Archive for the ‘doula’ Category

Building Your Birth Support Team

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

As practice through the ages and evidence shows, support during the birth process can be greatly beneficial to both mothers and babies. It is not about having an experience. It is about healthier emotional and physical outcomes for mothers and subsequently for babies as well.  Putting together a support team is not as simple as inviting a family member or friend along. There are many components to consider as this is the most intimate time to allow others to share in except for the conception of your baby.

Prior to putting together your Labor Support Team (LST):

You and your spouse/partner are generally the only persons who can speak on your and the baby’s behalf unless another individual has a medical power of attorney for the labor and postpartum time period. Learning how to be a self-advocate is an important piece of the support team puzzle.  Answering very specific questions prior to looking at who ultimately will be with you at your birth will be helpful to you in addressing specific needs, goals, philosophy, and expectations.

  • What education and self study are you doing during pregnancy?
  • Do you feel confident and equipped to birth your baby?
  • Are you confident and at ease with your provider?
  • Are you comfortable with his or her requirements and practice style?
  • Are you comfortable with the policies, requirements, and protocols of your birth location?
  • Do you have special circumstances or health concerns?
  • When you close your eyes who do you see being the most supportive of you and your choices?
  • Are you a single mother or is your spouse/partner deployed?
  • What type of help does your spouse/partner or your main support person need?
  • How involved does your spouse/partner or main support person need?
  • What type of physical support do you need (massage, positioning help, any chronic pain or health issues to contend with?)?
  • What type of emotional support do you require (affirmations, encouragement, quiet and positive, no questions asked, reminders…)?
  • What type of educational/informational support do you expect to need?
  • Are you comfortable discussing needs and desires with provider?
  • Do you feel confident in addressing the staff at a hospital or birth center?
  • Do you have a birth plan?
  • Planning a natural birth?
  • Planning an epidural in your birth?
  • Traveling a distance to your birth location?
  • Are there any specific cultural barriers or needs that ought be addressed?
  • What other considerations or needs might you have?

Now that you have answered the questions, it is likely a much more clear picture why being specific about your LST is so important.  This is an opportunity to look at and personalize what is needed in labor.  It is not for anyone else to decide what it will look like, who is going to be there, and who is not going to be there.

Putting together your LST

The birth of a baby is only less intimate than the act of making the baby. Inviting anyone into the area surrounding this event can affect the process positively or negatively. Privacy, comfort, safety, and honoring the birth of a baby are a must so choosing the person(s) to take the journey with you needs to be well thought out. Some candidates for a LST are on the below list.

  • Husband
  • Partner
  • Mother/Father (other family members)
  • Friend
  • Older Children
  • Doula (skilled and trained labor support)
  • Care Provider (OB, Midwife or Family Practice Doctor)

Many on the list are pretty obvious choice considerations. The best person(s) to have around you during labor and birth will aim to provide what you need physically, emotionally, and by way of information while supporting your decisions and desires without bringing in negativity, fear, bias against what you want, distrust for the process, anger, a sense of undermining, etc. Your support team can make or break the outcome of your labor and delivery simply by what he or she brings into your birth.  Your birth is not about any one elses satisfaction, background, needs, wants or the like. This is your birth, your baby’s birth.

The one person on the list you may or may not have heard of is the labor doula. The labor doula was born out of this need.  Essentially this is a woman of knowledge and skill in pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum (yes there are a few men in who are labor doulas as well) who comes alongside a pregnant woman (family) offering education, physical support and emotional support to both the mother and partner/husband/other support.  A doula does not take away from a husband or partner during the process.  Doulas are shown to decrease interventions, cesarean, epidural use, narcotics use, need for induction, and increase satisfaction, bonding, breastfeeding success, and more! For more information regarding labor doulas, click here  http://prepforbirth.com/2009/08/09/what-is-a-labor-doula-what-does-she-or-he-do/.

From the Birthing Front

Here is a sampling from women who have birthed, are pregnant or attend women in birth who answered the question “Why is having a supportive birth team important?

“I didn’t realize that I didn’t have the right kind of birth support until it was too late. This in no way is meant to say that my practitioner, or the staff, or my husband were not supportive . . . they were, but I didn’t have anyone on hand to advocate for my needs. Even though I prepared extensively for a natural birth and hired a CNM, I ended up having a cesarean. I firmly believe that the most important member of your hospital birth team is your doula.” Kimberly J.

