The Life of a Doula

I so often get asked “So, like, what do you do, you know, while you wait for a birth?” Good question, my friend. And one I asked myself multiple times in the early days of my doulaing. In fact, I remember texting my doula after I had become a doula and was on-call and waiting for my client to request me. My text said something like “Oh my goodness, how do you not drive yourself crazy waiting for a call to a birth?!” And I was serious. Here I was, a new doula, anxiously waiting the we’re-ready-for-you call and I couldn’t sit still. I paced, I ate, I channel surfed the 7 channels we had, I obsessively checked my phone, I ate some more, I checked my phone again, nothing. As it should be. Babies come when they are ready. My doula responded with a light-hearted giggle I’m sure, and said “You do you. But do things that are easy to leave. Garden, read, write, coffee/lunch with friends, clean, nap.” All things I love to do anyway, what was my problem?

No problem, just an eagerness and a readiness to be satisfied. I quickly learned that what I do while I wait for a birth is I Do Me. Just as I tell all my clients, “You do you, Boo. Baby will come when baby is ready.” Funny, once I figured out how to follow my own advice, I became much more comfortable with the continuous waiting period of labor.

Labor can have very much a feel of “Hurry up. Wait. Hurry up. Wait.” You get everything set at work to be off for a set amount of time and then you wait. You get the baby’s space all set up and ready and then you wait. You text all the family members “No baby yet. We’ll let you know.” and then everyone waits. You go into labor and then are told to sleep. And by that I mean, you wait. You get to the place of birth and oh wait for it, you wait again. Babies come when babies are ready.

And no one understands that better than a doula. It’s all we do. And we absolutely love it. However, don’t be fooled, we do have lives. It’s not like we sit all serene-like with a never-ending cup of coffee and the best book ever written on a dock by the clearest lake, just calmly waiting. (But doesn’t that sound fantastic?) We have families and other jobs and responsibilities, all that adulting stuff they tell you about in school. But man, when that call comes, when that client who is at so-many-weeks-and-a-few-days who has been ready for that plus some, calls and says “We could really use your support.” it’s like some mysterious force lit a fire inside and to keep that fire alive, we NEED to get to that family.

The life of a doula is a life lived all on it’s own. Until it’s not. And for a small amount of time in this big expansive universe, it is a life that is lived just for that birth and that birth alone.


The Doula As Witness Copy

A baby's first breath

A baby’s first breath

by Jess Helle-Morrissey, MA, MSW, LGSW, LCCE, CLEC

Doulas serve a multi-faceted role in a birthing family’s life: supporter, encourager, normalizer, educator, guide. We rub backs, we squeeze hands, we stroke hair, we breathe, we hold space.  We press cool cloths to a birthing woman’s head as she brings her baby (or babies) forth from the warm, wet womb to the bright spinning world.

One role that is often overlooked, but is perhaps most sacred to my own doula heart, is that of witness. As doulas, we witness over and over again that unique and unparalleled moment in a woman’s life when she becomes a mother. Whether it’s a first birth, or a seventh, a mother is born each time she births a baby.

When a woman has a transformative birth experience (and really, what birth isn’t transformative?), she deserves to be fully seen. And that role is often uniquely the doula’s. Partners are witnessing, but they are most often deservedly caught up in their own personal experience of the moment. Midwives, doctors, and nurses are present, but they have medical tasks to attend to. Doulas are able to attend wholeheartedly to that moment.

We witness the joy of birth. We witness mamas finding their true selves for the first time in their lives as they birth their babies. We see the look on a mama’s face when her baby is five minutes old as she tells us, “Everyone said I couldn’t do it, but I knew I could.” We witness the hilarity of birth – I’ll never forget one mama who turned to me after birthing her twins and exclaimed, “That was f*cking AWESOME!” We get to see the way a partner looks at the birthing woman in complete awe as she makes her way through contraction after contraction. We get to see him or her wipe a tear away as this new little person makes that first yawling cry.

We witness the disappointments, too. And when things don’t go as planned, we can remind her that she is strong because we have seen it with our own two eyes, and we have felt it in our own doula souls. And we remember in a way that she might not.

