Thursday, March 26, 2015

Looking for a doula? Here's what you need to know.

Welcome back to my World Doula Week series! Today is my last post in celebration of doulas and the world they do! Hopefully what I've shared with you so far has brought some awareness to these amazing birth workers!
Whether you're actively looking for a doula or are interested in using one in the future there are some things you should know first. I think the most important thing you should know is that you should hire a doula that suits you. The most important part of a good birthing team is having people around you who make you feel comfortable and safe. If you don't like your doula or you don't mesh well with her it will not make your experience enjoyable. Interview a range of different doulas, talk to them about your ideal birth, get to know them before you sign that contract! There are so many different types of women (and even men) that do doula work, you're bound to find someone who you get along with. Your doula will see you when you're most vulnerable, she will wipe away your blood, sweat, and tears, she will be there to comfort you and cheer you on. It's so important during your prenatal visits that you bond with your doula and that you like them. To find doulas in your area try searching DoulaMatch.Net!
I also think it's important to know that your doula is there to provide you with judgement free support. Doulas are there to support you in YOUR birthing choices. They believe you deserve the birth experience you want no matter if it's natural, in a hospital, at home, induced, cesarean, or vbac and can help you navigate your options no matter what kind of birth experience or outcome. Doulas are there to cheer you on, not to sway you or judge you. Having a doula at your birth means having someone there for you who is going to listen. Tell your doula your thoughts, fears, and wishes when it comes to your birth experience. Confide in your doula so she can better serve you!
Last but not least, know that doulas are worth it! The day you bring a child into the world is a day you will remember forever. We cannot take back our birthing experiences or re-do them. We remember them forever and tell our stories long after the day our children are born. A doula can help make your birth experience a joyful and memorable experience, she benefits your partner and the birthing team, and she helps remove stress from you. Doulas are there to help guide you and make birth as easy as possible, who wouldn't want that?
Know that when you hire a doula, you're hiring someone who cares. Doulas spend hours on end on their feet, away from their families. They miss holidays and birthday parties. They sleep in waiting rooms and on hospital couches. They stay on call for days on end and answer all of your questions and concerns. They get to know you and drop everything to be at your birth, no matter the time, no matter the day. Your doula cares about you and your birth.

"The most feminine of all women’s rights: to choose where and with whom to birth. If we lose that right, what right will we ever be able to protect?" 
-Carla Hartley

Still have a question about doulas? Leave them in the comments! For more information on my doula services or to get updates, positive birth affirmations, and more like my Facebook page!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why I became a doula.

