Top Four Reasons to Have a Doula

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It is no secret that I have a love of doulas! I have used doulas in both my pregnancies and I’ve found them to be wonderful and definitely worthwhile. But many people don’t even know what doulas are, let alone how they can benefit you, your partner, and your baby. Let’s talk about what a doula is first and then we’ll get into the top four reasons to have a doula.

What is a doula?

Many times, when I say that I had a doula at my births, people go, “Huh? What’s a doula?” Doula comes from the Greek word meaning a female servant. They are there to provide support to you during your pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. They are not a medical professional, but they are trained in ways to help you during labor by providing relaxation techniques. They also are usually knowledgable about birth so they can help explain what’s happening or what some of your options might be. For purposes of this post, I am going to look just as birth doulas, though postpartum doulas are also great – providing support to moms at their home after they’ve had the baby.

Top 4 Reasons to Have a Doula

Photo By Wendy Kenin via StockPholio.net

Top Four Reasons to Have a Doula

Reason #1: Doulas provide continuous support.

For the most part, when you are in labor, your doctor/nurse/midwife/etc is not going to be in the room with you the entire time. And they may not even be the same person all the time – shift changes happen or if you are with a large practice, the doctor on call may be a doctor you have never even met before. That is why a doula can be so great. They are there the entire time, a stable presence, and they only have you to take care of. That constant presence can be both reassuring and helpful. But don’t worry – doulas also know how to keep their space. If you ask them to step out for a bit, they definitely will. They are there to be what you need them to be.

Reason #2: Doulas don’t judge.

A good doula will support you in your choices – whatever those may be. Sometimes doulas have a reputation for being only for moms who want to go pain med free or only for moms having a vaginal birth. But neither of those things are true. A doula is there not to bring her personal opinions about what you should do, but to support you and empower you in your choices. A doula won’t judge you or make snarky comments about what you choose to do.

Reason #3: Doulas help support your partner.

A doula’s primary focus is the mom, but that doesn’t mean they just throw the dad under the bus. Doulas are not there to replace the dad rather they can aid and support them as well. Maybe dad needs to step out for a moment or two to go to the bathroom or eat something and the doula can be that continuous presence for the mom. They can also show your partner how to help you out. They can also be a reassuring presence. Sometimes it’s hard for men to see the woman they love in so much pain. Doulas can help remind them that about what is normal. Especially for first time parents, it can be hard to know if labor is progressing normally. Doulas have often attended many births and are able to offer perspective in this way.

Reason #4: Doulas have proven medical benefits.

Not only are doulas great in all these emotional ways that would be hard to measure, but they have shown tangible benefits as well. A recent study from the University of Minnesota showed that doulas reduced the number of surgical births and pre-term births among low-income women, though other studies have found that reduction in surgical births, so that was not all together surprising to the researchers. A review of data on studies looking at continuous support also showed shorter labors, less use of pain medication, and fewer babies with low APGAR scores, in addition to fewer surgical births and instrument assisted births. Those outcomes were particularly strong when the support was provided by someone like a doula, who is not a member of hospital staff and not a member of the woman’s social circle.

Like I said at the beginning, I absolutely love doulas and think they are totally worth it. Curious to learn more about what doulas look like in practice? You may want to read the birth stories of my boys: Dominic, hospital birth with doulas, and Allen, birth center birth with doulas. If you are in the Milwaukee area, I highly recommend Mothering the Mother – they are such a wonderful group of doulas. Otherwise for other areas, you can check out doulamatch.net.

Do you have any questions about doulas? Have you used a doula? Would you consider using a doula? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

Choosing a Birth Center Birth

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After I had Allen, it came out that I had chosen to give birth to him in a free-standing birth center. It’s not like this was a secret or anything, but it really became more widely known after I posted pictures of his birth and shared the status about baby #72 from my birth center. Since then, I have been asked a lot of questions about why we chose this and what it’s like, so I’ve decided to write a post about our choice to choose an out of hospital birth with Player 4, aka Allen.

