Posts Tagged ‘birth local’

5 Reasons Your Midwife Wants You to Hire a Doula

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

partner supporting laboring woman in birth pool

Not only does evidence tell us a doula can have measurable benefits for both mothers and their babies, but their intangible benefits are also felt every day by those who hire them for their expert support.

Doulas are fast becoming standard-of-care, as they should. Women have always surrounded women in their childbearing year, from girlhood on up. We know that new mothers in America are too isolated. Society leaves us alone to manage a never-ending list of “shoulds” between hectic schedules, separation of families, and age segregation. 

People often ask me if home birthing families really need a doula. My answer is nuanced. I don’t believe every family “needs” a doula. Some families have support and help. Their own extended family, their religious community, or a close-knit community of friends may provide the needed community. Those families may not “need” a doula.

However, I do believe that every family would benefit from a doula. This is because a good doula will always add to the experience what is needed, and guard the space from that which is not. Even in a home birth setting. 

Additionally, if a family lacks anything in the way of support, then a doula is absolutely a necessity! She is worth every penny you pay her, and more. A doula’s positive influence cannot be overstated. I am overjoyed when I hear that a mother has chosen to add a doula to her support network.

Here are 5 good reasons to hire a doula if you are planning a midwife-attended home birth:

 

1: You are a first-time parent or a VBAC client.

A first-time mom’s labor is likely to take longer than a woman has labored before. If you have had a cesarean, there may be some additional emotional blockages related to your prior experience that you need to overcome in labor. There is nothing wrong with either of those things. We don’t worry a bit about longish labors. As long as you and your baby are laboring well together, we are content to wait.

However, we often will not come to stay until active labor is well-established. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is because we need to be as well-rested as possible in order to maintain you and your baby’s health and safety during the labor and birth process. Our choice will often be to sleep while we can. This allows us to maintain our ability to make critical decisions that require a clear head. 

The other reason we don’t want to arrive too early in labor is that your uterus may not want us there! Your body knows when your care provider is watching, and it may get very shy–slowing or even stopping the process until the nosy midwife is out of sight and mind. I have seen it several times, both in my years as a doula and as a midwife. 

This is where doulas save the day! They are much more able to come in early labor and stay. They will help you relax, rest, eat, drink, stay distracted and let your labor unfold in its own good time. Doulas are experts in peer support, and as such, their presence rarely interferes with the natural labor process, and we often see much more efficient early labors in mothers who have doulas. 

 

2: Doulas are kind of a birth fairy.

They come into the birth space, read the room, and are able to fit themselves in wherever they are needed. Perhaps your partner feels bit overwhelmed trying to get the pool set up while supporting you, so your doula takes over pool duty so your partner can focus on you. One of the kids wakes up, so your doula is able to stay with you while your partner comforts a child and puts them back to sleep (or vice versa). You and your partner are rocking your labor just fine, and your doula snaps a few intimate photos. Sometimes, she walks the dog, feeds a child, updates the family phone chain, and updates the midwife. Whatever the need is, your doula will have a magical ability to fill it intuitively. 

 

3: Doulas can read your labor like a book.

Sometimes parents have a hard time deciding when to call the midwife to come in labor. Especially if they are first-time parents, have had a previous hospital birth (or cesarean), or were induced in a previous labor. No matter how much we discuss those “when to call” moments prenatally, some parents will doubt their ability to assess what warrants a phone call or will be so absorbed in labor, they no longer think about it. You can assign your doula the task of updating the midwife as needed, so you don’t have to break your concentration to do it. Plus, doulas know the clinical lingo and can communicate in concrete terms that your midwife will easily understand and acknowledge.

 

4: Comfort. Comfort. Comfort.

As a midwife, I do care about your comfort in labor, because I understand its correlation with health, well-being, and safety on multiple levels. However, I think more about how long it’s been since I listened to heart tones, rather than whether or not you need your hips squeezed. Not to mention charting. (Oh! the paperwork! *dramatic faint*) Midwives offer as much comfort as we can in the context of our primary responsibilities, but doulas are all about comfort. All the comfort. All the time. Comfort for the sake of comfort, in a very uncomfortable process! Comfort is a doula’s primary responsibility. You really can’t beat that.

 

5: Community Support.

As another midwife so aptly pointed out, your choices in midwives may be much more limited than your choices in doulas. Whether you are a woman of color, from a faith community, LGBT, or some other minority group, finding a doula who aligns more closely with your values and needs can help round out your care and make your experience much better than it otherwise would have been.

Pretty much any experienced midwife is going to have the skill set and competence you need in order to stay low-risk, healthy, empowered, and safe. Your community doula can help you create a beautiful, meaningful experience around your childbearing year through comfort, education, and learning to speak your needs effectively to your midwife (who will be learning right alongside you). The more trust that can be built among the members of your chosen support network, the better off you and your baby will be, and community doulas are key to this for many families.

Birth local. Hire a midwife. Then, hire a doula

You won’t regret it.

 

Did you hire a doula for your home birth? Why or why not? What was your experience?

 

So You’re In Early Labor. Now What?