“…because a woman in labor is in the most vulnerable state of her life. When I was in labor I needed someone holding my hand telling me I could do it… telling me all those incredibly intense sensations were, indeed, normal. I was vulnerable, and my support team protected me and supported me as I gave birth.  “For me, feeling “safe” didn’t just mean feeling safe physically… it meant feeling emotionally safe to welcome the vulnerability that labor brings and thus to be able to let go” Lily B.

“Because it means the difference between a baby and mom being healthy vs. the million of things that can go wrong if a mom is stressed, confronted, or generally ignored.  Support during birth, whatever that means for the mom, is more important in my hunble opinion than support during pregnancy. Giving birth in a hostile or unfriendly environment is dangerous.” Rachel A.

“Birth is one of the biggest events that define a woman’s life. When she is in labor her senses are heightened by the hormones going through her body. Her perception of those around her will make or break her birth experience. A trained experienced birth team knows how to keep the emotions of both professional and non professional people positive and empower the woman to birth not only her baby but a stronger more confident self into being.” Amber-joy T.

“A supportive birth team can mean the difference between a physically healthy birth and a birth that can take months to recover from. Regardless of the actual events at a woman’s birth (vaginal birth, cesarean, medicated, non-medicated, home, hosptial, birth center), a supportive birth team can also mean the difference between having a happy, rewarding, and empowering birth and a birth in which the birth is not owned by the mother emotionally. Mental health can be more important than physical health and more costly to treat down the road. Always take care of yourself emotionally.” Nora M.

“Birth is such a vulnerable and powerful experience. I remember that I had to tap into a side of myself that I had not yet known until birth. Every *vibe* from others around me affected my state of mind during the process. Without the complete support of my birth team, and husband, I would’ve when that point of surrender hit, given into the doubts and crumbled under the pressure; But becauseI did have a supportive team, I was empowered to press forward and experience the most amazing moment of my life uninhibited.” Julie W.

So now take a moment to think about who will offer you what you need and help you attain what you want in labor and delivery.  Having continuous support no matter the type of birth you want is important because you and your baby matter.  Your birth matters.

Preparing For Birth – The Passage from She Births

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

The below writing in my opinion is one of the most eloquent and beautiful takes on labor and birth I have read.   I am using it by permission of the author, Marcie Macari from her book She Births.   I encourage you to go to her site and see her offerings.  Inspiring and fantastic. Thank you Marcie for allowing me to bless others.

I have and will continue to use this piece as a visualization with clients and class participants.  Enjoy!

“The Passage” from She Births by Marcie Macari

The earth shook. The women gathered.

The chanting of The Women Of a Thousand Generations began,  their hands intertwined.

I breathe low, moaning deep through my body to touch the depth of sound they generate.

And for a moment I am with them.

“We’re here-with you, you are one of us-you can do it!”

One of them

I breathe.

The coals glow-mocking my strength

Embers flick their tongues tormenting my courage.

I step onto the coals-

The Women Of a Thousand Generations push closer to the embers- their faces glowing from the coals.

I keep my eyes on them, focusing on THEIR ability to push through the pain, to keep walking in spite of their fear- remembering that they made it to the other side.

I find MY courage and step again.

I feel the embers, and wince.

The Women start beating a drum.

I find their rhythm in my abdomen, and slowly move forward:

One step- look at the face.

Second step- focus on the eyes.

Third step…

I see the African dancers, rehearsing their steps as I walk my last few.

I see the circle being set-the fire at the center,  the food and festivities.

This will be the stage for my welcoming into this elite group- this Women Of a Thousand Generations.

My heart swells.

I am close to the end now, and my body starts to shake-

Spirit stronger than flesh.

I want to give up-to step on the cool grass

And off these coals.

I look for the faces, and my eyes meet theirs.

One of them smiles.

She who is With Woman, reaches out her hand

Her face is the clearest, eyes at my level.

“Listen to your body and do what it tells you” She says-no trace of concern.

The chanting changes: “Listen to your bo-dy”

In rhythm, hands are again joined, like an infinite chain.

