Posts Tagged ‘birth’

In Honor of International Doula Month

Monday, May 11th, 2015
May Is International Doula Month!
 Not only were we able to celebrate World Doula Week recently, I found out that there is an entire month to celebrate doulas! Now, I could re-state all the facts about professional labor support. I could share famous doula quotes. I could toot my own horn, as it were.
However, I don’t want to do this. I would really prefer to sing the praises of my excellent clients, and what a joy it has been to serve every one of them over the past seven-plus years. Doulas would not be doulas without the need for it, and that starts with birthing women reaching out for the help a doula can offer.
So, this goes out to my clients.

Thank you.

Thank you for choosing me to walk with you, whatever your journey.

Thank you for asking questions.

Thank you for learning and growing, and letting me be a part of that.

Thank you for sharing your strength, dignity, and unique experiences with me.

You are amazing. You are the reason I love this work.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Doulas and Home Birth

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Is there benefit to hiring a doula for a home birth? I say YES absolutely.


An oldie but a goodie, from Desirre, in honor of International Doula Month.

As a seasoned doula who has attended home births as labor support and now an  intern midwife who clinically supports the mother, I believe that many women can keenly benefit from a doula when having a home birth.

The most simple reasoning is that the doula is there physically, emotionally and educationally specifically for the mother and family just like at the hospital or a birth center. She (he) is an integral part of the birth team.

  • The doula will likely be laboring with the mother first, providing a continuous care support framework for when the midwifery team arrives.
  • As the midwifery team sets up and prepares the space clinically, the doula is right there maintaining the comfort, peace and encouragement of the mother. Often lessening any disruption that new people in the environment can cause.
  • The doula is there SOLELY for the mother and husband (partner), step by step, eye to eye while the midwifery team is there to first and primarily clinically assess, maintain safety and be unobtrusive as possible.
  • The doula offers guidance and suggestions for position changes, physical/emotional comforts and helping to ensure the mother eats, drinks, voids and rests.
  • The doula gives the husband (partner) the opportunity to rest, have less stress, do the very best he/she can do along with enjoying the process more.
  • A doula can be present specifically to help with the other children.
  • A doula’s presence offers reduction in any interventions and cesarean.
  • A doula’s presence offers increased satisfaction with birth, bonding and breastfeeding……….

Simply put. A doula being present at a home birth is effectively the same as at a hospital or birth center, with the general exceptions that she would have to help a mother and family self advocate or navigate  institutional policies,  protocols and staff.

I again say YES to doulas at home births.

 

 

This is where your pregnancy comes in!

Monday, May 4th, 2015

childbirth classes
We at Preparing for Birth are always striving to be more and more relevant to our clients and students, and we cannot do that without input from you! We are starting up the ol’ blog again, but we would rather not write about anything that you are not interested in. Of course, we want to cover new ground as more and more new evidence and information come to light, but it’s always nice to revisit topics that are key to you, our readers.

So, would you be so kind as to share in the comments what topics you are most interested in reading more about? Here are some ideas to get you started:

 

  • Doulas: Labor, antepartum, postpartum, and more.
  • Informed consent and conscious agreement.
  • Pregnancy myths debunked.
  • Home birth and midwifery.
  • Client and student birth stories.
  • Photos and videos.
  • Podcasts.
  • Book and product reviews.
  • Birth art/poetry/music.
  • Childbirth education.
  • Tips, tricks, and hacks for pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and newborns.
  • Babywearing.
  • Breastfeeding myths.
  • Pregnancy fitness.
  • Pregnancy & special food needs (vegan, paleo, etc).

What else would you add? This is where you come in! Leave a comment, and share what you would like to read about here!

It’s World Doula Week!

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

How are you celebrating?! Share your own video response in the comments on YouTube! Who are the doulas in your life?

Awe & Gratitude

Monday, February 9th, 2015

I have been putting together a scrapbook of pictures, cards, letters, and memorabilia from the doula clients who have so graciously shared such items with me. As the 8×8 book comes together, I find myself full of memories of each story. I have not forgotten a single birth. Not one. Each one is a treasure I carry with me wherever I go.

