I’m Pregnant, Now What? Episode 2 Picking A Provider

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Did you know that an Obstetrician is not your only choice to follow you and your baby through pregnancy and birth? Let’s talk about what to look for so you feel cared for and supported through your pregnancy. Let’s talk about where these providers deliver and how that can affect your birth. Let’s talk about YOUR goals for your pregnancy and how that can be effected by your provider.

The most important thing I want you to know is that YOU ARE NOT CHAINED TO YOUR PROVIDER. If, at any time, you feel like you are not being listened to, or supported, you can transfer care (usually) up to 36 weeks pregnant.

Thanks for taking the time to watch. I am honored to walk through this time with you.

Love Thy Labor,
Meghann

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Doulas Lower C-Section Rates? You Bet We Do!

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Another study regarding doulas and their relationship to mothers avoiding medically unnecessary C-Sections was recently published. The study compared mothers who hired doulas with mothers who either wanted doulas and were unable to hire one, mothers who were not familiar with doula work (and therefore did not know they could hire one), and mothers who did not wish to hire a doula as part of their birth team. The study looked at their birth outcomes and overwhelmingly concluded that, statistically, women who knew what doulas were and were able to hire one greatly reduced their C-Section rate.

Here’s the article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/29/doula-benefits_n_5730720.html

“The presence of a doula at birth was linked to an almost 60 percent reduction in women’s odds of having a C-section, and 80 percent lower odds of having a nonmedically indicated C-section compared with women who had no doula. (Overall, 10 percent of the women in the survey said they had no clear medical need for a cesarean delivery, yet delivered via C-section anyway.)”

Wonderful news for most of us! My heart is breaking for the 27% of women who wanted a doula, but were unable to hire one. Most were low-income families who did not have the resources to pay for a doula’s services.  This article suggests something that most of us have been shouting from the rooftops for years, WHY AREN’T INSURANCE COMPANIES COVERING DOULA SERVICES!?

Some do. Some cover up to 70% of a doula’s fee. Some HSA accounts will let you use your funds for doula services. Why not ALL? Why not Medicaid? If there was a $1000.00 (average doula rate in the U.S.) pill that decreased a woman’s odds of having a C-Section by 60% with no negative side effects and decades of studies behind it, I would consider it criminal not to administer that medication. You decrease what insurance companies pay on average for a birth by $9000.00 if doulas were covered by insurance companies. Nine THOUSAND dollars, per cesarean birth.

One of the reasons why it has not been DEMANDED that women have access to quality doula services can be found in the comments section of the article.

Robert Jackson, a Physician from Houston, Texas states
“… saying sweet things and rubbing someones back isn’t going to change c section rates. That is, unless the patient has chosen an obstetrician who is willing to do a c-section for the indication that labor hurts. Bring on the doulas but please don’t try to tell patients that this will change the anatomy or physiology of the pregnancy….”

If all a doula did was whisper sweet nothings in their client’s ear and give her a little back rub, then, by all means, this gentleman would be correct. We are skilled members of the birth team. We educate our clients, we motivate our clients, we physically move our clients. We know, operate in, and promote normal birth. We can read our clients, and help them to break through their walls, because we walk the path of labor WITH them.

No one is questioning that most of the medical staff want the best for moms and babies, but we, as doulas want the best for THIS mom and THIS baby, and we are going to work our tails off to make sure that they get their best outcome. My hope is that insurance companies will see the financial benefits, promptly, so that any woman who desires has access to doula services.

I Wish I had Known About Doulas When I Was Pregnant

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I had a fantastic meeting, this morning!  I met with a local Non-Profit, exploring ways in which Birthworkers can effectively support women in need in our area. The Director and I had a wonderful chat about what her organization does. I was floored with the love, skill, and resources this group makes available to our community.  She then asked me what services I, and other doulas in our area provide. I told her about helping women to become educated in their pregnancy and birth choices. I spoke about the importance of goals, and helping women utilize the right tools to reach their goals. We talked about unwavering support for mothers physically and emotionally as they make preparations, birth their babies, and transition into being a family.

“…And that’s just what Labor Doulas do! Have you ever heard what a Postpartum Doula provides?”

I told her about supporting families in their home during those critical and exhausting first three months of baby’s life. It is so rewarding to be able to offer breastfeeding support, assisting with newborn care, scheduling and organizational help, keeping baby related items clean and tidy, preparing healthy snacks, taking over baby duty while parents get some quality rest or time with their other children, and helping mama take care of herself during that critical Fourth Trimester.

“Wow! I had no idea you did all that!”

What she said next is something I’ve heard pretty frequently, “I wish I had known about Doulas when I was pregnant!”

I told her, now that she knows, it’s her job to let other mamas know, so they aren’t saying the same thing in five or ten years.

Now YOU know about Doulas, too. I happen to know a few who are amazing!

Love Thy Labor,
Meghann

 

To My Clients (Before Our First Meeting)

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I know it is strange. I know it is a little awkward to be meeting someone for the first time who may end up massaging your back as you labor. I know that finding the right doula for your labor support can make a huge impact on how you feel about your birth experience. I know that you and your partner have a lot of questions about what a doula does and why you need one. I know that you are probably a big ball of anxiety and excitement that this baby will be making it’s way into your world soon. Like, reeeeaaaaaallllllly soon! I also know that we are going to get through this together!

I want you to take a deep breath. I am here to help. We will start off with introductions. You tell me a bit about yourselves and I’ll do the same. I will ask you about your family, your pregnancy, what you are thinking about for your birth, and what concerns you are dealing with. We will not be at a loss for words. You have a lot on your mind, and I want to hear everything that is important to you. I may guide our discussion with gentle questions, but I want to HEAR you. I want you to ask your questions, share your worries, and let me get a glimpse into your world.

Soon, we will be friends. Honest to goodness friends. You will be comfortable asking me ALL of your questions. We will talk about a whole lot of intimate information, and you will be comfortable doing so because you will know that I truly care about you.

When you call me to let me know that it is time, I will be so excited to share this time with you. I may squeal with joy. I will jump out of bed at 3:00 am filled with happiness, because I get to support you as you become a parent. I will tear up and we will hug. I will hold you as you labor, and help you discover how incredibly strong you are. I will breathe with you, and mop your forehead as you push your baby into this world. I will share your joy as you have your first tender moments with your baby, and help you as you figure out how to nurse for the first time.

These are the moments we will get to share. Although, I know it may be strange to meet me for the first time, all amazing relationships have to start somewhere. I’ll look forward to meeting you, soon.

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

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