Thursday, December 4, 2014

How to Have an Empowering Birth

Well this is a subject that I could really delve into, but for now I will start with the basics. Since I wrote this, over two years ago, my whole idea on empowered and respectful births has changed a lot, and when I get another moment I will write about what I think truly empowered births looks like! But I still think I made some valid points when I wrote this, so for now I will share this with you...

Whichever way you look at it bringing life into this world is an empowering occasion all on its own. However, all too often parents spend more time looking into what TV, car or any other item they want to buy, than they spend preparing themselves for one of life’s most altering events. There are some simple yet important steps a woman and her partner can take to prepare for that life changing moment.

An important decision is choosing the right care provider, if she wants one. Women can chose between an OB, a hospital midwife, or a homebirth/birth center midwife, or an unassisted birth. In large part the care provider she chooses will determine the type of care she will receive because of how they are trained to see or deal with birth. In short, an OB is great for high risk pregnancies, a midwife is great for a woman with a low risk pregnancy, a home birth with a midwife is good for a low risk pregnancy in which the woman feels that home is where she wants to birth, and an unassisted birth is usually chosen by women who trust birth completely and feel very educated and confident in their ability to birth. Hand in hand with what care provider to choose goes where a woman wants to give birth. All options are safe options given the right level of care and knowledge. In addition to her partner, family, or care provider, having a doula as part of the birth support team can significantly enhance her birth experience. 

A woman needs to be knowledgeable about pregnancy, the birth process, and her birth choices. One of the ways this can be achieved is by taking a childbirth education class. That said, not all classes were created equal. Women have many options to educate and prepare themselves for that special day; it is beneficial to research those options. Here are some options, in alphabetical order: Birthing from Within, Bradley, hospital childbirth classes, hypnosis for childbirth (Blissborn, HypnoBabies), Lamaze, and others. My personal favorite is a class that uses meditation and relaxation techniques for childbirth. This method teaches you to regain trust in yourself and the birth process and to let go of any fear or tension, allowing for a comfortable and positive birth experience.

Women are often fearful of birth. Society portrays birth as a scary event, when in reality birth is a natural, safe and marvelous process. When birth occurs with respect, and women have the right level of care, preparation, and support, they learn to let go of the fear, regain trust in themselves and their birthing ability, and embrace their experience. It is ultimately a woman’s choice of how, where, and who surrounds her when she gives birth. Therefore it is important that all women educate themselves about their choices, that they become advocates for their own birth experience, and that they surround themselves by the right support. It is essential that a woman's wishes are supported and that she feels confident in her birthing ability and her choices. That is ultimately what will help her have an empowering birth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What Is a Doula and Why Have One?

The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek word meaning "a woman who serves". A doula is a professional educated in the physiological and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy and birth, and the techniques that aid the birth process. Although douals work for the mother they compliment the mother’s support team including the doctors, nurses, midwives, partner, and family. They attend both hospital and home births, and both medicated and unmedicated births, as well as surgical births. Giving birth is one of the most life altering experiences a woman and baby can have, and their experience can affect a mother’s, father’s and baby’s emotional, psychological, and physical well-being. Doulas aid the birth process by providing continuous informational, emotional and physical support, as well as encouragement to the mother and father, before, during, and after labor. The main purpose of a doula is to help women have their best birth experience possible and provide for a more satisfying birth experience.

The role of a doula has come into existence from a need. This need has risen from the changes that have occurred in our culture and society. In history it used to be that women would have other women supporting them through labor, using their personal knowledge and trust in the labor process to aid labor. Since birth became medicalized the role of the supporting women disappeared. Medical advancement has played an important role in improving maternal and new born outcome. However, that has pushed aside a much needed aspect of birth; that of having a person knowledgeable and experienced in birth who is there by the parents side the entire time a woman is in labor, providing the essential nurturing, caring, and supportive component to labor and birth. That vital type of support is something that is not always available in hospital births, seeing as doctors come when it is time to deliver the baby and nurses don’t stay by a woman’s side during the entire labor. However, a doula is there for support from pre-labor, through labor, and into postpartum.

As stated doula support starts before a woman is even in labor. It is essential that parents have the information necessary to make informed decisions and that they know their rights as patients. A doula can be pivotal in providing information and encouraging parents to educate themselves about their birth choices. This is the basis for what will shape a woman’s birth experience. In addition, once a woman is in labor, a doula’s knowledge about the labor process is crucial for support and in helping parents make informed decisions, as well as help them feel reassured about what they are going through.

A woman’s ideal birth experience can vary from woman to woman. However, current research shows doulas can help women have a positive birth experience by reducing c-section rates, shortening labor, and reducing: epidural requests, pitocin use, analgesia use, and forceps or vacuum deliveries. Doulas help in reducing those procedures by using their knowledge about techniques and positions that aid the natural and positive development and progress of childbirth, in addition to providing continuous emotional support to the mother and partner. Reducing those interventions is important because they all affect a woman’s and baby’s birth experience both emotionally and physically, mother baby bonding, and successful breastfeeding. “Women who have used a doula are more satisfied with their birth experience, feel more confident in their ability to mother, bond faster with their newborn, are less likely to have post-partum depression, and are more likely to breastfeed” Klaus, Kennel, and Klaus 2001.

Giving birth puts women in a very vulnerable state in which it is hard to always communicate with the caregiver. Doulas are able to serve parents in moments when support is needed the most. In carefully discussing the parents’ wishes and birth plan before birth a doula becomes very familiar with their wishes and is then able to guide the parents in making their whishes known and respected. In no time does a doula take the parents’ decision making power away from them, on the contrary, the doula makes sure that the decisions are always that of the parents’ and that those decisions are clearly communicated and respected. This makes the laboring woman feel safe and empowered.

A doula also provides valuable emotional and physical support by offering the woman comforting techniques or by helping the partner offer that support. Such support can include: encouragement, guided imagery, focus, breathing, massage, and position changes. This gives women the ability to go through the labor process more comfortably and confidently. Having a doula present also relieves pressure and offers support to the birth partner, so that the partner can be more relaxed, feel more confident in their role, and provide more adequate support to the woman in labor.

In order for a doula to serve a woman adequately it is not only important that women know what a doula’s role should be but also what a doula can’t and should not do. Most "Standards of Practice" state that a certified doula should not perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking blood pressure or temperature, fetal heart tone checks, vaginal examinations, or postpartum clinical care. This becomes a question of ethical standards which require that a doula maintain high standards of personal conduct in the capacity or identity as a labor support provider.

Choosing a doula to serve during pre-labor, labor, and birth is one of the most important things a woman can do to ensure a positive birth outcome. A doula can do this by educating, supporting and comforting her and her partner throughout the entire birth process. This in turn provides the best scenario to welcome a baby into this world, providing a strong foundation for a healthy, happy life ahead.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Back in Florida

Birth Services in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. 

After a year in Spain (2013-2014) I am happy to say I am back in Florida and taking on birth clients. 

I only take 2-3 birth clients a month to better provide individual attention, therefore availability is limited.

To see what I was up to in Spain you can visit, and