Monday, April 24th, 2017

 

One night, you are awakened from slumber at the beck and call of your compressed bladder. No, wait. That’s not it. There’s a crampy tightness that feels familiar. Where have you felt that before?

Menstrual cramps! It feels crampy. Weird. You decide to get up and move to the bathroom. After a few minutes, you get back and bed and feel more cramps. Hm. Weird.

Could this be it? It could be! This is it! You’re finally in early labor!

You know this because the contractions are coming, no matter what you do. You’ve had a big glass of water. You’ve gotten up to pee. You’ve had a snack. You’re content to let the rest of your house rest while you anticipate the birth day to come.

So you’re in early labor. Now what?

You think back to what your midwife told you, and you remember that she gave you several things to do during this slow building time.

  1. Let Your Midwife Know. As soon as you know you’re definitely in labor, she’ll want to know. She or her assistant might swing by to check on you and baby, or just triage you over the phone, depending on what’s happening and your needs.
  2. Rest. This is not the time to try and “get things moving” by taking a long walk, doing nipple stim, or anything else that is supposed to speed things along. This is the time to conserve energy. If you can talk through your contractions, you can sleep through them.
  3. Eat & Drink. Whatever time your labor starts, eat normally. One good meal is often enough to sustain you through the work to come. No food is off-limits, though it’s wise to keep in mind that you may throw up, so avoiding choking hazards or harsh foods might be a good idea. Comfort foods are wholesome, nourishing, and encourage happy hormones. Also, keep drinking. Water, juices, herbal teas that you enjoy, smoothies, and broth are all great candidates. Whatever sounds good.
  4. Do Life. There is no reason to put off that quick trip to the store to get milk and bread, or going to the movies. There is no reason to go out if you didn’t plan to, but just going about your day, doing your best to ignore what’s happening. At this point, it’s really no big deal, and it helps your progress if you can be content, happy, and moving.
  5. Distract Yourself. Sometimes, especially when it’s your first baby, it’s so hard to keep your mind off your contractions. But the rule of thumb is that you must ignore them until they demand all of your attention, whether you like it or not. Conserving energy in early labor is paramount! Don’t use breathing or coping techniques from your classes yet either. They contribute to the sense of time, and can make you far more tired than you need to be. Instead, watch funny movies, go to the park, go out on a date with your partner, bake a birthday cake, start a slow cooker meal for after the birth, or call a friend to chat.

I like to tell people to “be in denial” about their labor until their labor gets all up in their face! Just take care of yourself, pretend like everything is normal, that nothing is going on, and let your body keep the secret just a little while longer. You will be shouting to the world in your own way soon enough, so save your breath. Smile. 

“To move into active labor, a woman must give up ideas of how she thought labor might be; in other words, she must surrender.” ~Elizabeth Davis in Heart & Hands

Open up to the path your labor has chosen, and surrender time.

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

Your Job Must Be So Fun!

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

baby looking at title, your job must be so fun
This is the most common response I get when I share with someone what I do for a living. When I share that I’m growing into midwifery.

If all we did was snuggle babies and drink margaritas, I suppose this statement might be true.

But this job isn’t all baby snuggles, and it rarely involves even a chance at a margarita.

Fulfilling? Yes.

Rewarding? Absolutely.

Fun? Not so much.

That word, in fact, minimizes what midwives do. It reduces it to the same level of a weekend hobby. Is there joy in this work? More often than not, yes. While the joy inherent in this work is a big part of what sustains a midwife in the long haul, there is so much more to it. There is a hidden side of midwifery that many don’t see or understand, and it is this hidden side that flashes before my eyes when someone comments that my job must be “so fun.”

This is not a job anyone signs up for to have fun. This is a job we sign up for because we are compelled. It is an irrevocable call on our lives.

As Desirre says, “It’s a calling that follows you around until it catches you.” We often don’t even realize it’s our calling until one day we awake to the startling discovery that we cannot escape what we are meant to do. And what we are meant to do is to be “with woman.”

We are meant to be midwives.

Like the “witches” and wise women of old who quietly served women and their babies with dignity and a deep knowledge passed down over time. It is our inheritance, and it carries with it the weight of responsibility, accountability, and power. The calling of midwifery is inescapable for those who hear it, and insurmountable for those who only wish to.

It is “fun” for no one.

There is, however, fun within the work. Laughter and joy are bricks in the foundation, and this work could not be done sustainably without them. The joy of watching a father’s eyes light up at the first sound of that pattering heartbeat. The laughter when big sister has to have her tummy measured too, or big brother insists on helping us hold the Doppler.

Of course, there’s the ultimate culmination of joy, the crowning glory, when that slippery wet tiny human is lifted into a mother’s arms, ready to meet the great wide world. The moment heaven itself pauses to rejoice at another everyday miracle.

The arrival of a new soul on Planet Earth is no small thing. It is a great mystery and marvel, and it is midwives who have always been there, very near the heart of it all, acting as ushers and servants making way for the tiny new being and his mother to step into life together.

Fun?

No.

Miraculous, joyful, powerful, fulfilling, important? Yes.

Ultimately, this work is eternal, impacting future generations forever. And that is a weighty thing, not to be taken on for anything less than a deep and abiding call.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany
Student Midwife