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Filtering by Tag: hospital birth

7 Amazing C-Section Recovery Tips

Chelsea Gonzales

Whether your cesarean was planned from the beginning or a complete surprise, the recovery is something you'll need to go through. Luckily, you'll have your new bundle of joy by your side, softening the pain and more difficult days a little. However, a C-section is still major surgery, and as with all major surgeries, recovery isn't exactly fun.

That said, there are ways to speed up the recovery process and make it go a lot more smoothly. By knowing the right steps to take, you can help ensure all goes well in the weeks postpartum.

Walk, then Rest

Surgery leaves even the best of us feeling groggy and in pain. For this reason, walking is likely the very last thing you want to do. Still, walking is one of the necessary steps you must take before leaving the hospital. It's also beneficial during recovery because it helps get blood moving, reducing the likelihood of clots. For this reason, you will want to do a bit of walking around the house each day.

With that said, I must point out that this walking should be kept to a minimum in the first few weeks. No strenuous exercise should occur until at east 6–8 weeks postpartum, and even then, a new mama should get permission from her doctor.

Eat Well, Drink Plenty

Nutrition is hugely important when your body is working hard to recover. Besides, if you're breastfeeding, you're providing your baby with all of his or her nutrients. Therefore, you simply must eat well after having a C-section.

Besides eating a well balanced diet that is full of fruits, veggies, and lean meats, you will also want to make sure that the foods you choose contain plenty of fiber. This will help prevent the post-cesarean gas and constipation that so often plagues new mamas.

Additionally, plenty of protein, iron, and vitamin C are all musts in an after-surgery diet. These nutrients help your body rebuild muscle, recover from blood loss, and fight off infection.

Finally, you will need to consume A LOT of water. In fact, I recommend drinking around a gallon a day. Your body needs water in order to function properly, and with a post-operative recovery on its plate—as well as the usual postpartum work—it's going to need as much water as it can get.

Add in Supplements

During the months postpartum, be sure to continue taking your prenatal vitamin. Not only will this help baby get plenty of nutrients through your breastmilk, it will also help your body recover more quickly. Other supplements you may consider should include 1) a quality probiotic in order to restore order in your gut, as well as 2) zinc and magnesium, also for gut health.

Baby Your Scar

One key part of recovery is making sure your scar heals correctly and without infection. The best way to do this is by babying the area.

Stick to showers in order to avoid submerging your scar, never scrub that area, and gently pat it dry after showering. Put aloe vera gel and vitamin E on the scar to reduce swelling and visibility, and keep it covered with a organic or free and clear maxi pad or some other sterile, soft covering for the first two weeks.

Banish Pain

Of course, you're going to feel some level of pain after a C-section. In order to reduce this pain, be sure to use the painkillers prescribed by the doctor. As you wean off the prescription drugs, slowly make the switch to over-the-counter options such as ibuprofen.

Other options that can be used along with these painkillers include essential oil aromatherapy, arnica gel, cinnamon supplements, garlic supplements, coconut water, omega-3 fatty acids, hawthorn berry tea, and hibiscus tea. Using a combination of a few of these should have you feeling a bit better.

Address Your Emotions

Not every mama is happy to have had a cesarean. If you are upset by the way your birth went, be sure to address this right away rather than allowing it to fester. Having your placenta encapsulated and adding the capsules to your daily regimen can help keep your emotions under control, but this shouldn't be your only course of action.

You will also want to find a way to express your disappointment, air your grievances, and allow yourself to wade through, make sense of, and understand the strong emotions you may be feeling. For many women, simply talking with their partner or a close family member or friend is enough. Others need a professional to help them sort through their emotions. Still others prefer to write, draw, or use some other form of creativity to express themselves and get through this difficult time.

Find what works for you and go with it.

