In celebration of having now attended forty births, I am developing a series of blog posts on just a few of the myriad reasons that make hiring a doula an awesome choice. The first ten reasons focused on studies and statistics, while the next ten elaborated on the kinds of practical help a doula brings to a birth. This portion looks at some of the ways I can help you work with your own individual birth.
21. Talk through definitions of your options for your Birth Plan: I have had families message me, saying, “I just found an online guide for creating a birth plan, and I don’t even KNOW what half of these things ARE!!” I know. I’ll come over and explain what each possibility means, and what the common benefits or drawbacks might be. My goal is to help you feel that you are making strong, informed decisions.
22. Practice Coping Techniques: I’ve got a list of coping skills that are often helpful during labor and birth….but not for everyone. I love to practice these with you ahead of time so that they’re familiar and you get a good sense of what might be really, super helpful, and what you’d like to avoid.
23. “Unbiased Support” means whatever kind of support works for you: I’m not committed to what helped me in my own labors, what helped your mother in her labors, or what your best friend used while in labor. My whole focus is on what makes you feel safe and supported and enabled to do the work that you need to do, individually.
24. “Unbiased Support” means I’m not affiliated with (or bound by the protocols of) a hospital or birth center: My loyalty and focus is, again, on what you want or need, the kind of birth you are hoping for, how you as an individual are coping with your own labor.
25. Suggest Position Changes: One of my favorite resources is Spinning Babies, which has taught me how to “read” a labor–pressure in Mom’s lower back can mean one thing, while erratic contractions might tell me something else. I’m watching your own specific labor pattern to see how I might help you move to allow your baby and body to work together in the most efficient way possible.
26. Heat or Ice for Sore Spots: I’ve had Moms who can’t stand anything cold when they’re doing hard physical work, and some who really need to be cooled OFF. While we discuss your preferences in prenatals, I keep a rice bag, a fan, and a portable ice bucket for washcloths in my birth bag. I’m ready for all of it.
27. Creating an Awesome Tag-Team with nurses: I love L & D nurses. In my experience, they have been absolutely, across-the-board stellar. My goal is to form a seamless circle of support around a birthing family, so I aim to quickly form a great relationship with your nurse. By assisting them in caring for you, and giving them my observations of how you are doing in labor, this partnership usually happens in the most beautiful way.
28. Keeping a Log of your Labor Events: In between your contractions, I am usually writing notes of something sweet that was said, a position that really felt good, a conversation with your caregiver, or when you were dilated to a 6, or 8, or finally a 10! These notes really help parents put together the memories of their baby’s precious birth story.
29. Caring for Mom’s Environmental Needs: Hospital rooms are set to a specific, standard temperature….that can be changed as soon as you decide it’s too chilly or too warm. Is it too bright? I’ll get the blinds right away. Too quiet? Let’s get that music started! I want you to be as comfortable as possible while you are laboring, and in that effort, I’m working to just make sure the space around you feels wonderful.
30. Protecting Your Rhythm: Everybody has a natural, internal rhythm that works for them. During early labor, I’m watching for that, and learning what rhythms of breathing or movement feel good to you. Quite often, I’ll start talking you through your own inhale/exhale rhythms, so you have something to concentrate on as you breathe and move. This also sends a nice message to any caregiver who walks in the room with questions right in the middle of a contraction; they hear me talking and realize that they just need to wait a moment before starting a conversation. And then, as labor advances, if you lose your rhythm in tensing up or holding your breath, I can give it back to you.
Each woman’s labor is highly individual, and my goal is to focus on you and your birthing as an individual. A doula’s care is personal and highly personalized for each birthing family!