5 Ways to Help Baby Sleep

5 Ways to Recreate the Womb

The newborn phase, or also called the fourth trimester, can be a huge adjustment period for parents. Besides the new role of 24/7 caregiver of another human, babies often like to sleep on different schedules, eat often, and be held CONSTANTLY. This is because they were held snugly inside of mom, until now. Now, all of a sudden, they are in a strange, cold environment, where they need your constant reassurance that they are going to be okay. The good news is there are things you can do to help recreate the womb, and help your little babe transition to this big new world, and maybe even help you get more SLEEP!

DARKNESS

It’s pretty dark inside your uterus. Yes, he/she can see the light that shines through, but there is fat and other tissues dimming that light. Keep the room as dark as you can. If you need some light, use a nightlight or have a lamp by the bed that you can use as needed.

WHITE NOISE

Ever notice that your baby sleeps soundly all day with the television blaring, people talking, dogs barking, and then the moment you put them down in a nice dark, quiet room they are wide awake? While your baby was baking, it was never quiet. He/she could hear your heart, bowel sounds, the outside world, and so much more. Static, rain, vacuum cleaner, washing machine – these are all noises your baby may like. You can download a free app on your phone (just be aware that every time someone calls you, the noise may stop) or buy an inexpensive noise machine. It may take some experimenting to find the magic sound for your baby. For our son, it was rain.

BABYWEAR

There are many benefits to babywearing. One benefit is that your baby is held snugly against your body where he or she wants to be. Inside your womb, there was not much space for your baby to go, and this tightness provided warmth, comfort, and security. By babywearing, you can mimic this for your baby. So check out your options online, or better yet, at your local mother-baby store (where they can teach you how to use them). There are many options to choose from, such as wraps, ring slings, and soft structured carriers.

SWADDLE

Like babywearing, swaddling also provides warmth and security by tightly wrapping your baby like a burrito. However, instead of holding baby, parents often place baby in his/her sleeping space. Swaddling is not recommended if you bedshare with your baby, because it is easier for them to overheat. Also, it is important to give your baby many opportunities in the day to move their arms and legs. For more discussion on the risks and benefits of swaddling click here.

CO-SLEEP

Your newborn was inside of you for 9 months (give or take). He/she wants to be next to you, this includes at night as well. Studies also show that co-sleeping helps regulate baby’s heart rate, breathing, sleep cycle, and blood sugar. Co-sleeping will look different for every family. It can also help mom get more sleep, just make sure you are doing it safely.

What worked for your newborn? Have another tip? Please share below in the comments!

I am a certified childbirth and parenting educator, as well as a doula in the Lafayette, LA area. For more information about me and my services, visit my website at M.Y Birth & Baby.

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7 Ways to Help Mom with Baby

7 Ways to Help Mom Get Extra Rest

The first 6 weeks of a newborn’s life can be intense for many reasons. Everyone is excited and marveling in baby’s perfection. Mom is recovering from either her vaginal or cesarean birth. Parents are shocked at how time consuming it is to care for this tiny human. Baby prefers to sleep during the day and play and power-nurse at night. Needless to say, this time can be exhausting. Here are some ways to help mom get a little more SLEEP:

LIGHT CLEANING

Some women cannot rest if their house is a mess. Do some laundry (folding included); load the dishwasher; put away dishes; sweep; help older kids clean up their mess. These are all things that do not take a long time, but can really help mom’s peace of mind. She may be more likely to sleep, when baby sleeps, if she feels like her house is not falling apart.

COOK

Cooking is time consuming. Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That! (Especially new parents!) Plus, if mom is breastfeeding, she is most likely RAVENOUS all the time! Cook or bring foods that are nutritious, but that she can also eat one-handed.

TAKE BABY OUTSIDE

Babies and children LOVE being outside. Baby’s fussy? Bring him/her outside. The warm sun, being in nature, new sights, fresh air, the peacefulness – there’s something about being outdoors that will calm the fussiest baby. My husband did this for me often when he would get home from work. This was often the only way I could get in some extra catnaps.

