Category Archives: Labor & Delivery

Interview Questions to Ask a Potential Doula

Interview Questions to Ask a Potential DoulaYou’re pregnant; congratulations!! Whether planned or not, pregnancy can be an extremely overwhelming time. Below are some questions to ask a potential doula to take the stress out of the planning process. Less stress makes this journey so much more enjoyable!

*With what agency did you receive your training to become a doula?*

-There are many acceptable answers for this question: ProDoula, DONA International, CAPPA, Childbirth International, and the list goes on. The only thing I would want to know when selecting a doula, is that she (or he! There are man doulas on the rise!) is trained through a professional doula organization. I am sure that there are many wonderful doulas who are not professionally trained, but I would want to know that mine was.

*Do you only help women who want an unmedicated birth?*

-The answer here should most certainly be NO! (Even if you want an unmedicated delivery!) A doula’s role is to support the client with her birthing decisions. Doulas are trained in all types of birthing scenarios to be able to provide an individualized support to each family she assists. If a doula answers YES to this question, she is pushing her own birthing agenda, rather than listening to and understanding her clients’ wishes.

*Why did you become a doula?*

-I suggest this questions because you are not just looking for a support person, you are looking for YOUR support person. This answer is very telling of the doula, and can say a lot about her personality. Your doula is going to be with you through a very personal, intimate life experience; you want a personality match.

*What happens if you can’t make it to my birth?*

-Answers here differ, as there are a lot of variables. The key is that your potential doula thinks about different scenarios, and has a plan. Maybe she works in an agency. Maybe she works closely with a back-up doula. Maybe she offers some sort of refund if you progress too quickly and there just isn’t enough time to make it. Whatever her answer may be, it should leave you feeling comfortable.

*Do you offer any other services?*

-If you are looking for a postpartum doula, placenta encapsulator, lactation counselor, photographer, or any other type of professional service, it may be more convenient for you to hire one person. The doula may even offer packages or discounts on multiple services.

*What tools do you find most effective during labor and delivery?*

-Again, answers to this question may vary, but should leave you feeling confident in your support. The tools I myself find most effective are: my hands, my heart, my ears, my compassion, my knowledge, and getting to know the needs of the mother before we hit the delivery room. I have a “bag full of tricks” but for some births it doesn’t need to be opened, and for others, every object is tested.

The key to interviewing your potential doula is to learn about her experience, and see if her personality is a fit for you. The interview should feel more like a friendly conversation than a sterile interview.

There are also a few questions that many potential clients ask…that the doula may not have an answer to:

-How many births have you attended?

I could answer this question…if I looked back in my files and counted, but off the top of my head, I have no idea. I stopped tallying after around 10 or 15 births when I became busier and had more clients at one time.

-What was your favorite birth?

I have many favorites, for many different reasons, but I could not answer this question. There are so many memorable birth moments, and I could pick out those moments from each birth I have attended.

-What was the scariest thing you’ve seen in labor and delivery?

This one I just plain don’t want to answer. The last thing a pregnant woman needs to hear are horror stories. When this question comes up I usually answer with something like: “I have been through many different birthing scenarios, but I like to focus on the positives of birth”. When scary things happen in the delivery room, it effects me deeply, and hurts to think about.

 What other questions were you happy you asked your doula during your initial interview?

Affirmations for Dilation, Labor & Delivery

Failure to progress.

This is one of the most common reasons for a cesarean section and augmentation of labor in the United States. What does it mean? It means your apocryphal delivery hourglass is running out of sand. It’s when the scary words that you may have left off of your birth wishes begin to get thrown around. Cytotec. Foley balloon. Pitocin. Cesarean. The word that is often omitted from this list is time. Sometimes a laboring woman just needs more time to get her important work done. Sometimes she just needs to clear her head, and really think about dilating. If neither you nor your baby are in any danger, do not be afraid to ask for more time. If they do not want to grant your more time, ask why. Be in control of your labor and delivery.

