Posts Tagged ‘doula’


Prior to becoming pregnant with our first, i had never heard of a doula. As it turns out, hiring a doula for that birth was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was on the fence about having a doula until the last few weeks of pregnancy. The decision came to hire our Bradley Method instructor when I realized I would have a lot going on as it is, birthing a baby for the first time, let alone trying to remember everything she taught us at the right time. My husband would be there of course, but this was his first birth too. We weren’t going to pretend like we knew exactly what to do and that we had it covered.

In most cases, the default reaction of a mother-to-be (especially a first timer) is to just do whatever the doctor says. After all, it’s the first baby (or second or third) for the mom and the doctor has delivered presumably hundreds. I definitely can’t fault that way of thinking. Had I not learned as much as I did in that class, I would have just blindly trusted any old doctor as well. But I was informed and hopeful for a natural birth. I knew that our doula would remind me of the tools I had to self-advocate for that birth, and she did!


Here’s the facts!

The word doula is a Greek word meaning women’s servant. Women have been serving other women in childbirth for many centuries and have proven that support from another woman has a positive impact on the labor process.


They are professionally trained in childbirth to provides emotional, physical and informational support to the mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience.

Most doula-client relationships begin a few months before the baby is due. During this period, they develop a relationship where the mother feels free to ask questions, express her fears and concerns, and takes an active role in creating a birth plan. Most doulas make themselves available to the mother by phone in order to respond to her questions or explain any developments that might arise during the course of the pregnancy. Doulas do not provide any type of medical care. However, they are knowledgeable in many medical aspects of labor and delivery. Consequently, they can help their clients gain a better understanding of the procedures and possible complications of late pregnancy or delivery.

During delivery, doulas are in constant and close proximity to the mother. They have the ability to provide comfort with pain relief techniques that include breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, massage, and laboring positions. Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance. A doula provides the mother with the tools to self-advocate, encouraging and helping her fulfill specific desires that she might have for her birth. The goal of a doula is to help the mother experience a positive and safe birth.

After the birth, many labor doulas will spend some time helping mothers begin the breastfeeding process and encouraging bonding between the new baby and other family members.

Numerous studies have documented the benefits of having a doula present during labor. A recent Cochrane Review, Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth, showed a very high number of positive birth outcomes when a doula was present. With the support of a doula, women were less likely to have pain relief medications administered, less likely to have a cesarean birth, and reported having a more positive childbirth experience (Hodnett ED et al 2003)

Other studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60%. Doulas also increase breastfeeding success and overall satisfaction of labor (Klaus, Kennell, & Klaus, 1993).

Doulas often use the power of touch and massage to reduce stress and anxiety during labor. According to physicians Marshal Klaus and John Kennell, massage helps stimulate the production of natural oxytocin. The pituitary gland secretes natural oxytocin to the bloodstream, causing uterine contractions, and to the brain, resulting in a feelings of well being, drowsiness and higher pain threshold. By contrast, because synthetic IV oxytocin cannot cross into both the blood stream and the brain, it increases contractions without the positive psychological benefits of natural oxytocin.

Doulas are amazing!

They do NOT take over the husband/partners role (in fact they can support the husbands as well) and are NOT just for women seeking out an unmedicated birth or even those having a vaginal birth. The doula we used for our second child was there to support me throughout the gentle cesarean birth that brought him to us. She was worth every penny even though there was considerably less for her to “do” she did everything I could have hoped for throughout that birth.

I would without a doubt use a doula if I had to do it all over again and if we have anymore kids, there will be a doula!

For all the doulas out there!


Source: American Pregnancy Association.

A Gentle Cesarean Birth Story

I had just finished this post about God’s lesson for me the day before he came. We were just at the 38 week check up that afternoon, where I was kind of reluctantly discussing scheduling the cesarean because my sweet pea just wasn’t turning head down. I decided to wait until the 39 week check up to schedule it because there was something so unnatural to me about scheduling a birth…it just didn’t register in my head. Our doctor said that was fine, but we would need to schedule it at next week’s appointment for sure. I had just finished updating my doula on the earlier appointment when I felt something similar to a kick but then a gush. My eyes widened. Oh thats what that feels like! I called my doula who made sure I didn’t just pee my pants (LOL Karry, I won’t forget that any time soon!). I had not peed my pants. 😀 I had the OB paged. I called my husband who had just left for work and told him to turn around and head back home. The last call was to my mom, who had returned from a mini-vacation a day early and had only been home for a half hour! I asked her to head on over for our toddler because it was go time. I did a fairly good job of thinking what we needed to bring and packed it in the only bag I could find, the Graco bag for the pack n play, HA! Then off we went!