BABYWEAR

Babywearing is not just for mom. While baby often prefers mom and dad, anyone can wear a baby. This is a great way to recreate the womb. He/she was bounced, held tight, and kept warm while in mom’s belly; babywearing recreates that. Babywearing is also great for bonding, while allowing adults to multi-task. So, strap in baby and go for a walk!

SKIN-TO-SKIN

Skin-to-skin does not need to always be with mom. Sometimes mom needs a break. Skin-to-skin with dad is also great. My husband did this often with our little one, especially at night. My son got the warmth and snuggling; my husband got the bonding time; and I got to sleep.

CHANGE DIAPERS

If baby wakes up, change his/her diaper first, then give him/her to mom. Newborns poop a lot! Meaning, they need to be changed a lot! Take over diaper changes when home, so that mom gets a break and maybe even a few more moments to herself. Plus, baby gets familiar with someone else that can meet his/her non-nutritional needs.

ENCOURAGE CO-SLEEPING

Co-sleeping will look differently for each family. It is advised for baby to at least be in the same room as mom. The closer baby is to mom, the more mom stabilizes baby’s breathing, encourages nursing, reduces the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), AND gets more sleep. Make sure you are practicing co-sleeping safely.

What are some other ways to help mom get more sleep during the newborn phase? Comment below!

I am a certified doula, childbirth and parenting educator. I am also a registered nurse and a breastfeeding mom. For more information about me and my services, visit MY Birth & Baby.

7 Best Foods to Give a Breastfeeding Mom

Best Foods to Bring a Breastfeeding Mom

Let’s face it. Hungry does not describe the intense hunger of a breastfeeding mother, especially in the first few weeks! She just ran the marathon of her life – birth, and now she is feeding this little being CONSTANTLY (or so it seems)! Plus, all of her stored nutrients went to her baby while pregnant and will continue to while breastfeeding. This mama needs to EAT!

Wondering how you can help a mother? Bring her food! My church brought food the first week after my son was born; it was the best gift ever! Here are some foods that are easy to eat, but also can be nutritious, for a breastfeeding mom (really, any mom that just gave birth!):

FRUITS/VEGGIES

Whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, have great nutrients, fiber, and are easy to eat. Fiber will hopefully minimize constipation. This is especially important if mom is on any pain medication while she is recovering.

MEAT

Meat has high amounts of protein that will help stabilize mom’s blood sugar. Meats high in iron, like beef, are especially good the first few days after birth, especially if extra bleeding occurred. Pick meats that are easy to eat one handed. For instance, I love chicken wings, but way too messy for me while I was nursing so frequently. Burgers and steaks were much easier.

CHEESE

Cheese is a source of dairy that is high in calcium and protein. Bring cheese that is already sliced or in stick form, so that she can simply grab and eat.

CASSEROLES

Add the first 3 foods together and you have a casserole! You can hide tons of nutritious foods in a casserole. Plus, they are solid enough for mom to stab with a fork and eat one handed!

NUTS

Nuts come in convenient bags or cans and are packed with protein. Ideally, find nuts that don’t have a lot of additives or sodium, and have had minimal processing. Stash them around her house, or better yet, put them in her breastfeeding baskets. (If she does not already have a breastfeeding basket, this would be a great gift!)

GRANOLA/PROTEIN BARS

Granola bars are convenient and quick. I had a variety of granola bars sitting on my bedside table at night (remember breastfeeding a newborn is a 24/7 job!), so that I didn’t have to get up and rummage through the fridge in the middle of the night. These are also great for a breastfeeding basket, purse, or diaper bag. Again, find protein bars with minimal processing and refined sugar.

WATER

Last, but certainly not least, is water. Mom needs to drink a lot of water! Her baby will literally drink the fluid right out of her. As my son would nurse, I would get more and more thirsty! I enjoyed infusing my water with fruit because there is only so much water I can drink before I need to drink something with some flavor. We had a water pitcher that was specifically made for infusing, but really, just throwing fruit in a pitcher will have the same effect. Fruits that I enjoyed were lemons, strawberries, and pineapples.

There you have it, 7 ways to help mom while also nourishing her. What would you add to this list?