So as witnesses to those moments, we begin to help her reframe:  Last summer, one of my doula mamas had a surgical birth after a long and difficult labor. In a case like this, it is easy to go to a place of dwelling in what went wrong. I go to my postpartum visit. We talk about all that happened, and I validate the disappointment. I sit with the pain.  But I also tell her, because I need her to hear, “I have never seen anyone work so hard for so long. I have never seen anyone fight so hard for what she wanted. You. Are. Amazing.” And she begins to feel it is true because I have seen it and I know it to be true. She knows I was there. She knows I saw her fully. And as I write this, I remember her fierce birthing spirit as if her baby was born yesterday, and I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up a bit. Because I will never forget her strength, and the gift she gave me by allowing me in.

Above all, it is that sheer strength of birthing women – no matter how they give birth – that we doulas are witness to. The strength to carry on when it feels like all the reserves have been depleted. The strength to make a choice to go a different direction than we’d dreamed. The strength to joyfully claim a place in the history and lineage of birthing women.

And the repercussions of that witnessing can last a lifetime. I spent a good part of my own life feeling like I was not a very strong person. When I gave birth to my twin boys, I found strength I never even dared to imagine I had in me. Today, more than two years later, each time I see one of my two wonderful doulas, I still stand a little taller and feel that swell in my heart – “SHE has seen my strength! She knows the amazing things I am capable of!” A bit dramatic? Perhaps. But life-changingly, soul-stirringly profound for this mama? Most definitely.

So when you invite a doula into your life for some portion of the nine months of your pregnancy (and a couple months after), know that the benefits don’t end there. We not only witness, but we also remember. I tell my mamas, “If you ever need to be reminded of how incredible you are, call me and I will tell you as many times as you need to hear it to believe it.” So on behalf of all doulas,  thank you to birthing families everywhere who invite us to witness your incredible journey. Thank you for giving us the best job in the world.

Jess Helle-Morrissey is a birth and postpartum doula, a Lamaze-Certified Childbirth Educator, a Lactation Educator Counselor, and a clinical social worker in private psychotherapy practice. She teaches classes for families planning VBAC and for families expecting twins and more at Blooma, and lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband and her identical twin boys, born in January 2011. 


Cesarean Awareness: A Doula’s Humble Reflection

by Erin Stertz-Follett, CLD, LCCE, HBCE

 

My journey into birth began 10 years ago after the birth of my first nephew, Micah. I wouldn’t fully embrace birth as my calling until many years later, after the birth of my own two girls and the ‘birth’ of the passion inside me to bring services of meaning to pregnant women and their families.
I will never forget that moment. After an induction that lasted more than 24 hours, and “arrest of descent” of the baby during pushing, my sister was told that she would need a cesarean section. I watched as her face turned from determination, to disappointment, to resignation, and to sorrow. As my mom and I left the room while they began the surgical prep, I said to Mom, “That’s not what we wanted.” With tears trickling down her cheeks, she shook her head, “No.” The grief for what Sarah so badly wanted – a vaginal birth with minimal interventions – was palpable.

A few years later, as I was pregnant with my first child and wanting to learn as much as I could to avoid my own surgical birth, Sarah invited me to an ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) meeting. At that time, the group was small and had just begun reforming here in the Twin Cities. I happened to attend on a night when a wise midwife named Gail Tully was on hand to provide information and practice in ‘optimal fetal positioning’ for birth. I didn’t know anything about birth halls or Rebozos, or the side-lying release. I just knew that it felt so good (and kind of funny!) as I was used as the ‘pregnant model’ for Rebozo belly sifting.

Two babies later, both of which included my sister’s attendance and support, I began the true path to birth work as a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educatordoula, and HypnoBirthing Certified Educator. Again, my journey was largely inspired not only by Sarah’s first birth, but also by her successful HBAC (home birth after cesarean) her second time around.

