Meeting with our Doula

After going to the Doula Meet & Greet through our hospital a month or so back, we had done a little digging only to find out that the Doula, Rachel, we met – who was part of the Doula co-op – also offered Doula services independently. So, yesterday we met her to have a chat and see if she was the right fit for our birth.

And honestly, it went perfectly. She is a totally smart lady with perfectly hippy ways… the exact personality and influence we want for our experience.

I also have to mention that we have received a lot of comments like, “isn’t Mark supposed to be your birthing coach?” And so on… but, it must be mentioned that even just working towards the process of selecting a doula and following her movie/book suggestions to date have made me feel like Mark and I are more of a team in this. He is really taking the time to understand what I will be experiencing (he’s even watched some live births), what our baby will be going through, and how – together with our doula – we can have the best birthing experience possible. If anything, the doula is helping Mark to be more of a birthing coach and support than I think he could have imagined without her.

Anyway, here are some of the questions/responses from our meeting:

  1. What happens if I go into labor during a time that you just can’t make it? (This was a concern because through the co-op you just get whoever is on call, but with an individual, you’re just counting on one person.) She ensured us that she does have a couple back-ups, but is confident it won’t be an issue.
  2. When I’m laboring at the house, can you check how dilated I am? How will you know when it’s time to go to the hospital? No medical procedures will be performed. She will observe physical labor signs and will base everything on my comfort level, distance from the hospital, time of day, etc.
  3. Your closest birthing class is over an hour away from us. Are there other options? Yes. I can offer the 8 (or 16 – I can’t remember) week class to you in (2) 4-hour sessions at your house for the same price. This will include lessons on breastfeeding as well.
  4. What are your thoughts on the different birthing positions? While the mother is in “transition” or pushing, I don’t let her stay in one position for over 20 minutes. By staying active (aka: changing positions), you’re promoting movement within your body, which can really speed up the process.
  5. Can you be in water after your water breaks? Yes!
  6. We want minimal-to-no intervention. How do we make this happen? It’s very important to make a birth plan. This will help guide the hospital staff in providing you the labor that you want. I will also put a sign on the door to remind the nurses and staff to refer to your birth plan, keep voices low and respect the peace. Also, there are ways to prepare your body through your diet. For instance, at 34 weeks, you should double your probiotics and increase your garlic consumption. This will help to fight the Strep B virus and prevent you from having to be put on antibiotics. Also, at 36 weeks, you’ll want to really increase your vitamin C intake with 1-2 Emergen-C packets per day.
  7. Do you have sample birth plans? My favorite is from Earth Mama Angel Baby. Here’s a link!
  8. Have you noticed delivery timing patters for new moms? Yes, the most common delivery is at 41 weeks and 1 day. (I hope not… means I might have my baby at my friend’s wedding! SHIT!)
  9. What does the birthing doula service include? A 36-week home visit to do some paper work, get me acquainted with your house and where you keep things so that the day of your delivery, I don’t have to ask where things are and can just move about, supporting you both. Then, of course, the birth. I will be there while you’re laboring at home and through your birth. And I will return for a postpartum visit three days after delivery. At this time, you’ll be at home and I can help with lactation consulting, etc.
  10. How much does it cost? $500
  11. How much is the birthing class? $250
  12. What are your thoughts on placenta encapsulation? I think it’s great and actually work with a woman who is really good. She can encapsulate the placenta for less than $200.  Consuming the placenta helps to stop postpartum bleeding, prevent depression, help your milk come in and in general help you bounce back quicker. (We will explore this more in a separate post.)

Other Resources

Pregnancy Meal Plan

Here’s a daily meal plan for optimal pregnancy health.

  • 4 servings: Milk/Dairy
  • 2 servings: Egg
  • 8 servings: Protein (SO much…)
  • 2 servings: Green Vegetable
  • 5 servings: Whole Grains
  • 2 servings: Vitamin C Source
  • 3 servings: Fats & Oils
  • 1 serving: Vitamin A Source
  • Can’t get enough SEA SALT
  • Lots of water

Below is a guide for what 1 serving of each of these looks like…

What does a serving look like?

What does a serving look like?