Why Have a Birth Center Birth?

This is probably the question that I am asked most often – why would you want to have an out of hospital/birth center birth? Maybe not in those exact words, but the sentiment is the same. I think this is primarily because people have a hard time imagining having a baby without pain meds, let alone not in the hospital because what if something goes wrong? We’ve turned pregnancy into this scary, major medical emergency. And while it is true that sometimes certain medical interventions are needed, there are also times when we intervene too much and create more problems than there needed to be in the first place.

As for myself personally, while I had Dominic in the hospital and it was a good experience, after my OB stopped practicing there I was wary. I wasn’t sure I would find another OB that I would mesh with and a new birth center had opened up and I decided to investigate. I fell in love with the center and found a midwife there who was a good fit for me. At the hospital with Dominic, I was at the mercy of whatever nurses and doctors happened to be on call. It went fine – for the most part – minus the nurse who banded me with the wrong ID band and treated me a bit like I was stupid – but I wanted more continuity in care this time. I wanted to know who would be delivering my baby. And I wanted a natural birth – I certainly knew that in the hospital a natural birth is possible, after all, I had one with Dominic. But I wanted to be somewhere that I knew was fully supportive of my goal of a natural birth, instead of somewhere where I would feel like I had to stick up for my right to have one. I wanted some place I could be 100 percent comfortable – with the place, with the people, with everyone.Nick with Allen as he has his newborn exam

My experience

Prenatal Care

Well, let’s start at the beginning, with prenatal care. As far as amount, I went the same amount to my OB/GYN as I did to my midwife – starting with appointments farther apart and then getting closer as my due date got closer. I had for the most part the same tests and everything – still screened for GBS, still screened for gestational diabetes, still had general blood work done, etc. I was able to go to the hospital and get an anatomy scan. I also had concurrent care with the midwives at the hospital. What’s more, on top of that, with my midwife at the birth center, I felt really listened to. I never felt rushed and I felt like she took the time to really get to know me and my family. Any care provider could, of course, do this, but with my experience with my OB/GYN, while she was fabulous, I only saw her a limited amount of time.

Insurance

This is the one thing everybody wants to know. Did you insurance cover it? How much did it cost? Honestly, it is hard to give a straight answer on this. It is so entirely dependent on your insurance. But I will say this, Allen’s birth is paid off. He’s done. We’re still paying off Dominic’s birth because I had crappy insurance at the time. But yes, some insurances will (and do) cover a birth center birth and it can even be financially more feasible than a hospital birth.

Birth Itself

When I had Dominic, I was at the mercy of whoever the on call doctor and nurses were. Like luckily, they were mostly good, but I had never met the on call OB/GYN before. And we had some great nurses, but we also had some awful nurses – like the one who put the wrong ID badge on me and kept badgering me with the same question over and over while I was in labor even after I told her “I don’t know” (the question? I have a drug allergy and she kept wanting to know what it was prescribed to me for – I was a kid, I don’t even remember having the reaction, let alone what it was for, but for some reason she found this question so vital that she kept asking me even after I told her I didn’t know). In contrast, at the birth center, I knew who would all be at my birth ahead of time, I was already comfortable with them, and they were always respectful and gentle with me. I’ve written both my birth stories, so if you want to read more, you are certainly welcome to read about Dominic’s birth at a hospital and Allen’s birth at a birth center. Oh, one other thing to add! Allen was still able to get all the newborn screenings, the blood test, the hearing test, and the pulse ox test (for heart problems – which was never even offered to me with Dominic at the hospital) and the vitamin K shot as well. Our pediatrician even commented that she loved how thorough Allen’s records were that our midwife sent over to her.  Me holding Allen shortly after bith

Is It Right for You?

What if something goes wrong?