To offer full disclosure, I dreaded as a doula the first time I would need to step into the surgical suite and witness a mama experience a cesarean birth. In some small way, I was traumatized by my sister’s experience. Now with several under my belt, I can say that my perspective has changed. Yes, it is still difficult. But, with my doula hat on, I enter the experience with an open heart and an open mind, with nothing but how I can best support that mama in that moment as my focus. It is at that time that we turn our trust over to the trained surgeon whose job now is to safely bring the baby forth from the mother’s womb. I offer a grounding hand on the forehead, an explanation of what to expect and what is happening, sounds and smells that calm the mother, words of reassurance to the partner, and pictures if mama desires.

I have seen mothers who view their surgical births in many different ways: From full-on acceptance (even requesting one at the end of a long, stalled labor); to complete devastation (offering my doula hands to wipe away tears); to somewhere in the middle (perhaps with resignation and a resolve to process the experience later).  I have seen cesareans that are completely medically necessary, and those that fall in a grey area.

Look, the cesarean rate in this country (32.8%) is too high. There’s no way around that. We can do better. For women, for babies, and for their families. It may feel daunting to tackle this subject on a grander scale and I know many of us birth workers often feel at a loss. But here is what we can do:

  • Approach the subject with mamas (clients, patients, friends, family) with gentleness, understanding, an open heart; and, when needed, the statistics.
  • Remember and value the fact that not all mamas view their cesarean as traumatic or unnecessary. Don’t assume that all mamas do and meet them where they are, especially as they plan a subsequent birth.
  • Educate. Educate. Educate. Knowledge truly is power. Whether it is ways to more optimally position baby for birth, or methods for deep relaxation, or just knowing all options and all places of referral. Education is key. The ability to ask questions and have them honestly answered is tantamount.
  • Refer to birth providers who offer options for mamas in pregnancy and labor; and who understand normal, physiologic birth… Those whose rates of cesarean birth are on the lower end (including out-of-hospital options if the mother desires).
  • Refer mamas who have experienced cesarean birth, especially those that view their births as traumatic, to resources such as ICAN and Homebirth Cesarean groups.
  • When a surgical birth becomes truly medically necessary either before the birth or during the laboring process, we can offer support and guidance for having a more family-centered experience.
  • Put our time, our money, and our voices behind organizations that support mamas in having births with low interventions.

And finally, as doulas and as friends or family, we can hold hands. Wipe tears. Validate fears. Lift them up. Walk down to the lowest lows with them. Remind every mama how strong they are… that they brought their baby into the world; that they can do it again with love.

cesarean awareness

Erin Stertz-Follett owns Flutterby Birth Services, located in Burnsville, MN. In addition to doula services, she offers HypnoBirthing, Lamaze, and Breastfeeding classes as well as other workshops and events. She is the mother to two lovely and lively little girls.

Editor’s Note: This post first appeared on the Flutterby Birth blog. Photos credited to Stephanie Ryan Photography.  All birth stories used with the permission of the mothers. 


Eat, Pray, Doula: A Doula’s Journey in Bali

by Karen Bruce, AAHCC

I am writing from a hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, awestruck by the experiences of the past 10 days, still overcome with emotion at the intense connections formed among a group of strangers in that time, and brimming with anticipation for my future birth work.  I just attended Eat Pray Doula 2014 in Ubud, Bali Indonesia with 27 of the most beautiful birth keepers you have ever met.

 

What better place to celebrate World Doula Week than in SouthEast Asia with such a diverse group of women?  We represented at least 11 countries and spoke numerous languages.  We included midwives and teachers, translators and nurses, small business owners, and, of course, doulas. Some brought their families on this adventure, some traveled alone.  All of us converged in this beautiful land they call the Island of the Gods for a DONA Birth Doula Workshop taught by Debra Pascali-Bonaro, chair of the International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization and creator and director of the film Orgasmic Birth, Ibu Robin Lim of Bumi Sehat International and CNN’s Hero of the Year 2011, and Katherine Bramhall, co-founder of Bumi Sehat and homebirth midwife.
Katherine Bramhall, Karen Bruce, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Ibu Robin Lim