Wait, we had NO gas…had to stop for $5 worth….ok, then off we went!

I definitely felt nervous excitement on the way there. “I can’t believe we are going to meet him tonight! ….. The spinal is coming, you know.” I thought, “Yes but it will bring you to your son,” I reminded myself.

Checked in, wheeled up, hooked up. Every step brought me a little more excitement about meeting him and a little more anxiety regarding that impending spinal. Dr. Anesthesiologist arrived. Ohhhh kay, it was almost time, my heart was racing. He asked if I had an epidural with my first, no doubt to say it’s not unlike that. But I hadn’t because quite frankly a needle in my spinal column scared me more than the pains of labor, he hesitated a little confused then said that I didn’t have a choice this time. I told him I know behind a scared smile. He said I might throw up on account of my big dinner (I do love food).

All the finishing touches on prepping me took place…wow there were lots of people involved, all in and out. I was happy to see hubby, doula and midwife in there…oh but I could feel the fear. There’s that bleeping fear again! I still didn’t know how I was going to do it! Dr. Anesthesiologist came back in saying it was time and my guts drop a bit; he asked if I was ready and while I was not ready for the next step I was ready for the baby, so I said yes and off we went.

From one bed to another I went and then it was time to sit up and lean forward. Oh how I wanted to just be able to breathe through this and trust…and remember who is in charge and I that have nothing to fear. Trying to remember to breathe seemed to be taking up all my brain power though. My midwife asked how long my playlist is. Oh that’s right, I got to hear music I love! She got it started and Dr. Anesthesiologist started prepping for the spinal. My sweet sweet doula was right in front of me…she knew how I was scared of having this. Suddenly I was holding two hands (one of my midwife’s as well) and my head fell forward until I was forehead to forehead with my doula who was talking me through. She tells me to let it all go and squeeze it into her hand. I do and then I finally hear the music. Here is one of the unexpected defining moments of this birth and experience. “This is the air I breathe….Your Holy presence….living in me” a handful of tears fell as I was filled with peace and remembrance. That was one of two times in my life that I literally felt Him right there next to me. My doula wiped away my tears and I squeezed the hands as he finished. It felt weird, and hurt some but it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. 🙂 It started working quickly as the rest of the preparations were underway… monitor, leg compresses, blood pressure monitor, and the curtain! I knew we were close! I heard the doctor and then heard a song and thought, “oh I love this song!” I felt some tugs and pulls and heard that I’m doing great and that he will be here soon.

I smelled caudery…am I being cauderized? My doula asked if I really wanted to know. I did! She said that I was in fact being cauderized…that explained it. 😀 They asked me if I was ready because it’s almost time to lower the drape! I definitely had ants in my numb pants! I couldnt believe how soon until I would see him! My little buggar who wouldn’t turn head down for me after the chiropractic, acupuncture, moxibustion, inversions, hypnotherapy was here! He was out the drape was lowered, I tried to reach for him but they told me to not do that…oh yea sterile environment, whewps…I apologized. Mark is gloved up and handed scissors…snip snip! He was out and on his way to my chest! Skin to skin!! On the OR table….we’re pioneers!


What a good crier! I patted his butt and told him I love him and I couldn’t believe he was here. He settled and we offered the boob. He tried but it was a no go. It was a weird angle. He laid there on me, right on my chest, just like he is supposed to, while they removed the placenta and closed me up. They took him to weigh him while they unhooked me and transferred me to the other bed.

In recovery! They wiped him down some and there he was on my chest again. YAY! Let’s nurse? Yes let’s! He latched and got that precious colostrum. Oh what a wonderful noise those swallows were! And there we sat together in recovery for three hours, never separated (even as I was throwing up…I did have a big dinner, I really do love my food! And my husband holding the bucket…did I mention he’s the BEST??)…. just as it should be.

Wow. I am so incredibly blessed to have had this type of cesarean. As my wonderful doula said, “this was no C-section, it was a cesarean birth”, to God be the Glory. A gentle, respectful cesarean birth that brought me the child that God wants me to care for this side of Heaven. God is great!

