Q&A with Doula Sarah

I asked in some local mom groups for some questions they had regarding all things pregnancy/birth/baby/doula related. Here’s the questions I got asked, and the answers to them.

Let me start off with the preface that doulas are not midwives. We are not medical professionals. We do not take your blood pressure, check your cervix or catch your baby. I’ve often heard it explained as the midwives are down there and the doulas are up here *pointing to the head*.We are trained birth professionals, as support people. We will support our clients no matter what their birth choices are. At home with a midwife, in a hospital with an OB, all natural, with an epidural, unplanned and planned cesareans. We work very well with the nurses, midwives and OBs. It’s a big awesome team put together just for you. We ‘mother the mother’. We support the whole family, husbands and kids too. We provide continuous support throughout your labor physically and emotionally. We help educate you about your options and give you the information you need to be confident in your decisions. We help facilitate communication between our clients and the medical staff, but we never speak for you.  The most important thing a mother needs during labor is continuous support. Your nurses will change every 12 hours, your Dr may even go off call while you are laboring. Your doula is with you the whole time. Sometimes that is three hours, sometimes that is three days. Only about 3% of women use doulas, but we are starting to see a rise in that so I think a new study about that is due.

While we cannot guarantee any birth outcome(because if we could, we would be way more popular) but studies have shown that overall, women who receive continuous support were more likely to have vaginal births, less pain medication and be more satisfied with their birth experience. To me that last one is HUGE because the birth of your baby is something you never ever forget and will likely talk about several times in your life.

Ok, on to the Questions!

Q: What is the average cost of placenta encapsulation?

A: I charge $275, but if you are a birth client it’s only $225 to add to your package.

Q: Can I encapsulate my placenta myself?

A: Of course you can, but the equipment can get quite pricey and you don’t know exactly how much of the supplies you will or won’t need until you do it. Also, while you think you may have the energy to stand in your kitchen and do the whole process yourself that may change dramatically after baby actually comes. I can usually get your placenta encapsulated and have everything completed before you are even released from the hospital and meet you at home with the finished capsules ready for consumption.

Q: My family thinks placenta encapsulation is weird, how can I educate them on the benefits?

A: The few scientific studies conducted on placental encapsulation have not conclusively supported the effects of this practice, nor have they completely dispelled the possibility of benefits from ingesting the placenta. However, it should be noted by expectant mothers that the majority of the information we have regarding placental encapsulation comes almost entirely from anecdotes of women who have tried it. There is a bigger study currently being held and as soon as it is released I will share it.

Some of the possible(I say possible because not everyone has the same outcome) benefits of PE are

  • Increased release of the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to normal size and encourages bonding with the infant
  • Increase in CRH, a stress-reducing hormone
  • Decrease in post-partum depression levels
  • Restoration of iron levels in the blood
  • Increase in milk production
  • Increase in energy levels

As far as convincing your friends and family to get on board with it really depends on them. Sometimes no matter what you do, you can’t change a person’s way of thinking. But it’s your body and your placenta, no one is making them eat it so they shouldn’t be too concerned about it.

Q: What are some good foods for increasing my milk supply, any tips in general for that?

A: The best thing for your milk supply is demand, demand, demand. Whether it is nursing baby all the time or pumping often. The more you take, the more you make.

There are some foods that can help increase you supply for a quick boost, but overall having a well balanced diet and staying hydrated is key. Some of the foods are steel cut oats, quinoa, gatorade, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast (to take in tablet form or put in cookies!), salmon, spinach, and my favorite – almonds. There’s a lot more out there that can be contributed to boosting your milk supply but we could be here all day. Again, you may have to try several things because what works for one mom might not work for you.

Q: What about when I’m ready to wean my baby?

A: Given enough time, most babies(or well toddlers) will eventually wean themselves from the breast. But sometimes that isn’t always doable for mom. The easiest way to wean and dry up your milk supply is gradually. If you do it cold turkey you will become engorged and put yourself at an increased risk of clogged ducts and mastitis(an infection in the breast).

Start by removing one nursing/pumping session during the day for about 3-5 days. Then remove another session for the same amount of time. Keep going at that rate and your supply will adjust and slow down in a gradual pattern and will be more comfortable for you and easier for babe to handle rather than just not being allowed to breastfeed all of a sudden. There are some things you can do to help quicken the drying up process, peppermint oil, cabbage leaves in the bra(helps with any pain too), even benadryl or sudafed(but be sure to discuss this with your Dr first).

Q: What is the average cost of a doula?

A: That really varies and is dependent on your area. All of my fees and services are listed on my Services Available page. I know most doulas are more than happy to do payment plans if your budget is a little tight, we get it.

Q: How close should my doula be to me?

A: Ideally you want someone who can make it to you (whether at home or hospital) in 1-2 hours. Anything more than that and you really could risk them not making it in time and baby beating them! In my contract I give myself a 2 hour window to get to  you from the time you call and request my presence, it’s never taken me that long to get to a client. Average is about one hour for me, but this is because we keep in contact when labor is starting and I get childcare and etc taken care of right away so when you say ‘come now’ that’s exactly what I do.

Q: How do doulas help prevent Postpartum Depression?

A: It’s all about support. Emotional support is SO important during pregnancy, childbirth and immediately postpartum. The hormone drop is a big factor and PPD doesn’t discriminate and sometimes no matter what it rears its ugly head. Physical support is SO important after baby is born too. Adjusting to life with a newborn who sleeps in small spurts and eats all the time on top of normal day to day life can quickly become overwhelming. A birth doula helps preemptively with that ‘women being more satisfied with their birth experience’. A postpartum doula does the defensive and helps mom at home, emotionally and physically. Having someone who can help you in every aspect that you need it, knowing exactly what you need is a big factor. When you are supported, its less likely that you will feel overwhelmed and depressed. If you do show signs of PPD, your doula can help get you references and point in the right direction for help.

What questions do you have? Let me know!

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