Category Archives: Birth Planning

What is a Doula?

What is a Doula you ask? Guess what, we don’t catch babies. Wait, what? If you are still unsure of what birth doula services include keep reading…

The word ‘doula’ — pronounced ‘doo-la’ — is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant, caregiver, or Mothering the Mother’.

It refers to someone who offers education, emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth.

She enables a woman and her partner to have the most satisfying birth experience possible, from pregnancy into motherhood. This type of support allows the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience.

Doulas are trained and/or certified and experienced in childbirth and are usually mothers themselves. For me, I have had two births myself and countless experiences with client’s births.

Newborn Baby/Hospital Birth

This part is very important-

While we have good knowledge and awareness of the birth process, a doula does not support the mother-to-be in a medical role.

That is the job of the midwife or OB.

A doula helps the mother-to-be to achieve the birth she hopes for, no matter if it’s an all natural birth, a medicated birth, or a c-section birth.

This makes a doula a valuable addition to the birth team. Should a birth become complicated and require medical assistance, a doula will remain calm and stay along with her client helping in other ways necessary.

She will not make decisions for those she supports, but she will assist them through the decision making process, providing balanced information so the couple can make their own choices. Often times, these decisions are made before labor begins but other times it’s a game day decision. It’s nice to have someone constant,  knowledgeable, and trustworthy to help the couple (along with their care provider) make the best choice for their family.

A doula may provide some or all of the following services, dependent on her training and skills. Often doulas are also qualified in other therapies too, so it always helps to ask!

  • Childbirth education and preparation, including birth planning
  • Discussing previous births
  • Massage and other comfort measures including relaxation techniques
  • Optimal fetal positioning
  • Suggesting and practicing positions to help ease pain and facilitate a smoother, more effective labor
  • Provide reassurance and encouragement
  • Talking through emotional blockages which may come up during pregnancy and in labor
  • Keep your desired birthing ‘environment’ consistant – aromatherapy, music, candles etc
  • Assisting you with negotiation of your preferences
  • Photography and/or video of the birth itself, as well as the precious golden hour as a family
  • Breastfeeding Information and Support
  • Support while parenting a newborn
  • And so much more!

What About The Mother’s Birth Partner?

Reports are showing: rather than diminishing a partner’s participation in the birthing process, a doula’s support complements and reinforces her partner’s role. We can help your birth partner learn relaxation techniques and comfort measures during pregnancy as well as learning some vocabulary to help understand how things are going in the birthing room before the baby’s birth day. Being prepared can be so very helpful to everyone.

What will my provider think if I hire a doula?

Most OB’s are very open to having a doula as long as we are respectful of their role as an important part of the birth team. My client’s carefully choose their provider and I respect that have chosen who is best for their birth. Midwives are also very open to having a doula present and often have a good relationship with many doulas in the community so we naturally work very well together.

So, ultimately you have learned…Doulas are awesome, we do not catch babies, and we work well with others…well most of us. Choose your birth team wisely. This is a very important day for you, your partner and your baby.

The Essential Guide to Birth Planning

Congratulations, if you are reading this you might be planning a birth.  Congratulations!

There are so many places to find ideas for birth planning, some that I have come across are LONG – your provider and nursing staff will be able to read and remember your desires for this big amazing day BETTER if it’s short and sweet. I like to suggest one page. If you have already made a longer plan it’s ok, just go through and tailor it down a bit to keep it simple.

I know, I know, ONE page for one of the BIGGEST most amazing days of your life? That does seem difficult. Can you imagine if you were planning a wedding…and the wedding plan was only ONE page!? LOL.

  1. Wear something pretty
  2. Invite the one I LOVE
  3. Meet at the church
  4. Say “I Do”
  5. Share a KISS
  6. Have a party

The difference is, the (female) human body knows how to give birth. We have all of the right equipment on board! When we plan a wedding, we need many different vendors, decorations, venues, people…so many people…you get the idea.

Being in tune with your body and TRUSTING your body will help you feel more comfortable throughout all stages of labor.

A plan, while it may not guarantee everything goes exactly as it is laid out, let’s be real, it probably won’t – helps us figure out exactly what we want.  We can make choices accordingly, and clearly communicate those desires with those that are important to the plan. It’s a great tool in preparation. Ultimately, when your baby is born, no matter how the plan ends up, it’s going to be an incredible moment and you all will be glad that you took the time to prepare for it.

When planning, consider a few things to ask your provider before hand to be sure you are all on the same page.

  1. What is standard at my birth place? For example, how will my baby be monitored and how often?
  2. How many Doctors or Midwives do you work with and may I meet them before my estimated due date?
  3. How do you feel about doulas?
  4. Would you allow my massage therapist to join me during labor?
  5. Can I bathe my baby?
  6. How soon can we leave the hospital or birth center? Etc…

    There may be many more questions unique to you and your partner that you could add to this list. Be sure that your birthing partner/spouse is a large part of this planning too.

Your baby’s birth day will only happen once. Carefully and thoughtfully consider your desires. A good care provider will respect your wishes and honor the sacredness of your special day when you meet your baby for the very first time.

After you have cleared things with your provider I like to get it all written down so that you can share your plan with your carefully chosen birth team.

I like to begin with general information.

Parents to be names and birthdates.

Provider’s name and where you want to birth your baby.

Estimated Due Date

Birth Team (anyone who will be supporting you)

If you are prepared to have an unmedicated birth write a short paragraph stating this and thank them for helping you achieve this goal.  Explain that IF any interventions are necessary to please discuss the options with us first.

Some choose to have bullet points here, others like to have a “preferred” list and an “avoid” list. Both are very acceptable. Some examples of this may include:

What type of lighting you would like

Music preferences

Having time to labor

Use of the tub or shower

delayed cord clamping

Breastfeeding desires

The avoid list for example may include unnecessary interventions.

Understanding that when you have chosen this provider you trust they will avoid unnecessary interventions unless it is best for you and baby.

You may even want to list a few postpartum requests such as:

Baby to remain with mom or dad at all times

Circumcision? Yes or No?

No bottle or pacifier

Vaccinations? Yes/No/Delayed

Allow vernix to absorb into the baby’s skin

Skin to skin warmth and bonding time

Again, you and your partner will have more specific requests and it’s important to make your birth plan your own. Remember these are all only examples. Discuss all of this with your partner, childbirth educator, your doula and of course your care provider.

So what’s the idea behind the birth plan? We want to facilitate communication between partners, care providers, and truthfully figuring things out for yourself too! Whether it’s your first baby or your 7th baby, it’s always a new birth. It’s going to be different every time.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that some don’t want to make a birth plan and guess what, it’s your birth – you get to decide. But, I assume since you are reading this you may be thinking about it. One thing I noticed while teaching my class last week was: A student asked me,

“What will the nurses do if my wife asks for pain meds but we had decided to do our best to avoid them. Will they jump into action, will we have any time to try something new for a while instead of getting the meds right away?”

It was a great question! This is a great example of why to have a birth plan. You nurses would know that you wanted to avoid meds and if you are asking for them, they may help distract you, change positions and use other comfort measures in hopes that you can get past this for a bit longer without the meds since that was what you had planned. Having this laid out for your birth team is going to get that communication across respectfully which is very helpful for everyone involved. Know that if you have ultimately decided the pain meds IS what you want your trusted team will respect that as well.

Trust your body, trust your baby, and choose the provider you feel most comfortable with.

Please, if you have more questions, leave a reply or contact me. If you want me to elaborate on any of these topics, let me know. Have fun planning your special day.

Congratulations and I wish you a beautiful birthing experience.