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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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I needed a doula when an EF4 tornado destroyed my town.

We are days away from the 4 year anniversary of the Leap Day Tornado. The news channels are doing their coverage of things going on in the town to remember the lives lost on that terrible day. It is a very emotional time that comes around every February.

My family and I were extremely fortunate to have only lost our things, that will never compare to the loss of a loved one by any means. But no one prepares for something like that to happen to them. You never think it will happen to you, that only happens on TV, somewhere else.

In the early hours of the morning of Feb. 29th 2012 I was awoken by my silly computer making beeping sounds as it powered down. I realized the power was out and I felt the house start to shake, “an earthquake?!” I thought. Then I heard things slamming into the sides of our house. I realized it was not an earthquake. It was a tornado. I had no idea what to do. I start to slap my now husband awake and screaming at him to go get the older girls, who were 5 and nearly 3 at the time, while I jumped over top of our then 7 month old baby girl. My husband had no time to get out of bed to the other end of the house where the older children where and jumped on top of me and our baby. I was screaming for him to please get the girls at the top of my lungs and his head was right next to mine and he couldn’t hear me at all. That gives you an idea of how loud it was.

A moment later I heard glass shattering and things breaking and crashing. This was it, we were about to die. Whatever was happening in the garage was about to happen in our bedroom. Then it stopped. It grew quite again, deadly quite. My husband jumped up and ran through the house and grabbed the older girls out of their rooms, where they stood screaming and crying, and came back to our room to begin his search for daytime clothes and shoes in the pitch black.  Meanwhile I left in pajamas, what did I care? We were alive. That is all I kept thinking, we were alive.

I was not prepared for what came next. We needed to get out of the house. While we were looking outside and seeing if our neighbors were alive the storm siren went off….a little too freaking late! We had a family member come get our older girls and we walked through all the destruction to a friends house with the baby in tow. She was still breastfeeding and obviously had to stay with me.

We ended up being homeless for 2 months until we were able to purchase a new house with insurance money. We spent a month in a hotel and a month in my mother in laws basement.

Boy, could I have used a doula for the emotional roller coaster of that time. The fear of the unknown. To have someone hold my hand and look me in the eye and help bring me back down from that anxiety attack. To help me get through the countless times I had to recount the events of that morning to what seemed to be everybody who was ever around.  Someone who could’ve given me encouragement when it seemed our insurance was being the opposite of helpful.

Doulas are a great physical support, yes. But do not underestimate the power of emotional support they can provide as well. That is priceless. Someone who understands and listens to your concerns. Who validates those feelings and can help you work through that and leave you at ease by the end of the conversation. Do they have disaster doulas? Someone who is there for you, to support you, in the wake of a disaster. If not, maybe we should.

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A little extra this Valentine’s Day.

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It’s no secret that lots of loving happens on Valentines Day!

Maybe your partner has a special night all planned out for the two of you. Perhaps you are the one doing the date night organizing. Do you think he forgot what day it is (again)? To come in the door and see rose petals creating a path through the house leading to a candle lit bubble bath and a bottle of wine.

Maybe your Valentines day consists of putting the kids to bed and then tip toeing to the bedroom as quickly and quietly as possible and having about 10 minutes of alone time before the youngest beats on your door wanting to sleep in bed with you.

Whatever your plans are for the Day of Love we hope you have a great one.

In a few weeks when that test shows two lines we will be waiting for your call because it’s never too early to book your doula. We will see you in November!

Happy Valentines Day from Trinity Doula Services.

Tips for achieving a VBAC.

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Congratulations! You’re pregnant!

But you’ve had a cesarean previously and are nervous about if you can have a vaginal delivery this time or not.

Good news! The odds are ever in your favor that you can VBAC!

Here are some tips from a 2 time VBAC mom.

  1. Find a truly supportive provider. You may need to leave the OB you ‘like’ in order to achieve a VBAC. You will probably have more support if you look for a Midwife as a care provider. This is not always the case, there are some truly amazing OBs out there and some not so supportive midwives. Just keep interviewing care providers until you find the one! It’s also NEVER too late to switch providers, some women even do so while in labor!
  2. Educate yourself. Do not stop researching until you are confident about your ability to birth your baby the way nature designed. Just because a Dr. says something doesn’t make it true. I’ve heard of OBs saying you have a 25% chance of uterine rupture, not true. Its only 0.5%!
  3. Build a support team. Your partner needs to be on board! Hire a doula. I know some people think a doula replaces a partner but that is not true at all. We all work together to be the very best support team we can be for you!
  4. Ignore the nay-sayers. Seriously, don’t worry about being ‘rude’. Just because your friend’s ex-coworker had a horrible vaginal delivery and wished for a cesarean doesn’t mean you are doomed to have the same experience or that you need to hear about it either. Every pregnancy and birth and woman is different.
  5. Have a back up plan. Even though you don’t want to think that you could have another cesarean it is better to be prepared so that it can be the best experience possible even if it is not your ideal scenario. Make a birth plan for your VBAC and one for a cesarean too. If you are prepared, either way it will be a great birth experience.

But if you decide that having a schedule cesarean is what you prefer, we support that too.

Trinity Doula Services has special interest in VBACs and strives to help you achieve the best birth possible. Sarah is very experienced in VBACs and has special knowledge to support during your journey.

If breasts were made for men…

It’s no secret our society has over sexualized women’s breasts.

It’s too common of an occurrence that a woman is scolded and shamed for feeding her child the way nature intended in public.

People like to rebuttal that urination is also natural but they don’t do that in public. This is an idiotic statement because I have yet to hear of someone feeding their child urine.

Breasts’ primary function is to nourish a baby, to support its life with that nourishment.

They are secondary sexual organs, just are hands and mouths. But we don’t go around demanding people wear gloves and masks do we?

Breasts were made for babies, this is why they are filled with life sustaining milk.

If breasts were made solely for men, they would be filled with beer, not milk.

Get over it. Normalize breastfeeding.