I often reassure women about the strength of their bodies. Strength they don’t know they have until they need to use it. What’s stronger, though, is a person’s mind. Some people just need to tell their mind (and really believe and picture what they are telling their mind) what their body needs to do.

So, if you are at the very tail end of your pregnancy, or in a “failure to progress” situation, clear the room, enter a state of relaxation, and make the affirmations (below) your mantra. Your mind is a powerful thing-don’t be afraid to use it:

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My body is strong and capable.

I have plenty of time to get this job done.

I am able and willing to do this work for my baby.

With each contraction, I visualize my body opening for my baby.

With each deep breath in, I exhale all the way through my body.

Each centimeter brings me closer to holding my baby.

My body was made to do this work.

I have plenty of space for my baby to come through.

Each contraction brings me closer to meeting my baby.

This process is natural, and I am ready for it.

My labor is progressing exactly as it is supposed to.

My cervix is opening and softening as it should.

I am in control.

My only focus is delivering my baby, everything else can wait.

My cervix is like a flower, blooming and opening beautifully.

The bond between my baby and me is strong and unbreakable, He/she knows how he/she needs to be born.

I am working hard for my baby.

My baby is slowly easing through the birth canal.

I am safe, calm, and ready to hold my baby in my arms.

My body knows how to deliver this baby, just as it knew how to grow this baby.

The power and intensity of my contractions cannot be stronger than me, as they are me.

Inhale peace, exhale tension.

My body will give birth in its own time.

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Did you use affirmations throughout your labor and delivery? Please share any that you found helpful.

The Top 25 Things NOT to Say to a Pregnant Woman

The Top 25 Things

 

Pregnancy is a time of many things. Joy, peace, wonderment, angst, and so many other emotions rolled into one. What it is also, is a time of realization that people have no filter. And say stupid shit. Why people feel the need to be unabashedly candid while speaking to a pregnant woman is beyond me. Below is a top 25 list of things NOT to say to a pregnant woman:

1. You’re SOOOOO big!

2. Are you having twins?

3. Why would you find out what you’re having? Life’s greatest surprise; ruined.

4. How do you not want to know what you’re having?! (Followed by: I could NEVER do that. I would NEED to know.)

5. Heard those hemorrhoids are a bitch.

6. So it’s true: daughters do steal their mother’s beauty.

7. Two under two. That’s going to be torture. You’re never going to have time for both.

8. Say goodbye to your body! Say goodbye to sex! Say goodbye to time for yourself! Say goodbye to your life! <Etc.>

9. I tore from my vagina to my asshole. I still can’t sit right.

10. What if your epidural doesn’t work? You’ll be able to feel everything.

11. How are you going to lose all this weight once the baby is born?

12. You’re barely showing. Are the doctor’s concerned? You need to eat more.

13. You’re having a natural delivery? You’re insane.

14. You’re getting pain meds during delivery? I heard they damage your baby.

15. You’re going to breastfeed your baby boy? Gross. Aren’t you worried he will be obsessed with breasts?

16. You’re going to poison your baby with formula? Don’t you know breast is best?

17. Breastfeeding is torture. Just use formula, save yourself the trouble.

18. Where is he/she? I’m so sick of waiting! Come on out (spoken to stomach or, for the really self-UNaware, vagina)!!

19. You’re naming him/her ____ (insert literally ANY name)?!?! Oh, I knew a ____. Total meth head. I’m sure your baby won’t turn into a meth head, though.

20. OMG you look bigger and bigger every time I see you! That baby must be running out of room in there!

21. Sorry, I forgot you can’t drink. I feel so bad for you.

22. You just look so exhausted. I’ve never seen you look so tired.

23. When I was pregnant… (insert unwanted story about how that person did something better than you).

24. You’re going to eat your PLACENTA?! That’s so gross. You’re like a cannibal.

25. You’ve really filled out everywhere this pregnancy.

In conclusion, unless you have something positive to say, PLEASE keep it to yourself. Chances are she has answered the same questions 29,845,729,845 times, and, if you’re a stranger, she doesn’t want to talk to you.