Welcome back to my World Doula Week series! I'll be blogging all week about doulas in celebration of the work they do and to educate anyone who may still be asking themselves "What is a doula?"
Today's post is about me, how I fell in love with pregnancy and child birth, and how I ended up becoming a certified doula. 
My journey started seven years ago. I was a junior in high school, about to graduate a whole year early to join the Peace Corps. I worked hard my entire high school "career" to make sure that I would get a jump start on life. I wanted to be out in the field, hands on, making a real difference in the world. I wanted to help others and make them feel as though they count, they were not forgotten. I spent most of my life being different than my peers. Some would poke fun at my "hippie ways". I remember a guy in one of my classes saying he wouldn't be surprised if in 20 years I was living in a hut full of adopted children in Africa. I was weird because I cared about people, about children, about the world that we lived in. How uncool for a 17 year old!
Right before my graduation I got one of the biggest surprises of my life. I found out that I was pregnant. I remember how shocked everyone I knew was. How could Autumn, a great student and all around smart gal, get pregnant and throw away her dreams? I pushed through the stares and awkward conversations with friends, I held my tongue when family lectured me about how I had ruined my life, I was even told that I could get an abortion and "have a real baby" when I grew up. No matter what was thrown my way I was excited for this little life growing inside of me, I was excited for this new adventure, and no one was going to take that from me or make me feel bad about it. 
Throughout my entire pregnancy I researched and read everything I could on pregnancy and childbirth. It was my mission to conquer this new challenge and make it enjoyable and memorable despite everyone's behavior and words. After all of my research I decided that I wanted a natural child birth and no one was going to talk me out of it. My OB tried to warn me of the pains of labor, my mom would joke that there was no way I could do it, my friends would tell me I'm insane but nothing changed my mind. I was going to have this baby naturally, by choice, at 18 years old and that was that.
Flash forward to the day I delivered. My grandma and her friend Tana drove up from Texas to be there for the birth of my baby girl. Tana is a licensed massage therapist and decided to bring her massage table with her so that she could give me a little love. Being close to my due date I needed the relief and I was so glad to have a moment to relax and focus on myself. About 20 minutes after my massage was over I heard a loud pop, stood up, and water rushed down my legs and onto the couch and floor. It was time, I was going into labor. 
We arrived in the hospital around 3:00 pm, I was in good spirits and ready to meet my baby. They checked me in, hooked me up to machines and monitors, and then left me to labor. I spent most of my time listening to my headphones or chatting with my friends and family that had come to cheer me on. By 10:30 I was feeling pretty intense contractions but I kept myself calm and focused, listening to my music and saying positive affirmations in my head (this was before I even knew hypnobirthing was a thing). I must have really looked calm and serene because when I finally spoke up to a nurse and told her that I was ready to have my baby she told me that because I was a first time mom I would still have 6-8 hours left of my labor and that there was no way that I was even close to meeting my baby. She didn't even check me. I broke down in that moment and agreed to an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in to prepare me for the procedure. The whole time he was talking to me I couldn't focus, I was baring down and my body was naturally pushing, I was having this baby now and no one was listening to me. Finally I yelled to a nurse and flashed her my lady bits, she looked down in horror, I was crowning. All I remember after that was a blur, there was rushing around, nurses yelling and throwing gloves at each other, my OB nowhere in sight. The nurses kept telling me not to push, to wait for the doctor on call (who was in the process of another delivery) to come and deliver my baby. I was the most calm person in the room and I was the one having a baby for the first time. After it was all said and done it was 11:14 pm, I had a horribly rough and insensitive doctor give me an episiotomy, deliver Marli, and sew me up but I had done it, I had naturally given birth to my daughter and it felt amazing. 
This whole experience molded my view of childbirth and pregnancy. Everyone wanted me to be afraid, to be panicked, no one trusted me or my body, no one listened to me during my labor and delivery, I felt alone. Through the years I have looked back on this experience in two ways; I succeeded despite everything in getting the birth that I wanted even though it wasn't exactly picturesque, but also that women are bullied and made to be afraid during childbirth. They are told that they aren't capable or that they are broken and that they need doctors and nurses to fix them and make them able to do something we've been doing since the dawn of time. It opened my eyes to all of the problems that women have to face during one of the most incredible moments in their lives. A women shouldn't feel helpless or afraid of giving birth, she should feel empowered to birth in whatever way she wants and she should celebrate the entire experience, not look back at it with regret, horror, or unhappiness. 
When I first heard of doulas and the work they do I was instantly interested. There is a career out there where I can empower moms to get the births they want? I can help advocate for them when they are unable? I can help them stay calm and remind them to listen to their body and trust what it's telling them? Where do I sign up?! I started diving in to books and articles and finally after a long road I received my certification. After years of telling women that birth isn't something to fear, after years of sharing information and tips with my pregnant friends I could finally apply that knowledge and passion and help pregnant women on a larger scale.
Not every woman wants natural child birth but every single woman wants to be heard and respected during such a vulnerable time and that's what I'm there for. To listen, to encourage, and to make her feel comfortable and respected no matter what type of birth she wants or ends up having. Being a doula fulfills my want to help others, it lets me share my passion of pregnancy and birth, and it's a career that I can enjoy my whole life. It is definitely my calling and I couldn't be more proud to say "I am a doula!"

“There is a secret in our culture and it is not that birth is painful, but that women are strong.”
Laura Stavoe Harm

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Let's talk about doulas...

