Monday, January 24, 2011

How a Doula can Benefit You (yes, YOU)

This is a post I started a while ago and left it unfinished. When I found out about the Support Doulas Giveaway at Birth a Miracle Services, I decided to take the opportunity to finish it so I could enter. Today is the last day to enter the giveaway, so check it out if you are interested in winning some homemade natural hand cream!

What are the benefits of having a doula?
I am becoming a doula because I want more women to have all the benefits of doula support. Scientific studies have found clear benefits to having a professionally trained doula with you during childbirth. These include:

* 26% reduction in cesarean sections,
* 41% reduction in use of vacuum extraction or forceps,
* 28% reduction in need for pain medications, and
* 33% reduction in dissatisfaction with the birth experience
(Hodnett and colleagues 2004).

What benefits does having a doula offer over just having my husband as my birth support person?
It is wonderful that the "father pacing in the waiting room" has become a thing of the past, and fathers are now able to participate in the births of their children, to whatever degree they are willing and comfortable. The support that a loving, in-tune partner can provide a woman is of great value. However, it's important to recognize that the birth of your child is a highly significant experience in the life of your partner as well. Expecting the father, for whom the experience is extremely emotional, to meet all the emotional and physical needs of the laboring woman is a lot to ask. He may be worried about you and the baby and may find it difficult to watch you struggling with the obstacle of labor. He may not know or remember what he needs to do to help you. Doulas can be great for reminding or teaching the partner ways to better support the birthing mother. Having a doula also may allow the partner to take breaks if labor is long, without you having to be left without emotional and physical support.

How is a having doula different from having a female friend or family member at my birth?
Having an extra support person can be beneficial, and I recommend this if having a doula is not an option for you. A professional doula does offer unique benefits. She has more knowledge about the birth process, the medical procedures that may be offered, and pain reduction or coping techniques. She may be better equipped to support your plans than a friend or family member may not understand the choices you make. A friend or family member may also find it scary to watch you go through labor, while a doula is more objective and more familiar with labor and what is normal and not normal for women.

What is the benefit of having a doula in addition to the medical staff who will be there?
Most doctors are only able to be with their patients at the very end of labor to catch the baby. A midwife will typically spend more time with you, though in some situations, she will have to care for more than one laboring woman at once. In a hospital, you will have never met the nurses and they may also not be able to stay with you continuously. Some nurses are much better than others at support techniques, and you may not know in advance how good yours will be, though sometimes your choice of hospital plays a role. A doula is a person you choose, who you can get to know in advance, and who will be with you constantly during your labor and birth. Also, the primary responsibility of your medical care providers is to be concerned with the safety of you and your baby. A doula is primarily responsible for your emotional and comfort needs. The medical staff also has to worry about regulation by the hospital and their malpractice insurers. A doula works for you, not your doctor or hospital, and can often offer a more balanced perspective on your options.

Doulas sound great for women who are planning unmedicated birth, but I'm planning on having pain medication. Do I still need a doula?
Many women do choose to hire a doula to support them in their choice for an unmedicated birth, as such support can be difficult to find. However, having a doula can benefit all women, regardless of what kind of births they have. Most women will have to cope with some labor before they receive pain medication, and a doula's support can be beneficial to help the woman get through while she waits for it to be administered. Also, pain medication does not take away a woman's needs for emotional support and unbiased information. Even if a woman needs to have a cesarean, a doula can help keep her calm before and during the procedure and stay with her while the partner stays with the baby. A good doula will support the woman completely in whatever she chooses.

A woman's birth experience matters!
Research conducted by doula, childbirth educator, and author Penny Simkin indicates that women remember accurate details about their births 20 years later. Simkin's research also found that the most significant factor in the satisfaction rating a woman gave for her birth experience 15-20 years down the road was not the length of labor, whether there were complications, or whether or not she had pain medication, but how she was treated by those who cared for her. All women deserve the loving, continuous emotional and physical support of a knowledgeable professional while giving birth. (from Simkin, The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions, Third Edition, pg xi-xii)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review of Nonichai Nursing Mothers (Part 2)

Read about the ingredients found in Nonichai Nursing Mothers in Part 1.

I began taking my two-week sample of Nonichai Nursing Mothers in early December. On day 2 of taking it, I noticed the distinctive maple syrup odor in my sweat from the fenugreek. I drank herbal tea made from whole fenugreek seeds I bought at the health food store several months earlier, so I was familiar with this effect of fenugreek.