Please feel free to comment below with your “favorite” unwanted comment you received during your pregnancy.

Publisher’s note: the idea to write this blog post came to me after seeing a series of snapchats from laurmcbrideblog (that’s her snap personality if you want to follow her, and her blog is here) of stupid shit people had said to her just that day. Originally, the post had started with the top 10, but after reaching out to a few previous and current clients, the list grew rapidly.

When Dads Hit the Deck

I specify dads in this situation because, as to date, my only experience with people fainting, or nearly fainting, in Labor & Delivery has been with expectant fathers. So far, there haven’t been any instances of grandmothers, same-sex partners, sisters, etc. who have gone down for the count. I will post any differences should the situation arise!

Throughout our prenatal consultations, I try to gauge dad’s comfort level with blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids he may be faced with in L&D. If dad’s are particularly squeamish, and I know that ahead of time, I take extra precautionary measures. I also encourage these dads in particular to stay by his partner’s head during pushing time. Sometimes, though, these dads get curious, and are not prepared for what they see…

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(The dad pictured above did not pass out, but Tiffany Farley captured the “I’ve seen too much” faces perfectly.)

So far, in every circumstance when dad has been feeling too woozy to stand, it has been during the same point in delivery. The seem to make it past “peek-a-boo”, past early crowning, but then right at the end of the “ring of fire” is when, all of a sudden, they go weak in the knees. I can’t say I blame them; if you aren’t expecting it, it is quite a phenomena to see the human body go through so much. Mix that in with not sleeping, barely eating, and being on such an emotional high for so long, it’s no wonder this happens so often.

What do I do when dads hit the deck? My main focus is still mom, so while I guide her through contractions, and help her through those last few pushes, I am also having dad sip on orange juice, nibble on saltines, and am continuously flipping over the cold cloth I am holding on his neck. As long as he is able, I try to snap him back into action for the last push. I let him rest until that point, but the excitement of meeting his child usually provides enough adrenaline that he doesn’t pass out again.

Once the baby is born, I then have dad focus completely on his new bundle of joy, and his partner’s upper half. I focus on mom for the after birth procedures. In my experience, dad is too overjoyed to notice the birthing of the placenta, fundal massage, stitching, etc.

One of my favorite things about being a doula is helping bring couples together during such a joyous time. There are still plenty of ways to get partners and other key labor support people involved if you think they fall into this category. I work tirelessly to make sure everyone has a place and a job in L&D.

Did your partner go down for the count? Feel free to share your story in the comments section below!

Birth Without Fear Boston Meet-Up Recap

Last Saturday I attended the Birth Without Fear Boston Meet-up, featuring January Harshe. I wanted to attend the conference to gain insight as to how to be a better support to laboring women. What I got out of the conference was so much more…

The conference began with January giving a detailed account of each of her five births. Each birth story was very different from the last, and only one of her births was as close to a perfectly executed birth plan as she could get. She had me engaged in her every word; I found myself laughing one second, and had tears streaming down my face the next. She really has a way of captivating her audience – even over the gentle yells, cries, and laughter of a room full of happy babies. At one particularly poignant part of her story, I gazed around the room. I was curious to see if other people were as affected by her story as I was. I saw women rubbing their round, pregnant bellies, enthralled; I saw women burying their face in their hands and wiping away tears; I saw women nervously clutching their babies, holding them so close; I saw women who had been through similar struggles, nodding their heads very enthusiastically with a look of pained sympathy as if to say “yup, I remember how terrible that was”. It was quite touching, and a nice vacation from the “mom-bashing” I have seen so much of recently on social media.

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After January shared her birth stories, she opened the floor to a Q+A session. After a slow start, moms started opening up about their own experiences, and asking for guidance. As most of the women were local, there were a lot of “I need to get your information at the break” and “we have a support group for that” and “talk to Dr. XYZ about that” and “you have to join the Facebook group ABC” etc. That is another reason why I think this conference was ingenious – because almost everyone was local, we were able to network and find solutions together for specific issues. Well done, January, well done.

