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21things

21 Things Women Are Really Thinking In Labor

21things

Labor. The BIG day. Birth.

What is a partner to do?! How do you remember it all? How can you make it through with all well and a mama who still loves you?

Here are some fabulous tips from moms who KNOW what a woman in labor needs from her partner. Compiled from our expert birth instructors (who have each had a natural birth themselves) these ideas can help both of you come out better on the other side of your birth.

1. ”Don’t take it personal if I don’t want to be touched or talked to or tell you to be quiet.”

Some women just labor best when left alone. (But don’t plan on this because you never know!)

2. ”Be an active participant.”

Interact, massage, encourage, etc. Get involved. (This sounds contradictory to the last one, doesn’t it?! The truth is, different women want different things and you need to be prepared for ALL possibilities. Don’t assume she will be one way or the other because you really don’t know until you are in it! Your birth class should prepare you for all possibilities.)

3. ”Let me do what works for me!”

If mom wants to play on her phone and it helps her, don’t take it away! There isn’t really a “right” way to cope in labor, as long as mom is happy.

4. ”Don’t leave!”

Stay there–your presence is important.

5. ”For the love of all that is holy, don’t forget your Altoids!”

Breath mints. Do we really have to explain this one? Coffee breath, garlic bread from the night before, that tuna salad you had at lunch, for goodness sakes, brush your teeth or eat a mint!

6. ”PAY FOR A DOULA!”

It is worth it for you AND her.

7. ”When mom asks for something in labor it’s because she NEEDS it (it’s not a want).”

Women in labor have needs. NEEDS!

8. “The relaxation exercises will help dad stay calm in labor so he should practice too.”

You will get lots of relaxation exercises with your birth class. Use them, practice them, get comfortable with them.

9. ”It’s okay to be nervous – most dads are – take a birth class to ease fears!”

10. ”My husband couldn’t think of things to say when I needed him to give me encouragement. He said he hadn’t had his coffee yet. Good thing the baby was born a few minutes later because he was about to get fired! So a list of good things to say to mom if she wants or needs encouragement is really helpful.”

You will talk about this in your birth class, so go home and write them down in the appropriate spot in your workbook! Review them. Then review them AGAIN.

11. ”I will feed off of your energy, so please be confident in me. (My husband was awesome at this!!)”

Sometimes the biggest help is just believing that she can do it when she doesn’t even believe it herself.

12. ”Be completely present with me.“

We make kids put away their distractions at school; possibly the same rule is appropriate for birth! The phone, the work, ESPN, whatever it is that distracts you- it can wait.

13. ”Maybe watching a movie or ballgame during labor will be totally not worth it later and she may never forgive you!”

TRUE STORY.

14. ”Please cry with me when the baby is born. Because I will. And because if you can’t, you’re dead inside.”

(OK- not everybody is emotional or a crier – not even mom. That is fine and understandable. But it is also true that there is nothing wrong with a man being deeply touched and showing it after the birth of his child.)

15. ” Know how to set up and take down the birth pool…before I’m in labor!“

Nothing quite like yelling instructions in between contractions…

16. ”A doula will enhance Dad’s role and at the same time take a lot of stress off him.”

A great doula doesn’t steal the show- she supports everybody there.

17. ”The most important thing (at least for me during my births) was simply his presence and holding his hand. I think sometimes dads feel too much pressure to do stuff beyond their scope…”

Have we mentioned doulas yet?!

18. ”I think for me, at our home birth, it was just like ‘Babe, take beautiful pictures of this amazing experience. Capture the essence of this!’

They’re all blurry.”

(Maybe this tip should be, “Spring for a photographer!”???)

19. ” I always think it’s powerful when dad gives mom a gift after the birth. I am not a gifty person at all, so I don’t know why I feel this way, but after birth for dad to give something special to mom to acknowledge how much she went through to carry and birth their child is really touching. Especially something she can keep forever that has personal significance. Especially for dads that find it hard to be involved in birth in an intimate way or say emotionally intimate things in general. He can just hand it to her and say “Thank you.””

Who wouldn’t love a little bobble for their wrist?

20. ”My husband makes a cheese cake for us to eat after each baby is born. It’s a tradition started by his father. This last time we used our own farm eggs and local blueberries for the topping.“

Awwwww!….Love is a timeless tradition!

21. ”Speak up! We created a birth plan together so remind me of my goals and encourage me to follow through with them, even if I look exhausted or defeated.”

After all the hours of preparation, talking, classes, planning and hard work, don’t let it all fly out the window in labor because you got nervous. You’ve got this! Sometimes a smile and a whispered compliment is just the thing she needs.

