The stats are in . . . In 2015 I served 6 families through labor support. 4 of those families gave birth in birth centers, and 2 in hospitals. 100% of those families were satisfied with the service they received. Why don’t I publish stats like medicated vs. unmedicated, or vaginal births vs c-sections? My role as doula is not about the outcome, as far as method of birth is concerned.
My role is to provide information in the prenatal period. I will make sure you have the information needed to allow true informed consent. I will support you in what is important to you. I will help you think through pieces of your birth plan. I will help you and your partner work through fears about the upcoming birth.
My role is to provide support during labor and birth. I will remind you of the reasons why you wrote your birth plan as you did. I will assist with labor comfort measures, even when that means a double hip squeeze through every contraction for three hours. I will suggest position changes that might help with fetal positioning, ease back pain, or encourage baby to descend. I will guide your partner in ways to support you. I will be there when your partner needs to take a break. I will be constant and present throughout your labor. I will be there when plans change out of medical necessity.
I can’t guarantee the outcome of your birth. I can’t promise that your baby won’t experience distress. I can’t promise that you will have an unmedicated birth. I can’t promise that your baby will be born vaginally. I can promise that you had information and support to help you make the best decisions for your birth. I can guarantee that you will have 100% of what I can offer.
Birth plans are pretty common these days. They can be great tools for helping sort through birth options. Don't wait until the third trimester to work on your birth plan. You might realize you feel strongly about a certain option, and might decide to change care providers or place of birth to better align with your desires. Some doctors and hospitals are not open to birth plans, and this might lead you to question whether that doctor will be a good fit for your labor and birth. Labor isn't a time when you want to have to go in with your defenses up and ready to fight. Sometimes this is necessary, but it is certainly not ideal. There are some things you can do to help your birth plan be received in a positive manner.
1. Know what is "normal" for your place of birth.
Realize that if you go to a hospital asking for no fetal monitoring, when the hospital policy mandates continuous fetal monitoring for every laboring woman, your plan isn't likely to be embraced. If you ask for a squat bar in a facility that doesn't even have squat bars, you have wasted space on your paper. Call the labor and delivery unit of the hospital in which you plan to give birth, and ask about policies and equipment availability. Ask detailed questions like "How many women have you seen labor in the tub in the last month?" You might find that while the hospital says they have tubs, the tubs are used as storage areas or even lack hot water!
2. Your birth plan should be a summary of conversations you have already had with your care provider.
This helps you decide if your care provider will facilitate the birth you desire, and gives the L&D nurses confidence to proceed. For example, if delayed (also called optimal) cord clamping is important to you, and if your doctor objects when you discuss it, you might want to find a different care provider. Also, if you are able to start your birth plan with "My doctor and I have agreed to the following ...", this communicates to your nurse that your doctor is already on board with your preferences.
3. Birth plan should be in bullet point, items listed in order of occurrence, and
limited to one page.
In a hospital setting, your nurse likely has several patients to care for at the same time. Make your birth plan concise and easy to read. For an extra touch, use pretty paper, stickers, or a creative theme to help your birth plan stand out. Keep the labor and birth plan on one page and postpartum and baby care information on another page.
For more help in writing a birth plan, contact your local labor doula to learn what services are available. If you are in the greater Houston, TX area, I would love to speak with you regarding a la carte birth planning sessions or a full labor doula package.
It is that time of year when we often pause to think about the journey of life over the past year and consider where the journey will take us in the year to come. I'd like to share a bit of my journey with you.
In April of 2015 we found out that my husband's parents would be moving to our area. Of course this was exciting on a personal level, but on a professional level it meant I would finally be able to actively pursue birth work. After all, you can't call just anyone in the middle of the night to care for your own five children in order to assist another family with the birth of their child! My midwife and professional mentor suggested that I work as a doula before beginning formal midwifery studies. A trusted friend suggested a doula training that was scheduled for June 2015.
By August, my inlaws were here and getting settled. My training was complete, kids were getting ready to return to school, and I was ready to dive in to doula work. A local midwife invited me to attend births at her birth center alongside her staff doula as I became acquainted with birth work. After the first birth, all doubts and hesitations that floated around in my mind were gone. The calling was confirmed. I knew without a doubt that this was the very work I was put on the earth to do.
After three births in that capacity, it was time to shift my energies and begin investing in my own business. I was blessed with three of my own clients from October to December. It has been so fulfilling to walk with these families through their third trimesters, births, and post partum times. Each family grows in my heart as I witness and support them in the miracle of birth.
I worked full time on my certification and completed that process in November. In December I was notified that my certification packet had been approved. Certification means that I have completed several classes, read multiple books on topics ranging from birth to breastfeeding to loss (and more!), and have attended births meeting certification criteria with satisfactory reviews from clients and care providers. I also had to pass a lengthy test, including essay questions. I certainly have a greater appreciation for the certification process now than I did ten months ago! As a CAPPA certified labor doula, I have a scope of practice and certain standards that must be maintained. Certification is one way of ensuring that the client is hiring a competent professional, as doulas are not licensed or regulated by the state.
In this short six month span of time from my training to completion of certification, my skills have grown and my views have expanded. I look forward to continued growth in 2016. One of my goals for the upcoming year is to blog on a regular basis. This is where you come in! What topics would you like to see discussed? How can this blog be useful to you? Please leave comments and topic suggestions below. Happy New Year!
When making any decisions regarding your pregnancy and birth, remember this acronym to help you gather information to guide decision making.