After the Q&A we broke for lunch – at which time I introduced myself to Heather from Cookies for Breakfast. I spotted her right away in the morning, but didn’t know how she felt about being approached by her followers. Turns out, she loves it, so feel free to introduce yourself if you see her :) After I ate I checked out the vendors, grabbed my tea (after ingesting so much red raspberry leaf tea I don’t think it will even be enjoyable again, haha), and started to silently panic about the afternoon session. Why? Because we were about to participate in the Earth Mama Angel Baby Harmony Circle – which is designed for people to be able to share their birth stories in small groups, share why they were at the conference, and squash their fears together in a small, supportive group. So, why the panic? I didn’t have a birth story to share. I couldn’t introduce myself as “Mary, mother of…” and was overwhelmed with pity for myself. I tried to remind myself of why I was there: to gain insight to better support the families I work with. I wondered if that would be enough to get me through the circle; I wondered if I could skip my turn and just be able to focus on everyone else; I wondered if people would think it was weird for me to be there without having any children of my own; I wondered how I was going to get through it. I took a gulp of my tea, which went down like a golf ball, took a deep breath, and headed over to Table 1.

Hearing my table mates’ stories was incredible. While certain people could say “me too” to certain parts of other people’s stories, it was amazing to me how different each experience was.  From traumatic miscarriages, to the perfect homebirth, to VBAC accomplishments, to lacking confidence, to feeling alone, to mistreatment in childbirth, to postpartum depression, to trusting instincts, each woman shared her story, and hopefully felt supported by the community. The woman who spoke before me certainly deserved a hug during her story, but I was so paralyzed by my own fear that I just couldn’t make my arms work. It is really my only regret of the day; that my moment of selfishness may have caused a woman to feel less supported than she deserved. So, I decided I was going to skip my turn, that today wasn’t about me, and we were here to support birthing decisions. But then the sandbox was handed to me…

Everything I was going to say suddenly sounded silly in my head. Other women in my circle had already opened up so much, sharing intimate, extremely personal aspects of their life. So, I leapt into my introduction: “Hi, I’m Mary and I am a childless mother”. The simultaneous “awwwww” ran me over like a bull and I fell apart. But, the caring women I was surrounded by instantly picked me back up. On either side of me I had women hugging me; from across the table an encouraging nod to proceed with my story. I was safe here; I had the support of women who had gone through their own struggles. So, I fumbled through a severely condensed version or my story and why I was there, and was very happy to get back into the role of supporting rather than being supported.

When the conference was over my doula friend Jen of The Supported Birth, her daughter, and I waited patiently for our turn to meet Mrs. BWF herself, January. We were of the last three to meet her, and it was so worth the wait. At one point earlier in the day January warned that anyone who stood near her would get pregnant…so naturally I stuck my uterus out as far as it could extend in hopes that I would catch some magical baby dust by standing so close. It was certainly refreshing to speak with someone else so passionate about changing birth for the better, and empowering women during such a joyous yet confusing time.

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After the conference, I was able to enjoy some time with my friend, and soak up some sweet, growing, happy baby time. It was a nice decompression after a very emotionally strung day. Jen was able to snap some candid pictures of our time that I will certainly treasure <3

Do you have a birth story to share? Do you want to be supported by local women who have gone through a similar experience? Look for a Birth Without Fear Meet-Up in your area.

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A Story of Friendship, Loss, and a Sweet One Year Old Baby Boy

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While I met Lauren about six or seven years ago through our, then fiancés (now hubbys), it was really a tragedy that brought us so close together. I reached out to Lauren after reading a Facebook post requesting prayers to get her through a really tough time. Lauren and her husband Pat suffered a devastating miscarriage (you can read about it through Lauren’s eyes here). After all of the struggles Jimmy and I had getting pregnant, I couldn’t image seeing that + and then having it taken away so prematurely. I checked on Lauren frequently to see how she was doing, and tried my best to let her know I was here for whatever she needed.