There is a weight to each memory. A weight characterized by humble, gritty, glorious women at their peak vulnerability and strength. Never is a woman so beautiful as when she is bringing new life into our small world. A brand new human being, who has never existed before, has been formed painstakingly, and brought with blood, sweat, and tears into the arms of his loving parents.

It is exquisite.

And I get to be a part of it.

My gratitude for this work will never wane. Sometimes, it is hard for me to believe that this is a path God has called me to so clearly. Unequivocally, with women is where I belong.

With women.

The root meaning of the word “midwife.”

Thank you for being part of my journey. Whether you are a client, a mentor, a colleague, or a member of my amazing family, I could not do this without you.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

A Little Birth Poetry.

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Birth is amazing.

I attended three in the space of about 40 hours this weekend. Two butter births on a Saturday morning. Both filled with intense power and work, capped by peace when they were all over. The other a triumphant victory, and a step toward healing of a past rough experience.

Women are incredible.

There was the most spectacular sunrise on the way to one of the births. I have never seen one that struck my heart so deeply. The very sky seemed on fire. Too bad I was driving, and couldn’t capture it to share with you. A fitting beginning for the act of creation that is birth.

Though the baby didn’t enter the world with the dawn, the dawn greeted him anyway.

I was struck, as I watched each mama work hard to bring her baby to her arms in her own way. Each one unique. No two women labor alike. And thousands do it together everyday. What a marvelous sisterhood we share!

I was reminded, yet again, why I do this work. Why I am a doula. Why I want to be “with woman” as a midwife. This work is sacred. Beautiful. Insanely difficult. But so very worth it.

I rarely write poetry, but I hope these verses hit home. Each one represents one of the mothers I served this weekend. They’re kind of silly. Just haikus, but I had fun writing them. Enjoy.

Labor at sunrise,
Intensifying slowly.
Care, quiet, tranquil.

A hint, it’s coming.
Giant, crashing, clamoring,
“I can’t, but I did!”

Freight train rolling fast,
Can’t quite keep up, but she does.
Dad meets tiny pirate.

How did you spend your weekend?

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

My Ideal Client.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Me holding the fruit of my sister's labor, Baby Ellie.

Me holding the fruit of my sister’s labor, Baby Ellie.

Recently at an interview, I was asked the following question:

“What is your ideal client, and why?”

I think that might be one of the most intelligent questions I have ever been asked. I knew the answer immediately, and had to keep it short.

As a doula, part of my training is to identify and evaluate my personal biases, and how they might affect the care I give. From the beginning of my career then, I have always had to think about these kinds of questions. I have had to evaluate whether or not I ought to set boundaries around which kinds of clients I will or will not take on. If I do set boundaries, what should they be, and why?

I started doula work because I wanted to be a midwife.

That has a great impact on the types of clients I prefer to serve. (And doulas – admit you have a preference – we all do. Anyone who says they don’t is selling something.) Of course, I have often served outside my comfort zone, and while I don’t regret it, I have often been burned. Not by the client, but by really rough rides. Birth work is hard.

In order to be a good doula, there is a certain amount of emotional investment I must make if I am to be effective at all. The line between professional and personal relationship gets a little bit blurred, and so I carry a bit of each birth with me, wherever I go. I can remember every birth I have ever been to, and how it made me feel as a woman, mother, wife, and human being.

So, yes. I have an ideal client, and I have discovered that it has very little to do with circumstances, and everything to do with the client herself.

My ideal client is one who educates herself, and who takes full responsibility for the choices she makes along the way during her birthing year.

She doesn’t take her care provider’s word for everything. She doesn’t take my word for everything, either, but makes her own decisions.

My ideal client educates herself by taking classes, or reading evidence-based books and online resources. She knows how to evaluate information, weighing it against her instincts and risk factors, confidently choosing what is right for her and her baby.

My ideal client understands informed consent and refusal. She understands her patient/client rights, and asks intelligent, informed questions to gain insight into what is best for her and her baby. She is willing to keep an open mind and explore the benefits, risks, and alternatives to each option available to her.