Get Help

As you're recovering, you're going to need plenty of help. While your family is sure to help out as much as they can, it isn't always enough. For this reason, it's a great idea to hire a postpartum doula. Doulas are knowledgeable when it comes to postpartum recovery and newborn care, and are immensely helpful in nearly all aspects of life after birth.

Are you ready to hire a postpartum doula? I'd love to talk to you about your options. Please contact me today!

Tips for a Successful VBAC

Chelsea Gonzales

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There once was a time when mothers were told they would never have a successful vaginal birth after having a cesarean. Fortunately, times have changed, and more and more mothers are making the choice to give it a try. After all, if it can be carried out safely, a vaginal birth is almost always the best option in terms of a mother’s comfort, recovery times, mother/child bonding, and so much more.

If you are considering having a VBAC, you may be wondering what you can do to increase the chances of a successful birth experience. Here are my top tips.

Build a Strong Birth Team

First and foremost, you will need to have a good, strong birth team. This is one of the most important steps you can take, as an unsupportive birth team will be discouraging at best.

Be sure to pick a primary care provider who is willing to attend a VBAC birth. If you are birthing away from home, the hospital or birth center your care provider is associated with must also be okay with your choice. Ensure you trust your midwife or OB completely. If you feel at all uncomfortable or concerned with your care provider, make a switch. Even if your feelings are apparently unwarranted, feeling comfortable during labor and delivery is imperative to a successful VBAC.

In addition to a good doctor or midwife, you will also want to hire a doula. A doula will help ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout labor, and may even make the process move more quickly. Additionally, a doula can help you work through any fears that may arise.

Go Natural

Inductions, epidurals, and other interventions increase the likelihood of a c-section. Considering this is the very thing you are wanting to avoid, you will also want to avoid intervention as much as possible, letting nature take its course throughout the birthing process.

While this make take more time and patience, and while it might require seeking out natural pain management options, it's so worth the end result.

Educate Yourself

Confidence plays an enormous role in the success of any birth. The more confident you are, the more likely you are to be successful.

This is probably due in part to the fact that the more confident women tend to be the more educated women. Therefore, these individuals have a good understanding of their bodies, leading to less fear. They are also better able to make educated decisions throughout labor, meaning they're less likely to be pushed into doing things they don't want to do.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that all pregnant women—and especially those wishing to experience a VBAC—do everything they can to boost their confidence and educate themselves. The best ways to go about this include attending quality childbirth classes and reading as much as possible. Finding books about VBAC specifically can be especially helpful.

Banish Fears

Another step toward confidence that every potential VBAC mother must take is banishing fears. Traumatizing birth experiences stick with us and tend to fester, growing into paralyzing fears. These fears are strong—so strong in fact that they can stall labor, something that can lead to interventions.

Fortunately, you have the power to banish these fears. Find a therapist to help you work through your unwanted thoughts, hire a doula to help in case these fears surface during labor, and repeat uplifting and inspirational mantras to yourself throughout your pregnancy and your labor.

Many women also find it helpful to hang posters or flags with inspirational messages throughout their home and birth space.

Expect a VBAC, Prepare for a Cesarean

In some cases, it just isn't possible for a mother to have a VBAC safely. Because of this, it is always best to go in expecting the best but prepared for the worst.

What does this mean for you? Here is what I suggest:

  •  Know where to go — If you're delivering at home or in a birth center, know in advance where you'll be transferred should the need arise.Prepare for postpartum — Obviously, you'll want meals planned and help in place no matter how your birth goes. However, having extra assistance lined up in case of a c-section is a smart move.
  • Speak with your care provider — Ask your doctor any questions you have about what will happen should you need a cesarean. Have a midwife? Find out what her typical procedure is in these cases.
  • Create a birth plan — You've probably already thought about your birth plan should you have a vaginal delivery, but have you considered what you'd like in the case of surgery? Think about it, write it down, and make sure your birth team knows your plan.

Following these tips is not a guarantee of anything. They will, however, help you achieve your dream. Why not get started today?