From that point on, we have talked almost daily. We can be unabashedly ourselves without fear of judgment or ridicule. We offer each other advice, support, and gentle slaps upside the head when the other is being a little crazy. This also means that we tell each other WAYYY TOOOO MUCHHH. So, when Lauren had exciting news to share with me, she was a little nervous because it was during my “I can’t be happy for anyone getting pregnant/poor me/why not me/my life is just so horrible” phase. To her surprise, when she told me, I cried happy tears. I was so ecstatic that my friend who had suffered so much, was now getting the blessing she and her husband deserved. She helped me get out of a time so dark and lonely, and for that I will be forever grateful.

It was also during this time that began my Baby Planning/Maternity Consulting education. I was learning a lot, and sharing anything I thought may be helpful with Lauren. Then, one day, she called and told me that her friend who she had wanted to be her doula was also pregnant, and she would probably not be able to attend her birth…

“I’ll do it!!!!” I blurted excitedly.

And, from there, the planning began. I hopped onto DONA later that day, and made the arrangements to attend my training before her birth. We set up appointments, I helped her through bed rest, and did my best to really understand her birth wishes. And then, on June 6, 2013, Lauren and I learned first-hand that you can come up with an iron-clad birth plan, but sometimes outside factors can change everything. For example:

  1. Sometimes, even on your first baby, labor can be so quick!
  2. You can be unsure if your water has broken.
  3. Sometimes even the “Spray Tan” or “Leather Pants” episodes of Friends isn’t enough to get you through a mean f*@#ing contraction.
  4. Sometimes epidurals don’t work in time.
  5. When your epidural doesn’t work, you STILL have the strength, stamina, and perseverance to push your baby out. And it’s amazing. Women are freaking amazing.

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    Photo credit, Tiffany Farley

  6. Sometimes, in spite of staying at the head level, dad’s see things they were not expecting.
  7. Sometimes scary things happen during delivery, and mom and baby are separated.
  8. When mom and baby are reunited, God, it is just. So. Good.
  9. Sometimes, nine months after a baby is born, you can be sitting in your Lactation Counselor training course, wishing you knew then what you know now.
  10. You can be sitting writing a blog post a year after a sweet baby boy is born, crying at the memory, feeling so blessed to have been a part of his birth story.

While I am sad that I won’t be able to attend this little man’s first birthday party (as I await another birth), I hope Lauren and Pat know that I celebrate the life of this sweet, curious, entertaining, happy, smiling, bright little boy every single day. <3

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HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY LANDON!!!

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Posted with permission. Any of the lovely, professional images were taken by Tiffany Farley. To see more of her images, please visit her website.

A Year in Review

Today is my first MCMaternity baby’s first birthday. Where the HECK has the time gone?! I can’t believe I am lucky enough to have been doing what I love for a year. And, I can’t thank the families who put their trust in me to be a part of their birth stories enough. Without people believing in what I do, there would be no MCMaternity. So again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

What has this year looked like? Below is a little summary of highlights:

  • Completed my DONA International Doula training workshop in Albany, NY
  • 7 vaginal deliveries
  • 1 Caesarean section delivery
  • Helped an additional 5 families prepare for birth (education, birth plan design)
  • Became a Certified Lactation Counselor
  • Took classes in childbirth education, reflexology, and breastfeeding
  • Had my services auctioned at the AGC Scholarship Foundation Gala for Hope

What do I have planned so far for this year?

  • Twins! Multiple sets of them :) :)
  • Experience with same-sex couples
  • Infant CPR certification
  • Learning more tips for the blog, first-hand, by babysitting my favorite 4 month old baby girl

What are my goals for this year?

  • Help a lot of people
  • To finish all certifications I have started
  • Figure out better ways to market myself
  • Write more blog entries
  • GET PREGNANT. For crying out loud.
  • At least 12 deliveries. At LEAST.
  • Complete the “Packages” section of my website
  • Learn more about the business side of business
  • Find a good, reliable back-up doula (anyone interested??)

