Can Doulas Uphold Justice?

I recently had the opportunity to attend a couple of circles of discussion about birth and the disparaging numbers that represent maternal mortality in the US. Most especially in my home state of TX. One of the speakers, Hermine Hayes-Klein, of Hayes-Klein Law Firm, specializes in maternal health & childbirth law. She has had the opportunity to study the stories of birth from all parts of the world. She spent some time in the Netherlands as a professor of law at Hague University, as well as the director of the Research Center for Reproductive Rights at the Bynkershoek Institute. She oversaw the dissertations of several doctorate students from an abundance of backgrounds, and through this work she began seeing similarities in the birth communities all over the world. All of this sprung a curiosity that sent her searching back into our history for some anthropological answers. My first experience hearing her speak, she spoke of writings as old as the bible (our incredibly overly translated modern version) exemplifying negative patriarchal control of a woman’s fertility and body autonomy. Her research paired with the true stories her students were researching shed light on the the history of oppressive movements.

Why is this information pertinent? The climate specific to woman’s rights is still littered with limitations within birth, economic suppression, sex, gender, and the family. These factors effect so many aspects of life, but in this blog I will focus on birthing and fertility. Thanks to our modern technology, the ability to track and calculate data, and programs funneling support and research to our communities. We now have numbers proving the disparaging effects of oppression. I will bring forth thoughts on racial oppression as an outsider, and utilizing both numbers and personal experience working with oppressed individuals to shed some light on the alarming maternal mortality rates. I will also explore medicine, protocol, and patients rights, as a means to support a possible shift in perspective and respect for the birthing experience. Most of all, I find the experience of a doula holding space for birthing and growing families essential in educating for an individuals birth journey.

So, Can doulas uphold justice? Yes. They have the ability to educate their clients, so that they are able to advocate for them selves. That doesn’t mean we stand quiet and allow for maltreatment to take place. We can speak out for all to hear, and even get video evidence of the incident. As discussed with Hayes-Klein in our workshop. Doulas do not have any liability in this space, and we can - and should do everything within our power to stop a situation from happening when a birthing person is in any danger or disrespected. Now, there is certainly a cadence that will be set from the moment we arrive to the hospital, and we mustn’t forget the most important piece in this puzzle - the partner! It is imperative we honor this person and give them the charge. Their word is lawful, legal, and will make the loudest statement in that room. A doula can provide guidance through mediation and conflict resolution, just by sparking conversation with the partner. This alone can change birth significantly. As with all these I will be expanding on the partners role, first trimester through 4th trimester.

I have been incubating this blog for quite some time. These are concepts that have felt bigger than me for a fair amount of my career, and truly - they still do. I think with every position we commit to requires evolution, and this theory and similar discussions around these numbers has had a huge part in broadening my view of both birth culture, and society as a whole. Keep your eye peeled for my next blog on oppression and it’s role in the maternal mortality rate. So, in the famous words of Samuel L. Jackson’s character Arnold in Jurassic Park, “hold on to your butts!”

Doulas and their Boundaries

My job as a doula is to help you grasp all of this information as best as you can. When you endure a major life event, it affects your ability to remember previous conversations. A doula chimes in and helps you recall your initial expectations, and then gently helps you shift your perspective to the present moment. This is where boundaries play in a doula’s role.

It should go without saying, that a doula’s opinions should not play into any aspect of their client’s birth. As with any boundary, these lines blur depending on the context. I can attest to growing more opinionated as my experience has broadened. My education allows me the ability to offer unique suggestions, but how do we know when to push for a little more effort, or to step aside and allow for the birthing person to make their choice?

I certainly step aside more often than not. Maybe that is where I’m at in my journey, or maybe that is just how birth should be supported. Birth is many things; Strength, vulnerability, shedding of old ways, and transforming into parenthood. Of all those things, I work hard to be empathetic to my client’s needs. I have had moments in which I felt compelled to push. Some clients follow that guidance, while others push back. Either way they are informed of their options. I have even had clients ask me (and partners) to leave. While it may seem like a slight on my skills, it’s truly just what that birthing person needs. The art of “doulaing” requires a person to set aside their pride, and support individuals where they are.