My ideal client understands that a birth plan is not a list of demands to be met, but a conversation to be had. She understands that her choice of provider and place of birth is important. If she cannot make her ideal choice (because that can’t always happen), she is able to communicate her needs effectively, and to make the best she can of a tough situation. She knows when to compromise, and when to stand her ground.

My ideal client is flexible. She understands the wisdom of learning non-medical pain management, because her birth may go too fast to get the epidural she planned for. She knows that her labor may go on longer than she thought, and she needs the nap an epidural can help her get.

My ideal client knows that there is no “one-size-fits-all” birth, and she is prepared to advocate for her needs, and the needs of her baby.

My ideal client almost doesn’t need a doula, but she will benefit greatly from hiring one.

Probably 99% of women who hire me fall into this ideal. Women are intelligent, thoughtful, flexible, and strong–and I am there for them when all they need is the reminder that these things are true of them.

In your line of work, who is your ideal client? Why or why not? As a mom who hired a doula, how does this post make you feel?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

A Weighty Responsibility

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Image credit: longdrivejourney.com


Finishing up a class is always bittersweet, triggering a time of self-evaluation, reflection, and a desire to do better next time.

Childbirth education is not a job where I can just show up, punch a card, and go home. It is filled with challenges as unique as each student who walks through the door. Each student requires some customization of the curriculum, and will invariably ask a question I don’t know the answer to. There will be rabbit trails every so often, and bringing class back on track in order to cover the essentials adequately is critical. It is also just as critical to know when it is time to abandon a few of my slides in order to acknowledge and travel down a rabbit trail with purpose.

It requires constant research, reading, and learning on my part. I cannot recycle the same information over and over, and expect to meet the needs of an ever-changing population. Every class series I teach, while built upon the same foundation, will be a little bit different.

As I work toward finishing my re-certification process as a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator, I am overwhelmed at the amount of new information permeating the atmosphere surrounding the perinatal year! I am required to choose and read ten complete studies relating to my field that were published in the last five years. I thought it would be a challenge to find new research. I was wrong. The information is out there. It is accessible, if you know where to look, and I am astonished and excited at how much I still have to learn!

I am so glad I chose to certify with an organization that has such rigorous standards for its members. If it weren’t for the constant challenge of re-certification, I think it would be too easy to fall into a rut and stay there, becoming more and more irrelevant in the community. More and more useless in effectively navigating the changing state of childbirth in this country.

When I am up front teaching, I am viewed as an expert, and even an authority on childbirth. Shame on me if I fail to strive to live up to such labels by maintaining a steadfast continuing education. While I know I can never impart everything I know to every student who walks into my classroom, it does not excuse a lack of evidence-based, current knowledge driving and directing my passion. All the passion in the world means nothing if it isn’t paired with a working knowledge of current evidence, applied realistically, and presented in a way that is easy for students to integrate into their own real-world experience.

A discerning childbirth educator changes with the times. Changes with each new group of students who choose their class. Incorporates new information into curriculum as quickly and accurately as possible, enabling students to apply the new knowledge to their own circumstances and worldviews. A wise childbirth educator strives to get a little better each day, understanding that people are making decisions based (at least in part) on what they have said in class.

It is a weighty responsibility.

And I love it.

How do you continue to learn, grown, and change in your own work? What drives you to keep reaching for the next step?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Being A Doula

Friday, July 18th, 2014
Image credit: tumblr

Image credit: tumblr

Being a doula, for me, is not about changing hospital policy, or steering women away from “bad” providers. It is not about disseminating information to every client. It’s not about birth plans. It’s not about informed consent. It’s not about vaginal birth, home birth, or cesarean birth. It’s not about statistics. It’s not about rebozos, crock pots, or rice socks. It’s not even about making a difference or changing the world.

Being a doula is about laying aside my notion of what a particular birth ought to be, and instead surrendering to what it actually is. It is opening my eyes to the reality of each woman’s circumstances, and meeting her right where she happens to be.

It is seeing beyond myself, and stepping into someone else’s experience. It is opening my hands in service, in whatever way the mother sees fit. It is about humbling myself, and understanding that each birth can and will teach me something I did not know before.

