You Birth How You Live

https://parenting.nytimes.com/pregnancy/domino-kirke-doula

Doula Domino Kirke on why your birth providers are so important, and how to choose them wisely.

(Blog posted in its entirety from NYT Parenting.)

As far as I was concerned my midwife was going to have my baby for me. She was God’s gift to birthing. She had so much confidence, and trusted the birth process so intensely, that I fell instantly, wildly in love with her.

This was an age-old habit for me. Show me an older woman who knew her place in the world, who told me she knew better than me, and I was putty in her hands. To say I have mommy issues is an understatement. My mother is a shrewd businesswoman. She’s sexy, critical and the most intimidating person you’ll ever meet. I cowered around her until my teenage years, then developed blood-curdling rage towards her. Around the same time I was diagnosed with manic depression. I was the first daughter, the first pancake. I didn’t know who I was if she wasn’t looking me up and down, checking to see if I measured up.

At 25 I became pregnant and needed other people to sign off on just about everything I did. I didn’t trust an intuitive bone in my body. Pregnancy became an invisible cloak I hid inside with lofty ideas of who I would become once my baby arrived. I felt safe pregnant, in a container made just for the two of us, and our potential.

I met my midwife late into my pregnancy. I left my first midwife’s care after she advised against a home birth. She said my relationship wasn’t stable enough, and with my history of sexual abuse, was skeptical I could sustain the intensity. How dare she!

In a storm, I found a cowboy. I was in awe of her ego and her stories of grandeur — the same way I was in awe of my mother. I was experiencing transference, when the feelings and dynamics from childhood relationships are applied to authority figures in adult life, or, in this case, to medical professionals. In the birth world we have a saying: we birth the way we live our lives. Now that I’m a doula I see it constantly — but at the time, I wasn’t capable.

I didn’t want my mother or any family members in the room during my labor. Little did I know she’d be there anyway; my midwife activated and occupied all the same spaces. There in my charming one-bedroom apartment in the middle of January I labored as a little girl, no one there to remind me how old I actually was, or what I was even doing there. Although my mother was across the East River in her own home, her tentacles reached in and grabbed us all.

After 24 hours of labor I felt my midwife’s disappointment. I was her last client before her vacation, and I couldn’t have the baby fast enough. The tension between us was thick and felt by everyone, especially the sweet young doula who also struggled with her authority. Doulas are there to support birthing parents, while midwives provide medical care, yet my doula broke like I broke, and was of little help to me.

After laboring at home for nearly three days, my fever rose. I was whisked to the hospital and diagnosed with a uterine infection, resulting in an emergency cesarean.

CreditSarah Blesener for The New York Times

The experience inspired me to become a doula. I knew there was so much more I could have received emotionally during my labor. My partner at the time was terrified and exhausted, and my doula wasn’t in her power. What I truly needed was a nurturing presence to counter all the old energy that occupied my system around my childhood caregivers.

It has helped heal me to become that presence for others. These days I train doulas, and we teach them not to bring their baggage to the most important moments of someone’s life —because it’s not about them. We are there to listen and watch, and to help our clients meet their goal, whether it is a hospital induction without fear or a loving home birth. The relationship is a two-way street; when we meet our clients, we want them to pay attention to how they feel about us, too.

We encourage our clients to treat their doctors and midwives the same way, and to ask loads of questions: Do you follow evidence-based birthing practices? Do you differentiate between high- and low-risk pregnancies? If yes, how? If I am considered low risk in my pregnancy, will you want to manage my birth? If so, what can I expect? What is your cesarean birth rate?

[Doulas can be for everyone. Read our guide to choosing a doula here.]

When they ask these questions, we encourage our clients to note how their midwives and doctors respond to them. Do they make eye contact? Is their tone harsh or punishing? We want them to not only observe their medical caretakers, but their own feelings as well. Are they upset by their doctor’s harsh tones? If not, why?

One client of mine complained about her doctor every time I saw her. He’d rush her, give her evasive answers about procedures and protocols, and speak down to her like a child. When I helped her realize her feelings around it, she said, “But how do I ask for things if I don’t know they are missing?”

She wasn’t wrong. It’s challenging to make these connections to your past, and difficult to ask for things you didn’t receive in your most formative, vulnerable years. A provider who doesn’t set off every warning bell in your body will be a game changer for your birth experience, no matter the outcome of the delivery. Even if you have little choice of your doctor or midwife for financial or insurance reasons, there are volunteer doulas — so with effort, you can find a caretaker that makes you feel seen.

We don’t know what we deserve most of the time, but I’m telling you, you deserve better. Get louder, get bigger and surround yourself with extraordinary love when choosing your birth team. It might be the first time you’ve ever done such a thing, but I promise it won’t be the last. You can challenge your past. You can rewrite the play.

YOU CAN NOW DOULA YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, FROM BIRTH TO DEATH

https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/what-is-a-doula/

For a growing contingent of moms-to-be, doulas have become just as essential to the childbirth experience as taking omega-3s and getting down with hip-opening yoga squats. There’s a good reason for that—studies have shown that by enlisting the help of these trained pregnancy pros, mothers are more likely to deliver healthy-weight babies and successfully breastfeed, while being half as likely to experience birth complications.

So what, exactly, does a doula do? “A doula provides a constant presence of emotional support, education, advocacy, cheerleading, and hands-on guidance for expectant mothers and couples as they approach and enter into the birth process,” explains Well+Good Council member and Mama Glow founder Latham Thomas, who says client Rebecca Minkoff refers to her as “a producer for your birth.” And if that sounds like the kind of ally you could use outside the delivery room—say, when it comes to your side-hustle or your dating life—many modern doulas are ready and willing to assist with that, too.

