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hypnobirthing

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So What's a Doula? Answers to the top three questions about birth work

Often when someone hears that I am a doula, the first questions about my field are:

Is that like a midwife?

That's for home births, right?

But then what does the dad do?

 

Let me address these questions, then I'll share exactly what a doula does for her clients.

 

Is that like a midwife?

Nope. A midwife is a medical professional that oversees your and baby's medical care through pregnancy and birth. Midwives are typically low intervention, and are great advocates for natural birth. A midwife can practice in a hospital, birthing center, or private home birth practice depending on the state.

Midwife checking on baby. Midwives can serve births at hospitals, birth centers, and at home. If you are having a low risk, healthy pregnancy, midwifery care may be for you.

Midwife checking on baby. Midwives can serve births at hospitals, birth centers, and at home. If you are having a low risk, healthy pregnancy, midwifery care may be for you.

 

A doula does not dispense medical advice, and it's out of their scope of practice to perform any medical procedures (temperature, cervical checks, manually feeling your belly for fetal position, etc.) Instead, a doula is a wealth of resources and knowledge. If you are faced with a procedure during your pregnancy and you are unsure of your options, a doula can help you to research the procedure and suggest questions to bring to your provider. We don't want to make decisions for you, but help to empower you in your decisions. We offer resources and support both prenatally and during birth.

 

When you begin to labor, you can call your doula to be with you whenever you want her. A doula can help you to labor at home longer and more comfortably (A well trained doula knows the signs in labor to transfer to the birthing location. However, whenever mama wants to go, is when we head in. We can also make transferring more comfortable too!) We are equipped with birth balls, rebozos, essential oils, and massage techniques. We can help with positioning, counter pressure for back labor, grabbing snacks, and making suggestions for other coping strategies. We are also there to support you emotionally, and can help with any mental blocks. Labor can be a crazy, emotional, messy time, and we are there to protect that space and see you through it. I reassure clients that she can release on me in a way that maybe she couldn’t with her mother-in-law around.

Airlia is sitting on the birth ball while I help keep heat and pressure on her lower back. Even while being monitored, there are ways to keep moms comfortable and not just in bed.

Airlia is sitting on the birth ball while I help keep heat and pressure on her lower back. Even while being monitored, there are ways to keep moms comfortable and not just in bed.

 

A midwife will usually come as you are heading in to active labor if you are birthing at home. If you are at a hospital or birthing center, they will be around to check in with you, but won’t likely be with you the entire time. They will be with you during pushing, and can aide with protecting your perineum with stretching or counter pressure. Your midwife is the other half of the equation to your birth team.  Midwife + doula + partner = Fully Supported Mama

 

That’s for home births, right?

You may be hearing about doulas from your crunchier mamas. While I do support mamas that choose to birth at home, I also happily support families that birth at the hospital or birthing center. If you are planning a natural birth, opting for medication, or scheduled cesarean, I fully support you in your best birth. That looks different to different families, and no mama is the same in what she needs to birth with confidence. What matters to me is that you have options, and are fully supported in your choices.

 

But then what does the Dad do?

Doulas do not replace partners. Dads, partners, and other support people all have a role to play in supporting the mama. As a doula, I care about their needs as well. I can offer tons of support to Dad who may be nervous about how the labor is progressing, and pull him in with tips on how to offer counter pressure on a sore back, show him how to use a rebozo on mama’s belly to help a posterior baby turn, and I can be the one running to reheating the rice pack so he can be with you. It’s a team effort, and I am here for both of you! 

 

Here’s the nitty gritty on what a doula does for you:

  •          Meets with you in the weeks before your due. Meetings are usually to go over any health issues, any problems from previous births, and any lingering anxieties or fears about the labor. This allows us to develop strategies to help you cope during labor, and to develop your birth plan. We want to get to know you, so we can better support you.
  •           Having your doula present can:

o   decrease pain

o    decrease the need for epidural or pain meds

o   Shorten labor

o   Improve parent-baby bonding

o   Lower rate of postpartum depression

o   Lower caesarian rate 

 

  • While we aren't birth photographers, we will happily snap photos and video of the birth if you'd like us to.
  •  Doulas can help with the first breastfeeding session, and can help support you in the early days as well. If you choose to bottle feed, we are happy to support you with that too!
  •  Once you are home from the hospital, your doula will check in with a postpartum visit. This visit is usually to go over the birth, discuss how you and baby are doing, and help with any issues you may be facing. Having a baby is life changing, and no one understands this more than your doula. Birth is beautiful, hard, emotional, transforming work.

 

So to recap, doulas offer non-medical support for birthing families, offering education and physical and emotional support through the birthing process. We support all kinds of birth, and can act as guide through the experience.

 

 I am honored I get to witness it. I am honored to serve the growing families in my community.

 

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Hypnobirthing

With my second birth, I used hypnobirthing during my labor. You can read more about my birth story in the post below. I had heard a bit about hypnobirthing on some group forums, but was really introduced to it by a nurse I had during my hospital stay after the birth of my first daughter, Elena. The nurse and I were comparing notes on natural child birth, and she mentioned that she used hypnobirthing with her fifth baby.

"It was the most peaceful, painless birth. I'd think it was a crock if I hadn't done it myself."

Intriguing to say the least! Something that could make child birth painless without an epidural sounded amazing. So here's what I learned:

There are two schools of hypnobirthing; Hypnobabies and Mongan method hypnobirthing.  Instruction is typically done in a class with certified instructors, with subtle differences in what is taught. For instance, a Hypnobabies class may teach specific hypnosis techniques for analgesia/pain relief where hypnobirthing may teach guided meditations for deep relaxation (helping to avoid the tension that leads to pain). Either way, here is the point of hypnobirthing: release your mind of fear and tension, and your body will use its natural ability to birth without excess pain. The more you tense, the more you feel pain, and the longer your body takes to birth. By relaxing your mind and body, the cervix can open much more easily. We are mammals after all. If we feel fearful, our mind tells the body, "I can't birth here, it's not safe."

The best way to utilize the practice, is to do just that. Practice. It does take repetitive practice to train your mind and body to relax. In our busy lifestyles of constant running, it can be difficult to turn ourselves off. To go to a quiet place and just be still. The more you can do this, the more effective the tracks will be in aiding relaxation during labor. I visualized a quiet place that I stumbled upon on Pinterest. (I know. Pinterest is so good at that, great pieces to inspire labor and bathroom redecorating.)

This was my safe place during transition. Who wouldn't want to be here?

This was my safe place during transition. Who wouldn't want to be here?

 

 

 

I used this as my safe place when labor got hard, and I could retreat to somewhere else mentally.

 

So did hypnobirthing give me a pain free birth? No. I had labor pain like any other birthing mammal, but my mind and body were relaxed the whole time. I was wonderfully prepared for my birth, and didn't feel the same kind of pain I had with my first. I would describe it as intense, but I was able to cope. Sophia's birth was peaceful, and I can't wait to do it again.

 

Other perks of practicing hypnobirthing:

1)I slept amazingly well. I slept like a rock when I did the tracks right before bed. Goodbye insomnia!

2) I noticed a decrease in freaky pregnancy dreams. Could be a coincidence, but it's worth trying.

3) The tracks were a great break during a stressful day. I ended a recording feeling calm and focused. Something I needed when my three year old was losing her mind daily in the last weeks of my pregnancy.

4) Others have reported less anxiety and being able to better cope with anxiety using the techniques.

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