Category: Healthcare

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 life saver.

 

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.

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.

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!