This is definitely a processing point for me as a doula. Was I enough? Could I have advocated more for this? Should I have advised differently? Is this safe for my clients? Just like everyone else caring for these individuals, I have seen birth many times. Our ability to to draw a line can be compromised. Empathetic roles require a high level of self care. When implementing boundaries that allow me a proper amount of self care, I can continue to grow my knowledge, and still be sensitive to my client’s needs.

Like any fiscal position, I have individuals question my value as a caregiver. These boundaries in particular are the groundwork to maintaining my career. This generally takes place in the interviewing process, but sometimes within the early stages of a professional relationship. Questions arise such as, How are you helpful within a planned c-section? What if you aren't available for our birth? These are valid concerns. This is a place where we sort of web all of our boundaries into a safe space, and through contractual agreements. It’s incredibly important that every person involved in this experience feels heard, so that they feel confident in themselves throughout the whole process. This experience will affect every aspect of their parenting relationship, and doulas are very sensitive to that.

Putting it into words almost feels like a juggling act, which is how I imagine most business owners feel, but most especially us empaths.

Boundaries with Friends and Family

This week’s topic is a follow up from last weeks post. For those that missed last weeks submission on placing boundaries in public scroll down!

Okay, so you have finally figured out how to leave the house  and not feel completely like everyone wants to tell you their life story. Whether you are physically concealing your belly, or simply asking people to mind their business, you are setting boundaries. This concept gets a bit hairy at this point. Now we need to think about placing boundaries with family. Just like pregnancy, birth draws people to you. Especially those that love you the most. The joy of a new baby is special, but we must be able to respect the process that takes place prior to baby’s delivery.

Consider your everyday relationships with these individuals. All interactions both negative and positive will play on a grander scale. You need to have the ability to focus on your body, and allow for the surges to carry you into a very vulnerable state of mind. Even the feeling of being watched or waited on can stall labor. So, if your parent had a traumatic birth experience and draws from that while at your birth, that can create a serious road block.  I have supported couples that didn’t tell family until they were home from the hospital, I have also supported couples that allow a fair amount of their family there, and interacting with the birthing person, and in the birthing space. It can be both a positive or a negative influence. It’s up to you to examine those relationships and start dialogue with those individuals, so that your boundaries are respected.

These are tough conversations, plain and simple. Remind them that your need for privacy is strictly for your benefit, and that it’s not personal. Every relationship carries different qualities. You know from the get go how these conversations are going to play out, so don’t dance around any details, just try and be direct.

I often recommend giving tasks to the individuals that want to be a part of it, but will likely stir up some emotions. Have them take care of pets, make sure that you have groceries to come home to, and tidy up the house. There are many things that will include them in the process, be creative!

When it comes down to it, it is imperative that they respect these boundaries. In the case you feel they will likely disrespect the lines you are setting, then you have every right to keep them out of the picture until you feel it’s okay for them to come. When it’s all said and done, that little bundle will be a nice bridge over sour feelings, and now you have all kinds of responsibilities to give them when you return home with baby!

Next week I give my perspectives of setting boundaries in Doula work, and offer some insight to the insecurities we face as care providers.

Setting Boundaries in Public

Boundaries. This is a concept we learn overtime. For me it was through a slough of embarrassing moments in my 20s. No lesson is ever learned without a mess. I say this often when I’m attending births. In my role as a doula, boundaries are a large part of the discussion that I continue to have, even on the day of the birth with my clients. Placing such distinctions for your birth is paramount in delivering your baby. Remember. These preparations will not change any potential curve balls in your expectations of your birth, but having a clear idea of the environment you need to have in order to feel safe and vulnerable will give you a leg up in the process.