(click link at top to read the entire post on wellandgood.com)

A Doula’s Call For A ‘Culture Of Consent’ During Childbirth

http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2018/05/11/doula-culture-of-consent

I gave birth seven years ago in a Boston-area hospital where I generally consider the care to be excellent. I arrived near the end of my labor, my cervix almost fully  dilated. After an hour of moving freely around my hospital room, my midwife and labor nurse said, “It’s time for you to get into bed now.” And then they said, “Let’s have you get onto your back.”

Even though I had read the medical research that found that lying supine carries risks to a fetus — which is why pregnant women are advised not to sleep on their backs — I behaved like any woman in the suggestible state of labor: I did what I was told, though it went against my instincts and my preference.

(click link at top to read the blog post on wbur.org)

ACOG Takes Big Step In Limiting Unnecessary Interventions During Birth

From doulas to movement, the group outlined ways to help curb intervention in low-risk moms.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/acogs-new-guidelines-urge-ob-gyns-to-scale-back-interventions_us_588903c7e4b0024605fd683d

(click link to read on huffingtonpost.com)

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has released new guidelines encouraging OB-GYNs and other birth practitioners to re-examine the necessity of various interventions that may not necessarily benefit low-risk moms.

The new committee opinion does not signal a dramatic shift in best practices for managing uncomplicated labors, but it is a clear acknowledgement from ACOG that technological interventions can often times interfere with a natural process rather than help it along.

“This committee opinion is the first one, to my knowledge, that specifically addresses low-risk patients,” author Dr. Jeffrey L. Ecker, chief of the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at Massachusetts General Hospital told The Huffington Post. “It says, very clearly, that there are some times when watchful waiting is appropriate. Just because we have the technology, doesn’t mean it has to be used in every patient.”

Many doctors and hospitals already embrace measures to limit intervention when appropriate, he said. But for others, this will likely shift the standard care.

 

(click link at top to continue reading on huffingtonpost.com)

 

 

What Does a Doula Do?

http://www.birthzang.co.uk/2016/09/doula/

(click link to read the entire interview on birthzang.co.uk)

I got asked today whether I support women who already have a birth partner, usually their life partner, and yes I do. I think being a doula supporting almost 100 births, I must have done maybe five where there wasn’t also a birth partner present.

These were special because my birth doula role merged somewhat with the birth partner role and it was just me and the birthing woman, journeying towards welcoming her baby and just us in the birth room (with a midwife also).

But most of the time, my role as a doula is ‘space-holder’. I hold space for the couple.

That means I create space for people to explore their thoughts, feelings, options around birth and then when we get to the birth I hold that space allowing them to do their thing – the birthing woman in her birthing power birthing her baby or babies, and the birth partner doing their vital partnering thing of being totally present in each moment with her, usually in absolute awe of her strength and perseverance. I support ‘them’ to have a positive birth experience.”

Click link above to read this great interview with doula Lisa Ramsey on what a doula “does”…

Every Pregnant Woman Should Get A Doula, Study Says

https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/every-pregnant-woman-should-get-a-doula-study-says

For those who are even aware of doulas at all, the term might bring up images of health-conscious moms-to-be, drinking cold-pressed green juices and flitting between yoga class and Lamaze. Further adding to their bourgeois appeal, the New York Times describes doulas—certified professionals there to assist and educate mothers through the various emotional and physical aspects of birth—to be “like personal trainers” and part of a “growing demand for personal service,” akin to “the doorman, the yoga teacher, [or] Amazon Prime.” Even the Wikipedia page for “doula” sites the service’s class-specific tendency.

A new study, however, states that doulas should be for all—especially low-income mothers who are at higher risk for pre-term births and other complications. Researchers at the University of Minnesota analyzed Medicaid records across 12 states and found that “women with doula care had a 22 percent lower rate of preterm births compared to women who didn’t have doula support,” according to MPR News.

(click link to read the article on broadly.vice.com)

 

 

New Dad’s Advice: Just Hire a Damn Doula!

http://goodmenproject.com/families/new-dads-advice-just-hire-a-damn-doula-jrmk/

So, your partner is expecting a baby. That’s amazing. You’re surely getting unsolicited advice from all angles. Well, here’s another piece for the pile: Hire a damn doula. When my pregnant wife first proposed hiring a doula, I issued my standard response when asked about paying someone to perform a service: Nope, I can do that shit on my own.

Oh, how ignorant I was. The more I researched what doulas do, and the more my attorney wife presented me with rock-solid arguments in their favor, the more I came around. Looking back now, I have no idea how I would’ve made it without our doula.

The dominant American cultural approach to pregnancy, labor, and post-partum care is off-kilter in plenty of ways. We’re the only industrialized nation without mandated maternity leave; and paternity leave is seen as a joke, something for lazy-ass sissies. Also, we don’t take doulas as seriously as we should. If you, as a birth partner, have heard of doulas at all, you may think they’re granola-crunching life-coaches. I’ve noticed some O.B.s seem to have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to doulas, as if not being able to perform a C-section means you have an unimportant place in the birthing process.

But doulas are awesome. They are highly trained, they are highly experienced, and, perhaps most importantly, they have your back.

CLICK to read the rest: http://goodmenproject.com/families/new-dads-advice-just-hire-a-damn-doula-jrmk/#sthash.HJPG6UtI.dpuf