Long-shot Goals (if I make enough revenue to support):

  • Start the process of becoming a certified Childbirth Educator
  • Become a certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (that’s right, folks! It’s time other people hop on board the placenta-loving train!)

I am very excited about this coming year. Now that I have some great education and first-hand birth experience under my belt, I certainly need to learn more about the business side of this business. Have suggestions? Don’t be shy! I thrive off of constructive criticism, and I created this website for you. Let’s make this business work, together :)

Interested in joining my team? Contact me. Know of anyone who could benefit from my services? Please, let me know. Want to give my services as a baby shower gift? I have the certificate ready :)

And, if you see this handsome, happy little one-year old (who absolutely ADORES his older sister), wish him a Happy Birthday!

Posted with permission

Posted with permission

 

What Does a Doula Actually…Do?

Recently, I was able to meet up with my brothers for lunch in Boston. It was a beautiful spring day, and amongst the lively conversation, my business came up. We discussed how I was searching for ways to make this a thriving business so that this is the only job I have to do, and still be able to provide for my family. And then, my brother shed light on a fact that I had not thought of:

“What does a doula actually do?”

He told me that he often shares with people what I am doing, but when they dive deeper and ask him questions about it, he is unsure of how to respond. He usually says something like “she does stuff with pregnant ladies and their babies” and the conversation usually dies there.

Well, I am certainly glad that this has been brought to my attention. Because if my own brother is unsure of what I do, who else is wondering?

So, here is my best way to describe my role as doula: I provide labor, delivery, and immediate postpartum support for any family who wants it. To delve deeper, I first meet with potential clients for a non-binding, relaxed interview**. Next, I meet with my clients at least twice (but as many times as the mom/couple wants) to better understand their birth wishes. I help them design a birth plan, and explain medical interventions that may arise, and what their options would be in those situations. I touch upon L&D terminology they may hear, so it is not so foreign during a time of high stress and emotion. I educate the family about the birthing process, but do my best not to overwhelm with information. I show them prenatal exercises that may be helpful, and demonstrate comfort measures that may be used during their labor. I really try to get to know the mom/couple so that I may best understand their wishes during this beautiful time.

When it comes time for labor, I am on-call and ready to go any time of the night or day (just ask ANY of my clients :) ). I come to the hospital, birthing center, home, or wherever you have decided to labor and provide continuous support throughout. When desired, I do everything possible to get the partner involved in mom’s care. I demonstrate what the partner can do to help, and then take a back-seat and allow them to enjoy the experience together. My support throughout labor takes on many forms. Some that come to mind are relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, making sure mom and partner remain hydrated, coaching helpful movement, providing massage and/or reflexology, and understanding when, and coaching how, to change labor positions. When necessary, I also facilitate communication between the family and medical staff. I will never speak for you, but rather make sure you understand the information being presented to you, and refer you back to your birth wishes during times of high emotion.

PWP Photography by Fiona Johnson

PWP Photography by Fiona Johnson

When it is time to push, I take on whatever role the couple wants. Those roles include (but are not limited to): leg holder, coach, counter, encourager, hand holder, gentle touch provider, hydration coach, photographer (though quite amateur!), re-focus-er, masseuse, breathing control, reinforcement for a tired partner, mirror holder, cold towel dabber, intervention explainer, and, on rare occasions, placenta courier…really ANYTHING the couple wants or needs I will do.

PWP, Photography by Tiffany Farley

PWP, Photography by Tiffany Farley

My care does not stop here. After delivery, if mom and baby for any reason need to be separated (emergency or routine), it has been my observation that her partner stays with the baby. Well, after delivery mom still has work to do. I stay by her side, and support her through fundal massage and placenta delivery. In the rare transfer of baby to NICU, I stay with the family as long as they want, support breast milk expulsion when desired, and help the family communicate with medical providers. When mom and baby are not separated, and the Magical Hour can be observed, I often become photographer to capture tender moments between mom, baby, and partner. If desired, I also facilitate breastfeeding support to help embark on a positive breastfeeding journey. I usually stay up to an hour after birth, but I take my cues from the family on when to exit so they can bond together, uninterrupted.