I am a Breastfeeding Mom that works as a Doula, Childbirth and Parenting Educator in the Lafayette, LA area. For more information about me and my services, visit MY Birth & Baby website.

4 Tips on Being an Active Participant in Childbirth

4 Tips on Navigating Healthcare While Pregnant

My grandmother recently had a stroke. It was relatively mild, and she is now at a temporary rehab facility. Overall, she was treated respectfully, but most of the time she did not understand what was going on. She did not understand the medications that were given to her, the procedures done to her, the reason for the G-tube (a tube surgically placed into the stomach to feed her, since she was unable to swallow) that was placed, or why they were not giving her any food (My grandmother LOVES food; she can out eat anyone! So no food is a big deal!).

At one point, my grandmother said, “I’m lucky I have you and your mother because this is all so confusing!” She’s right, the medical world can be very confusing. My mother and I are nurses, and were there to speak to the doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, and anyone else that was involved with her care. We were able to ask what “pill” they were giving her, or which lab the “little bit of blood” was for, or the risks and benefits of the feeding tube. Then explain this to her. But really, she was not an active participant in this process.

I felt so guilty, knowing that she did not fully understand what was being done to her, and why. It reminded me of how women often say they feel during labor and childbirth. How scary and confusing that must be for them. Medical professionals go to school for many years to have the training, experience, and knowledge that they have to practice medicine. However, you do not need a degree to be an active participant in your healthcare. Here are some tips:

WRITE THINGS DOWN

Pen and paper can be great tools for keeping track of appointments, questions, or your to-do-list. There are many things to consider when planning for your birth; write them down. Write down questions for your OB/Midwife appointments, important advice, words that you don’t understand or topics you need to research. When I was pregnant, I used a binder to keep it all organized.

ASK QUESTIONS

Ask your doctor/midwife questions. If your care provider never has time to answer your questions, this may be a “red flag”. Part of their job is to answer your questions. However, sometimes they are simply overbooked, so tell the clerk you need extra time when scheduling your next appointment; and they will give you a longer block of time.  If you don’t like your care provider’s answer, you can always get a second opinion.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

Hopefully, before you are in labor, you asked a lot of questions and found the birth place and care provider that is right for you. Ideally, you and your care provider will have a mutually respectful relationship. Regardless of your relationship though, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of any procedure that they suggest during your pregnancy and labor. It is equally important to know that you have the right to DECLINE, as well as CONSENT, to procedures.  It is YOUR body and they need YOUR permission!

BRING SUPPORT

Bring support! Many athletes have support personnel to assist them on game day, you should too! In addition to their partner, women often invite close friends, family, or doulas to their birth. Ideally, it should be with someone you are comfortable with (after all, there is a good chance you will be naked and poop in front of them), who is supportive of your birth plan, and who can help facilitate communication (not speak for you) between you and medical staff. It is also helpful if this person is knowledgeable about birth (either from personal experiences, training, or education).

Navigating the medical world can be confusing, but it is possible! You’ve got this!

Have any other suggestions? I would love to read them! Please comment below.

I am a childbirth and parenting educator, as well as a doula. I am also a registered nurse, breastfeeding mom, and active in my local birth community. For more information on me, my comprehensive childbirth classes, and services please visit MY – Birth & Baby.

What a Childbirth Class can Do for YOU

5 Ways to Prepare for Birth

I recently met a sweet pregnant woman that was glowing with excitement about her unborn baby. Throughout her pregnancy she has been gathering items to comfort and care for her baby once he/she arrives. During our conversation, she revealed that she did not have any plans regarding her birth besides showing up at the hospital in labor. Internally I cringed. I REALLY hope she has a good birth experience! The thing is, there is more to preparing for the baby than decorating the nursery. Between 25-34% women report birth trauma (that is 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 women!)! Birth trauma can affect bonding, breastfeeding, mood, coping with future pregnancies, and so much more. Babies actually do not need many things, but they do need a healthy mama. Here are some additional ways to prepare for baby:

EDUCATION

Education is SO IMPORTANT! I realize that I am a childbirth educator, and this advice probably seems biased. BUT, how will you know what you want if you don’t know YOUR options? I know of some women that had multiple births before they discovered that they had options. It doesn’t have to be that way. Understanding what is going on can decrease a lot of fear, and hopefully trauma as well.

