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)

Jessica Biel Opens Up About Her Perfect Birthing Plan Gone Wrong

https://www.vogue.com/article/jessica-biel-emergency-c-section-recovery-natural-birth-psychology

“The birthing plan: Whether it’s set at home with a doula or in a hospital surrounded by family members, many expecting women have their perfect version in mind. And the location and company one keeps during delivery are just the beginning—with highly curated extras like pressure-relieving birthing balls and soothing “push playlists” growing in popularity. But the reality is that when it comes to child birth, there’s only so much you can control.”

(click to read link on vogue.com)

 

 

 

Planning for Postpartum: Help is Not a Luxury

http://www.mothering.com/articles/planning-for-postpartum-help-is-not-a-luxury/

The idea of a couple growing a family in isolation is new to human society. What we need, in the absence of our families and tribal support systems, is postpartum doulas.

Each of my postpartum experiences was different. For one I was largely dazed and happy, for another I felt upset and overwhelmed, and during one I was losing touch with reality. What they had in common was that I felt unanchored. Adrift. Lost in a sea of beautiful dreams and haunting nightmares that I felt obliged to keep to myself.

Surely this is just how it is. You struggle on, alone. Your triumphs are yours alone. Your grief and anger is yours alone. If you felt you could share, no one could understand anyway. Motherhood is a box.

For many of us, this is how it feels to enter into motherhood for the first or fifth time. You go to your box, sort yourself out, and occasionally over the next few months you’ll venture a peek outside, save up for a short staycation. But mostly, you are the box. You need the box and boy does the box need you.

Or not.

 

(click link above to read the entire article on mothering.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”…

Why Doulas are Expensive (and why you’re glad they are)

http://www.cordmama.com/blog/2015/3/23/why-doulas-are-expensive-and-why-youre-glad-they-are

I spent all of my 30 hours of early labor at home, and most of my six hours of active labor there as well. I continued to delay calling my doula, not knowing how much longer I would be laboring, and certain that I needed that “tool” in my tool belt to realize my goal of an unmedicated, birth center birth. My doula met us at the birth center, and two and a half hours later my daughter was born in the water and placed on my chest.

Now, I won’t break it down for you (though my husband might) what it cost us per hour to have doula support for my final 2.5 hours, but what I will tell you:

It was worth every single penny. 

(click link above to read article)

Dear Friend, Birth Doesn’t Have to Suck

http://www.improvingbirth.org/2014/06/dear-friend/

#4 Get a Damn Doula

Have you ever cut your hair yourself?  It might turn out okay, but then you get it done at the salon with the hypnotizing head massage and the mysterious, magical products and the blow-out-you-can-never-replicate and you realize, yeah, that was better with professionals.  That’s kind of what doulas are to birth. (click link to read a great post on improvingbirth.org)