And here’s a worksheet to track your progress…

Pregnancy Diet Worksheet

Pregnancy Diet Worksheet

Symptoms

Nothing new to report! Tomorrow we’re 6 months! HOLY SMOKES!

My Favorite 18ish Hours of Pregnancy Yet!

Yesterday, I left work feeling cranky and ready to battle anyone who came in my way. I ate a quick dinner of leftover Tofu Curry with the hubs and we ran out to make it to our 6pm Doula Meet & Greet. I think I spent the entire car ride bitching about… well, everything. Anyway, we arrived at the Meet & Greet and I was feeling a little skeptical. The room was filled with a bunch of doula characters. Going around the room, there was a seemingly quiet and timid woman in her mid- to late- 30’s; a woman with short hair, harsh eyebrows, and giant hoop earrings; a couple younger more “normal” looking women who turned out to be doulas-in-training; a woman who I later referred to as “Big Rachel” due to her tall stature and big hair… she has 6 kids ranging from 4-22; then Michelle, the woman who started to co-op organization… she has 9 kids ranging from 4-26; “the knitter,” a woman who literally was knitting something throughout the entire meet & greet… this irritated me at first, but she was actually quite nice; some younger woman who’s due with her first baby in July and was rudely not showing even a little bit; this hippy lady with short pigtail braids and a perma-smile on her face; a pretty normal looking doula/nurse who just joined the group; and “Genevieve” who reminded me of Jessa from the show, “Girls.” Total free-spirit, but very sweet and knowledgeable. The Doula group is called Mothering the Mother, Inc.

Anyway, these women started talking and answering questions and with every comment made, my skepticism disappeared and Mark and I were loving all of them more and more. Here are the details…

Money & What it Includes:

  • Let’s start with the money, because no matter how free-spirited a concept, it’s always about the bottom line, right? The whole thing costs $550.
  • So, for $550 you get an in-person meeting to determine and discuss your birth-plan, talk about goals, have any questions answered, get hooked up with additional resources, etc. Then, throughout your pregnancy, you stay in contact with the doula group. After each doctor’s appointment, you’re supposed to call/email/text and provide an update on what the doctor said, any concerns you have, etc, at which point the doulas can help answer any questions, etc. And finally, as soon as you start laboring, you call the doula group and you are assigned a doula (whichever doula character happens to be on call that day). The doula will come to your house if you’d like and help you work through your contractions and help you to stay comfortably at home as long as possible before transitioning to the hospital. They will then stay with you through your labor and delivery and for about 1-2 hours post-delivery. The doula will come back and see you for a 6-week visit to talk about the birth (and fill in any details you may have forgotten, answer any questions, etc), see the baby, help with breastfeeding, and answer any questions.
  • Oh! You also get a free labor support class included.

Mothering the Mother’s Current Stats:

  • 19% Induction rate (compared to 23% in 2009 – I can’t find a more recent number, but from 1990 to 2009 it went from 7% to 23%)
  • 9% Analgesics (I can’t find a rate to compare this to?)
  • 20% Epidurals (I’ve found numbers ranging from 50-75%)
  • 0% Episiotomies (Compared to 30-35% in 2005 – WOOF!)
  • 16% C-Sections (Compared to 32.9% in 2009)

“Big Rachel’s” Labor Prep Book/Movie Recommendations:

So, with all that said, Mark and I have decided to hire the doulas. We are really excited about it. It feels like a way for us to be more prepared and feel way more comfortable going into and during our birthing experience. Also worth noting, my crabiness was totally gone after our Meet & Greet. We were both super excited and energized. It was great!

The happiness continued later in the evening. Mark had a ton of work to get done last night, so I went to bed alone. As I do most nights, I laid in bed, poking my tummy or as I like to call it, “I played with the baby.” This time, instead of poking, releasing and waiting for the baby to kick in that spot, I pressed two fingers on my belly and just sat there. THEN… it happened! I felt a serious push back from inside my belly. My stomach was rumbling a little, so I wasn’t sure if I was really feeling our sweet baby kicking from the outside, so I tried it again. AND IT HAPPENED AGAIN! It was such a strong kick it was just crazy and amazing!! I called for Marky to come into the bedroom. I pushed his fingers into a spot on my lower tum and we waited. After a few seconds, he said, “I think I feel it” to which I informed him that he would know when he felt it and that he was probably just feeling one of our hearts beating. So after about 30 or so seconds it happened! Our little baby, future soccer player, gave dad’s fingers a good push. We both gasped and ugh. I can’t even explain how exciting and fun and amazing it was. Feeling the baby from the inside is awesome, but feeling my body between the baby and my husband’s hand was just incredible.