SUPPORTIVE CARE PROVIDER

Find a supportive care provider that has similar birth philosophies as yourself. How do you know if your care provider is supportive? Ask around. Ask friends. Ask local birth workers or advocacy agencies. Ask your care provider questions! In my Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes we discuss possible “red flags” and the questions to ask your care provider.

SUPPORTIVE BIRTH PLACE

You can choose where to give birth! Common birth places are hospitals, birth centers, and home. Tour your birth place. Ask questions. Find out policies/rules. Doctors and hospitals may have different policies. You need to ask for the rules of BOTH! Which location do you feel the safest? The safer you feel in your birthing environment, ideally the easier you will progress through labor.

SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS

Find people that will support you, not try to scare you. People LOVE to share war stories. Pregnancy might not be the best time for that. When I was pregnant, I found my support through my childbirth classes and the local birth community. Many communities have free or inexpensive groups that you can join. If you are in the Lafayette, LA area, check out Louisiana Constituents for Safe Childbirth (LCSC), Louisiana Natural Birth, La Leche League, and Postpartum groups. These groups have online and person-to-person support. They also often have birth workers that can provide resources, as well as other mothers that can love and support you!

HIRE A DOULA

A doula can also help you prepare for your birth. Doulas provide informational, emotional, and physical support for you and your partner. A doula does not replace a childbirth class, but can help remind you of what you learned. She can also help you navigate through the birth world and recommend other local professionals as needed.

There you have it – 5 ways to prepare for an AMAZING birth! 

I am a childbirth and parenting educator, as well as a doula. I am also a registered nurse, breastfeeding mother, and active in my birth community. For more information on me or my classes please visit MY – Birth & Baby.

3 Things all Newborns Need

3 Must-Haves for Your Newborn

Around the end of pregnancy, families, especially mothers, start panicking about all the things they still need to buy in preparation for baby. Some of this is normal nesting. The good news is that newborns really do not need that much STUFF. Here are 3 basic items your little one will need:

BREASTS/FORMULA

Like all of us, your baby will need something to eat. You will have 2 choices: Breastfeeding and Formula-feeding. Breastfeeding is an inexpensive, Meal Ready-to-Eat, and you don’t need any extra supplies. Your breasts start producing colostrum around 16-22 weeks of pregnancy and will be available for your little one immediately after birth. For more information, Kellymom.com has great information about when your milk will come in. If you plan to formula-feed, contact your pediatrician for his/her recommendations. You will also need bottles, and possibly other feeding supplies as well.

CAR SEAT

If you plan on ever leaving your house, or better yet the hospital. You need a car seat. There are MANY to choose from. I drove myself a little crazy researching; but there are many safe options at different price points.

DIAPERS

Life could get a little messy without diapers. You can drive yourself a little crazy researching diapers as well. Basically, though, you have 2 options: disposable or cloth. Disposable diapers are often cheaper initially, but overall you will probably spend more, especially if you have multiple children. Cloth is often more expensive initially, but cheaper overall (depending on the type of diapers you choose and your cloth addiction level), because you wash and reuse cloth. If you are in the Lafayette, LA area check out Lafayette Moms and Babies cloth diaper selection.

Either way, stick to the diapers and skip the cute clothes. Skin-to-skin is so important after birth, it promotes bonding, encourages breastfeeding, and so much more!

Anything else you would add to this list? Comment below!

I teach childbirth and parenting classes in Lafayette, LA. I am also a Doula, Registered Nurse, Breastfeeding and Cloth Diapering Mom. For more information about me and my services, visit MY Birth & Baby.