We can’t really tell you what your partner will be thinking in labor, but we can tell you one thing for sure–this day matters and you are one of the most important parts of it.

We hope that all women and their partners have an AMAZING birth! The work you put into it beforehand will ultimately pay off because then you WILL know what she is thinking and respond appropriately.

Here’s to a wonderful birth!

Looking for some great books for the partner to read to prepare for your upcoming birth? Here are a few fabulous ideas, in addition to your Field Manual:

The Birth Book by Dr Sears: This book is a classic with helpful hints that anybody can appreciate. With the perspective of both mom and dad thrown in but from one of America’s most trusted physicians, The Birth Book is a must-read and as invaluable as it is readable.

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin: This book is specifically geared for the partner and has a wonderful quick reference section with helpful, illustrated birth positions and much, much more. This is one to pack in your birth bag.

Mind Over Labor by Carl Jones is a short book but packed with information. This book will change the way you view birth!

rockyournaturalbirth

Rock Your Natural Birth…at the Hospital! – Guest Post By Lauren Rauseo

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Today we have a guest post from Lauren Rauseo. A mother of three and author of the recently published book, “Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama,” we are excited to share her thoughts on some basic things that can help you have an amazing natural birth in a hospital. Her book just happens to mention us as a possible childbirth education option and we couldn’t be more pleased! As you can see, she gives some great advice for getting the birth you want in the hospital, and she manages to do it in a funny, approachable and readable manner. Check out a review of Lauren’s book here and find it on Amazon.

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So you are planning a natural birth. You imagine dimmed lighting and quiet music as you labor, and a peaceful entrance for your baby. The thought of monitors, drugs and a doctor shouting, “Push!” at your va-jay-jay gives you the heebie-jeebies. Maybe you don’t see yourself popping this kid out on your living room sofa, but you long for a more home-like experience.

While the hospital offers comfort that you’re in the right place in the event of an emergency, it also brings a few challenges when preparing for an intervention-free birth. Follow these five tips so that you achieve your goal to go au naturale at the hospital.

1. Choose your hospital and care provider wisely.

This is, hands-down, the most important piece of advice you’ll get. Even if you’ve been with your OB/GYN since you got your first period, you need to interview him like you two just met. What is his C-section rate? What were the reasons for his last 10 surgical births? And since you never know who will be on call on the big day, are the other providers in the practice aligned philosophically? Don’t forget to find out what the hospital policies are as well. How long can your water be broken before the baby needs to be born? Are you allowed freedom of movement during labor? Are different positions encouraged for pushing? What are the monitoring requirements for a low-risk delivery?

Listen to not only what he is saying, but also how he is saying it. If your hunch is that he is not supportive of natural birth, then he probably isn’t. Even if your due date is close, it’s never too late to find a care provider that’s more in line with your birth plan. Consider switching to a midwife. Her expertise lies in trusting a woman’s body to do what it was physiologically designed to do, and not looking for crisis at every turn (but don’t worry; she can recognize warning signs when there is something that requires attention).

If your care provider truly believes in your body’s ability, your natural birth has a much better chance of happening. Your job is to find that care provider.

2. Assemble a supportive team.

Now that you have the right medical crew lined up, you can rest assured that you wont be offered interventions during your birth unless it’s absolutely necessary. (Half the battle has been won already!) But that doesn’t mean you won’t be asking for an epidural yourself when you’ve been in labor for 24 hours and you’re only 4 centimeters dilated.

That’s why you need your birth peeps cheering you on! First, make sure your partner in life is on board with all this natural jazz from the get-go. You both need to see eye-to-eye on your goals, and he’ll need to stand strong as your advocate that day.

But maybe even more important will be your doula, or labor coach. She’s a non-medical birth professional who actually knows what she’s doing and how to be helpful to you in your time of need. She’s seen a lot of these natural births go down, so she’ll know when it’s time to go to the hospital, how much counter pressure to apply to your hips, and why getting on all fours may help baby into a better position.

3. Make a commitment.

Have you ever said you’re going to decide whether you’ll get up early to exercise when your alarm goes off? How often does that strategy work? I’m guessing never. You must commit to your decision and eliminate the option to hit snooze. Likewise, when someone asks you if you’re going to have a natural birth, your answer should be simply, “Yes.” If yours is, “Well, I’m going to see how it goes,” then you have commitment work to do. You need to walk into this adventure with 100 percent confidence that you will do it.

Repeat after me. “My body was made to birth this baby. It will be hard, but I trust this process. I am about to have the best day ever!”