Everyone has a different level of risk tolerance. I have low risk pregnancies and I interviewed my midwife and was confident in her credentials and confident in the fact that she would transfer me if necessary. If you are high risk, a birth center birth is most likely not right for you.

Would I recommend it?

I absolutely would. I definitely feel that I had excellent care at the birth center and that it is a great option if you are having a low risk pregnancy.

Have your birth your way

Ultimately, at the end of the day, you need to do what you are most comfortable with. If that’s a birth center birth or a home birth or a hospital birth. If that’s an epidural or no pain meds at all. Whatever it may be, the most important part is that you are comfortable with it and that you are able to find a care provider (OB/GYN or midwife) that you really feel has you and your baby’s health and safety as their top priority and who is respectful of you as well. A birth center birth may not be right for you, even though it was right for me, and that’s perfectly okay.

Allen with his special blanket the birth center made for him

Any more questions?

I tried to hit the questions that are asked most often of me after having a birth center birth, but if I missed anything or you have any burning questions that I didn’t answer, please feel free to ask me! Leave it in the comments and I will do my best to answer you 🙂

This post is linked up over at Mom 2 Mom Mondays, Motivational Monday, and Thoughtful Spot 🙂 

10 Things for Tuesday April 1st, 2015

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Ten Things

Here you go, ten things to check out on this April Fools’ Day! As always, citation does not mean endorsement, and I’ve broken them down into categories. I’d love for you to comment your thoughts on anything or leave a link of your own to something that you think is worth reading today.

Free

116 Free Kindle Ebook Downloads

Food

How Your Groceries Get to the Store: The Logistics of Supermarkets

Zucchini and Asparagus Strata

Pasta with Spring Greens

How to Hard Cook Lots of Eggs at Once

News

Searching the Internet Creates an Illusion of Personal Knowledge

The problem of “pointing” in modern journalism

April Fools’ 

ThinkGeek Continues Notoriously Awesome April Fools’ Day Products With Groot Beer, Thrones Clue, & More

Amazon’s Gone Retro – Circa 1999

Birth

I took back control of my Cesarean

10 Finds for Sunday

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Here are ten articles that I think are worth some Sunday reading! I may have been a little hungry while making this last haha. Can you blame me? I have delicious smelling roast in the crockpot.

Ten Things: A Roundup Worth Reading

1. Babies Don’t Keep

2. Easy Recipes: Beefy Mexican Rice (A Family Recipe)

3. The Fall of Man (Genesis 3)

4. Crockpot Chicken and Noodles (Comfort Food At It’s Best)

5. White Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Sauce

6. Funfetti Pancakes

7. Musings on Motherhood: Pancakes and Board Games

8. Emotional Recovery from a C-Section

9. Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know

10. Paid Parental Leave: US vs. The World (Infographic)

Hope you enjoy!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links or advertisements that will give me a small portion of the proceeds when clicked. 

10 Finds for Thursday – 12/6/12

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All right, it’s that time again – a round up of ten things that I think you should read!

Ten Things: A Roundup Worth Reading

1. How to Interview a Midwife

2. Booby Traps Series: 30% of working moms report taking no maternity leave. 40% say they take 6 weeks or less. Meet one of the biggest Booby Traps of them all.

3. Science You Can Use: Some obese women struggle with breastfeeding, but new research suggests it’s not all about physiology.

4. Do Docs Miss Breast Cancer Warning Signs in Breastfeeding Mothers?

5. Targeting TV Advertising By (Literally) Watching the Viewers

6. Writing Prompts Use Digital Photos For Writing

7. Full Moons Won’t Make You Cray-Cray, Say Scientists

8. Use Holiday Travel To Give Back By Donating Frequent Flier Miles To Families Of Very Sick

9. True Story: Everything You Need To Know About Domestic Violence – From a Prosecutor

10. Six-Year-Old Girl Wants To Know Why “Guess Who?” Has More Men Than Women (And So Do We)

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