Katherine Bramhall, Karen Bruce, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Ibu Robin Lim

I traveled with my partner from Minneapolis along with two fellow Childbirth Collective members, Angie Posine and Angie Sonrode and their families.  We all knew this was something special and were eager to share and learn with so many experienced doulas and world-famous birth gurus. Our Twin Cities contingent had much to offer by way of practical suggestions for natural pain relief, position changes, communication with families and staff, etc.  I am proud to say that the Childbirth Collective was a shining example to our peers of how birth keepers can work together to support one another and provide best practices with an evidence-based model of doula care.  We loved sharing how Minnesota is at the leading edge of a revolution in well-supported birth thanks to the many legislative efforts of Susan Lane and the Minnesota Better Birth Coalition.  Our community enjoys many options in childbirth that are sadly not widely available.

 

But Eat Pray Doula challenged me in many ways to move beyond the comfort zone I have created in my doula work – I know very well the culture of birth in the Twin Cities and my place in it, and my toolbox is filled with ideas to support the physical and emotional needs of the birthing families I serve.  However, I may not have been fully prepared for the deeply spiritual transformation I experienced at this workshop.  Our facilitators were skilled at creating the conditions that allow true connection with other people, and they lit a spark within me that has inspired me to create sacred space in birth, to preserve and protect the spiritual as well as the physical and emotional.

Karen Bruce, Ari Fatun of Indonesia

My first DONA Birth Doula Workshop with Gail Tully in 2006 prepared me in very practical ways to be a birth doula, and she certainly speaks to the spiritual, but I may not have been ready to hear it.  The 8 years of experience at over 200 births in between have prepared me to receive this new perspective in order to develop that part of my practice which is so critical to the mystery of life and love on this planet.

 

Not to be confused with religious expression, the spiritual aspects of creating life in our womb and birthing our babies into this world are simply related to the human spirit or soul.  Simply by choosing my words or silence more carefully, by being fully open to the MotherBaby mystery as it unfolds, and, when I have my activist hat on, by educating and encouraging gentle birth practices by other doulas and care providers – I know I am making a difference.  I remind myself that it is not necessary to understand this mystery in order to honor it and create space for its expression during this profound transition from pregnant to parent, from MotherBaby to mother and child.

 

Eat Pray Doula workshops are appropriate for new/aspiring birth doulas, but even the most experienced will learn many new ideas to breath new life into their important work.  I would especially encourage nurses, midwives, and obstetricians to consider registering for a future workshop as a gift to yourself and all birthing families you will hold sacred in the future!

Pujiastatuti Sindhu of Indonesia, Karen Bruce, and Ari Fatun

Karen Bruce is a certified Bradley Method(r) Instructor and Birth and Postpartum Doula in the Twin Cities.  She serves as the Vice President of the board of the Childbirth Collective. Her website is karenbrucedoula.com.

Celebrate and Share World Doula Week 2014!

March 22-28 is World Doula Week! Did you know that just recently, ACOG and SMFM (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists & the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine) named doula support as one of the most important and most underutilized tools in preventing cesareans in first-time mothers? This is just one of the amazing, research-based benefits of doula support.

So if you are a doula, used and loved a doula, or just want to shout the doula love from the rooftops, feel free to comment here and share these graphics on social media! We here at The Childbirth Collective are so proud to do what we do. Happy World Doula Week!
Doulas Rock!

I-Love-Doulas

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The Intention + Creation of Sacred Pregnancy

by Brittany Bushaw

Editor’s Note: A version of this post first appeared HERE. 

When I became pregnant with my first baby, I felt a powerful shift begin to happen – not just within my physical body, but also within my heart. I desired to experience my pregnancy with intention, present moment awareness, and trust for my body, baby, and birth. I desired a sacred pregnancy in hopes that it would flow into creating a sacred birth experience.

