Archive for the ‘Labor Support’ Category

Grateful For My Birth(s) Carnival

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

I am so thankful to all of the submissions I received for this Why I am Grateful for my Birth(s) blog carnival. I have found no matter what a woman can learn something and be grateful for something in every birth experience no matter how difficult or wonderful. Enjoy these quips and please go to their blogs to read in completeness.

Tiffany Miller of Birth In Joy says in an excerpt from her post The Most Important Piece, “I am thankful that Mom believed in my ability to breastfeed my new baby, even though it hurt at first. She never told me that I had so severely damaged her nipples, as she tried to learn with no support whatsoever during my own newborn days. Nary an ounce of bitterness did she carry from that time. She knew and accepted that my path was my own, and supported me completely.” She goes on to further outline how the mentoring and support of her mother paved her way.

How grateful she is for all four natural births and her mother’s unwavering assistance. Assistance and presence she could never imagine doing without.  Just beautiful and shows how important in our lives are the ones who came before.

Kristen Oganowski of Birthing Beautiful Ideas in her post Your Births Brought Me Here writes this gorgeous, tear inspiring letter to her two children about what amazing changes they spurned in her own life, in the very life that they would come to know. Without one birth, would the other have come along the way it did?

Here is an excerpt: “When you both were born, I called myself: Graduate student (unhappily).  Teacher (happily).  Feminist (always).  Mother (timidly). Today I call myself: Doula (happily).  Birth and breastfeeding advocate (unflinchingly).  Blogger (smirkingly).  Writer (finally).  Feminist (permanently).  Mother (confidently).  Graduate student (temporarily). Your births brought me here, to this place where I am (finally) content and impassioned. All wrapped up  with a Love, Mom.

Our next post is by Sheridan Ripley of Enjoy Birth. She writes very plainly about how grateful she is for varied experiences that give her insight to what other women experience and that she is better able to support them.

Here is a peek.

  • If I had only amazing natural birth experiences would I have judged those moms who choose epidurals?
  • If I had only vaginal births would I have understood and fought so hard for VBAC moms?
  • If I only had easy times creating that nursing relationship with my boys, would I have been as supportive of my moms struggling with nursing?

Very poignant and open…..

We come to Bess Bedell of MommasMakeMilk.Com came to a place of self-awareness, peace and a fierceness to help others in her experiences. Like others her heart grew and expanded with her own knowledge and walk. A strength and confidence awoke in her to the benefit of so many coming after.

My two births birthed a new women. A mature women who has opinions, knowledge, experience and a passion in life. If I had not had my c-section I may never had given VBAC a second though. The lack of VBAC support and availability would probably never have entered my radar. My second birth showed me that success and perfection are not the same but both are wonderful and I can be happy for and embrace a mother and her experience even if it wasn’t a completely natural, completely med-free birth. Both of my experience have prepared me for the future. My future of birthing, and next time I plan on birthing at home, and my future of educating and supporting pregnant and birthing mothers.

And lastly my own blog post entry. I know I rarely speak of my own births in any detail unless it is one on one. As a community member, advocate, doula, educator, I strive NEVER to be an intervention on a woman. Today I decided to give a small window into my own experiences and why I am grateful. Please read and comment freely – Grateful For My Births.

Thank you so much to those who submitted posts. The openness of other women allow all of us to learn, grow and share as we are meant to within a healthy society. We are not there yet, but I have a hope that through this sort of connection, we are healing some brokenness.

In reading all these posts, not one is the same, not in tone or style, but every woman was changed positively in the end.

What’s a doula to do?

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

There is such a deep chasm and fracture within the doula community regarding in-hospital and out-of-hospital birth. On the one hand there are those who say anything goes in supporting women and their choices. On the other, there are those who say no doula should support a woman in the hospital environment because it is a “bad and dangerous” place to birth,  or at the very least should get kicked out if she is doing her job “right”.

Who is right? This is where it gets tricky to be sure.

With upwards of 98% of the birthing women going to the hospital in the United States, are WE really within the general doula scope of practice by taking such a hard stance of ignoring those women in need? Who is benefiting here? It is well known, that I am all for a doula deciding her practice style, what scenarios she is best suited to support within, and knowing who she is best able to support.  But to abjectly say, no doula should ever support a woman in a hospital birth, is to me akin to very interventive practitioners who believe that birth is inherently dangerous and a trauma waiting to happen. Thus, viewing every women and baby through high-risk lenses and subjecting them to high-risk protocols where there is no medical need encourages more intervention and higher-risk scenarios to actually occur.

Who does this serve taking such a hard line? Perhaps those speaking it, thinking they are pressing for the greater good. Definitely not the mothers who need the support and assistance navigating a sometimes difficult and stressful system. The mothers and babies are caught then between a rock and a hard place. Then they are effectively forced to go without support and help. The truth is women having hospital births NEED DOULA SUPPORT MORE than women choosing an out-of-hospital option.

Bottom line: I make no claim that it is an easy task to doula within the hospital environment. It is not. It can be brutal. Imagine for a moment, really, close your eyes and think of what happens, what you witness as a doula when you are there — then think of all the women who have no doula present — what happens to them? What do those women experience? What do those babies experience? Now, open your eyes and breathe for a moment. It is not pretty is it?