I realize just how many have gone this way before me.

The one who smiled places her hand on the shoulder

of the One who is With Woman- with me, and I breathe,

stretching out my hand to grasp the outstretched.

I am about to cross over-

Silence comes over the Universe.

I near the end-

my body aches,

my mind is empty of everything but that last step.

Last step.

Hands grasped.

Cool grass. On my toes, cooling my feet-

my arms reach out to claim my prize-

“Reach down and take your baby.”

I hold him to me tightly, and proudly take my place in the chain.

I am now a Woman Of a Thousand Generations.

The celebration begins.

Excerpt from She Births: A Modern Woman’s Guidebook For an Ancient Rite of Passage, by Marcie Macari.

“There is more to Birth than the physical process of having a baby. Birth is a Spiritual Rite of Passage for women, offering an opportunity for profound transformation. She Births challenges each woman to consider how their Birth Choices profoundly affect not only their lives individually, but the world as a whole.”

Preparing For Birth: Question of the Day #3

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Please share with me what encouraged, supported, and enabled you to continue in labor and delivery.  I may use your quote later in a post!!!

Email me at desirre@prepforbirth.com or simply add comment to post.

Choosing your birth location – A tip sheet

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Choosing the place of birth for your baby – It is incredibly important that you understand where you fit best prior to choosing where to birth your baby. Take hospital and/or birth center tour, call and talk to L&D floor, get facts on home birth by talking to home birth midwives, other moms who have had home births, online and in books. Being intellectually safe is not the same as being safe. Know the facts before you choose.

· Does the location offer what is most important to you (tubs, birth balls, wearing own clothing, intermittent monitoring, fetascope monitoring, etc.)?

· What are standard protocols and practices that are followed? Is individualized care a norm there or is cookie cutter style?

· Is water birth available?

· Are birthing stools or non-reclined pushing and delivery positions encouraged?

· What are the no/low intervention rates? These numbers are tracked monthly.

· What is the induction, epidural, cesarean rate? Are VBAC’s supported and encouraged?

· Are mom and baby friendly practices used? (no routine interventions, no separation of mom and baby, breastfeeding is the norm, movement in labor is utilized, doula accompaniment is accepted, labor induction rates are low, etc.)

· What if I choose to decline an intervention, medication or procedure? Will my decisions be respected? Are patient’s rights taken seriously?

Points to Ponder afterward

· Will I be able to have the type of birth I truly desire?

· What location will I ultimately feel most comfortable in physically, emotionally and spiritually?

· What location is ultimately safest for my specific needs (I am currently a low-risk or high risk)?

· Is insurance or lack of it the reason I am choosing the location?

· Do I have realistic expectations for the location?

· Am I willing to take responsibility for my birth in the location?

· Is staff open to working with a doula or natural birth?

· Are there any compelling reasons to choose one location over another?

Interviewing your care provider for pregnancy and birth – A tip sheet.

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Choosing your care provider: Use this as a template for the interview process or to discern you are of the same philosophy and belief system with current OB or Hospital/Birth Center Midwife.

· What is birth philosophy? What is philosophy of pregnancy?

· What makes up majority of experience in practice? Has provider seen normal labor and birth? How often?

· How is the “due date” approached? When is “full term”? When is “overdue”?

· Will questions be answered over the phone?

· How much time will be spent with me during each appointment?

· What if I hire a doula? Are there restrictions on the doula I may hire? If yes, why?

· Are there restrictions on the type of childbirth or breastfeeding class I take? If so, what and why?

· What routine tests are utilized during pregnancy? What if I decline these tests?

· What are intervention rates? (IV, AROM, continuous monitoring, episiotomy, etc.) Cesarean rate? VBAC rate? Induction rate? What induction methods are used? When are forceps/vacuum used? These numbers are tracked.

· What positions is care provider comfortable catching in? Birth stool? Hand/Knees? Squatting? Standing? Water? How often do patients deliver in positions other than “c” position?

· If I choose an epidural, when can I get it or when is it too late?

· What about a birth plan? Does CP agree with them or not?

· Is an on call rotation utilized or does CP attend all own patients? Will back-up or on-call CP honor the requests we have agreed on?

· Are there any protocols that are non-negotiable? If you cannot refuse – you are not consenting.

