But, What Do You Do?

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I have had so many people ask me this question when they find out that I am a Doula. Let me give you a very quick overview of what my job looks like:

My name is Meghann Scaife. I am a DTI (Doula Trainings International) trained Labor and Postpartum Doula who is passionate about equipping birthing families to both make the right childbirth decisions for themselves, and transition confidently into their role as parents.

As a Labor Doula, I believe that parents should be educated on the many choices available to birthing families, so they can form an evidence-based plan for their “perfect birth”. I help families navigate those options and achieve their goals through continuous labor support, a variety of coping techniques, positional changes, aromatherapy, acupressure, massage, and offering consistent emotional reassurance. I believe that a Doula’s role is not to take the place of the partner, but to enhance the care given to both parents as they labor together.

As a Postpartum Doula, I believe that our transition into parenthood is not always an easy one. There are a few of us in this modern age who are blessed to be surrounded by our family or close community who can both model newborn care and be readily available to help ease the transition from being a couple to being a family. I recognize that in our current global community not everyone has their family geographically close, or with schedules that allow them to be available during this critical time. I am equipped to not only help you plan for your first few days and months with your child(ren), but to be available to come to your home and be a touchstone resource and extra set of hands. I am trained to offer breastfeeding support, emotional support, newborn care, postpartum care for mothers, helping you address ongoing concerns for yourself or your baby, nursery organization, healthy food preparation, or simply someone to care for the baby while you get sleep, spend time with your older children, or take a shower!

I want you to know I feel incredibly honored to be there as families are made. It is not a role I take lightly. I have an all-inclusive fee for my labor clients, and I book my postpartum clients in 8-hour packages (2- 4 hour day shifts, or 1 overnight shift). I’d love to talk with you about your pregnancy, birth plans, newborn care plans and answer any questions you may have. (559)800-4944

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Ask A Doula: Why Would I Hire A ‘Stranger’ To Be With Me In the Delivery Room?

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“I just don’t think I would want a stranger in the room with me while I’m in labor.”

I have heard this, or similar sentiments expressed on a number of occasions after sharing with someone that I am a Labor Doula.  Let me tell you something:  I could not agree with you more!

Labor is the most thrilling, joyous, terrifying, intimate, amazing, exhausting and life-altering experience that many of us have ever, or will ever experience.  It is a time when a woman needs to feel safe, secure, cared for, and empowered.  She and her child are on a journey that they alone are experiencing firsthand.  No one else has experienced her contractions, her determination or her love for that child.

So, let’s think about who is present in a normal vaginal hospital delivery (According to the latest CDC study only 1% of American women deliver at home, so this will represent most women).  You have a large team involved in the safe labor and delivery of your little bub.  Some that you will have had the opportunity to meet ahead of time, and some that are your brand new BFFs.  Let’s take a look at all the different people who will see you naked… I mean, be a part of your birth team!

Your Obstetrician or Midwife. If you go to every Prenatal exam (which you definitely need to do) starting at 9 weeks (usually the earliest they will see you) up to 40 weeks, that gives you between 12 and 14 office visits before your big day.  You will probably split those visits up between your Doctor/ Midwife and the Nurse Practitioner/ Physician’s Assistant.  So, that is about 7 visits with your chosen Care Provider (less if they are part of a large Provider Group that shares patients).  Even though you may spend an hour at the Doctor’s office, we all know that you are actually getting about 10 minutes of face time with your Provider.  So, with that in mind we are looking at about 70 minutes with your Doc pre-delivery.

The caveat to this, is that sometimes the Dr. you chose is not even on-call when you go into labor.  In that case, you may end up with someone you’ve never even met being the Provider who delivers your sweet babe.  You should discuss with your Provider ahead of time who goes on-call for them when they are unavailable, and if you will be able to meet the other Provider(s).  Also, check if your Doc has any vacations scheduled around your due date.  Don’t let a strange Doc in the room be a surprise!