 

How Affirmations Help Laboring Women

Chelsea Gonzales

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In recent years, birth affirmations have become more and more popular. Many people wonder how on earth a woman could expect a simple phrase to help them through the enormously difficult task of giving birth. While this doubt is understandable, those who think this way fail to see just how powerful words can be.

You see, birth affirmations give a woman power. They do this by changing her mindset and giving her a new, positive outlook. With that positive outlook, she can do amazing things. This is because her new mindset allows her to do three things.

 #1: Find Confidence

All too often women are told that they cannot accomplish things on their own. This message is beaten into us again and again, sometimes leaving women feeling incapable of doing anything on their own.

This lack of confidence makes it difficult for a new mama to trust her body to do what it was built to do. Because of this, she will make decisions based on the idea that she can’t birth her baby on her own, and may even subconsciously prevent her body from laboring freely due to her lack of confidence that it will do what it is meant to do.

Birth affirmations that are read and internalized before and during labor help restore a woman’s confidence in her body and in herself. This makes it much easier for the mother to let go and allow her body to do the work it was made to do.

 #2: Push Negativity Aside

Those women who have made the decision to trust their bodies to birth their babies will often run into negativity from others. These people will say things to make the mama second guess her decision and will often associate negative feelings with birth.

Mothers must be prepared for these comments and able to push them aside knowing they are only a result of what society and negative experiences with the mainstream birthing experience have taught these individuals. A confident woman is usually able to do this without issue. However, positive affirmations that have been instilled in her throughout pregnancy will also help her keep her mind on positive thoughts and push the negativity away.

 #3: Gain Focus

Finally, positive affirmations can help a laboring mother gain focus during particularly difficult parts of her labor experience. If a mama finds that her mind is wandering or that negative thoughts are distracting her, she can use the affirmations that are deeply ingrained in her mind to gain focus once again.

Some women even find it helpful to chant their affirmations in order to remain focused on positive thoughts as they bring their babies into the world.

Find Your Affirmations

If you are pregnant currently, I highly recommend you find a few positive affirmations that speak to you personally and begin incorporating them into your daily life.

Hang copies of your affirmations on the bathroom mirror, make a bookmark that displays a favorite affirmation, and/or say your affirmations to yourself each and every day. By finding the words that inspire and encourage you, you will be more likely to successfully reach your child birth goals.

Below are a few of my favorite affirmations:

 “I trust in my ability to birth my baby”

“I have complete confidence that my body is working perfectly.”

“I am relaxed and calm.”

“She believed she could, so she did.”

If you are looking for someone to help you have your ideal birth experience, I would love to chat with you. As a birth doula, giving new mamas a positive birth is what I do best, and I would be honored to help you bring your little one into this world.

Preparing for an Amazing Hospital Birth

Chelsea Gonzales

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Whether you’re hoping for a natural birth or simply want to have a positive experience during your labor and delivery, you deserve to have your wish become a reality. Many women believe the only way have these things is to give birth at home. Fortunately, that simply isn’t true. Plenty of incredible and beautiful births take place in the hospital each and every day.

Still, if you’re heading into the hospital environment to have your baby, you will want to be properly prepared in order to ensure you have the pleasant experience you’ve been dreaming of.

Wondering what kinds of preparations you should make? Take a look at the list below!

Choose Well

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure you choose the very best hospital and care provider for you. Make sure your doctor is enthusiastic about your birthing plans. Tour the hospital to make sure you feel comfortable there. Ask to meet the backup doctor.

If anything feels off about the hospital or provider you choose, trust your gut and keep looking.

Know What You Want (and What You Don’t)

When it comes to childbirth, nothing is more valuable than being informed. Doing your research beforehand and knowing exactly what you want and what you don’t want before going in is incredibly important. Many women find it helpful to create a printed birth plan to share with care providers. This ensures everyone is on the same page.