Supporting Mom While Breastfeeding

Ways to Support a First-Time Breastfeeding Mom

Mothers, in general, are biologically made to breastfeed. Breastfeeding has many health and emotional benefits for mom and baby. It can also be challenging. Mom just birthed a baby, is recovering, and is now providing 24/7 care and nutrition for this totally dependent little human. Encouragement and support from her partner, family, and friends can go a long way as she navigates this new experience. Here are some ways that you can support mom:

DO SOME READING

Read/watch breastfeeding information with mom before the baby arrives. It’s hard to help her when you don’t have the same info. You may have a better memory, you know, pregnancy-brain turned mommy/sleep-deprived-brain and all. There are many great books about breastfeeding. I loved the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. If you take a Birth Boot Camp Childbirth class, there is also a great 3.5 hour Breastfeeding DVD featuring an IBCLC.

FEED HER!

Whenever the baby eats, make sure mom also has food and a drink. I was ravenous while breastfeeding for the first few months! And so thirsty! As the baby drank, my mouth would get drier, and drier. Some mothers have breastfeeding baskets at their favorite breastfeeding locations; stock them with snacks!

CHANGE DIAPERS

Change the baby’s diaper before/during/after nursing; whatever the baby needs. Any extra second of sleep is a win for a mother with a newborn!

ENCOURAGE ONLY MOM TO FEED BABY

Don’t offer to FEED the baby. Mom is biologically made to nurse her baby, not family and friends. Though it may be exhausting the first 4-6 weeks, the frequent feeding is SO IMPORTANT in establishing a good milk supply for the rest of the breastfeeding relationship. Whenever someone else feeds baby, mom needs to pump for that feeding. Otherwise, mom’s body will not know that the baby ate, and she will eventually produce less milk. Most breastfeeding mothers would prefer to nurse than pump. Pumping requires a lot more work – Ain’t nobody got time for that 😉 For more information on what to expect in the early weeks click here.

LIMIT VISITORS

Keep nay-sayers away from mom. In fact, limit visitors. Having a fresh baby is such an exciting time! Nothing draws a crowd faster than a cute baby! However, it’s often awkward trying to learn how to breastfeed with people around all the time, especially if there are issues at first. If visitors must come, encourage brief visits and give them a task! When I had my son, church members brought food and my mom and sister helped with cleaning. This was a huge help, and allowed me to relax more!

SEARCH FOR EVIDENCE-BASED INFO

If you need to look up a question online, please search on reputable sites. Kellymom articles are by an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and evidence-based. La Leche League International (LLLI) also has great information. First-time mothers and first-time breastfeeding mothers often have many questions. Just make sure answers are correct!

HELP HER FIND A SUPPORT GROUP

La Leche League (LLL) is an international breastfeeding support group. They offer online support as well as local meetings. To find the meeting nearest you click here. The LLL Leaders are, also, often available for phone-phone support for issues. If you are in the Lafayette area, you can also join the La Leche League of Lafayette Facebook group. There is also a newly formed Community Breastfeeding Club in the Opelousas, LA area. Encourage mom to attend with, or without, breastfeeding issues. There is no replacement for woman-to-woman support!

FIND AN IBCLC

The early days after birth may be intense with the frequency of nursing, while mom is also trying to recover. So, if she is having issues with breastfeeding (latch, pain, baby losing weight . . .),help her out! An IBCLC specializes in breastfeeding, is up-to-date on evidence-based research, and went through many hours of supporting breastfeeding women to become certified.  Don’t wait! The sooner mom can get help the better!

COMPLIMENT HER!

Last, but not least, tell her how awesome she is doing! She just grew a baby, birthed a baby, and is now nurturing/nourishing him/her – this is not for the weak at heart! This is very important and exhausting work! Let her know you appreciate it and that she is AMAZING!

What was the most helpful thing you did for a breastfeeding mother? Or if you are a breastfeeding mother, what was the most helpful thing someone did for you and your breastfeeding relationship?

I am a breastfeeding, cloth diapering mother of a very active son. I teach childbirth and parenting classes in Lafayette, LA. I am also a doula and a registered nurse. To learn more information about me and my services please visit http://www.MYBirthAndBaby.com.

Postpartum Date Night Ideas

5 Postpartum Date Night Ideas: Without ever leaving your house!

Making connections with your significant other often is difficult while both try to adapt to life with a little one. The postpartum period is a wonderful time to bond with your bundle of joy. However, it can also be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Sometimes the last thing couples want to do is – well, do ANYTHING ELSE! However, just as the baby is a priority, so should your relationship.