· What if I choose to decline a recommended procedure or intervention? Will my decision be respected?

· How long is provider with patients during labor?

Points to ponder afterward:

· Did you feel immediately comfortable and respected at the interview? If already with a CP, do you feel comfortable, respected and heard at each appointment?

· Was or is care provider willing to answer questions in detail without being annoyed?

· Is choosing your care provider based on your insurance or lack of insurance?

· What are you willing to do in order to have the birth you really desire? Birth location?

· How much responsibility are you willing to take for the health care decisions for you and your baby?

What is a labor doula? What does she (or he) do?

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Women have supported women throughout the ages.  In our very busy and ever transient culture, the woman to woman education and support of yesteryear is sorely lacking.  It is very common for an expecting woman not have family nearby or to have support women who know the ways of natural, normal pregnancy, labor, delivery and immediate postpartum. The labor doula was born out of this need.  Essentially this is a woman of knowledge and skill in pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum (yes there are a few men in who are labor doulas as well) who comes alongside a pregnant woman (family) offering education, physical support and emotional support to both the mother and partner/husband/other support.

Below is a detailed description of what a doula is and does according to CAPPA a wonderful organization that trains a variety of doulas and other birth professionals.

What is a Labor Doula?

A doula is a person who attends the birthing family before, during, and just after the birth of the baby. The certified doula is trained to deliver emotional support from home to hospital, ease the transition into the hospital environment, and be there through changing hospital shifts and alternating provider schedules. The doula serves as an advocate, labor coach, and information source to give the mother and her partner the added comfort of additional support throughout the entire labor. There are a variety of titles used by women offering these kinds of services such as “birth assistant,” “labor support specialist” and “doula”.

What Does a Doula Do?

The following is a general description of what you might expect from a CAPPA certified labor doula. Typically, doulas meet with the parents in the second or third trimester of the pregnancy to get acquainted and to learn about prior birth experiences and the history of this pregnancy. She may help you develop a birth plan, teach relaxation, visualization, and breathing skills useful for labor. Most importantly, the doula will provide comfort, support, and information about birth options.

A doula can help the woman to determine prelabor from true labor and early labor from active labor. At a point determined by the woman in labor, the doula will come to her and assist her by:

  • Helping her to rest and relax
  • Providing support for the woman’s partner
  • Encouraging nutrition and fluids in early labor
  • Assisting her in using a variety of helpful positions and comfort measures
  • Constantly focus on the comfort of both the woman and her partner
  • Helping the environment to be one in which the woman feels secure and confident
  • Providing her with information on birth options

A doula works cooperatively with the health care team. In the event of a complication, a doula can be a great help in understanding what is happening and what options the family may have. The doula may also help with the initial breastfeeding and in preserving the privacy of the new family during the first hour after birth.

What does a doula cost? This can be a huge spectrum and is defined by where you live.  A labor doula may volunteer, work for barter, or basics like gas reimbursement, childcare coverage, snacks, etc.  I have heard of fees from $100 to $1800 (mind you this is in NYC).  On average I would say a labor doula costs $250-$600 in many areas.   Call around or visit websites in your area to get a firm idea.

What about insurance? Private doulas usually do not bill insurance though many will give a super bill to be submitted for reimbursement by insurance.  many insurance companies after some effort will pay a portion of the fee as an out of network provider.

Will a doula provide my complete childbirth education? Sometimes.  Often not.  Some doulas are educators. I provide classes separately from doula services. The labor doula will often fill in the blanks and personalize the education the client already has.  Many doulas have lending libraries or recommended reading and watching lists.

If I am going to a birth center or having a homebirth will a doula still benefit me? Yes in both cases.  When going to a birth center a doula would labor at home then arrive at the birth center at the same time as the laboring mother just as with a hospital birth.  In a homebirth scenario the doula who is not a midwife and does no medical tasks is often a welcome extra set of hands and does the same emotional and physical support as she would do in any other location.

Does evidence support that having a doula in attendance has benefits? YES. Here are some of the benefits. Lowered epidural, narcotic, induction, cesarean, and instrumental delivery rates. Increased satisfaction, breastfeeding, and bonding.  Also shorter labors!

For more information, email me at desirre@prepforbirth.com.