Already a yoga instructor and massage therapist, I was familiar with the connection between mind, body, and self awareness. I was imperfect and practicing the art of listening to my heart and inner desires, and then choosing to communicate them honestly with family and close friends. Numerous struggles arose because I had to break through the barriers of my own conditioned belief systems in order to recognize and work through insecurities. Pregnancy was a big step forward for me in the process of open and honest communication. I chose to openly share my faith and trust for my entire pregnancy and birth process without allowing other’s fears become my own. You bet this was going to be my first lesson in mothering.
When announcing my pregnancy, I also announced that my husband and I chose to have a home birth. Our announcement was met in a variety of ways: short questions, awkward silence, fear, and support. I was very open about our choice and loved answering questions and engaging in discussion. During each interaction, I reminded myself that each person’s experiences have shaped the lens through which they see the world. Knowing this helped me to stay in my truth and to communicate honestly without taking their responses or reactions personally. This allowed for beautiful dialogue and understandings to take place, and for there to be space for my family and close friends to process our choice. Most importantly, my honest communication reflected confidence, openness, and a meaningful process. I was communicating that this was sacred for me – that my body was an extension of nature – and as much as I trust the process of a seed being planted, growing, and blooming, I trust the process of pregnancy and birth. To me they are all synonymous.

Moving forward into my pregnancy, I expanded my yoga practice, and I wanted to learn more about the pregnant woman’s body. I had a desire to take space for myself and to be engulfed by a community of women and learning. That’s when I discovered Blooma. I enrolled in their prenatal yoga teacher training in October 2011 and loved every moment of my experience there. I dove into myself in every yoga class, experienced the power of being surrounded by other pregnant mamas, and felt the bliss of truly feeling supported without judgment. My confidence in myself, my choices, and my communication was emanating out of me in response to all of the inspiration and abundance. I was actively recognizing my needs and desires and manifesting them!

As I openly shared my inspiration about pregnancy and birth with those around me, naturally, some of my closest friends became inspired to contribute to my journey. My dear friend, Sandie Fish, held a three part circle ceremony:
I. Welcoming a new mother
II. Welcoming for baby
III. Welcoming a new father.

With the greatest of intention and communication, we created a circle with the wiser and older women in my life whom could share their journeys as women and mothers. We created quilt squares and tied the quilt together to wrap the baby in our wisdom and love, they brought me beads to assemble a necklace to surround me in their energy, power, and wisdom during labor and mothering, and they showered me with intentional gifts for my birthing alter. Every time we gathered I experienced a shedding and releasing of old thoughts, beliefs, and stories that were no longer serving me. The circle ceremony allowed all of us space to let go of our egos and to become present with our deeper selves. We felt connected, alive, and valuable in our life journey, struggles and all. I felt (and still feel) from these women and ceremonies an incredible amount support, love, and laughter that will forever stay with me. I was indeed experiencing a sacred pregnancy. Like a flower gently rooted into the earth, I was feeling vulnerable yet strong in my process of growth.

My spirit sister Amy and good friend Steph were inspired not just by pregnancy but by life itself. They planned and created a Celebration of Life gathering for our close group of friends to be intentional in their support for my process. Everyone brought a blessing, poem, song lyrics, or their own writing to share what life means to them. We lit candles and gathered around the table. So much giggling, love, and intentional conversation was happening. Celebrating with delicious, wholesome food along with beautiful energy of acceptance and understanding. It made my heart sing.
We created artful affirmation signs for me to hang on my wall for the labor and birth. Words like flow, breathe, power, trust, exist, now, rest, and focus were created. It was a peaceful, calm time in the evening as everyone allowed for an opening for creativity to flow. Through art, we cultivated our intentions and love.

The affirmations were a powerful addition to the energy of our home as we began to make active preparations in creating the sacred birth that I knew in my heart was possible. These affirmations still exist within my home to remind me in my mothering (and in life) to flow like water, to breathe, exist, and to trust the process of struggle and inner work.

At the end of pregnancy when the baby showers began to take place (I had four of them), it was very apparent that my desires were being heard. The women throwing these baby showers made them bright, fun, and filled with life. My gifts were hand made, bought with intention, or things that I truly needed (cloth diapers). Like the Minnesota River after the snow has melted, I was bursting at the banks and over flowing with abundance and gratitude. Feeling the deepest connection I had ever felt with those closest to me, and to myself, I was ready whenever the BABY was to move into the next phase of sacredness and connection. I was ready to give birth.