Be Familiar With Your Options

No matter how solid your birth plan may be, it’s likely to change. In the event something does need to stray from the plan, it’s incredibly useful to know your options. For this reason, reading, researching, and taking childbirth education classes are all immensely helpful.

Communicate Effectively

Sometimes, even passing out hard copies of your birth plan won’t be enough to communicate what you want. Things come up during the process that may not be included in your plan, and sometimes the plan isn’t read thoroughly. If this is the case, be sure to speak up and let your care provider(s) know your wishes. After all, nobody can help you get what you want if you don’t let them know.

Bring Backup

Many women don’t have the energy to communicate their wishes firmly and effectively during labor. For this reason, having a good doula by your side can be absolutely invaluable. A doula, in combination with a supportive partner, might be able to take all communication off your plate entirely, leaving you to focus on birthing your baby.

Make Yourself Comfortable

A sterile hospital room may feel like the best option for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most comfortable. Make the space more comfortable for you by bringing battery-operated candles, some essential oils, pillows from home, and favorite music.

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to know some comfort measures and other tips for staying relaxed during pregnancy. The best way to learn these is to attend a quality childbirth education class.

In just a few weeks I will be offering a fantastic class on preparing for an amazing hospital birth. This is a six-week session, and covers absolutely anything you might need to know when giving birth in a hospital. Attending this class is a wonderful way to ensure a positive birth experience.

If you’re interested in enrolling in my class or speaking with me about working as your doula, please contact me today. I’m always happy to help make birthing dreams come true.

8 Questions to Ask a Potential Doula

Chelsea Gonzales

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Interviewing potential doulas for an upcoming birth can be an overwhelming experience. There are likely dozens of candidates to choose from in your area, and narrowing them down until you find the perfect fit for your family can be quite challenging.

Many women head into doula interviews with no idea what to say or ask. After all, a good number of the mamas out there have never hired a doula before, and even those who have may have only done so once or twice.

Because I understand that starting your search for the perfect doula can be intimidating, I have created a list of questions to ask potential doulas. By asking these questions, you can get a feel for how each person works and whether or not they will be a good addition to your birth team.

#1: Why did you choose to become a doula?

This is perhaps, the most important question on this list. A good doula is passionate about what she does. She feels strongly about the power of birth and makes it her goal to empower each and every woman she works with. A flimsy answer to this question will tell you that your candidate is feeling uninspired or burned out.

#2: What kind of experience and training do you have?

While experience and training certainly aren’t everything, they also aren’t nothing. A doula who has received high-quality training—or a birth worker with tons of experience—is likely going to be better at what she does than a person with no training or experience on their hands.

That said, new doulas must gain experience somehow. Therefore, if you find an inexperienced individual you like, consider giving her the job but also hiring an experienced doula to work by her side.

#3: Do you have references?

Remember that a doula may see herself as one thing while others view her as another. Additionally, it is always a possibility that an individual may choose to lie outright. For this reason, it is always a good idea to gather references and check in with them before making any final decisions.

#4: How will you help me manage pain?

This question will help you get a feel for your doula candidate’s style. What kinds of pain management techniques does she tend to employ? Does she bring tools to help keep her clients comfortable? Is she an expert in any one birthing method? Knowing these things will help you decide if the potential doula is right for you.

#5: What else will you be doing during my labor? Will you be available for help during my pregnancy as well?

Knowing exactly what you’re getting when you hire a person is always important. This of course applies to doulas just as much as it would anyone else. Find out what your candidate does during typical pregnancy and birth. Does she provide resources and support during pregnancy? Is she willing to cook or fetch food when you’re hungry and in labor? Does she help clean up your home after a home birth?

The answers to these questions could be a game changer.

#6: Will you involve my loved ones in the birthing process?

Partners will want to feel involved in the birthing process. Likewise, any sisters, friends, or other family members you invite into the birthing room will also want to have a role. Unfortunately, it is far too easy for a doula to take over and make others feel left out. Knowing in advance how your doula plans to include your loved ones could help in the decision-making process.