People often assume that I only work with women who desire to have natural home births. This is simply not true (although women should know their amazing bodies are certainly capable of this feat). If pain medication or medical interventions are desired, that is perfectly fine. I adapt my care to the desires of the family. My main goal is that the family has a positive birth experience, however that may be.

I hope this entry has shed some light on what I consider my role as the doula to be. I also hope dads and partners understand that my role in no way diminishes theirs, if anything I strive to get you more involved. Below are some tidbits from clinical studies from the DONA International website for people who choose to work with doulas. If you have any more questions, please post them below and I will be happy to answer them <3

Information from DONA International

Information from DONA International

**It is EXTREMELY important for the doula you chose to be a match so you can feel comfortable with the whole experience. If I am not the doula for you, I can provide you with a list of referrals, with no hard feelings at all.

That Time I Cut the Umbilical Cord

(First of all, I am breaking blogger rule 101: this entry has no images. Just words; just my story.)

Take a second and think about the most memorable thing you ever learned. It need not have been in the classroom. It could have been the time you learned how to skate the corners – and you can still remember the chill on your nose, the weight of your stick in your hand, the slight breeze as you turned, put skate-over-skate and glided around the corner successfully. It could be the first time you had to perform CPR and you can remember how it seemed to come naturally, like you had known how to do it all along, and adrenaline kicked in as you saved a human life.  It could be anything; what was it for you?

See, the thing with me is, this keeps happening. I think I have learned, and seen in action, the best thing I will ever know. And then I will see something else, just as good, and I am just blown away. Like, my first birth. God, I will never forget it. It was just days after I finished my doula training in New York. I remember learning about this connection between mother and baby, that mom can’t even put into words, like she doesn’t even KNOW about it, but it’s this connection that her baby knows how to be born, and she does EVERYTHING in her power to make sure her baby is born correctly. I KNOW this is true just from seeing the differences between labors, deliveries, and when moms just instinctively know when something isn’t right. It’s freaking amazing. I remember, during my first birth, seeing the head emerge, and then seeing the baby turn so he could fit his shoulders through, and take his first breath in the outside world. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. That was the moment I KNEW this would be my life work. And I am forever grateful for that moment <3

However, not every moment of seeing learning in action has been a good one. Like, the first time I saw the cord wrapped around the baby’s neck. In the same way that I get overly excited and emotional for the good situations, I get just as scared and “how do I make this situation better, and best support the parents” sense of urgency in the not-so-good-ones. Luckily, I heard and saw this precious baby take a breath, and knew he would be fine, but the wait for him to get out of the NICU was still so intense.

Recently, though, I was blessed with another first. And this one was so, so positive. I was asked to cut the umbilical cord. At first, I didn’t really think about it. I mean, I was totally HONORED to be given the opportunity, but at the time I had a laboring woman to support through pushing. I just stored it in the “things to do after labor support” part of my brain. But, when the time came, I turned into a bit of a puddle. As I was sobbing, hugging, and congratulating the wonderful mom on a job well done, the doctor said “Mary!” and pointed at the scissors on the table. I asked some stupid question (out of nervousness), like “now?” or something of the sort. She smiled behind her shield and nodded. I picked up the scissors, and to my surprise, my hands were shaking. “Do you know where to cut?” the doctor asked. I nodded, too overwhelmed to speak…

So far, this story may seem a little dramatic. But, in those short moments (we are talking less than 15 seconds) my mind was racing. Up until this point, mom and baby were one life. That baby was only alive because of this cord attached to mom’s INCREDIBLE placenta*. Now, it was time for his own life to begin, and for some reason, this job seemed bigger than it really was. The doctor gently held the cord closer to me (as if to say, no really, like now), and I went for it. I cut the cord, and basked in the glory of it for a moment. Then, I went right back to work, and held it together until it was time for me to leave. As soon as I got out of her room, I felt the emotion creeping back. By the time I made it to the nurses station, (I had never been at odd’s with the intense security of the maternity ward before) I had nurses by my side asking me “what happened” and how they could help. What happened? How do I explain it in words. The miracle of life? That’s what happened. “I’m just happy” I replied, “could you please buzz me out?” The doctor who was in the room put her hand over her heart and wished me well. She is someone I certainly hope to cross paths with again.