On paper, that all sounds pretty doable. Now, we add in your current lifestyle. Whether you planned this for years, or your caught by surprise, this is a major change in your individual lives. The stress of finances, the pressure of responsibilities in your work lives, and managing schedules in the hopes of spending a day or two together. This climate isn’t always cut out for the efforts it takes to really come to terms with expanding your family. Naturally we turn to others that have been through it before. How did they cope? Where did they give birth? How was there experience in comparison to their expectations? Most of the time pregnant individuals don’t even get a chance to ask. Pregnancy tends to draw people near you regardless of how you are feeling in the moment. This is a great place to implement those boundaries. It sounds silly, but I always recommend having a specific statement prepared for the unwelcome interactions. “I respect and appreciate your experience, but have to be on my way” Simple, respectful, and concise. How they take that is on them.

Next week we discuss boundaries in your birthing environment. How to decide who you want in your space, and taking the steps to set those standards ahead of time.

Bali, A Birth Story

I had the opportunity to visit Bali this year. I was there for 3 weeks working with a family and experiencing my surroundings when I had some time off. The streets in Bali are lively with motor bikes by the hundreds flooding the streets, even the sidewalks in times of congestion. The people smile, and busily sell their services to tourists on the streets. I had the opportunity to visit the city of Ubud, known to some from the book turned movie, “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I did my best to live it up during this very unique experience. I haggled with men on mopeds for transportation services, walked, and prayed in a temple. I rode on the back of a motorcycle through the rice paddies, watching the flags and banners waving as we cruised by, the sun beating on my skin as the driver stopped and went with quick decisions through busy road ways. I’m not going to lie, I was concerned for my safety, but only a little. I spent an afternoon at a beach club drinking margaritas and listening to good tunes while meeting different people from around the world at a swimming pool bar. I even got to wash a grown elephant and feed a baby one. I mean, dream vacation, right? Funny thing is- none of those experiences topped the one I had at the Bumi Sehat birthing center.

While visiting Ubud, I had the opportunity to visit Bumi Sehat, a community birthing center started by Robin Lim. When I arrived in the city, I began asking around about Bumi Sehat, interested in hearing a story or two of births that had happened at the center. I was able to speak with two different gentleman who provided me with transport. The first gentleman in his 60s told me of his daughter who was receiving care at the center, and how grateful he was for the the facility as well as the staff. The other man was in his 30s. He and his wife in the process of trying to conceive. They attend fertility counseling offered in the center. He discussed how grateful he was for the affordability of the care. The center accepts whatever you can pay. How beautiful is that? Everyone receiving the same quality of care, for whatever they can afford.

I planned on getting there and simply offering my hands in any way. I was prepared to check in on postpartum recovery mamas and help them swaddle up a fussy baby, or establish breastfeeding. Heck, I was open to prepping food or folding some laundry, Wherever they needed me, I was ready to serve. The PR woman showed me around the center. Upon introducing me to the midwives on call that day, they immediately said, “Oh, you can support our birthing couple!!” I honestly did not expect this. I was floored. It turns out that this couple had wished for a doula, but were unable to attain one. The staff asked the couple if they would be ok with me providing doula services for them. They said, “Yes.”… I couldn’t believe it. Due to the nature of the work I was doing in Bali, I was only available to stay for 5 hours, so when I arrived I made it a point to make that very clear to them. It is important that boundaries are set, to not leave clients with disappointment. They still felt the time valuable, so I joined them in the room they were in, introduced myself, and got to work.

