birth support

What Do I Need a Doula For, Anyways?

 

When the subject of my birth work comes up in conversation, it isn't uncommon for their to be a lot of confusion over what it is I do. Most people have heard the term doula, or know someone who's had one, but they don't totally 'get it'. There are a lot of misconceptions about the purpose or value of a doula. Even among maternity care providers, the explanation for how a doula benefits a mother in labor is varied and uncertain. Expectant parents wonder things like, "What does a doula do that my partner doesn’t? We like our doctor and have an open relationship, isn’t that enough?, I plan to just take things as they come; is a doula really necessary?" These are just a few questions among many (more questions are addressed in my blog, Is a Doula Like a Midwife?...And Other FAQ. 

But what’s the big deal, really? Everyone you’ve talked to has assured you that it’s a fleeting moment; that it’s going to happen how it happens; that your baby is going to be born one way or another, and a healthy baby is all the matters, so why not just get on for the ride?  

Birth can certainly be one of the wildest rides of your life, and we know that the most challenging moments of our life can also be the most empowering. We also know that exceptional support throughout labor can change your experience from being something you 'handle', to something you own. Here are a few of the ways we can help make that happen. 

A doula works with your partner; it’s better that way!

There’s a quote in the doula world that goes something like this: “You know her, we know birth.”

I’m not your intimate partner. I don’t know what makes you tick and what makes you cry. I don’t know the words to whisper when you’re at your lowest low, or how to make you laugh or smile to lift your tired spirits.

I do know about supporting partners in labor; I know to how to help them find their confidence to give you what you need. I know that birth can be exhausting, and sometimes the partner needs a break. I know when he hasn’t made a trip to the bathroom in 6 hours, and I know to ask if he’s eaten or drunk before he turns white. I know that watching you, the person they love most, in the throes of labor, can be exhilarating and frightening, all at once. I know that birth can be intimate; that sometimes my role is in the background, supporting you from the sidelines, and other times we are in the thick of it together, a circle of support.  

A doctor’s not a doula, a doula’s not a doctor.

You can have the best relationship with your midwife or doctor, but when it comes down to your birth, their number one mission is a healthy mother and a healthy baby. When everyone else’s eyes are on charts and numbers, my eyes are on you. The emotional intensity of birth can be as overwhelming as the physical. There can be surprises around each corner and I’m there to remind you of what is happening, what the choices are, and then supporting you and helping you make it around the next bend.

Plan or no plan, a doula’s a must.

We all know, “the best laid plans of mice and men, often to awry”. It’s not so much about having a plan, but knowing that there are choices for your birth. Voicing the things that matter to you most gets your birth team on the same page, and that’s important. Flexibility in your birth planning is essential too, because we know that birth is unpredictable. No plan? No problem. We will walk with you through your birth as decisions need to be made and options are given.  

Most importantly, above all else, we will tirelessly care for you and your partner every step of the way.

We will walk the halls with you, squeeze your hand, tie your hair back, and cool the sweat on your head. We will hold the popsicle to your mouth and breath with you through the hardest moments; we will remind you that you are enough, of the strength you possess, and the miracle you are bringing forth.While you pour yourself to empty, we will help fill up your cup.  

Everything we truly aspire to can be summed up in this quote by Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How you feel, matters.  Your birth, this moment, is deserving of the utmost attention and care. We are there to make sure of that. 

Positions for Birth, Part 3

"Hands & Knees" 

ABOUT THIS TECHNIQUE

Hands and knees is a great position for labor that allows for open hips and pelvis, and can also be a highly effective position for pushing. If you experience significant back pain in labor it’s likely you will find a lot of relief on your hands and knees. It’s thought that significant back pain in labor can be the result of a mal-positioned or posterior baby. Hands and knees may be suggested if labor is stalling. You might not find it comfortable at first (or at all); try to give it a few contractions for your body to adjust – it might be what your labor needs to take the next turn.  

PREPARATION                             

The most important thing is that you get comfortable. You might be on your knees for a while if you find your groove in this position, so make sure to set yourself up with cushioning under your knees and a comfortable place to rest between contractions. If you have an exercise ball you can try draping yourself with your arms over top and room for your belly. Lay a blanket over top if you find the ball uncomfortable and keep a glass of water with a straw nearby to stay hydrated. The ball allows you to rock through contractions comfortably and makes a nice resting place in between. A couch or hospital bed moved to a comfortable level also make a good place to anchor yourself and rest in between.

THE PROCESS

Keep your hips wide for hands and knees. The rocking motion of the birthing ball can be beneficial to encourage baby to descend into your pelvis. Through contractions try to drop your arms and shoulders into the ball or bed and relax your bottom to bring baby down and open your cervix (as much as you can – this can be easier said than done! Your doula will encourage and remind you of this.) Having your partner or doula use counter-pressure or the double hip squeeze can help relieve the pressure you may feel in your back through contractions.

Listen to your body. If you are feeling uncomfortable, find a new position. You are the most in tune with what your body needs to go through labor and birth your baby – don’t ignore it! 

Positions For Birth: 3 Techniques to Try in Labor

techniques to try in labor.jpg

 

Women have been instinctively following their bodies lead in labor for thousands of years, and while our instincts are often exactly what we should be listening to, there’s a time and place for pulling out a few helpful tricks to nudge labor along and position both mom and baby for birth. If you search the internet for labor positions and techniques you’ll find endless lists. We know that can be overwhelming, so we’re giving you a few bites to chew over the next week.

First up: The Miles Circuit

About this technique:

The Miles Circuit is a set of 3 exercises than can be practiced in late pregnancy, at term as a means of encouraging onset of labor, or in a stalled labor where contractions aren’t getting longer, stronger, or closer together.  These positions are suggested to help nudge baby into a more optimal position for birthing.

Preparation:

For this circuit you’ll need to set aside about 90 minutes out of your day. Create a relaxing, comfortable space with an exercise/yoga mat, (or a firm, cozy bed), plenty of pillows, and a glass of water to stay hydrated.

The Process:

Open Knee Chest Position: Hold this position for 30 minutes, starting out in cat/cow, then                   dropping your chest as low as possible to the floor with your bottom high in the air . Keep                   your knees wide enough apart that the angle between torso and thighs is about 90 degrees.                 Prop yourself up with pillows and get as comfortable as possible. If you have a partner to help, a rebozo (long, wide scarf or fabric) carefully positioned under your belly can help hold you up in this position.

Exaggerated Sims: Lie on your left side with your top leg propped up as high as you can with pillows or cushions, and your bottom leg straightened. Roll forward and relax into this position for about 30 minutes. This position is likely most comfortable on a bed with a pile of pillows for support!

Get Up and Moving: Now is the time to get up and sit on a ball doing hip rotations (thing hula-hoop), try lunges, curb walking, or sideways stair walking for another 30 minutes. Check the Miles Circuit link for a more complete explanation of these three exercises.

This circuit can be done daily leading up to labor. During labor, try to maintain these positions through contractions, if possible. 

You can find the step-by-step, illustrated instructions for the Miles Circuit here.

Check back soon to find out what’s up next for our suggested Techniques to Try In Labor.