4. Retrain your brain.

Maybe you’re afraid of committing to this because you are terrified of birth! This isn’t surprising. You’ve been trained to be afraid of this event your entire life. How many times have you heard, “Childbirth is awesome! You’re going to love it!”? Zero. Mostly, you’ve been listening to women regale horror stories, and you’ve been watching ridiculous TV that exaggerates the risks and hyperbolizes the pain of childbirth in the name of ratings. You need to stop all that crap. Immediately.

Instead, surround yourself with women who have positive birth stories to share. There are plenty out there! Common themes will include a supportive midwife, an inspirational doula, lots of movement, infrequent (or no) cervical checks, intermittent monitoring, mother-led pushing, immediate skin-to-skin with baby, and overall, an environment where the mother’s voice was heard and respected.

Go places where there are others who are also preparing themselves for an empowering birth. Try a natural-focused childbirth class, and stay away from hospital-based classes, as those will likely center on risks and interventions. Read natural birth blogs and follow them on social media for constant bursts of inspiration. Once you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s easy to commit to your goal. Don’t fear for this birth; get excited for it!

5. Be patient and relax.

Patience begins while you’re still pregnant. Perhaps 41 weeks pregnant. Remember, your baby knows when to be born. Once labor does begin, trust me, you’ll be glad you refined this skill. Your doula will use comfort measures to help you during labor. Maybe she’ll rub your back, let you squeeze her hand, or read birth affirmations aloud. But none of that will help if you’re tense and working against your contractions. In order for your cervix to open, you need to totally let go and release the tension from your body. Think savasana at the end of a yoga class times a hundred; that’s how relaxed you should be. Practice often so that you’ll be able to bring yourself into relaxation more easily on the big day.

Each contraction only lasts one minute or less, even during the hardest part. And I know you can do anything for one minute. Never think about how much longer you have to go. Just breathe into this one contraction you’re having right now.

So there you have it! Are you ready to rock this natural hospital birth? Remember, every moment of this journey is fleeting, and each minute that goes by brings you one step closer to the prize: Your baby. Come on now, you got this.

If you like what you read here, get the whole book, Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama, in paperback or ebook. http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Birth-Mainstream-Mama-practical-ebook/dp/B00I3448X0


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Lauren Rauseo is a work-from-home mom to Dylan, Liv and Fiona. Her favorite things are going for walks with the kids to collect “treasures” and singing in the car, and she isn’t afraid to admit that Starbucks, manicures, wine and yoga make the list too. Now that she’s done birthing her own brood, she has moved on to sharing her enthusiasm for natural birth with others through her book, “Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama: A practical guide to achieving a drug-free birth in a hospital setting”, available on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Birth-Mainstream-Mama-practical/dp/1494415321). You can follow Lauren at www.facebook.com/MainstreamMama.

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Doula Myth: I Don’t Need A Doula, My Nurse Will Help Me!

 

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Today we are excited to share a guest post from an incredibly experienced doula and one of the driving forces behind our very own Birth Boot Camp DOULA program, Maria Pokluda. Maria’s words of wisdom on the importance of and difference between both a doula and a labor and delivery nurse are so important.  Enjoy reading, and share with your pregnant friends!

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I attended a birth recently at a local hospital. When we arrived at the hospital the nurse greeted us and did all the right things: she asked for the couple’s birth plan, she told them that everything on their birth plan looked acceptable and she smiled as they talked about their plans. She was a great nurse and this couple (who took a Birth Boot Camp class) did go on to have a pretty amazing natural birth many hours later. As the nurse was leaving at shift change, she mentioned that she was excited to have seen a natural delivery because she had only seen ONE other natural birth in the SIX years she had been working as a labor and delivery nurse. I am still stunned by her comment and I think (and hope) that her experience is not reflective of all nurses who work in labor and delivery rooms. However, the fact is that it is neither a nurse’s primary job nor the focus of her training to help couples have a natural birth.

All couples birthing at a hospital will have a labor nurse, and I frequently get asked why a couple would need a doula since they will have this nurse to help them while they are at the hospital. Labor and Delivery nurses are a wonderful resource, however they have the clinical duties of monitoring baby and mom, the charting that is part of today’s medical care and they also have other patients – how many depends on the time of day and how a particular hospital staffs the floor. All of these other roles can limit the amount of time a nurse has to spend taking care of mom’s physical and emotional needs, but perhaps more importantly, most are simply not trained in helping women who are planning a natural birth and many don’t see natural births all that often.  If one sees medicated births day in and day out, that becomes the norm and a couple planning a natural birth will seem unusual.