I think it’s important that women not consider this gentle cesarean ahead of vaginal births because that is the best way to birth a baby. I don’t want women to choose to have a cesarean because of this, if it isn’t necessary. The U.S. cesarean rate is unnecessarily above the worldwide average as it is. For those of us facing circumstances that don’t allow the opportunity for a vaginal birth, this was a way of making it a better experience.

More on Gentle Cesareans:
The inception of gentle cesarean births was driven by families who wanted the birth of their babies to be just as special and respectful as babies who were able to be born vaginally. It entails some or all of the following:
-Immediate skin-to-skin contact with minimal separation
-Birth Visualization through maternal propping
-Calm environment
-No extraneous noise or unrelated conversation by the medical staff
-Delayed cord clamping
-Presence of multiple support staff for mom and her birth partner
-Breastfeeding in the operating room, if the mom desires
This process of skin to skin contact in the operating room is important for mother-infant bonding, prevention of post partum depression, breastfeeding initiation and success, and overall experience for a family when birth must take place in the operative setting. There are several instances where a cesarean birth is medically indicated, and in a non-emergent situation, Gentle Cesarean is a wonderful option. All medical staff at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island have been specially trained by Dr. Kate McCleary and are therefore able to safely, respectfully and compassionately perform Gentle Cesarean
. (Source:

Update: We were interviewed by NBC 5 Chicago, here is the video

I might have to have a what now?

Crunchy moms tend to shoot for natural births, not all of them do… but most. I am in the majority there. Birth number one was unfortunately induced (pitocin is the Devil, I can say for sure now having had that coursing through my body for 24ish hours) but the drugs stopped there, thanks to my husband, my doula, and a tub. That tub there basically changed everything for planning birth number two, or so I thought. If you have ever been in the water for a birth or just during a contraction, I don’t really need to say much more. If you haven’t, it’s borderline blissful. Yea the contractions still hurt, but so much less. Water magically relieves so much of the pressure. I wanted to cry when I had to get out. Never mind that I went in too early and it slowed my labor down, even if I went in right on time I would have still had to get out because they don’t allow water births where I was. LAME. And the reason I decided not to go back there for number two. If water makes contractions that much better then what of transition and crowning? I had to pursue that! And so mid pregnancy I made the decision and switched to one of about 3 hospitals around here that allow water births and I was psyched! I decided to add in some hypnobirthing tools this time around too. Those birth stories where the mama is in the tub and seemingly zoned out? Yes! That would be me this time!

I can’t even remember when but somewhere in the early 30 weeks we found out he was breech. Oh boo….but we still have time. So it’s all good. Yet the weeks passed and he was still breech… Hmmm. I looked into all the things I can do to hopefully get him to turn and then I started them one by one. All the while I hear if he isn’t turned by 37 weeks then that’s when they would want to manually turn him. Mm. The external cephalic version. Pretty much any mention of it raised a red flag. I was torn though. If I try everything and he doesn’t turn and that’s the last option….what if I am passing on the last option for a normal delivery? What a pickle. I brushed it off as best as I could and just kept on trying to get him to turn…..Webster’s technique with my chiropractor, cold peas on his head (the baby, not the chiropractor), music and light down low low low, inversions, breech tilts, acupuncture/moxibustion double whammy, self-hypnotherapy, EFT to reduce my anxiety over the possible outcomes if he doesn’t turn…and still had a few things left to try. While I tried these things I had this weight on my shoulders about this ECV. Would it be my only shot for a natural delivery? Oh there’s that red flag again. Here’s the thing about red flags…you just don’t ignore them. There’s a reason they are flailing around in your subconscious face. Only a 58% chance it would even work….and he could turn back if it does work….and it could lead to an emergency c-section right then and there. I finally let go and decided I would be declining this invasive procedure. (There is the first set of weights off my shoulders!) I just kept thinking if he doesn’t turn with all these things I am trying (especially the chiropractor and acupuncture/moxibustion that have super high success rates) then I feel in my gut he just isn’t turning for a reason. Week 36….I am trying to decide if I will be going back to my old OB because I have a relationship with him and I want him to do the C if it ends up happening. Oh but then I am giving up a water birth if he ends up turning….and they can turn way up until the end, even in labor. Oh sweet baby, you sure are making your mama think.