#7: What if you are unavailable when I call?

It is crucial that you know when your doula is on call, whether she will be out of town or unavailable at any time during your pregnancy, and what happens if she can’t help when you go into labor. Additionally, you may want to find out how many clients your candidate takes on at a time, as too many clients per month could increase the chances of conflicting births.

If your doula has a backup doula for emergency situations, ask if you will be allowed to meet that doula before the birth.

#8: Where will you attend births?

Some doulas only attend hospital births, while others are strictly home birth doulas. Still others will attend both home and hospital births, but prefer not to work at certain institutions. Knowing these things is important because a doula who is not willing to attend a birth at your preferred birthing location is obviously not ideal for you.

By asking these eight questions and adding to the list as you see fit, you should be able to find your perfect doula in no time at all.

5 Reasons to Hire a Birth Photographer

Chelsea Gonzales

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Every new mama wants to have a wonderful birth experience. For this reason, many modern women put a lot of work into preparing for what they picture to be an ideal birth: They type up birth plans, carefully select a primary caregiver, and even hire doulas.

That said, photography is one aspect of birth preparation overlooked by many women. This is unfortunate because the birth of a new baby is such a special time, and certainly deserves to be captured in photographs.

Still, an enormous number of mothers neglect to hire a professional photographer to be present during labor and delivery. For some women this is because they simply don’t think of taking pictures, and for others it’s because they believe the photographer will make them feel uncomfortable or because they plan to have their partner take some pictures. Either way, these women are missing out on something incredibly special.

Here are my the top five reasons I believe all mothers should hire a birth photographer.

#1: Capture Memories

Many memorable things will likely happen during your labor and delivery. From peals of laughter and tears of pain during your labor to the first seconds after your child’s birth, there are bound to be magical things to look back on. However, thanks to hormones and just plain sleepiness, many of these happenings will be barely remembered or even forgotten when all is said and done.

Therefore, it is important to have a photographer standing by to capture those memories on film—and/or in digital form—and ensure they will not be lost to time.

#2: See a Different Point of View

Nobody can be everywhere. This means that everyone will have a slightly different way of remembering your child’s birth. By having a professional photograph the event, you will have the rare opportunity to see this amazing experience from a variety of viewpoints, giving you a peek at what was going on in the minds of your birth team and loved ones as you brought your precious little one into the world.

#3: Free Up the Family

Many women skip the photographer because they believe they can simply hand a camera to a nearby family member and ask them to snap some photos. However, this really isn’t fair to the family member in question, who would likely prefer watching the event happen rather than worry about fumbling with a camera. Additionally, a bystander is likely to become wrapped up in the events of the day and forget to photograph altogether, leaving you with an empty photo album after baby comes home. 

#4: Sit Back and Relax

Laboring women have enough on their minds without adding any worries about who is taking pictures and what they are taking pictures of. Because a professional birth photographer is so skilled at what they do, you can relax knowing they have it all taken care of. This frees up your mind to focus on what you should be thinking about: giving birth.

#5: Enjoy Amazing Quality

Let’s face it, the quality offered by a smartphone camera pales in comparison to the quality a professional camera will give you. Additionally, a professionally shot photo is almost always superior to a picture that was framed and shot by an amateur. By hiring a professional photographer, you can count on well-framed, well-shot photos that were made using the best equipment. This results in high-quality images that you will treasure for years to come.

Considering these five benefits of hiring a photographer to be at your birth, I’d say it’s pretty clear that a birth photographer is an excellent addition to any birth team. Along with your primary care provider, your doula, and your closest family and friends, your photographer can help ensure you have a wonderful birth experience you will remember forever.

What to Pack for Your Hospital Birth

Chelsea Gonzales

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If you are nearing the end of your pregnancy and are planning a hospital birth, it is time to begin packing your birth bag. After all, you never know when labor may ensue, and it is always comforting to know you’re prepared.