Fenugreek seed
whole fenugreek seeds

Towards the end of the first week on the supplement , I began menstruating. Many women report experiencing dips in milk supply during menstruation. I have never really noticed, but I do think the supplement may have helped a little with this.

I missed a few days taking the pills here and there since we were traveling, but overall I did notice an increase in my milk supply. Not enough that I started experiencing engorgement or felt a need to pump excess, but enough that my son seemed to get all the milk he wanted faster. He actually started spitting up small amounts after nursing--probably a sign that there was more milk there than he needed, and something he hadn't done since he was quite a bit smaller (he was much more of a spit-up baby than big sister was, though).

All said, I would recommend the Nonichai Nursing Mothers supplement to any breastfeeding mom dealing with low milk supply or slow let-down.

my handsome son, age 9 1/2 months
photo by the owners of JCPhotography

The Federal Trade Commission16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising requires that I disclose that I received one or more of the products mentioned above as a free sample, which was offered to me by an email inquiry. Reguardless, I only recommend products I have used myself and that I believe could benefit my readers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First birth as a doula!

Please forgive the detour from the schedule of posts I had planned. I just have to share that I had my first birth as a doula early this morning. The timing was perfect for me because my family was all sleeping the whole time I was gone. Everything went very well. It was a really fast birth, so I didn't have much time to provide support, but I feel lucky to have gotten to be there. And I got to cut the cord!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Review of Nonichai Nursing Mothers (part 1)

I was recently given the opportunity to try a free sample of the Nursing Mothers herbal supplement from Nonichai Health. (The page for the supplement has some excellent pro-breastfeeding information on it). This is the first offer I've received to review a product. I have looked up all the ingredients in the supplement. They are
Marshmallow, fennel, and fenugreek are all traditional herbal galactophages. Cardamom is a spice used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat digestive issues. I was very interested in the use of noni leaves. I am familiar with the use of the juice of the noni (Morinda citrifolia) fruit as a dietary supplement. My mother-in-law grew up using noni juice as a tonic in her native country of Tahiti.

the Noni (morinda citrifolia) plant

My husband's family is friends with the owners of the Tahitian Noni company, who have managed to create a blend of the juice with other fruits that is not completely impossible to swallow to people who have never tasted the fruit before (though the noni juice is still a very pungent flavor in it--it is kind of an acquired taste--I can tolerate it, while my husband actually likes it).

Noni juice
Tahitian Noni brand juice and lotion

I did not know before getting the offer to review this product that the noni leaf has also been traditionally been used as a medicine in Tahiti. The site I linked to above on Noni Leaves claims that tea made from these leaves is rich in antioxidants and flavinoids and aids in digestion and maintaining blood sugar levels.

Since my son is a bit small (issues with his doctor over this is another story for another day) and occasionally he has to work hard to get as much milk as he wants in the evenings, I decided I would give the free sample of Nonichai Nursing Mothers a try.

In my next post, I will talk about my experience taking this supplement.

The Federal Trade Commission16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising requires that I disclose that I received one or more of the products mentioned above as a free sample, which was offered to me by an email inquiry. Reguardless, I only recommend products I have used myself and that I believe could benefit my readers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Preaching to the choir" and what is in store for 2011

I have been online a lot more the past few days as my son has a fever, so I have spent a lot of time just holding him with my laptop open in front of me instead of cleaning or doing other things. I suspect the fever is a reaction to the Pneumococcal Vaccine (Pc, PCV, Prevnar) he received at his well-child visit on Dec. 30--it was his third time getting the Pc shot, and he didn't have a reaction the first two times, but reactions to Pc are very common, so I'm guessing it would be from that one and not the Hep B. He has been clingy and fussy the past few days, but no digestive or flu-like symptoms--kind of unusual. The fever is responding to acetaminophen, though.

But I see that taking more time away from the internet over the past month or so has been good for me in a lot of ways. I have been reminded of what Courtroom Mama wrote last summer in her call for submissions for the Crisis in the Crib blog carnival (which I participated in) about how time away from the internet can give you fresh perspectives.

I have been considering what the point is for writing this blog. I think, for the most part, blogs are read by same-thinking individuals, creating a "preaching to the choir" effect. What good am I doing if I find just the right words to express the way I feel if the only people who are reading it all feel exactly the same way, they just couldn't find the right words to say it? How much of what I say actually gets outside the circle of like-minded birth and parenting bloggers and onto the screens of women who actually need to read it? Who may actually consider options they hadn't considered before reading?

