Monday, January 28, 2019

Does a Birth Plan Set You Up for Disappointment?

You just found out you are expecting. You have prepared and spent a lot of time deciding on your care provider, birth place, whether to hire a doula, and who you want at your birth. And more than likely you have thought of writing a birth plan. While considering a birth plan, have you heard "You are only setting yourself up for disappointment when things do not go the way you planned." Does this mean you should not write one?
I suggest looking at this in a different way. Do we tell women not to plan their dream wedding in case their groom does not show up? Do we tell women not to apply for a college in case they may not get in? When we look at it in this light, it sounds ludicrous to tell people to never plan for anything simply because there is a chance the plans may not go just as we hoped.
Birth is unpredictable, like anything in life. But planning for it ensures that you have a care provider and birth place that supports the type of birth you hope for. Planning helps ensure you know all of your options and that you made choices based on knowing all risks and benefits. And that if things do not go as planned, you were apart of the choices that affected your birth. And those choices were the best for your unique situation.
Planning also helps you be as proactive as possible. For example, if you know you really do not want to be induced, you may learn instances in which women do face induction: pre-eclampsia, choleostasis, large baby due to gestational diabetes, or because a care provider does not support you going past 41 weeks. Knowing this information may help you seek out nutritional advice on how to prevent medical conditions that require induction. And discussing your birth plan with your care provider may help you learn that your birth provider induces simply because of gestational age, which may lead you to look for a care provider who does.
As a doula, I explain to clients the importance of planning. The process helps you discover how you want to feel during your birth. It helps you discover how important every aspect of birth is and even if you cannot get certain things on your birth plan, there are ways to accommodate for those losses.
So what if you do plan a certain birth, you find a care provider who completely supports what you want, and you still end up with a birth that was not what you envisioned? Just like anything in your life, we process it. Disappointment is part of life, it is inescapable. But there are resources to help you get through this unique loss. It could be as simple as talking to a friend or family member who was in the same situation or maybe you will need more help. There are peer groups, like ICAN, professionals who are trained to deal with PTSD surrounding birth, and classes specifically meant for helping women process their births. It is quite normal to be happy to finally have your baby in your arms but upset how your birth went. This does not make you a bad mother, it makes you human. As someone who has seen a variety of births, who has supported many families in this process, fear of disappointment does not justify not creating a plan. You deserve to feel respected and supported during your birth and planning helps you get what you deserve.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Revamped Doula Support Program

What can you expect when you hire me as a doula? This blog post is all about the changes I have made to my program to help you better prepare for birth and postpartum. I love to provide a wealth of information to my clients so that you feel you have all the tools necessary to make the decisions that best suit your family. I believe that educated decisions can only come from weighing all risks and benefits and applying them to your unique situation.
First off, my support is rooted in holistic care. I am immersed in holistic living. This means I believe true health and healing come from within. My advice is rooted in diet, stress relief, good quality sleep, exposure to nature and exercise, regular chiropractic care, as well as herbal and homeopathic support when necessary.
The information I provide to clients is shared in electronic files. I have carefully chosen articles and created handouts and information sheets included in these files. The information is broken down into chunks:
  1. Birth Plan Creation: I provide resources that I believe are important in creating the birth that you know is right for your family. The information provided includes a sheet that I compiled of all of the choices you could face in labor and birth along with risks and benefits of each choice. We use this sheet during our first prenatal meeting. I encourage all clients to take their birth plan to their provider. I also provide resources to help you process your meeting with your care provider regarding your birth plan. This will help you ensure that your care provider and birth place are exactly what you need to provide support for the birth you know is best for yourself. 
  2. Physical Prep: I believe to accomplish the birth that you desire, you need to start working towards it as early in pregnancy as possible. The information I provide on physical prep is rooted in nutrition, exercise for optimal positioning, chiropractic care, stress relief, and choosing beauty and cleaning products that are non-toxic.
  3. Mental Prep: Our society does not talk about birth in a positive manner. I believe mental preparation is incredibly important because birth is managed by hormones which react sensitively to stress. The information included in this section helps you to change your mindset about birth and to help ensure that you go into your birth with as little fear as possible.
  4. What to do During Birth: This section contains information on what I suggest doing during labor. I created a document on coping techniques to use in every stage of labor complete with descriptions and images. This document is what we use during our second prenatal meeting. This section also contains information on how partners are an integral part of birth and how they can best support moms.
  5. Breastfeeding: This section contains information on how to prepare for breastfeeding. I created a document about issues to watch out for and what type of help you should seek for each type of issue. I also include information on how partners, chiropractic care, and CLCs & IBCLCs can provide support during breastfeeding. Lastly, I have also created a document on nutrition that supports a healthy breastfeeding relationship.
  6. Postpartum Prep: Prep for the postpartum period is just as important as preparing for birth. It can be hard to find the support you need to fully heal and recover from birth as well as bond with and care for your new baby. The information contained in this section is to help you know what type of support you need and how to find it. It also contains information on signs of baby blues and postpartum depression and nutrition support  that helps best to prevent and/or manage these issues, as well as when to reach out for professional help.
  7. Resources: This section contains suggestions on resources you can use during pregnancy and the postpartum period. I am greatly connected in the birth community and all of the resources listed are either people I have used myself, people I know, or ones who come highly recommended to me. 
I also provide clients access to an extensive lending library. I give each client two books to borrow throughout their entire pregnancy. These books are referenced often in the handouts I have created: The Natural Pregnancy Book and What to Eat When You're Pregnant. I also lend out the Spinning Babies Daily Essential DVD to help you stay comfortable during pregnancy as well as get and keep baby into optimal position.
While my support is rooted in holistic care and I understand the importance of a physiological birth I also understand that interventions were created for a reason. I help families understand when interventions can help in their particular situation and how to use them smartly to get the birth that is safest for them. I am not a doula that supports only unmedicated, vaginal birth but one that supports clients in whatever type of birth that they know is best for them. My goal is to ensure that clients feel completely supported and respected by their entire birth team. And that no matter which type of birth you experience, you feel you were truly apart of all of the decisions that were made and feel powerful and in control.