That said, many new mamas are at a loss when it comes to putting together a hospital bag. Deciding what to pack and what to leave home can be a stressful task that many women prefer to avoid entirely.

If you are currently going through the process of deciding what to put in your bag, you may find the list below helpful. It includes the most commonly used items in hospital delivery rooms across the country.

During Labor

Photo ID, Insurance Information and Hospital Forms — These items are all highly important, but also pretty obvious things to bring along. Still, in the stress of the moment you could easily forget to grab them, so putting them in or near your bag is probably a good idea.

Birth Plan — Building a customized birth plan takes a lot of effort. Therefore, it would be a shame to show up to your birth without it. Make multiple copies of your plan and keep them in your hospital bag to share with everyone.

Camera — While you may not feel very photogenic during labor, you will want some pictures to look back on. Be sure to pack a camera to capture those precious moments.

Comfortable Clothes — Both you and your partner will want to be comfortable while spending such a long time in the hospital. Be sure to pack plenty of comfortable clothes for the two of you to wear during labor and after baby is born. A loose gown is best for labor, and shorts or sweats with a comfy shirt work well for after the delivery.

Slippers or Flip-Flops — Nobody wants to walk around barefoot in a hospital. Still, putting on sneakers or boots every time you get up is a pain and not exactly comfortable. Flip-flops or slippers can help solve this problem.

Socks — Some people prefer to skip the shoes altogether and wear comfortable socks instead. Pack a few pairs in case you discover this is your preference.

Hair Tie or Clip — There is nothing more distracting or annoying than hair in your face. A hair tie or hair clip can help tame unruly hair and keep it out of your eyes while you focus on bringing baby into the world.

Glasses and Contacts — Whether you typically wear glasses or contacts, you will want to pack both options if they are available to you. Many women find that glasses are more comfortable to wear during labor. Still, others report that glasses tend to fog up and choose to wear contacts instead.

Snacks — Snacks are not always readily available in a hospital environment. Therefore, it is good to have some healthy options on hand. These are good for your partner to munch on during your labor, and for those delivering in hospitals that allow it, they can also be good for you to keep your blood sugar well-balanced. Snacks are also helpful after delivery, especially if you deliver in the middle of the night when the hospital kitchen is closed.

Lip Balm — Dry lips are very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, they are a common occurrence during labor. Some quality lip balm can help fix this problem.

Music — Many women find a “labor playlist” is the perfect way to help themselves relax. Put together a list on your phone and bring a speaker to play your tunes while you labor.

Essential Oils — Good smells are also a great way to find a happy place and relax. Essential oils can provide those smells, and some even have naturally relaxing effects. Just be sure the oils you choose are safe to use around baby.

Massage Oil or Lotion — Another great way to get those relaxing smells into the air is to use a scented massage oil or lotion. Use these to rub down sore spots for an extra nice effect.

Heating Pad or Rice Sock — Heat can help relax tense muscles and relieve sore spots. A heating pad or rice sock can provide just the right amount of heat to help you find relief.

After the Birth

Baby Book — Writing down stories of those first few days of baby's life in the moment is a wonderful way to ensure they are recorded accurately. Additionally, having the baby book nearby to get handprints and footprints to keep when the hospital staff is getting a footprint of their own is very helpful.

Supportive Nursing Bra or Cami — Depending on how long you are in the hospital, there is a chance your milk could come in while there. Having some support can help make you more comfortable during this process. Additionally, a nursing bra will make feeding your little one much easier in those first few days.

Nipple Cream — While you and your little one are still getting the hang of nursing, you might find that your nipples become very sore and cracked. Nipple cream can work wonders for new mamas during this time.

Breast Pads — If your milk does come in during your hospital stay, you are definitely going to want to have some breast pads on hand to catch any leaks.