In a study examining pregnant women’s expectations, first time mothers anticipated that their nurse would spend 53% of her time offering physical comfort, emotional support, information, and advocacy. However studies have shown that the actual amount of time an obstetrical nurse spends doing these things is closer to 6%*. With hospital interventions at an all-time high, nurses may want to do these things for women, but the reality is that they have to spend a lot of time just managing medical concerns and hospital policies. In fact until a women starts to push, nurses do not usually spend time in the labor room but rather monitor remotely at the nurses’ station. In my own experience as a doula, it is not unusual to attend a whole labor and never see the nurse touch mom in a non-clinical manner. She may move fetal monitors, take a woman’s temperature or feel her cervix by placing her fingers in mom’s vagina but never touch the mom outside of these tasks.

On the other hand, a doula’s primary focus is on the laboring couple. Her continuous care allows for her to respond quickly, make recommendations based on how labor is unfolding and provide immediate emotional and physical support. A doula sees natural birth all the time. She is familiar with the sights and sounds of normal labor and can often anticipate what a woman will want as she labors. She is trained to suggest position changes, relaxation methods and comfort measures. If a couple has taken a great birth preparation class they will have confidence and information, but that does not replace having someone there to answer questions and provide ongoing encouragement. A doula does not have to analyze a fetal heartbeat, administer antibiotics or enforce hospital policies.

The relationship between an expectant couple and their doula is also different than with their nurse whom they generally meet the day of delivery. The doula has likely been working with the couple prenatally and often has been laboring with a couple in their home prior to arriving at the hospital. The doula will know the couple’s desires, their concerns and even the dynamics of the couple’s relationship.  She knows if a relative is someone that should be in the labor room. She knows that mom wants to have the cute nursing bra on for pictures even if she says she doesn’t care at the time. A doula is there through as many shift changes as it takes which offers stability when other faces may be changing and a doula will stay with a laboring woman so her partner can get coffee, check on older children or get some food. In the weeks after the baby is born, the doula is available to talk, to answer questions, and to process concerns.

Despite all the things I just listed that doulas do, a nurse’s role is just as important. The way most hospitals operate means that the labor nurse is the primary liaison between a couple and their care provider. She will be the one calling the OB and passing along the details of the labor, she will be the one that makes ongoing analysis of baby’s wellbeing.  In the rare event that something needs immediate medical attention, it may seem as though the OB is swooping in to save the day…but it will be the nurse that calls the OB to come. Part of a nurse’s training is being a patient advocate. The American Nurses Association includes in its definition of nursing  “advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.” Nurses can advocate for a couple’s expressed treatment preferences which is a very distinct and different role from that of a doula who can help couples express preferences, consider options and facilitate communication, but not actually advocate for a couple or act as a liaison.

I remember working with an excellent nurse at one birth where the care provider and the couple were in disagreement of the use of a routine intervention that was part of hospital policy.  The nurse pulled a chair up to the bed and told the laboring couple exactly what their options were, what could be expected to happen with each choice and how to say no in a manner that would be most respected by the care provider.  She also took it one step further and told the couple that she would speak to the care provider on their behalf and that she could be the one that told the care provider that they had declined. While this may not be a common scenario, a nurse can choose to do this as part of her job; a doula cannot.

The roles of the labor nurse and the doula will overlap in some areas which actually works out well as very few couples will complain about extra support, but they also have marked differences. Ideally the roles should complement each other, which is why laboring couples need both. With a great nurse and a great doula a couple can expect to have an empowering birth.

 

Maria Pokluda has been a doula serving the Dallas/Ft. Worth area since 2004.   She has a Masters in Political Science and while she finds that slightly funny, she feels her degree helps her work with all types of people and she can now appreciate those statistics classes as she reads the research about evidenced practices in maternity care.  In the last 10 years, Maria has attended hundreds of births, helped form Dallas Birth Network and in 2013 and 2014,  she was voted Best Doula by North Texas Child Magazine. (Maria has recently co-written the Birth Boot Camp Doula program and can’t wait to start training Birth Boot Camp Doulas.)   Maria has been married to Brian for 18 years and they have 4 children, each with a very different birth story ranging from one with all the bells and whistles in a hospital to a homebirth.  

* Tumblin A, Simkin P. Pregnant women’s perceptions of their nurse’s role during labor and delivery. Birth. 2001;28(1):52–56. [PubMed]

 

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Birth Boot Camp Announces …. Birth Boot Camp DOULA

Birth Boot Camp has been growing and maturing and we couldn’t be happier with our journey so far. Today we have a special guest post and announcement by our very own founder, Donna Ryan. Keep reading to find out the next project we are embarking on in our mission to help prepare couples for natural birth! Read more

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