It was like a dream. The mother was originally from the Netherlands, her partner born and raised in Bali. She smiled at me with the glow of a laboring mother. Still talking and smiling in between contractions. It was a different dynamic than my other births, of course, as this was happening in a culture that exists on the other side of the planet from my usual domain. I get more time to get to know my state side clients before the birth. This birth support required a subtle dance between present, quiet support, and getting to know each other through conversation. One of my favorite aspects of international travel is the constant obstacle that language barriers provide. The art of communication is really chiseled down to the very raw details. Body language, eye contact, and listening. As a doula, I utilize these very aspects of communication in my work. As mentioned before, I make the time to meet with my clients a few times prior to the birth. However, there is still that aspect of uncertainty in the air. The unpredictability of birth permeates all aspects of the birthing room when the time comes. There is no way to know how one will react in that space, until we are actually there. I enter every birthing room with an open heart, ears, and eyes. When listening with all my faculties, intuition guides my hand and body where it needs to go. So, walking in here I felt virtually the same emotions as my state side births. The only difference is the comfort in imminent changes this community has. Imagine only having access to just what you need. No overabundance of materials or services to choose from, simply being comfortable with what you can have at that very moment. This couple welcomed me with trust and confidence. That confidence allowed me to just jump in and help, despite having just met at that very moment..

The environment was warm and muggy. The back door to the room open wide with curtains blowing in the wind.  The sounds of motor bikes, children’s voices, and generations of families housed together, thriving as their own village. I could not believe what an opportunity this was for me, and how enriching it felt to participate in this one of kind experience. Aside from her partner, she had some close friends present at her birth. Very relaxed with them in and out making sure mom and dad had everything they needed. Her girlfriend even snapped some of my only photos present at a birth.  

Applying counter pressure to mother's hips while she rest off of her feet.

Applying counter pressure to mother's hips while she rest off of her feet.

Mama was sitting on the bed when I came in, which was low enough to allow the space for her hips to ease open. As we were quickly getting acquainted, she began pacing the room. That is one of my most favorite aspects of birth. In staying present in that space, birth itself begins making certain choices for you. As a doula, this allows us the opportunity to get a sense of the mama’s rhythm. The last thing I wanted to do was walk in there and stand in the way of all the progress already done, so I just watched for a minute. I then began implementing some counter pressure during her contractions. She would beautifully float from bed to wall, placing her hands on it as a contraction came on. Her knees would weaken a bit allowing her to naturally squat into each surge as they came on. I acclimated her to my touch for about 30 min allowing her to brush the edges of active labor.

She asked for some relief for her hips and mentioned feeling sort of stuck. Feeling stuck can happen for all sorts of reasons, it could be the position of the baby, a nagging thought in your head, or maybe just an aspect of the waves of emotion you are feeling, keeping you from moving you forward. I got her on her hands and knees on the bed and went to my bag for my rebozo, calmly explaining to her how I would be using it. I wrapped the rebozo around her hips, tightening just enough to grip and gently shimmy them back and forth. This forced her muscle tissue to let go, easing baby lower. We stayed there a little bit after, swaying her hips back and forth while I applied counter pressure during contractions. We became a unit on the bed, with dad spotting us. She soon grew tired of this position, so I got out the birthing ball, giving her the chance to rest but still able to work her hips.

Applying counter pressure in an active labor position.

Applying counter pressure in an active labor position.

Before we knew if it, she mentioned feeling fluid leaking down her leg. This is a good indication of what we in the birth world refer to as SROM, or Spontaneous Rupture Of Membranes. For this mama it seemed more like a small tear, slowly emitting amniotic fluid with each contraction. This is can also be an indication of possible transition. When the waters break, the cushion between the birth canal and baby’s head disappears, which can intensify the birth considerably. This was true for this mama. She slowly stopped talking, and began pacing even more than before. Her close friend cut up some dragon fruit for the room and mama would stop and snack as often as possible. I was watching the clock pass time as she slowly drifted off into the most intense place she had been since the beginning of this journey. Her midwife, Robin came in to check on her. She was pleased with her progress, and without any intervention, other than some suggestions on birthing techniques, she took her leave to allow this birth to unfold. We got mama in the shower on a birth ball. She rocked her hips more intensely, dad and I taking turns running warm water down her back as she moaned beautifully. Her restless feelings grew bigger as she furthered her progress so she switched back to pacing, clearly her favorite method of laboring.