Right there is what keeps me taking hospital birthing clients. It requires very open communication and immense work prior to labor during prenatals running through scenarios, detailing needs and desires, making certain informed consent and refusal is understood for a variety of procedures, medications, and cesarean. A mother needs to be well-versed in how to use her self-advocacy voice as does her husband, partner or other main support person.

Looking at the flip-side now.

So the other ideal, er rather idea, is that a doula should support anyone and anything because she is a doula poses other issues in my mind.  I do not see anywhere in the job description that this is what a doula ought do.  Any one doula cannot be the right doula for every mother or scenario. This way of thinking can fall into  a cookie-cutter way of practicing, thinking one can be all to everyone. Doulas are people too. Each has individual abilities, biases that need to be addressed, history and points of view.

I think it has been mistaken that a good doula is one that has no say in how she practices or who she is best to serve.  I believe there is a doula for every type of scenario and mother. It is a very individual pursuit and fit.

I know some amazing niche doulas out there who support only high-risk mothers, multiples, same-sex couples, in-hospital birthers, planned cesareans….. The list could go on.

Honestly, I will say there are some amazing doulas who can work under this very open practice style effortlessly and with excellence.  I applaud those doulas, though I think that is the minority and most are not able to keep it up without finding a comfort zone long haul.

Childbirth is such a deeply intimate and intense process with so many variables, being the right fit all the way around is necessary in my humble opinion.  I have seen doulas deeply wounded and traumatized by what happens in the birth room. Sometimes that is unavoidable, but through years of interaction with many doulas, the running thread is that the doula had misgivings even during the interview that this was probably not a good fit but chose not to refer the mother out to someone she knew was better suited for whatever the reason.

Are women and babies really being served best under this model of practice? This is for you to go ahead and answer for yourself.

Bottom Line: Women and babies need individual care whether from a doula, nurse, or care provider. Can a doula be all things to all mothers? Some, I am sure. Overall I believe not. For the health of a doula and the health of her ability to practice and support well, finding the “comfort zone” can make the difference for the mother, baby and doula. Why? Because doula work is such an intense giving of oneself (emotionally, physically, even spiritually). A continual self-assessment needs to be done just where her true and honest “comfort zone” is. By doing this, a doula is caring not only for herself by avoiding burnout, but also for her future clients and her ability to care for others with excellence and utmost professionalism.

Affording the Birth You Want

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Many times over I have heard something similar to “If only my insurance would cover the childbirth class, doula, that provider or birth location. Then I could have the birth I really want for me and my baby.” That statement sadly says to me that women are settling for a provider, birth location, type of birth even that would not otherwise be chosen.  Even so far as having a repeat cesarean because the insurance covered location or provider does not “allow” VBAC.

So practically how is someone going to get the desired provider, location or birth? First think of appealing to the insurance company to add a specific location (even home) or provider (even a  home birth provider) to the plan. This may or may not come to fruition, but unless the process is undertaken it isn’t even a possibility. Second, think outside the insurance box.  Be creative. I am a believer that almost 100% of the time there is a way. It may not be easy, simple, or lack stress but likely possible.

Here are some of my ideas for paying for the birth location, care provider, education, or doula support really desired.

Ask for family, friends, co-workers to donate to fund(s) in lieu of routine shower gifts (you will likely not use most of that “stuff” anyway no matter how much you think you will).

Trimming Down = Money Savings

  • Satellite/Cable tv – Lower or cancel service.
  • Cell phone – lower minutes, negotiate new fee structure, change plans.
  • Household utilities – Lower thermostat, take short showers, heat or cold proof home.
  • House phone – Get rid of all extras on phone that you don’t need or go VoIP. Even set-up answering machine.
  • Food – Grocery shop sales only (no impulse buying), use coupons, eat at home, brown bag to work, no more fancy coffee drinks.
  • Entertainment – Get Netflix instead of going out to the movies, visit with friends or family in their homes or yours.
  • Shopping – Cut back on extras you do not need to live.
  • Vehicle – Car pool whenever possible, only run multiple errands together, walk if possible, use public transportation is available.
  • Housing – Move to a lower rent area or to a smaller home. Even consider moving in with family to maximize savings.

Extra Cashflow

  • Sell any unneeded items via yard sale or something akin to Craig’s List. This can apply to second vehicle as well.
  • Take on a second job that can be done from home or even with a multi-level company.
  • Ask husband or partner to temporarily take on a second job.
  • Do you gourmet cook,  write, musically talented, sew, knit, paint or craft? You may be able to sell your creations or services.

Miscellaneous

  • Barter
  • Ask for payment plan.
  • Look for less expensive supplies such as a “fishy pool” versus renting an AquaDoula.
  • Choose a birth center or a home birth as the cost is significantly less than even a no-intervention natural hospital birth. Also your prenatal care is included in the fee unlike a planned hospital delivery.
  • Hire a training doula. Often a lower fee.
  • Start a savings account before you are pregnant.
  • Plan ahead and pay down any existing debt prior to getting pregnant or in early pregnancy.

I hope some “light bulb” moments are had and there is encouragement in the ideas. There is almost always a way.

If I have left anything off the lists, please feel free to leave a comment and I will add.

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.