Pads — While all hospitals provide sanitary pads, there is a chance you will find them uncomfortable. Therefore, if you are picky about your sanitary products or if you prefer cloth pads, be sure to pack some of your own.

Extra Underwear — After hospital births, disposable mesh underwear are usually given to new mothers. Many women love these; however, not everyone does. Pack some extra underwear just in case you don’t care for them.

Toiletries — The first shower after delivery is heavenly. Make it amazing by bringing your own toiletries.

Phone and Charger — After your baby arrives, you are going to want to spread the news. Be sure to bring your cellphone and a charger so you can do this as soon as possible.

“Coming Home” Outfit — The day baby comes home is a special one. Be sure to bring a special outfit for the occasion. Make sure to bring a couple of sizes in case baby is bigger or smaller than anticipated!

Car Seat — Without a properly fitting and properly installed car seat, you will not be allowed to take your little one home. Therefore, you will want to check “purchasing a seat” off your to-do list before labor begins.

Take this list and add or remove items to make it your own. I hope it helps you prepare for the arrival of your little guy or girl!

The differences between a Birth Doula and a Midwife Assistant

Megan Jennings

Every expectant mother must assemble a birth team. Building a strong birth team with professionals who respect your birthing wishes is a very important part of ensuring you have a satisfactory birth experience. Unfortunately, many mamas-to-be don’t fully understand the role of each member on a birth team, and this makes choosing the right team members difficult, to say the least. 

One of the biggest sources of confusion is the difference between a doula and a midwife’s assistant. Lacking the definition of each can lead to a confusing situation for new mothers as they try to navigate the world of care providers and birth plans. 

In this article we are going to explore the role of each respective care provider in order to give you a strong foundation of knowledge when choosing your team. 

Doula

In short, a doula attends a birth in order to support the laboring mama. She is excellent at anticipating the personal needs of a birthing woman, and does her best to tend to those needs. This might involve making sure the new mother is eating or drinking throughout labor, or offering her support in whatever position makes her comfortable. It could also entail using oils or massages in order to help her client relax. 

While a doula will have a large amount of knowledge about the female anatomy and the birthing process, she will never administer medical care of any kind. Instead, she remains by the laboring mother’s side as much as possible and makes her as content as possible. 

Another part of a doula’s job includes helping the new mother and father to advocate for themselves throughout the labor and delivery of their child. This is especially important if the labor is to take place in a hospital setting or if complications should arise. 

Most doulas are on call 24/7, and will arrive to offer labor support as soon as a woman feels she needs it. A doula generally brings a collection of supplies with her, which may include a birth ball, a rebozo (a scarf used for a variety of purposes during labor), essential oils, massage oil, and a variety of other tools for keeping mama comfortable and happy. 

Midwife’s Assistant

On the other hand, a midwife’s assistant attends a birth in order to help the midwife do her job. While she may offer the new mother some support and words of encouragement, this is not her number one priority. Instead, she is present to help the midwife with anything and everything she might need an extra set of hands for. 

Unlike a doula, a midwife’s assistant does administer some basic medical care. Therefore, she must have a very good understanding of the female anatomy and the labor and delivery process. 

A midwife’s assistant might perform such tasks as watching the mother’s vital signs and monitoring fetal heart tones. She is also given the tasks of assisting with any medical management (if needed), assisting with charting, providing immediate postpartum care to mom and baby, and performing a variety of other jobs that arise throughout the labor and delivery process. 

Because her job is so varied, a midwife’s assistant must be very in-tune with her surroundings and anticipate the midwife’s needs as often as possible. This will help the midwife stay on task throughout the delivery, as everything she needs will be prepared for her. 

The majority of midwife’s assistants are on call 24/7, but many will not arrive until later in the laboring process. The supplies found in a midwife’s assistant’s bag might include a fetal Doppler, a stethoscope, an infant scale, and record-taking supplies. 