After the birth of my daughter Abyl, I spent time reflecting on the power that exists within us, not just as women, but as human beings. Abyl was part of this entire process and was taking my lead the entire time. By inviting beautiful energy, support, and trust into my experience, I also shared it with her in the womb. The sacred pregnancy I set the intention for, sought out, and actively manifested (with the help of my loved ones) flowed beautifully into experiencing a sacred birth. My amazing friend Amy, supportive husband Adam, and attentive midwife Rachel all supported me gracefully while I experienced a labor full of struggle, opening,shedding, letting go, peace, and in the end, pure joy and love.


What Babies Need

Walking into any baby store or paging through one of the numerous magazines aimed at parents, one is bound to find a list of “must haves” for every baby. These are usually things that are meant to help you parent your baby “best”. While no one can tell you what your individual family’s needs are, what we do know is that at its most basic, babies’ needs are quite simple. The most important things your baby needs are things you already have.

Warmth

Babies are born learning how to maintain a normal body temperature, and immediate skin-to-skin contact with mama is ideal. Studies have shown that a mother’s chest is able to lower or raise an entire degree based on her baby’s temperature needs (and on either side independently if she is mothering twins!).

Getting your baby right to your chest immediately following delivery will also help both of you connect after birth. It helps baby to regulate their breathing as they feel your chest rise and fall and you are bathed in your newborn’s intoxicating smell as you establish your bond as mother and child. This shows them where home is as they take in your mama scent.

Comfort

Your baby has spent three seasons growing in an environment where his needs were immediately met. Baby was kept at the right temperature and could hear your heartbeat and voice at all times. Keeping your baby close after birth helps to maintain and strengthen his sense of security and safety while helping you to learn his cues and respond to his needs quickly.

Wearing your baby is a wonderful way for both mom and partner to help baby recreate that environment and provide this comfort for him. It keeps baby close and secure, providing opportunities for attachment and affection at all times. Babies can sleep, eat and play all while staying connected to you, and you are able to get basic tasks accomplished without having to put them down – a win/win situation!

Food

Humans are well-designed down to the last detail. While pregnant, your breasts begin to produce colostrum which is the first food your baby will get in the few days it takes for your milk volume to increase. Colostrum is packed with energy, vitamins, and antibodies, and it lines babies’ intestines with beneficial bacteria and flora that stay with them for life. It also acts as a natural laxative, helping babies to pass their first stool, known as meconium.

Colostrum and breastmilk provide all the nutrition your baby needs – there is no need to supplement with anything else. Breastmilk is tailored to your baby’s needs at every stage of development; as baby grows and changes, so does your milk. As an added bounus, babies whose mothers eat a varied diet while nursing typically grow up to be more adventurous eaters later in life, enjoying more diverse flavors and tastes.

Parenting a newborn is all about following his cues and responding with what he needs. Your instincts as a parent are strong and if you listen to them and to your baby, you will quickly learn that what your baby needs most is you.

About the Author

Angie Sonrode is a DONA-trained Doula and a Lactation Support Provider serving clients in the Twin Cities Metro area.  She  lives in Minneapolis with her supportive husband and 4 amazing kiddos.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2011 print version of Collective Thoughts.


“Incredibly healing and an absolute gift”: An HBA2C birth story

by Joyce Geving

My first of three sons was born December 21st, 2004.  We labored for hours and I was given an epidural followed by Pitocin. His cord was wrapped around his forehead, so with each contraction his heart rate would fall. So I was rushed into the operating room. I remember feeling so scared and helpless.  I am not sure if a cesarean could have been avoided with his birth. Afterward, I really mourned not being pregnant any longer, and I think it was the safe feeling of my pregnancy that I missed. I no longer had my baby safe and warm in me but had this scary birth story. I also left feeling like my body had been violated in some way. All of these feelings I shared with others and my doctor but were dismissed or hardly acknowledged so I thought I just needed to get over it and move on.