Her friends and husband spent some time observing me, and I teaching them some of my techniques so they could assist her closer to pushing. Soon, it was time for me to leave. Without taking away too much from their current moment, I gave them some words of encouragement and gratitude, and left knowing that they were soon to meet their little one.

Staying active in a supported squat on the birthing ball.

Staying active in a supported squat on the birthing ball.

The last couple of weeks there consisted of long hours as a babysitter, and quiet evening swims in the moonlight. It wasn’t long before I was packing my bags to return home. As beautiful as this island is, my heart belongs to Texas. The trip home is well over 24 hours, including an eight hour layover in Korea. I was exhausted by travel, my tummy sour with the acidity of my fourth cup of coffee, but I couldn’t help but smile at the joy I received in spontaneously supporting a beautiful mama through her transition from early labor to active labor. My life is forever changed for this experience and I will be forever grateful.

The Ergonomics of Postpartum Recovery: Babywearing

If you are a returning reader, then you probably have seen my previous series on babywearing. I will be covering a few basics, but mostly focusing on newborn specific info. When we are talking about ergonomics, we are addressing one’s efficiency. So, when we are talking about babywearing in this context, we are looking at it as a tool in making you more efficient.

Babywearing has many benefits. The one that stands out here is the ability to be mobile and hands free. Newborns require a lot of attention. Unlike elephants, human infants rely heavily on their parents to survive the early stages in life. Just like a good swaddle, babies really respond to close knit comforts. If we consider their tiny spaced environment prior to being earth side, it makes sense. Knowing this, it should be no surprise that baby longs to be close to you. There are even greater physiological benefits you can read about in my piece on kangaroo care.

Babywearing has grown in popularity over the years, here in the states. Ancient civilizations have been and continue to practice this in their villages. One of the first things I ask my clients is, “what kind of baby carries did you get?” More times then not, they assemble a handful of carriers new/gently used, brought to them by friends that have seen the benefit in this practice.

Like with all things parenting, babywearing is a learned practice. There are handful of guidelines you should be aware of when deciding what works for you. It's important to remember that you are in recovery, so be sure to clarify any weight restrictions with your physician (this will effect c-section recovery the most). Always make sure to have a partner when trying out new carries. They will be helpful getting baby into your choice sling/carrier, spotting you assuring baby's safety, and then helping adjust the straps so you are comfortable. For more basic safety tips, visit my previous blog series.

 

These would be an example of a more structured carrier. These designs come with specific weight requirements established by the company. (Top Left/Right) Ergo Baby has a universal carrier that can hold between 12-33 lbs. When purchasing for long term use, you will have to purchase and infant insert designed to prop baby higher and closer to the adult. The weight requirements with the infant insert 7-12 lbs.(Bottom Left) Boba has designed a simpler carrier that doesn't require the extra insert, but it would require you to by a newer model as baby grows beyond it's 7-15 lbs weight limit. 

These would be an example of a more structured carrier. These designs come with specific weight requirements established by the company. (Top Left/Right) Ergo Baby has a universal carrier that can hold between 12-33 lbs. When purchasing for long term use, you will have to purchase and infant insert designed to prop baby higher and closer to the adult. The weight requirements with the infant insert 7-12 lbs.(Bottom Left) Boba has designed a simpler carrier that doesn't require the extra insert, but it would require you to by a newer model as baby grows beyond it's 7-15 lbs weight limit. 

Forgive me for the photo quality, it's usually dark quiet time when I have a baby in a sling. These are a few examples of wraps. These are more conducive to a newborns needs, as they facilitate a tight squeeze helping them to feel secure. (Top Left) This is also made by Boba, here I have baby in a cradle hold, giving baby the illusion of being held in someones arms. (Right) This is a Mobi wrap, baby here is in an upright position tummy flat on my chest. I recommend this hold for babies with upset tummies. I also like being able to utilize the soft fabric to brace baby's head in a restful position. (Bottom Left) This is a  Rebozo.  I utilize this as a tool in labor support as well as postpartum. Baby is in an upright hold here as well. These slings require a bit more practice and assistance from another. You will have to learn how wrap these properly on your body, and knot them so as to ensure the safety of your baby. 