Is this how you feel when you go to work? I hope everyone gets to experience this amount of joy in what they do at some point in their life <3

Until the next cord… :)

*Originally, here, I had a whole rant about how amazing placentas are. Sometimes, though, I feel like the world just isn’t ready for placenta love. Someday, though, someday :)

What I Wear for Labor & Delivery…and Why

Let me start this entry by saying this: I have the best family and friends. In the world. Period. Through this journey so far, the support, encouragement, and overall “you can REALLY make this happen” outlook they have provided me has been outstanding. I really couldn’t ask for better people in my life. To all of you out there, thank you <3

How is this relevant to what I wear in the delivery room? Because my friends and family made it happen. It used to be “I need comfortable clothes that I don’t care if they get ruined”. Now (going to brush my shoulders off for a second) I look much more sleek and professional. And, my main goal of being comfortable, is totally supported.

I’ll start from the bottom up. Comfortable sneakers. The ones I wear have all memory-foam gel in the bottom, and provide enough comfort that I can be standing in them for days on end.

Next, thanks to my dear friend, I have my Lululemon yoga pants. I used to wear my $9.99 no-name brand yoga pants that start falling apart after three washes. And that was fine with me. My friend, however, is a fitness guru and has been preaching about the quality of these pants since I started. I kept telling her “I’ll buy them when the business takes off” because I was just not ready to spend $80+ on a pair of pants. Then we went shopping and she wanted me to “just try them on”. And then, despite my protests, she bought them for me (and ripped the tag in our let-me-just-pay-for-it scuffle). They wear like a dream, and I am so grateful for headstrong friends :)

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Finally, I have my brand-spanking-new, logo-embroidered, PINK, Athleta hoodie. This beyond-thoughtful gift came from my brother and his girlfriend (more like a sister, if we are putting labels on her). I could not believe my eyes when I opened this one. There was definitely a happy tear twinkling in my eye as I put in on. It was one of those “this is really happening; I am really living my dream” moments. It’s funny how just seeing your logo on something can make you so proud. And, the hoodie even has a little butt flap that hangs down, which is great because even in L+D this ass just won’t quit.

You may be asking yourself why it looks like I’m about to run a marathon or go to a hot yoga class. That’s a fair assessment of the ensemble. But you need to know that in the delivery room it is just not about me. At all. There is no time to gauge how comfortable I am, if I am warm or cold, if my legs or back hurt from standing, if I am tired, etc. None of that matters. What matters is how the mom-to-be is doing: if there is a way I can make her more comfortable, if she is sweating to death or you can hear her teeth chattering down the hall, if I can give her a massage to ease her aching body, if there is a way I can get the dad to be helpful and engaged, if there is a way to politely make the mother-in-law leave the room or at least tone it down a notch, etc. So, I go in dressed as comfortably as possible because her needs are my only concern.

Why not just wear scrubs? I would LOVE to wear scrubs, and some doulas do. However, already in my short career as a doula, I have faced some adversity in L+D. Many of the nurses, midwives, and doctors have been incredibly supportive, and have even thanked me for being a part of their team. But some see it as a threat, or a nuisance, something of that sort. And in no way do I want to fuel that fire. I don’t want them to think that I think I am a nurse, or that I think I am calling the shots. They earned the right to wear those scrubs, and I respect that. I believe that it takes an extremely special, selfless person to become a good nurse, and in no way would I want there to be any animosity from them because of a choice in uniform. Yoga gear is next best, and I am so proud to wear my logo :)

mcgear2

So there you have it. A comfortable, yet somewhat professional look. Because everyone wants to look decent when they get birthed on :)