Men and women both need touch and connection. Women often feel “touched-out” from all the nurturing, breastfeeding, and bonding that goes on day and night with their newborn, especially during the many growth-spurts and developmental milestones that are happening ALL THE TIME. Women still need to feel desired, attractive, and cared for. Men often need to feel that they have not been replaced by the baby, and that they are still desired as well. The good news is that you can have this special time together without leaving your house or spending a lot money. You can even do these activities with your newborn, or arrange for someone to watch your baby close by.

  1. Play a Game – Play a board or card game. This activity does not need a lot of effort and may also give the two of you the opportunity to talk. Hey, you can even go wild and make a wager – See where the night takes you 😉 If your newborn is with you, take turns holding/baby-wearing baby.
  2. Have a Picnic – Spread out a blanket and have your favorite meal. Talk, drink some sparkling wine, and even light some candles.
  3. Rent a Movie – Rent a movie from Netflix, Amazon, MGO – whatever your favorite go-to-movie app is these days. Nowadays, it’s as easy as clicking a button to rent a movie. Eat some food, snuggle, hold hands, and enjoy.
  4. Bubble bath – Now that the 2 of you have gotten all sweaty from playing that board game and eating, take a bubble bath together. Talk, close your eyes, take deep breaths, and sink into the bubbles. Baby wants to join you? No biggie, make it a family affair – Many babies also find baths relaxing.
  5. Massage – Take turns giving each other massages. Go all out – light some candles, play some relaxing instrumental music, and rub on some oil. (It’s not a real massage without massage oil!) A sleeping or breastfeeding baby may be necessary, but it can still be done!

As you have read, date nights can be simple and inexpensive. Just enjoy each others company, reconnect, establish touch, and remember to have fun!

What inexpensive postpartum date activities did you and your partner try?

Labor Support

Doula? Oh . . . Like a Midwife?

“Doula? Oh . . . like a midwife?” is probably the number one comment, along with a confused look, that I now get when I tell people my job. I totally get it; I too had no idea what a doula was until I watched The Business of Being Born. After the movie, I googled the term. I even thought, “Well I would have a midwife, so I would not need a Doula!” Boy, was I wrong. No, a doula is not a midwife, though they do often work together. So, what is a Doula then?
Another name for a doula is a labor support person. There is debate in our community of what we should be called because some find the term Doula demeaning, since it means to “serve”. I, however, think it is an instant conversation starter; sounds cool, and therefore like the name. Plus, we do serve; we serve our families.
A Doula supports the client and partner however they may need. This can be physically, emotionally, psychologically, informational, or even spiritually. Labor is a lot of work! It can be sweaty and exhausting physically and emotionally. A Doula can help a mother pace her efforts, facilitate position changes, provide comfort measures, maintain a calm and positive birth space, and even simply provide a reassuring presence.
Doulas are also often a great resource. They can provide you with information, as needed, before, during, and after the birth. As a Birth Boot Camp Doula, I was required to read many books as part of the certification process, and to remain certified I need to read and stay up-to-date on the latest research. Most Doulas also have a local resource list, and can make suggestions depending on your needs. Doulas also come from different backgrounds and experiences that add to their knowledge.
Between visits, a Doula further assists clients by answering questions via phone, email, or text. This labor support person is often on-call for a month around your estimated due date as well; ready for the big day!
A doula does not replace a partner. Instead, the doula supports the partner by encouraging closeness, assisting with comfort measures, providing suggestions, giving breaks, and answering questions.
So, back to the original question, doesn’t a midwife do all this? They may, but this is not their primary responsibility. A midwife is a medically trained professional, with the number one responsibility of the safety of both mom and baby. They are often busy with assessments, charting, vital signs, postpartum care, newborn assessments, and whatever else they may need to do.
The doula’s role, on the other hand, is not as the medically trained professional, regardless of previous experience. They will not perform any medical skills, but instead, will explain what is going on, hold your hand, and be there for you and your partner. The doula is there to focus on you and your overall birth experience. They can also assist you with breastfeeding, postpartum care; listen to your birth story, and check-in postpartum to see how you and your family are adjusting.
So, there you have it! No, a midwife and a doula are not the same thing, but they can both be a valuable part of your birth team. So, go find one that will “serve” you today!
I support families through pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. For more information on services and classes visit MY – Birth & Baby Website!
Counter-pressure