When you go to your hospital or birth center in labor, you will probably start out in Triage.  This is usually a large room with several gurneys (movable beds) partitioned by curtains.  They will hook you up to two monitors.  One lets them see if, and how frequently you are contracting.  The other lets them keep an eye on baby’s heartbeat.  They will also do an internal exam to see how far dilated you are.  If you are, indeed in labor, and they have a room available, you will be moved to a private labor room.  Here you will meet your wonderful partner in crime:

Your Labor Nurse.  This is your primary care giver throughout labor and most of your pushing.  (S)he is the one who will be in charge of your well-being.  (S)he will start your I.V., be your medication provider, ask you all of those probing questions, and be your advocate with your Doctor.  There are just a few things you may not be prepared for.  First, you are not her only patient.  She probably has one more laboring mama she’s caring for, and if she is covering for another RN (while they quickly eat and potty), she may be keeping an eye on one or two more.  Second, these angels work 12 hour shifts which means they are running around for half a day making sure you and baby are safe.  At the end of those twelve hours you are given to a new Nurse who will have you for the next 12 hour shift.  If you have a longer labor, you may have 3 or 4 different Nurses providing your care.  Third,with all of the work they are required to do, most studies put them actually in the room with you for only about 25-30% of your labor.  That is a significant amount of time you are laboring with only the support team (your partner, friend, mother, etc.) you brought with you.

Let’s take a look at your support team. This is usually made up of your partner, your immediate family, and/or your closest friends.  In many cases, you are only allowed three other people in your labor room.  Mainly because the Nurses and Doctors need to be able to get to you quickly and easily if there are any issues that come up with you or the baby.  So, we are going to assume a few things.  First, that your partner has been with you at your 6 to 12 week-long childbirth class.  They have learned all of the ways to best support and comfort you during labor.  They anticipate and meet your needs.  They are understanding of all the ways you are communicating with them (usually it is breathing, body language, and primal vocalizations, NOT words).  They also understand all of the things that are happening around you.  They know what all the machines do, and why they are beeping.  They know when to get the Nurse involved, and when to dig in and support you through sensations that you have never experienced before.  They keep a cool head and help you to remember that the pain does not control you, even when it feels like it is all consuming.  The problem is, you’ve never had this experience before.  Even if you’ve delivered 10 babies, you’ve never delivered this baby with your current body before.  This can mean that your partner/ mother/ friend who loves you and your child is confronted with an unknown factor… what you need in this pain.  This can throw even the most involved and level-headed partner into a major stress they have never experienced before.  They want to help.  They want both of their loves (you and that baby) to be safe, happy, and comfortable. They just get a bit overwhelmed and may not be able to focus fully on you because they are managing their own stress.  Bless ’em!

Sometimes you get something that looks like the following:

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Who is helping them cope with their stress appropriately?  Who is reminding them that they know you and your needs better than anyone else?  Who is empowering them to be the best birth partner they can be?  Oh, that’s something Doulas do!

So, let’s talk about how well clients get to know their Doula before the big day.  I usually like to have at least 3 meetings with my clients before they reach 38 weeks.  If they contact me earlier in their pregnancy, that can increase as needed.  Our meetings last a minimum of an hour, but depending on what questions and concerns my client has, they have been known to last up to three hours.  If you want me to attend childbirth classes with you, we’ll obviously get more time together.  During our meetings, not only are we preparing for the birth you want, but we are getting to know each other, as well.  I help my clients walk through what they want in their pregnancy, labor, delivery, and their first hours, days, and weeks as a family.  This is a very intimate time, so we tend to get to know each other pretty well, pretty quickly! That means that you will probably spend at least 3 hours with your Doula.  That is twice the amount of time that you get with your Doctor, or you may end up with a Doctor you have never met before.  You’ve likely never met your Labor Nurse before that day.  While you known your partner ahead of time, knowing how they will react in this situation can be difficult to predict.

So, why a Doula?

According to a 2012 Cochrane Study titled “Continuous Support For Women During Childbirth*”, having continuity of physical, emotional, and educational support provided by a non-medical support person throughout your labor and delivery leads to a lot of wonderful outcomes!  Including:

– A 34% increase in the satisfaction with her birth experience

– A 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin

-A 28% decrease in the chance of a C-Section

-A 14% decrease in your newborn being admitted to the Special Care Nursery

-A 12% increase in the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth

-A 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief

We, as Doulas, are here to be a part of your birth team.  We are trained to emotionally, physically, and educationally support the mother during labor, delivery, and immediately after the birth.  We do not take the place of your partner.  We empower them to meet your needs (and we also know what those machines are, and why they won’t stop beeping).  We cannot provide your medical care, but strive to help you have the knowledge and support that you need to make informed decisions, during a stressful and exciting time.

Love Thy Labor,

Meghann

 

 

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If you feel like a Doula may be right for you, you can search for local Doulas at http://www.doulamatch.net

You can visit my Facebook page for more articles and information at www.facebook.com/allaboutmomdoula

You can visit my blog at http://www.allaboutmomdoula.com

 

*http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21328263

 

 

 

Why do mommies feel the need to scare the crap out of each other?