My second, July 6th, 2007, was a scheduled repeat cesarean. The hospital had a no VBAC policy in place and my doctor convinced me that a cesarean would be the safest option, and I went along with it.  It wasn’t until a couple years later, after watching the “Business of Being Born” that I began questioning the necessity of my cesareans and how I and my babies missed out on the natural experience and all the benefits that happen with that.

When I became pregnant with my third I knew I wanted to give birth, to do what my body was meant to do, even with a scar. I was so happy to hear the nearby hospital was doing VBACs again but was told it was not for me because I had had two previous cesareans and the risk was too high…so now what? I felt defeated.

I contacted the ICAN Minneapolis chapter and was informed of hospitals in the metro that would do VBA2C. I began making appointments and looking into a couple that were within reasonable driving distance. After each appointment I left feeling like they were setting me up for another cesarean, and more interested in adding my birth to their statistics – good or bad.  I began questioning what my birth was going to look like at the hospital with all their policies and protocols. 

Mean while, we had hired a doula because we had read the statistics supporting reduced risk of cesarean when doulas are present. I also knew I would need someone to help us make informed decisions in a hospital. Right from the start, we had a connection with our doula, Ashley; she gave us so much support and information that we needed. 

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While doing my research online, home births always came up as an option or in success stories, but my husband and I were both really scared of the idea thinking, “what if something goes wrong” and “what would we do with the dogs and my dad during labor, how are we going to come up with the money?”

Our doula encouraged me to just meet with homebirth midwives to rule it out, if nothing else, and at 30 weeks my husband and I made an appointment to do so. After our first meeting, we knew this was our path and had a sigh of relief. We left feeling excited again and validated, instead of stressed about the birth and our plans. We could really enjoy the pregnancy and the preparing for our birth. 

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My prenatal appointments were always at least 45 minutes long, usually longer. We talked about the importance of eating well and drinking water and my tea.  The care I experienced during our appointments was amazing, they always made me feel comfortable and that I could do this.  Nothing like what I experienced in any of my clinic visits.

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On January 21st, my contractions began at 10:40 at night. I was so excited, we were up timing contractions all night and called our doula so excited at 4am. She convinced us to get some rest. I slept a couple hours and my water broke at 7:35the next morning. Then I called everyone, because I felt like now’s the real deal, but contractions were still steady and not increasing or getting stronger. I was in constant contact with our doula and midwives. One of the midwives came to check on our progress and things were moving so slow we were urged to get some rest that evening and labor would hopefully pick up after some sleep. Just as soon as I laid down, contractions really began – and we had just told our doula to take her time and come that night when she wanted. One of the midwives came and hurriedly called the other to come now after she said she could see his head and then reassured me that my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing.

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That night, in our family room, I gave birth to our third son.  He came out and cried “momma” (sounded like that to me) and nursed like champ all while his cord was still attached to me. My husband was so comforting and amazing while supporting me. It was so calm, comfortable, and full of love and encouragement…it was a beautiful setting for our little guy to enter the world. 

My home birth experience was incredibly healing and an absolute gift.
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Why should I bring my baby to a Chiropractor?

by Dr. Kelly Silvi

This is often a question that I get from patients, or just parents in general when they learn that I am a Pediatric Chiropractor. It is a great question! I see it as an opportunity to teach parents about the human body and how that translates to their new baby. 

In order to understand why you should bring your baby to a Chiropractor, you need to have an understanding of what they do. Chiropractors focus on treating the joints in your spine. This is a concept that is generally known, but what people may not know is that the focus is on the spine due to its intimate relationship with the nervous system. Treatments bring increased function and movement to the joints and muscles, which in turn decrease the irritation to the nerves. An optimally functioning nervous system is key to your body sending and receiving the appropriate messages at the appropriate times. 

So why should you bring your baby to a Chiropractor? The simple answer is because babies have spines too! The same concepts apply to babies as they do to adults. A chiropractor will check baby’s spine and remove restrictions in their joints so that the nervous system can function optimally. Their little bodies are growing quickly and it is important that the appropriate messages are being sent at the appropriate times!