Here’s where I wished for a minute that I didn’t care about these things. That I didn’t know what I know and didn’t accept the responsibility of looking into my options instead of just doing what an OB says. I mean, there is a new hospital about 5 minutes from our house. I wish I was like, “Ok cool! Whenever you want to do the C, let’s just do it! Let me check my calendar for when’s good and maybe we can find something that works for us and you can still make your tee time.” Holy cow would this all have been SO much easier! “To know better is to do better” though, so I’m brought back to reality. Amidst all of these big decisions one after the other, I am compelled to meet with another midwife/OB group (my poor husband. He is the BEST husband!) How odd….like I don’t have enough to think about. I follow my gut though and we go meet her and chat. They just started water births there…and even more recently started something called a “Gentle Cesarean”. She gives me the basics and said I will find way more info if I Google it. I’m a Googler so I do. Oh, I see. About as close as I can get to the kind of C I would hope for. Hm. So if he turns I can still have the water birth option and if he doesn’t then I have this Gentle C option. Ohhhh that’s why I felt compelled to meet with her. I check on feedback for her and the docs and the hospital. Vast majority good, some bad….no place is perfect. Another 9th inning switch for me! 😀 (All the while my awesome doula Karry, listened to me go/talk through all of these decisions, gave advice when asked and supported me with whatever decisions I made, love her.) And here was the second set of weights off my shoulder!

I realized after my EFT session that this was a lesson in faith for me. And just because you realize that doesn’t mean you are suddenly squared away and good to go apparently either. 😀 I went to my personal library and asked God to show me what I needed. I grabbed two books, “Amazing Freedom: Devotions to Free Your Spirit and Fill Your Heart” by those lovely Women of Faith ladies and “The Remarkable Prayers of the Bible: Transforming Power for Your Life Today” by Jim George.

The first message He sends me from the first book, “In a strange but marvelous way, her belief gives her a sense of freedom because she knows she doesn’t have to figure out the big picture by herself. She doesn’t have to see how each piece of her life fits into God’s big, glorious picture. She just keeps believing. Keeps praying. Keeps trusting. And she knows that in the end, God’s plan will be revealed to her, and she’ll be able to see her life as God sees it.” Here’s where my science brain shoves her hands in her pockets and kicks a rock.

The second message from the second book is from the chapter on Abraham “a man of remarkable faith”…yea I better read this one seeing as I know this is a lesson in faith. Here’s what jumped right off the page and all but slapped me in the face, “Fear is a good indicator that we have strayed away from God’s will, for when we have fear, we are not trusting God.” DOH! My science brain throws her hands up and just leaves. And then a reminder through Abraham’s prayers, that they should be motivated by a desire to see God glorified. I had been praying, though not fervently. I kept in mind that prayers aren’t always answered immediately, and sometimes they never are. I kept in mind that it really is His Will Be Done, and I was ok with that….or was I? If I could just know what’s going on here, why he is breech, why hasn’t he turned, will he turn in time? I felt so much closer to peace, but just wasn’t quite there. Lessons can be such a pain. And I picture God doing the 9172981273 things a minute that He does and peeking in on me to see how my progress is going and thinking to Himself, “She’s almost there….”

So my prayers changed to focus on whatever the outcome, I would be glorifying God. If he turns head down, then God did that by His own hands. I mean He is knitting him in my womb (Psalm 139:13) so He will certainly turn him if He wants. If he doesn’t turn, then God left him in place for reasons I may not get to know this side of Heaven, but glory to Him for bringing me this child, His child on loan to me, however He planned to bring Him to me.

I stared writing this blog several days ago, maybe even a couple weeks ago, I’m not even sure anymore. But just yesterday the last set of weights were lifted off my shoulders by my Father….and not because He turned the baby. I woke up from a nap and was sitting there in the quiet, gazing out the window at the greenery and listening to the birds. My mind wandered to this baby boy as it often does, but not him in my belly in the “wrong” position and wondering when will he turn or will he turn or why hasn’t he turned, but of him on my chest making those heavenly baby noises and within kissing distance of my lips. And that was it. Oh sweet peace. It just didn’t matter anymore how he arrives, God has that covered. Free at last! And oh look at that, this IS true! “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36.

And on that note…

Update: He was born the day after I finished writing this. Excuse me while I crack up at how God works….yes yes, touché Lord, touché! Here is his birth story. There’s a link in it for the news clip….because we kind of made the news. 😀