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Congratulations!  You are having a baby!  What wonderful news! Now, let me tell you about how horrible my pregnancy/ birth/ postpartum/ breastfeeding experience was…

How many of us mommies have experienced something similar to this?  I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, after the obligatory congrats and hugs, we decided to start scaring the crap out of each other.

I know that most of us are anxious to share our negative experiences to help these ‘newbies’ in the mom club avoid the same pitfalls.  A lot of those anecdotes begin with, “If I could do things all over again, I would…” or “If you would’ve told me how hard natural childbirth/ breastfeeding/ co-sleeping/ ferberizing/ baby-wearing/ going back to work/ having SEX was, I never would have attempted it!”

The other side of the coin is all of the (ahem) ‘helpful’ information we bombard these sweet, excited, well-rested new recruits with.  We are so anxious to be helpful that we love to give our opinions on all the things they should be doing, thinking about, and planning for the next 20 years.  While, I am sure that starting a college fund for your sweet little bundle of joy is something that you will want to address, maybe it can wait a couple of months?

This amazing moment, the moment when we discover that our daughter/ sister/ niece/ cherished friend/ co-worker/ distant relative/ frenemy/ accountant’s 3rd cousin twice removed is joining the Mom Squad should be treasured by our doe-eyed loved one.  Instead our comments can leave the poor soul feeling nervous and overwhelmed.  She’ll have the rest of her life to feel nervous and overwhelmed!  (Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have let that little cat out of the bag!)

The wonderful thing about all of us women being so intricately and uniquely designed is that we experience all things differently.  We all have areas of pregnancy and motherhood that our bodies and personality are hard-wired for.  I cannot get pregnant on my own, but I have wonderfully easy pregnancies.  My sweet friend can get pregnant on a whim, but it is 40ish weeks of nausea, vomiting, and pre-term labor.  I could nurse a small army with the amount of breast milk I produce from the beginning, but my darling sister had supply issues with every baby.

My point is, just because you struggled, does not mean that the woman in front of you will.  I know we mean well, but there will be time to swap battle stories later.  I promise!

Maybe, when we hear the exciting news, maybe, just maybe we can just say, “Congratulations!  How are you feeling?  If you ever have any questions, or just want to talk about ANYthing, let me know!”

When I First Witnessed a Miracle.

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When I was 13 years old my big sister became a mother.  Two things happened to me on that day:  I became an auntie to the most beautiful baby boy, and I got to bear witness to the most amazingly beautiful thing I had ever seen.  I got to see a woman find the strength to embrace the pain she was experiencing in order to bring new life into our family.  It was magical.  It changed me.

From that day forward I took any opportunity I could to again be there for those brief magical moments in a woman’s life.  Luckily, my sister is the mother of five, so I got a few opportunities!

I began working in the medical field when I was 21 years old, always with the goal in mind to work with laboring moms.  I eventually found my place with the amazing staff at Clovis Community Hospital working as an Obstetric Tech.  Those were glorious days for me.  Everyday I got to be an integral part of the business of making families.  I loved every minute, until I loved something more.

After six years of dealing with infertility we were given the most amazing gift.  Our son, Maxwell was born through another woman’s womb, but fit just perfectly into my arms.

Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant!  I drank in every experience.  Every kick, hiccup and stretch was relished.  Every queasy stomach, steep mood swing, and pain of my ligaments making room for my infant brought me that much closer to meeting our second child.  None of it was lost on me.

When my contractions began, I was giddy with excitement.  I knew that I was just hours away from unwrapping one of my most amazing gifts.  As I began to labor in earnest I began to look for strength in the people I had surrounded myself with.  My husband was my rock.  I literally hung off of him as I swayed that baby down.  Thankfully, I also had my dear friend as my Doula.  She knew the words that would both encourage me to keep going and give me permission to be honest with what I was experiencing.

I felt strong, until I was utterly exhausted.  I felt in control, until my very body would no longer obey me.  I felt calm, until I was nearly panting with fear.  As my people surrounded me and leant me their strength, I willed my body to bring my second son into our life.  Never have I been so utterly spent and so utterly euphoric at the same time.  My people cheered, we all cried, and I nursed my newborn child surrounded by love and joy.

I am so very grateful that I was able to move from observer of birth to bearer of birth.  It was magical.  It changed me.

Now, my children are growing and I get to help other women create that safe space as they bring new life into our world.  What an honor.  It is magical.  It changes me.

MaxNewbornAnnaMayer