, guided imagery, aromatherapy, soothing music and so much more. Their tools usually include a peanut ball, a birthing ball, a rebozo, essential oils, affirmations or scripture cards, their enormous heart, knowledgeable mind, and various experiences. 

With the knowledge and experience of a doula, you can be confident that you have someone on your side that will tell you the truth and is not biased or having some kind of agenda other than a healthy mom and baby. She knows your birth plan, and she knows your past birth experiences, she knows what you’re like when you’re coping well, and not so much. She has a hundred good suggestions should you feel the need to try something different. It’s good to have someone truly on your side.

The doula should also know how to facilitate communication between the mom and the care providers. In the chaos and pain and exhaustion, many moms feel left out of the decisions when there isn’t someone there advocating for her. A doula will never speak for you, but rather make sure you understand everything that’s going on, and make sure the doctor is explaining and giving you multiple options. This empowerment has been unbelievably valuable to the vast majority of women with doulas.

The right doula is a calming companion, encouraging the woman to let go and succumb to the wisdom of her body, so her body can successfully birth her baby. When a woman is stressed, fearful, and tense, her body reacts with a fight or flight response that releases chemicals and hormones called Adrenaline, Cortisol, and Norepinephrine. This release can slow or stop the production of Oxytocin, the hormone that causes the contractions in labor, thus slowing down the entire labor and creating more exhaustion, fatigue, inability or self-doubt and thus the process repeats itself. Relaxing is essential to a smooth birthing process.

The ultimate goal of a good doula is to give the mother an experience that’s empowering, healthy, and positive with good memories to last a lifetime.

Why Hire a Doula?

There are good reasons to hire a doula, especially if you will be delivering your first child. The services of the doula are most often reasonably priced and you can set the terms of their participation. But even if they are expensive in your city, you have to decide how important birth is to you.

Physical Benefits for Mom

  • Studies have shown a 50% decrease in C-sections when a doula was present.
  • overall labor time is typically cut by 25%.
  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin (an inducing medication).
  • 9% decrease in the use of any pain medication.
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery.
  • 34% increase in birth satisfaction.
  • 40% decrease in the use of forceps (A process in which the doctor has to pull the baby out in a hurry because of fetal distress).

Emotional Benefits for the Mom

  • Women feel better prepared for the emotional and physical aspects of birth.
  • Women feel nurtured and cared for.
  • Women are much more highly satisfied with the individual care they receive.
  • Women’s individual perception of their labor is much more positive.
  • Mothers who are supported by a Birth Doula on average spend more time with their baby.
  • Women bond more easily with their babies with a doula’s techniques and education.
  • Women feel better prepared to be mothers.

Benefits for Baby

  • Shorter hospital stays for baby because babies tend to be healthier with a doula’s continual support.
  • Four times more likely to have a healthy birth weight with a doula’s continual support.
  • Mothers who were supported by a Birth Doula spend more time with their baby.
  • Babies had fewer septic workups.
  • Reports show a significant decrease in reports of vomiting, colds or a runny nose, cough, and poor appetite and a significant decrease in reports of diarrhea.

 

So now is when you decide how important these things are to you. A doctor, nurse, midwife, friend, and partner are all incredible and important pieces to the birth team, but absolutely none of them can take the places statistically of a doula. There is a doula for everyone woman… there is a perfect doula for you.

If you’re wondering how to choose the right doula, that’s my next blog!