This week is World Doula Week, a week created to help spread awareness of the work we do and how beneficial having a doula can be for mom and the whole birthing team! Doulas are invaluable to mothers during labor and postpartum and have the ability to drastically improve the entire birth experience for everyone involved. 
But before we get too ahead of ourselves, what is a doula? 
If you've ever had a baby or are pregnant currently you might have heard the term mentioned in childbirth classes, at your midwife's office, or in pregnancy and birth books. If you haven't then today is the day that you learn all about who doulas are and what they do. 
The word Doula comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "women who serves". Essentially a doula is a support person who provides information and educational support at prenatal visits, emotional and physical support during labor and delivery, they advocate for the mother's wishes during their birth, and help mom adjust to her new life postpartum. Doulas are there to create a comfortable and safe atmosphere for mother and her birthing team during one of the most memorable days of their lives. Cool, huh?
During my doula training and since I've heard many misconceptions about what doulas do. Do we deliver babies? Do we replace midwives and doctors? Do we take over the role of the father or partner? To all of these questions the answer is a big fat NO! Doulas do not perform medical procedures or do anything clinical, doulas are hired in addition to an O.B or midwife. Doulas do not replace anyone on the birthing team and definitely do not take over the father/partner's role during labor or delivery. 
So what DO doulas do?
Doulas help prepare mom for birth during prenatal visits, working on positions that will be comforting during labor, preparing a birth plan, going over concerns and fears about birth, and showing her partner ways that they can help comfort mom during the birthing process. Some doulas teach their moms prenatal yoga and meditation, offer books from their personal library to help mom learn about pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and offer 24/7 on call support to mothers who have questions or concerns. Doulas often come to the hospital, birthing center, or home when labor is progressing to help mom deal with labor pains and stress. Doulas help ease pain with counter pressure, massage, aromatherapy, birthing balls, position changes, and more. They don't do anything invasive or medical, they simply provide natural solutions to the mother to help her cope. Doulas are also helpful to the birthing team. They take some of the responsibility off of the partner so they can eat or rest, which is very helpful especially during long labors. Doulas can also encourage partners during the birthing process and aid them in ways to make mother more comfortable. Doulas are the best birthing cheerleaders! After baby has arrived doulas help mom get comfortable and settled in their new role. Doulas can help with breastfeeding, teach mom ways to soothe her new infant, and tidy up for the family so they can spend time with baby. Doulas are someone a mother can confide in without judgement so during postpartum visits mom and doula will talk about how shes adjusting, any concerns shes having, and can make referrals to other care providers if necessaryDoulas also can provide additional services to help mom during this amazing period in her life. Some doulas offer belly casting, placenta encapsulation, belly binding, v-steams, holistic balms and herbs, and other pregnancy and postpartum services. 

"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."
-John H. Kennell, MD

Now that you know the basics of what doulas do would you hire one during your pregnancy and delivery? What are some questions you have about doulas?

This week I will be posting a series of posts on doulas, so if you want to learn more stay tuned!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Little Bits No.2

Lately I've just been soaking in all of the happy moments and doing what feels good. I decided over the weekend that I needed a change so we moved all of our furniture and painted our bedroom last minute. It's been so refreshing to have a "new" space. I love the color we chose, a very cool toned white. It's definitely a keeper. I've also been keeping busy with a massive reading list that is growing by the minute. I still have six books coming to me in the mail but I'm excited to dive in and soak up all kinds of wonderful knowledge. I joined a few doula groups on Facebook this week and it's been wonderful to see "doula talk" everyday and learn from all of the women who have been active doulas for a decade or more. I'll always have a lot to learn, that's for sure but I love the challenge.  We've been keeping active with plenty of yoga and outside play, enjoying the sunshine and getting the garden ready for spring time planting! I'm so happy that spring has finally sprung and we can get outside more and enjoy nature! Hooray for vitamin d!

1. My current reading list, a little for my second doula certification and a little for pleasure. I can't wait to receive the books I have on the way! I'm thinking of doing a few book reviews on the ones I love so stay tuned!
2. Gorgeous flowers from Jared's team at work.
3. Enjoying the sunshine.
4. Lemon and Purification, my new favorite diffusing duo.
5. Selfie with my little lady.
6. Pick a color, any color.
7. Fluffy enjoying an afternoon nap.
8. Marli working on her standing poses.
9.  Do you believe in life after love?
10. Enjoying the new do.
11. Meekah is ready for her morning yoga.

Make sure you like my Facebook page for updates and more! Have a wonderful weekend!