Forgive me for the photo quality, it's usually dark quiet time when I have a baby in a sling. These are a few examples of wraps. These are more conducive to a newborns needs, as they facilitate a tight squeeze helping them to feel secure. (Top Left) This is also made by Boba, here I have baby in a cradle hold, giving baby the illusion of being held in someones arms. (Right) This is a Mobi wrap, baby here is in an upright position tummy flat on my chest. I recommend this hold for babies with upset tummies. I also like being able to utilize the soft fabric to brace baby's head in a restful position. (Bottom Left) This is a Rebozo. I utilize this as a tool in labor support as well as postpartum. Baby is in an upright hold here as well. These slings require a bit more practice and assistance from another. You will have to learn how wrap these properly on your body, and knot them so as to ensure the safety of your baby. 

That is all I have for you at this time. Try to be patient with this. Nothing comes easy especially in the early stages, so give yourself some grace. For direct resources on babywearing, visit my final blog entitled Safety Tips!!

Surrender, a birth story

I have had the pleasure of attending several births in that last 2 years. All of them beautiful, in their own right. As mentioned in my last post, I will be sharing one birth story a month. My intention is to empower and educate in the diversities of pregnancy, birth, and doula support

Today I am going to share with you the most recent birth I have attended. To uphold privacy we will call mom Carrie and dad Eric. I met this couple through Enlightened Baby's doula date night. Living in Austin has really offered up great resources in being paired with new clients. Carrie had shared with me a sizable list of concerns, and I did my best to help alleviate some of her anxiety. She was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia early in her pregnancy. This immediately labeled her a high risk pregnancy, which for a first time mom can be very scary. On top of that, she also has a list of allergies that needed to be advocated for, and is not a candidate for an epidural. This couple was facing a little more complicated situation from the beginning, so they set out and learned more about birthing. I hope to share more on Blissborn, the practice in which Carrie and Eric learned in their birth class. In a nutshell, it consists of a list of things that partner reads to mom, with the intention of guiding her to a meditative state. 

With pre-e, majority of physicians will induce around the 36-40 weeks depending on the stability of your blood pressure. Carrie was induced at 39 weeks, this is incredible for pre-e mamas. This meant that her blood pressure was remaining stable. The OB even made a comment during labor about Carrie's BP making her look silly with how well it maintained. 

Carrie had a pitocin drip and broken waters early in the morning, so she was experiencing some sizable contractions when I arrived. Her choice methods of relief were heat on her lower back and counter pressure/massage. She seemed motivated, so I suggested we do hands and knees, so I could use my rebozo and shake her hips for a bit. A rebozo is a large scarf native to Mexico, I anchor it around mama's hips, and shake it (sort of like those old cellulite shakers from the 50s) in order help relax the muscles of her cervix and hips. The more relaxed your body, the further baby can come down. She felt the position had her too engaged, so I recommended the birth ball for a more supported position. We spent a good amount of time here, rubbing her back and encouraging moans. Eric was insistent on stepping in and helping massage and hip squeezes. I really appreciated it physically and mentally. 

What a testament to their love for each other.  It is certainly common for a partner to participate, but this was my first experience with a partner that insisted upon helping. Carrie's cervical check was slightly disappointing for her, she was still -2 effacement and only 3.5 cm. It just didn't seem like enough to her with the level of contractions she was experiencing. It's not uncommon for laboring mamas to feel discouraged by cervical checks, luckily some OBs and LD Nurses try and avoid them as a means of support.