MY Biggest Birth Regret

Like for many couples, it gets expensive planning for a baby, especially a first. I knew I wanted a home birth. Unfortunately, in Louisiana, if you want a home birth, you are most likely going to pay out-of-pocket. There are necessities, such as birth supplies, midwife, childbirth education, and baby supplies that add up fast. So, when considering a Doula, I cringed when I thought about paying for something else out-of-pocket! We debated this option for many months. However, to reserve a bit of our money for life after the baby came, we decided not to have a Doula.
Well, one of the first things my husband said after my long 21 hour labor was, “We are not doing this again without a Doula!”  I couldn’t disagree! Not hiring a Doula is our number one regret. Here are some reasons why:
You don’t know what your labor will be like. Every pregnancy, labor, birth, and child is different. I took Birth Boot Camp childbirth education classes, and I do feel like I was well prepared, as much as I could be as or a first-time mom. The information I learned stayed with me, so much so that many times during labor, my childbirth educator’s voice was in my head. However, it can be overwhelming to remember everything you should be doing while in the labor zone. I just needed someone at the birth reminding me to do what I already knew.
I needed to move more. I wanted the romantic water birth that I had pictured in my head. Since, my contractions intensified quickly, I thought I was progressing faster than I was through labor. I got into the birth pool way too early, and really did not want to go anywhere else. I needed someone pushing me to move more. She may have said, “Hey, this position isn’t working for you, let’s change it up.”
My husband needed a break. I had intense back labor most of my labor, and my husband provided counter-pressure for almost 21 hours. That left him with little time for rest, food, or bathroom breaks. Our midwife and her assistant did offer to relieve him at times, but he was the only one that knew how to give the pressure that I needed, so I wouldn’t let him go far. Doulas have experience with how and when to offer comfort measures, and she might have been able to provide me comfort and my husband a break.
I needed a cheerleader. My husband was behind me most of my labor providing counter-pressure. My midwife and her assistant were assessing, taking vital signs, listening to heart tones, charting, and conserving their energy for the main event. I did not have someone just “holding space”, providing calm encouragement.
I had trouble breastfeeding. My nipples decided to flatten after birth, and I had no clue what a proper latch looked like, despite watching videos and reading books about breastfeeding. So, my midwife gave me a nipple shield, which helped with milk transfer, but not with pain and nipple damage. Around postpartum day 10, I finally saw a lactation consultant, and things immediately started turning around. By 2 months, my son completely weaned himself off the nipple shield. As a Birth Boot Camp DOULA, I now have extra training in breastfeeding. I am also active in La Leche League and have a resource list with lactation consultants. I wish I had a Doula that could have provided this support.
I didn’t have anyone to listen to my birth story. It took me almost 14 months to finally write my birth story. I thought about doing it many times before, but I still hadn’t processed it, so I continued to put it off. If I had a Doula, during my postpartum visit I would have been able to talk about my birth story from beginning to end. My husband, too! He carried around guilt for months thinking he was the cause of my tear. For his perspective, check out my husband’s birth story.
I feel like a hypocrite. I totally understand hesitating to hire a Doula; I’ve been there, done that. I did not hire a Doula for my birth. However, I wish I had. My wish for every woman and couple is to have an amazing birth, and I truly believe a Doula can help you prepare for one. Through my own studying to become a Doula and Childbirth Educator, I realized the importance of this extra support person. A doula does not have the emotional investment, like your partner, or the medical responsibility, like your care provider. They can truly be there to support you, without any other agenda or responsibility to distract them.
I did, finally, write my birth story, and I often wonder how different it might have been with a Doula. However, I am not one to dwell on the past. Lesson learned. Next time, we will have a Doula.
I support families through pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. To check out my classes and services visit MY – Birth & Baby Website!