Overlap

While doulas and midwife’s assistants do offer two different kinds of services, there is occasionally some overlap in their job descriptions. For instance, many doulas offer breastfeeding support after baby is born. Likewise, many midwife’s assistants offer support in this area as well.

Other areas of overlap could include:

Offering the laboring mother support.

Helping with post-birth cleanup.

Assisting with skin-to-skin.

Conclusion

Although there is a bit of overlap between the roles of these two types of caregivers, they do both offer their own unique services.

Therefore, if your birth will be attended by a midwife, it is generally a good idea to consider having both a doula and a midwife’s assistant attend your birth as well. However, if you are planning a hospital birth with an OB, a midwife’s assistant is not necessary, but a doula is a definite must.

10 questions you should ask when writing your birth plan.

Megan Jennings

 

Your birth plan is a great way to communicate your wishes to your birth team, but it can be hard to decide what your wishes are. Here’s a check list of a few questions you need to ask yourself while making your birth plan and a few sources for finding answers

___ Will you have a labor coach? Will your main support be your husband? Will you have a doula?

___ Who do you want or don't you want in the delivery room? 

___ Will you have a birth photographer? Does the hospital allow you to take photos?

___ Do you want anything special in the room, like a labor playlist on your iPod, oil diffuser, led candles, your own pillow and blanket?

___ Would you like to get out of bed during labor?

___ Do you want a drug-free birth? Why? Make sure you and your care provider are on the same page.

___ At what point or under what circumstances would your Doctor perform a C-section? Are you at a higher risk of needing a C-section, and is there anything you can do to avoid having one?

___ How often and in what situations does your Doctor do episiotomies? If you feel strongly about avoiding one, ask how you can prevent tearing when pushing.

___ Do you want Dad to cut the umbilical cord? Will you bank the cord blood or allow the cord to finish pulsing before cutting it? Would you prefer a cord burning ceremony if you’re birthing at home?

___ If it's a boy, will you have him circumcised? Why?

Here is a couple of great sources to help you find answers to these questions and more: 

Evidence Based Birth, their mission is in their name. They want you to have research you can rely on to make important decisions regarding your birth and child.

American Pregnancy Association has a great article on epidurals and the pros and cons of getting one, along with a plethora of other topics.

Sometimes this process can be a bit overwhelming and you may feel like you need a bit of guidance. This is why I offer prenatal birth plan consulting. For more information click here

5 Reasons why you need to write a birth plan!

Megan Jennings

A birth plan is a good way to find out what your wishes are for your birth. The most important thing about making a list of your preferences is it forces you to do some research about what you might want and possible outcomes based on those choices. When you base your preferences on solid evidence, your preferences will be more likely to be respected by your care provider. Here’s 5 reasons why a birth plan is a good idea.

1. It is a clear and concise way to communicate your wishes to your birth staff. Your nurse will appreciate a easy to read one page document listing out what you expect.

2. Making a birth plan requires self education and research. Knowledge is power. You have a lot of decisions to make as a parent starting as soon as you find out you're pregnant, it’s important to make those decisions based on evidence based information, when its available.

3. While researching for your birth plan, you can get a good idea of what to expect in labor.

4. Your birthing staff will know what you want in the event that things don’t go according to plan. If you end up with an unplanned c-section, what does that look like for you? Would you like skin to skin in the OR? If you are under general anesthesia who do you want to care for your baby until you wake up? 

5. Writing your birth plan is a good way to get your partner involved and open communication between you to make joint decisions about your birth. This is your parters birth too and he needs to feel safe and heard and a lot of times dads don't know what to expect or how many decisions need to be made. It’s also important for you to show him why something may be so important to you so he can fully support you when the time comes. Writing your birth plan together is a great way to get the conversation started.

 

Having a birth plan doesn't guarantee that you will have “the perfect birth”, but having a birth plan can help you when you need to make important decisions. You have already done some self education about possible outcomes, opened communication between you and your partner and your care providers.