With most every cervical checks comes the discussion, what to do next. In any case with previously broken waters, labor gets put on a schedule due to the risk of infection. Majority of care providers will give you a full 24 hrs before recommending any serious interventions. So, for Carrie they suggested doubling her dose of pitocin in order to avoid the drastic options down the road. Carrie calmly obliged, with a look of defeat. I suggested she lie on her left side, with a peanut ball between her legs so she could take a moment to catch up after all that work. I asked Eric to read some of the material from their Blissborn class, while I applied counter pressure during contractions. The reading walked her through an activity step by step. It begins by describing your environment and how that feels as you go through each suggested motion(all visual of course). The most amazingl thing happened, she looked like she was sleeping... I mean the monitor suggested avalanches of contractions, but she was calm and restful. It was like magic, and you best believe I praised partner for such an awesome job he was doing. They really had to dedicate some time to this practice in order to get such excellent results.

Soon, Carrie complained of feeling fully engaged in her pelvis even between contractions. I was stumped, how is she still so engaged in a rested position, and how can I alleviate this for her. I tried some more hip shakes, but by this point is was hurting more than helping. So, I asked the nurse what she thought. This is the beauty of having your doula, they can utilize your nursing staff in ways you never thought. They have seen everything, so when all else fails we ask for help. She suggested a rocking chair...huh...a rocking chair, how simple. In my head I thought, "well okay, we'll try it, although it seems it wouldn't allow for enough space for baby to come down..." Thankfully, the nurse made an executive decision to reduce her pitocin back to the original dose. The combination of all our efforts offered a form of relief for Carrie, and opened a space for her to trust her body.

The Rocking chair made room for Eric and I to apply massage on her lower back, it even made for a space to hang a towel with peppermint oil on it near mom, in order to help cleanse her space and clarify her air. Doulas make it their mission to create an environment for your birth. This process begins in our discussions leading up to labor and delivery. Essential oils are just part of what I bring to help augment the space. I also have a play list of binaural music (mostly white noise tone, and rain drops), I often put this on when mom hits active labor and doesn't already have something filling the space. It's a magical playlist, I use it to soothe myself to sleep and have had partners asleep within moments after proclaiming, "there is no way I can get any sleep right now."  I was in no way prepared for the effect it had on Carrie. 

Soon after she settled into a rhythm with the rocking chair, she began humming a lyrical tone in between contractions. Eyes closed, jaw dropped, and almost a wavering rocking in her voice carrying her away into the abyss. She was so in it, I had to reassure Eric that she is in the zone and doing amazing. There soon after the wavering humming turned into big wide open moans, I knew then she was making incredible progress. I was so floored by her focus and beauty in sound, it was clear this was one of the most indigenous births I will ever witness. I'm not joking, it was as if she was calling on her ancestors to carry her boy lower and lower!! Her nurse kept coming in to adjust the monitors, which is always a good sign. This means we have action and baby is moving. Such grace this nurse had, you could see in her face she knew it was going to happen soon. So, she slowly closed the gap in between visits and finally calmly asked, do you feel like you're pushing? The answer was yes!!!

It all happened so fast, Carrie got up mid screams to get on the bed...it was obvious that her baby boy was right there...CROWNING!!! Dr is being called, baby nurses coming in, surgical tech comes in.... I'm looking around and Eric has decided to go to the bathroom, so I hold my breath so as to not alert Carrie. I did one of those panic stricken reactions where you grab your phone to call, then take two steps, and then look at your phone... and then decide to go get them.... luckily him and Doctor had met in the hallway and returned soon after. I got Eric over to Carrie's side, Doctor sits down throws on gloves and 3 pushes later baby boy arrives. She had gone from a discouraged state of mind, to zen focus, to being completely enthralled in her labor, and finally pushing in a mere 5 hours! An entire 6.5 impressive centimeters!!

I'm so proud of Carrie and Eric, they are a true example of perseverance. Their road to meeting their boy was a rocky and sometimes unsure, but they harnessed all the knowledge necessary to help empower their very own birth experience.