New babies go through a lot of transition phases in a short amount of time, starting with birth. Whether it is traveling through the birth canal, or being born through the uterine wall, it is a significant physical stress to their little bodies. I frequently treat babies in their first day of life to assist their bodies in finding balance after the hard work of being born. Babies are developing and adapting at an incredible rate in their first 5 years of life. A chiropractor that is trained in Pediatric care will have great knowledge to treat their little bodies through all stages of their development. Chiropractors can correct restrictions in the cranium (skull) and spine before they manifest as symptoms. 

When a baby is treated or adjusted by a Chiropractor it looks significantly different than an adult adjustment. This is a very important distinction to make for parents. There are no quick movements or firm pressure when working with babies. The treatments are gentle and progress slowly, going at a speed that is dictated by the baby’s comfort. It is common for babies to sleep or nurse during treatments, which is fun for the parents to see.

I mentioned that treatments can often make corrections to the body before symptoms appear. Symptoms in babies often look very different compared to adults. Babies can’t verbalize that they have a headache, are constipated, or have pain when they turn their head to the right. Instead, they might not sleep well, cry and grunt a lot, or have feeding difficulties. As a Chiropractor it is our job to piece together their symptoms and determine what will help them feel better. In addition to balancing their bodies, we are also trained to provide nutritional and lifestyle advice for you and your newborn. 

I believe every baby should be checked by a Chiropractor after birth. If they do have restrictions in their joints, getting them adjusted and balanced will help your baby start off with a good foundation for growth and development. 

For more information, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association is a great resource for families. Their website provides research on Chiropractic care and a variety of other wellness topics. 

www.icpa4kids.org

 

Dr. Kelly Silvi practices in South Minneapolis. Her fascination with health and the human body grew into a passion for supporting and educating her patients, while providing safe and comfortable Chiropractic care. She is certified by the Academy of Chiropractic Family Practice and the Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics in pregnancy and pediatric care. 


Ease the Ride with Thai Yoga Bodywork for Pregnancy

by Cori Levin

 

Along with a yoga practice, eating healthy and sleeping often; it is helpful for pregnant women to incorporate monthly bodywork.  Bodywork can include Thai massage, traditional massage, Reiki, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and many others. With all the shifts happening in a woman’s body while growing her baby, a feeling of imbalance may arise as her style of life changes. Our culture lacks in teaching us how to slow down and take time for self-care: we are do-ers and achievers.  Challenge yourself to be mindful of your breath and teach your baby a calm rhythmic breath by incorporating bodywork sessions in your busy life! 

 

Thai Yoga Bodywork (TYB) is a healing art that combines holding yoga poses, breath work and ancient healing wisdom. The practitioner begins with a breathing exercise and assessing the client’s energy body with a pendulum. It is similar to a massage however a client (pregnant or not) is on the floor with clothes on, lying on a mat with pillows supporting her while being stretched and pressed on.  In this tradition, it is believed that by stimulating the acupressure points, the body aligns itself and heals ailments.  TYB is thought to help balance the body energetically and emotionally. It feels uplifting and calming.

 

Tremendous physical changes happen to the female body during pregnancy, birth and beyond.  The hormonal shifts affect a woman’s state of mind while her nervous system goes for a ride. Thai Yoga bodywork can help minimize pregnancy ailments including nausea, sleep issues, fear of birth, restless legs, and back issues.  It also has many benefits for the postpartum stage and into motherhood assisting in helping women tap into their intuition allowing women to feel strong in making decisions throughout their journey as parents.

 

 

Cori Levin is the mother of two girls; a Thai Yoga Bodywork practitioner at Enlightened Mama, Reiki-master trained , creator of “Heal Fast” postpartum bath herbs, Birth Doula and Registered Yoga teacher. She can be reached at levincori@gmail.com and https://www.facebook.com/PachaMamaDoula

Website coming soon www.pachamamacori.com


Current Doula Status of Twin Cities Hospitals during Covid-19