Being A Doula

Image credit: tumblr

Image credit: tumblr

Being a doula, for me, is not about changing hospital policy, or steering women away from “bad” providers. It is not about disseminating information to every client. It’s not about birth plans. It’s not about informed consent. It’s not about vaginal birth, home birth, or cesarean birth. It’s not about statistics. It’s not about rebozos, crock pots, or rice socks. It’s not even about making a difference or changing the world.

Being a doula is about laying aside my notion of what a particular birth ought to be, and instead surrendering to what it actually is. It is opening my eyes to the reality of each woman’s circumstances, and meeting her right where she happens to be.

It is seeing beyond myself, and stepping into someone else’s experience. It is opening my hands in service, in whatever way the mother sees fit. It is about humbling myself, and understanding that each birth can and will teach me something I did not know before.

It is about respecting the care provider(s) my client has chosen, simply because she has chosen them. It is about learning how to show respect and compassion to everyone in the room, even when I don’t feel like it, because it is the right thing to do. Many times, it’s about being an example.

It is about protecting space around a birthing woman and her partner, so all they see is each other. It’s about becoming invisible, so that the birthing woman can focus on what is most important.

It is about being with this woman, right here, in this moment in time. It is often about helping her surrender fully to this great work she is doing. It is looking her in the eye and lending her my strength when she runs out. It is opening a door when she hits her wall. It is about believing her when she expresses pain, and validating her struggle.

It is believing in her, even if no one else does.

It is about bringing a little bit of sunshine into this storm that feels so big, and reminding her that it will not last forever. Being a doula is a lot like trying to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.

It is about love.

And I love being a doula.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

 

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Filed under All Things Doula, Birth Stories & Inspiration, Just Me

A Message About Preeclampsia to Every Mother

If your care provider is seeing a slight increase in your BP, a bit of protein in your urine, and asks you questions about headaches, swelling in your hands and face, pain under your ribs on the right, and if you’ve been seeing spots, they may tell you that you are turning preeclamptic. The Preeclampsia Foundation website can help clarify a lot of what they are telling you, and give you some tools to partner with your care provider in making sure of your diagnosis. Before you can proceed, having a good understanding of what you are facing is important for you and your baby’s health. A preeclampsia diagnosis is nothing to sneeze at, and therefore, it behooves you to learn what you can in order to participate fully in your care, and to make decisions based on information and instincts, rather than fear.

However, it is important to note that, if you do have preeclampsia, you are in a situation where the benefits of certain interventions (such as induction or occasionally cesarean section) very likely outweigh the risks of waiting it out. Preeclampsia doesn’t play fair. It is imperative that you speak clearly with your provider, and make sure you understand why they are suggesting certain procedures. Even if they are necessary, they can be hard to take in if you were planning an unmedicated vaginal birth. Knowing really is half the battle in this case. Do not be afraid to learn about preeclampsia, learn about the way your care provider treats it, and walk forward in confident awareness of the power you still have to choose rightly for you and your baby.

Some things to consider if your blood pressure slightly elevated during only one prenatal visit, and in the absence of other symptoms:

  • What is your stress level like?
  • Have you been sick lately?
  • Are you dehydrated?

Some questions to ask if you have more indicators and/or symptoms:

  • “Am I being diagnosed with preeclampsia, or are these numbers borderline?”
  • “Could this be pregnancy-induced hypertension? If so, how do you normally treat it? Can it lead to preeclampsia?”
  • “What other symptoms might come to light if it is preeclampsia?”
  • “Do I have the option of monitoring BP at home, and being checked every couple of days, or does this need to be taken care of now?”
  • “Is the protein in my urine shown via a reagent strip, and if so, can we double-check it with a 24 hour catch?”
  • “What are my options for induction if it becomes necessary? What are the benefits/risks/alternatives of each method? Which do you prefer, and why?”
  • “How soon do you typically decide to move on to a cesarean section if the induction does not work?”

Preeclampsia is not the end of the world, though it is serious. It is just one of several curve balls that get thrown at some women. It is not something that we currently know how to prevent with any degree of scientific certainty. We have a lot of ideas of what seems to help, but nothing we can hang our hats on just yet. One thing that I think is so important to understand is that we can do everything “right,” have a textbook healthy pregnancy, and still end up with preeclampsia or other problems. We are never guaranteed a “good” outcome when it comes to anything in life, and we should not expect our births to be any different.

What matters most is to do the best we can with what we have, and to be flexible when we are handed something unpleasant, difficult, or even downright terrifying. We face our fears and challenges head-on, and make the best decisions we can within our circumstances. We do not lose our power just because of a medical diagnosis. We just lose a few options we otherwise would have had. Never be afraid to ask your care provider, “Why?” The more you understand, the less scary it will be for you, and the better you will be able to process your birth after the fact.

Preeclampsia or no, your birth is still your birth. You are already a good mother. You can do this.