It is about respecting the care provider(s) my client has chosen, simply because she has chosen them. It is about learning how to show respect and compassion to everyone in the room, even when I don’t feel like it, because it is the right thing to do. Many times, it’s about being an example.

It is about protecting space around a birthing woman and her partner, so all they see is each other. It’s about becoming invisible, so that the birthing woman can focus on what is most important.

It is about being with this woman, right here, in this moment in time. It is often about helping her surrender fully to this great work she is doing. It is looking her in the eye and lending her my strength when she runs out. It is opening a door when she hits her wall. It is about believing her when she expresses pain, and validating her struggle.

It is believing in her, even if no one else does.

It is about bringing a little bit of sunshine into this storm that feels so big, and reminding her that it will not last forever. Being a doula is a lot like trying to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.

It is about love.

And I love being a doula.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

 

Childbirth Education Myths 1

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Over the next several weeks, Team Preparing for Birth will be debunking some common myths surrounding childbirth education classes. Check back every Monday to see the newest post.

books

 

 

 

 

MYTH #1: “I’m having a homebirth, and my midwife will do all my education.”

Home birth families often see childbirth classes as an extra, rather than a valuable and necessary tool to help them have the birth they are hoping for. The most common objection they have is that they will be able to get all the education they need from their midwife. While midwives do educate their clients to some extent, this perception that they can (or should) cover everything is a myth, for several reasons.

1) Education is not a midwife’s job.

Just as obstetricians are not childbirth educators, neither are midwives. Just because midwives are more likely to do more education than an obstetrician, does not mean they give comprehensive education, and they should not be expected to. That is not their job.

Rather, a midwife’s primary job is to maintain the clinical safety and health of the mother-baby dyad. This will involve some education, yes, but only as a by-product of good midwifery care.

A good midwife will encourage her clients to be active participants in their care by reading, taking classes, and educating themselves proactively, instead of passively relying on the lack of intervention common to home birth. Midwives want clients who are thinking women, who take responsibility for their own care, and who can integrate what they learn in practical ways.

 

2) The reality of transport.

Another downside to relying solely on your midwife for childbirth education is the preparation for hospital transport. Realistically, around 10% of women and babies need something that cannot be offered at a homebirth, for whatever reason. It is not a midwife’s job to prepare you for the hospital.  Her job is to prepare you for birthing safely at home. Therefore, an expert on the hospital system is needed to prepare a birthing woman, in case of a transport. Most midwives spend very little time in the hospital, due to the low transport rate, so their expertise on local practices may be limited.

On the other hand, childbirth educators work very hard to stay up-to-date on all policy changes, protocols, and the general attitude of the staff in local hospitals. They often work (or have worked) as doulas, and have regular opportunities to interact with staff in the local hospitals that midwives simply don’t have. (This is not a criticism, merely a reality.)

While a midwife can go over what a typical transport looks like in her practice, a good childbirth education class will be able to prepare the client for what a hospital birth will look like. She can help the client to understand how to navigate the environment, and teach her how to communicate with the staff effectively.

 

3) The birth tool belt.

Midwives know that most women need a wide array of pain management techniques available to them, since an epidural is not an option at home. While a midwife will teach her clients the importance of stress management, emotional health, and relaxation, there is no substitute for a good independent childbirth course where you can actually practice tried and true techniques from all kinds of sources. This creates a solid foundation of knowledge, provides varying perspectives, and allows the birthing pair time and space to learn or review valuable tools for labor.

 

4) Prenatal appointments can only cover so much.

Even though midwifery appointments are much longer than typical obstetric appointments, it is still a very limited amount of time for a woman to learn all she needs to know about birth. Not to mention the birth partner, who may not be able to attend very many of the appointments. Childbirth education can fill in the gaps, empower a birthing pair, and provide opportunity to practice valid techniques in a real-world environment.

It is never wise to assume that your care provider will simply take care of everything, no matter who they are. Leaving the decision-making and responsibility solely in your midwife’s hands is not fair to her, to you, or to your baby. You owe it to yourself to take a proactive approach to childbirth education.