Leap of Faith

Wow a new year, and so much in store for my Doula practice. For some of you that have stuck around since I went live, you know that it has only been roughly eight months in this web presence. You may also have noticed my blogs coming to a halt about three months ago. First and foremost, thank you to all those that have taken the time to read my posts. Last year proved to be extra challenging. At the time of the birth of this website, I had a much different perspective on how my business will grow. Truly, I was still working part time as a bartender, in addition to booking births and caring for families through several weeks postpartum. Which is the real reason my blog fell to the waysides.

You see, I thought I had already birthed this baby when I was just barely hitting active labor. Yes, I am going to use birth as a metaphor for my Doula journey - deal with it! The phrase, "leap of faith" has been ringing in my head ever since I chose to quit my bartending job, and go fulltime doula. This has been a goal of mine for the last 2 years, and finally in my 3rd year I did it! That's not to say that I have all the answers, and certainly don't have a calendar beyond 3 months from now, but what kind of doula would I be if I didn't at least trust the process.

Trust. This is a very prominent word in birthing. Trust your body, trust yourself, trust your baby, and trust your partner. These are all very primal tools for the mental state in birth. When a woman can surrender to the shudders of intense labor, and trust that her body is capable. Incredible progress can be made in the delivery of a child. So, why can’t we attribute this beautiful practice to our everyday endeavors. Trust that you know by letting go, and by trusting the journey, beautiful progress can be made. 

Presence. This is also a word that plays a very important role in the birthing process. The birth journey grows strong and tough the longer you endure it. Staying present in each individual contraction, and allowing for it to work with you towards the greater goal. When you let your mind wonder ahead ailing about how much longer, and how much progress, and if only I did 'blah blah" before, your body and mind conflict causing labor to become irregular. This is also true for our daily lives. The second we start daydreaming about what we want and how it should be, we lose sense of the present and all the opportunity to grow right now.

How humbling to know that all the births I have attended, and all the families that I have supported contributed to this amazing life lesson for me. What unearthly primal examples these women have shared with me in trusting in my will to achieve greatness! I tell all my clients, "allow the journey to come to you." This year, I aim to follow my own advice.

With that said, I have some changes in store for this blog, and I'm truly excited to bring you all along on my leap of faith! I plan to post a birth story once a month, in addition to both formal and anecdotal posts. My goal is to show more of my personality this year. In all honesty, I never saw myself as a writer of any sort, and certainly don't have the strongest filter in the whole world. I aim to entertain as well as inform, and I always encourage feedback/conversation. 

Cheers to 2017, and letting the journey come to us!!

The Benefits of Babywearing: Kangaroo Care

Last week we discussed the fundamentals of babywearing in your own home. Now, we will see it's benefits in a medical setting. The US has been fortunate enough to have the technology to support preterm infants. Other countries have had to come up with less costly ways to support these preemies in need. 

 Often referred to as Kangaroo Care (K-Care), hospitals with small budgets in areas like Guatemala have utilized K-Care in lieu of incubators. According to a study done by Susan Ludington at UCLA, having baby close allows mother’s body to regulate to baby’s needs. Preterm babies are placed between the mother’s breasts inside her clothing. This has shown proof of temperature regulation; it also improves respiratory function. Baby attunes to wearer’s heartbeat, breathing, and movement (walking, reaching, bending). This stimulation has proven faster weight gain, and k-cared babies prove to be healthier than babies who have not endured such stimulation. 

Amazing what the human body is capable of! Next week we continue our discussion on babywearing and how this practice can benefit both parents in the home.

Breastfeeding Support Resources

I hope you enjoyed my first blog series this month! Next week I will begin a blog series on Babywearing! We will be addressing the benefits for both mama and baby, it's use in a more clinical practice, as well as how to find the best carrier for your family. I have listed some resources for my previous blog series. I often find myself checking and re checking sources when I read informal blog topics, so to make it easier for those that do - here they are:

http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/strategy3-professional-support.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/promotion/

http://www.nrdc.org/breastmilk/benefits.asp

"Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding" by Jack Newman, Teresa Pitman