What do you know about preeclampsia? Where did you get your information? Have you had preeclampsia before? What was your experience with it? What did you learn from it? What advice would you give to someone facing a similar situation? Share your story in the comments…

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

 

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Filed under C-Section & VBAC, Care Providers, Complications, Induction & Augmentation, Informed Consent/Refusal, Pregnancy & Birth

Book Review Friday: “Giving Birth” by Catherine Taylor

Giving BirthGiving Birth by Catherine Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books which I wish I would have taken notes throughout, to better enable me to review it accurately. Her tone, her writing style, and the content were all excellent.

Her writing style is accessible, honest, frank, and open–the way a good journalist’s should be. Her descriptions of the various women she meets, the places she goes, and the births she attends as an observer or doula are vivid without being wordy.

I found myself moved to nearly to tears several times (I’m not much of a crier, so “almost to tears” is saying a lot) throughout the book.

It’s picture of midwifery as a profession, from Certified Nurse-Midwives to direct-entry midwives is respectful and unbiased. She shares the reality of the political landscape all midwives must work in, the challenges they face, and the little triumphs on behalf of women and their babies.

Even if you are not into birth, I would recommend this book to every woman – whether you plan to have children, have children already, or plan to never have children. It can speak powerfully to any of us.

View all my reviews

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Filed under All Things Doula, Birth Stories & Inspiration, Birthing Industry, Care Providers, Homebirth & Midwifery, Pregnancy & Birth, Recommendations

7 Symptoms Every Pregnant Woman Should Know

Pregnancy is weird. There is no denying that. It often comes with all kinds of odd symptoms as the hormones of pregnancy do not limit their effect to the uterus and growing baby. Everything from morning sickness to hemorrhoids to indigestion can be a normal part of pregnancy. These things are not often a cause for concern, but sometimes, these symptoms wander outside the range of normal, and it’s important to understand what that looks like.

There is a reason your care provider has you pee in a cup, takes your blood pressure, and asks about headaches, vision changes, and other symptoms. It’s best not to stay in the dark about why.

I don’t share this information to scare you, or to make you paranoid, but to bring a sense of awareness. When in doubt, it never hurts to call your provider. Peace of mind and good health are more important than feeling a little foolish. Take a minute to watch this video, and just tuck it away in an easily accessible corner of your mind.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

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Filed under Childbirth Education, Induction & Augmentation, Informed Consent/Refusal, Pregnancy & Birth, Preparing For Birth, Videos

Preparing For Birth Has Moved!

We are still at the same address, but we have moved upstairs into a new, more spacious office suite. We are now in Suite 201, just at the top of the stairs. The very first door. We now have three midwives working out of this office, and five doulas, all of whom are a joy to work with. Classroom space is bigger, too, which excites me to no end!

As I grow in my business, I am learning so much, and I am grateful to be a part of Preparing For Birth as it grows to better serve our community with more options for women during the perinatal period. From Early Pregnancy classes, to Essentials for Childbirth, to Life With Baby, Pregnancy Fitness, and Breastfeeding classes, we really are covering a wider range of needs at an affordable price.

Stay tuned for more information!

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

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Filed under Preparing For Birth

Preparing For Birth Game Night!

Click here to visit the Preparing for Birth site.

Click here to visit the Preparing for Birth site.

Preparing for Birth is opening our doors for a night of postpartum themed games, food, and fun! All are welcome.

-Henna: Like face painting for grown-ups!
-Babywearing: Try various carriers, and get tips!
-Cake: Who doesn’t love cake?
-Food and drinks.
-Postpartum-Themed games and activities: Yay activities!

We can’t wait to see you and your family.

Warmly,
Preparing for Birth

To RSVP on our Facebook event, click HERE, or just show up!

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From (Emotional) Hurdles to (Booger) Slalom: The Parenting Olympics

faerylandmom:

This post deserves a slow clap.

Originally posted on The Ugly Volvo:

For those of you angry that having a child prevented you from qualifying for the Sochi 2014 Olympics (or the wherever-they’re-holding-them-2016 Olympics), remember that while you may be losing at international sports competitions, you’re still in the running for a few other medals:

Event 1:

olympics weightlifting

To level the playing field, this event is divided into multiple weightclasses:

Newborn

Infant

Toddler

Exhausted Older Child

Young Child + Stroller, and

Young Child + Uncomfortable-to-Carry and Bizarrely-Heavy Car Seat/Carrier

*               *             *

Event 2:

olympics emotional hurdles

A feat of less-obvious athleticism, some people train for YEARS to master this event.  Gold medal goes to anyone who manages not to lie awake night after night second-guessing all their decisions or, if that proves too difficult, anyone who doesn’t break down crying for no particular reason on a Tuesday.

*               *               *

Event 3:

olympics slalom

Medals are awarded for multiple categories, including “fastest wiping,” “best use of snot-sucking…

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