I would venture to say, not very much. This is why many of my posts in the past have focused not on proclaiming the message of the natural birth movement, but on turning our eyes on ourselves and discussing in what ways we are failing in our efforts to present our point of view effectively--tendencies towards things like name-calling, forgetting that others might see things from a different point of view, doctor-bashing, creating fear of medical interventions, and focusing too much on what choice is made rather than why it is made . I hope to have more posts like this in 2011. Because nobody is perfect the choir still needs preaching to, just a different message than what the congregation needs to hear.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Organ
Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Organ (Public Domain)

In 2011, I hope to write to the audience I have, rather than the one I'd really love to have, and perhaps I'll also try to find new ways to reach the people out there I'd love to reach. I also aim to write shorter posts, since they are more likely to be read, and to break up posts into multiple parts if they get too long.

(I was going to schedule this post for tomorrow, but I realized the date, and I wanted to post something on 1/11/11)

Friday, January 7, 2011

A New Year is kind of like a Birth

Think about it...the newness, the celebration, the hopes of great things to come...I'm suddenly reminded of a Gilmore Girls episode when for some reason they ended up using old New Years decorations for a baby shower "Happy New Baby!"

It's about time for my blog to join 2011! I realize I've been MIA in the blogosphere for the past month or so. The week of Christmas, we had a wonderful stay with my parents at their new house in Florida(they moved the same week my son was born--my dad moved without my mom because she got on the first plane she could get when my husband called her from the hospital after finding out I was at 8 cm) the week of Christmas. Being with family and all, and having my sweet husband not working, I didn't spend my usual (excessive) amount of time on the internet and I realized, I don't need the internet. Not only can I survive without checking everything I used to check daily (and often multiple times a day), I don't need to depend on it for my happiness. Since I've been back, I've been making an effort to enjoy other things in life, including my kids, mastering the art of maintaining a clean home (thanks in huge part to FlyLady, without her, I would have never even known where to start), and I've even had time to read some fiction novels (The Scorch Trials, sequel to The Maze Runner by James Dashner and Paranormalcy by Kiersten White), and I have always really enjoyed fiction.

The point is, I think for a while there, my vision became to narrowly focused on birth (as birth is the main focus of most of what I do on the internet). While I think birth will always be part of my life, I need to remember that birth is not the only thing in my life. In fact, birth is not even the most important thing in my life. Before I discovered doula work and childbirth education as potential careers, I always really wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. Sure, I enjoyed stuyding Early Childhood Education, and liked working with young children in the classroom, but I never wanted it more than I wanted to have children of my own. I always figured balancing home and career wasn't going to be an issue for me, but then I found my career, and although I don't actually make money at it yet, that is what it is for me. I am blessed that my husband's salary makes it so I don't have to work, and I want my children to have me present for them and not just physically. When they are older, I can put more time into my career. I feel that it's important for the amount of time I devote to things should reflect what my highest priorities are. Don't worry, though, I'm still planning on continuing this blog and still planning on getting my doula and Hypnobabies certifications and teaching Hypnobabies.

I will write another post soon (hopefully) explaining the direction I want to take this blog in the New Year. I will end this post with my goals for 2011:
  • Continue to keep my home in order using the routines I established with the FlyLady Beginner Babysteps.
  • Play with, sing with, and read to my children daily.
  • Devote time each day to developing myself spiritually.
  • Find more ways to let my husband know how incredibly much I appreciate him.
  • At least finish everything in the CBI doula course except for the two births (I'm very close to doing this! I will probably also get the births in, but if I don't, it's not a big deal)
  • Do the hypnosis at-home course and the required reading before the Hypnobabies Instructor Training in July!
And just because I didn't do this yet, here is a list of the Top 10 Most Viewed Posts on Birth Unplugged in 2010:
  1. Understanding "Painless" Childbirth
  2. A Natural Third Stage?
  3. Why Natural Childbirth is Not Important
  4. Traditional Birth Secrets: The Rebozo
  5. Progesterone: the pro-gestation hormone
  6. Painless Childbirth, revisited
  7. Hypno-anesthesiology 101, with Dr. Seuss
  8. Physiological 3rd Stage, without the "as long as..."
  9. Maslow's Hierarchy of (Birth) Needs
  10. Will We Ever Reach Peace in the OB v. NCB war?