I’m surprised I was able to sleep after that excitement, but exhaustion took over and I was knocked out. I woke up to a dream of Mark and I announcing to our families that we were having a girl. I’m guessing this was a response to one of Mark’s comments last night. After the baby kicked, he said, “Now I really think it’s a girl because that seems like such a ‘you’ thing to do… like the baby’s pushing and saying, ‘get off my bubble’!”

Anyway, the baby played with us again in the morning, which was exciting on its own because today, I am officially 20 weeks pregnant… HALF WAY through this crazy, amazing, exciting, miraculous process. Can’t wait to see you in 140 days, Baby!

Symptoms

Daddy finally got to feel the sweet baby and I could not be any happier or more excited. Love you, sweet baby!

To Doula, Or Not to Doula

Tonight Mark and I are going to a “Doula Meet & Greet” at our delivery hospital. I don’t know much about the doula program being offered tonight, but my general understanding is that it’s a Doula Co-op, meaning that you won’t necessarily work with one doula prior to, during and after labor, but that it will work much like the typical doctor situation (ie: you get whichever doula happens to be working/on-call when you begin laboring).

Mark and I have talked about hiring a doula to help with our laboring process, but have not made a decision quite yet. For those of you who don’t know, here’s some background on doulas…

What is a doula? A birth doula is a trained labor coach who assists you during labor and delivery. She provides you with continuous emotional support, as well as assistance with other non-medical aspects of your care.

At this point, you might be thinking, “isn’t that what your husband is for?” BUT, the biggest difference is that this individual is trained in labor coaching and can answer your questions during labor, suggest positions during labor, help you with breathing techniques, etc. In fact, studies show that deliveries with doulas tend to use pain medication less often, have slightly shorter labors, and are less likely to have a c-section or a forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery.

According to DONA International, a doula is a professional who is trained in childbirth and provides continuous support to a mother before, during, and just after birth (postpartum doulas are not covered in this article). Doula comes from a Greek word that means “a woman who serves” or “handmaiden.”

According to this website, delivery outcomes with doulas had significant benefits:

  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
  • 28% decrease in the risk of C-section
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience

Here are stats from another website:

  • 50% fewer caesarean sections
  • Reduction in the use of forceps vacuum by 40%
  • 60% fewer requests for epidurals
  • 40% reduction in the use of synthetic oxytocin for inductions or augmentations
  • 30% reduction in use of pain medication
  • 25% reduction in labor length
  • Increased rates of breastfeeding at 6 weeks post-partum (51% vs 29%)
  • Higher self-esteem (74% vs 59%), less anxiety (28% vs 40%) and less depression (10% vs 23%) at 6 weeks post-partum

Regardless of which is more accurate, it’s enough to intrigue me. I anticipate that labor is going to be the most physically and mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done and I want to be as prepared and well-equipped as possible. So, tonight, we meet doulas! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Symptoms

Ugh, I just feel very blah today. Tired, sluggish, and swollen. I know that it’s so natural and healthy to be gaining weight during this time, but I can’t help but look in the mirror and think, “Ughh, I look fat.” I love my tummy and the little baby inside, but I guess this is just the product of a person who’s spent their entire life concerned with image. I mean, I’ve always gained weight very easily and have had to work very hard to be thin. In fact, it’s only in the last 2 or so years that I’ve really gotten back to a comfortable, healthy place. And now, to watch my body change again feels wearing and kind of difficult. I can’t help but notice that my face is so dang puffy and I’m sure my tush is growing.

I’m sure people will read this and judge or say, “you look great. It’s just baby weight,” etc. etc., but I can’t help it. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop eating or giving my body what it needs to take care of our little babe. It just means that it’s hard to watch my body change. I think that’s fair.