A New Orleans Doula tells you five questions to ask when choosing a doctor (OB) or midwife for your birth.Read More
Professional Doulas do a lot of things. We drop our lives with a phone call, work with very long periods between meals and often with no meals at all, can take a nap anywhere, have both a clinical and sacred understanding of birth, our work is both physically and mentally demanding, and we have learned to manage all of this with very little or no sleep. But I think the most important skill a doula can have is the ability to establish an intimate relationship quickly. As I teach in Birth Boot Camp DOULA, it is this relationship, it is the heart I bring, my faith in your ability to birth that will enable me to support you in the best way possible.
Unless you're in my childbirth class, we've probably spent a total of 5-6 hours together, including our interview, before I join you in labor. Our meetings were casual, our time spent discussing your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. You were excited, anxious, nervous, hopeful and glowing with your round belly. When you call me to your birth, you are your raw self. You are exposed and primal, powerful and vulnerable. You are likely naked or in some state of undress. If you are uncomfortable being in this laboring state with me present, then I am an intervention who is in the way of your labor. That is not good. This could stall or slow labor.
We do carry a 'bag of tricks' as some of my clients have called it. Really, there is nothing particularly magical in that bag and if I forgot it at home I can still do my job. This is because I bring you my heart and this relationship that we build is love. I have to make myself vulnerable to you in a way very similar to how people fall in love. My own oxytocin levels are high and are rising as you progress through your labor. Oxytocin is the love hormone.
I read this article that has been circulating on facebook and I thought to myself, "THIS! THIS is how we do it!" If you haven't read it, here's the synposis:
- two strangers enter a room and sit near one another.
- they ask one another a series of questions of an increasingly intimate nature.
- they actively listen to one another.
- they hold eye contact for a prolonged period. Then, they fall in love.
(And as the author discusses, this experiment can be repeated in a bar - how New Orleans is that?!)
Now, here's the doula synopsis
- We sit together at a coffee shop and talk about your birth, my profession and you ask me questions about my role
- We sit together in your home, discussing an increasingly intimate number of things. I am sure to make eye contact.
- I listen to you and work to gain an understanding of who you are, your wishes and how I might best support you.
- I join you in labor and at some point, we have prolonged eye contact.
The rest is labor history.
You see, they are very similar. In the article it is noted that both individuals were open to participating and to love. This is not very different from us. You seek to be supported, unconditionally and wholly, through your labor and birth and I am making myself available to you.
I loved reading this article because this is one of my favorite parts of my job. When this happens the best way it can, you feel supported and cared for even if your labor and birth are different than what you had wished and how you envisioned it. When this happens in the best way it can, I will never forget your birth because it is in my heart and I am genuinely so proud and happy for you; I look forward to seeing pictures of your baby grow and it makes my heart happy when I run into you around town and see you as a mother and father.
I also think that this exercise, similar to how it is done at the bar, can be a very powerful thing for couples to do when preparing for birth. Take the opportunity to share eye contact and really focus on one another. Talk about nothing and let it build to sharing your intimate feelings and experiences, especially those concerning your pregnancy and birth. It may not be over a beer, and you're no stranger to one another - but doesn't everyone love falling in love?
Join us for a screening of Microbirth. December 7th. 4:30pmRead More
When your pregnant with a babe that isn't your first making plans for baby means also making plans for your children during the labor and birth. Becoming a big brother or sister is an important transition for a little one and a Sibling Doula can help make it seemless, impacting the familial balance and sibling relationship forever in a meaningful, loving way.
Children do not bring to birth the society fed fears and concerns that we do. Their honesty, open hearts and age-defying undestanding of it all is a beautiful thing to be witness to. With the right support and care children are able to fully experience and share in the experience of their sibling's birth, whether they are present for the birth or nearby eagerly awaiting the moment that they can first meet their new baby.
Franki Batten is both a Birth Doula and Sibling Doula. As a Sibling Doula, Franki spends time getting to know these pint sized memebers of the family during prenatal visits that are all about them and their new role. When mom is in labor Franki is there to care for the child and help them participate in the birth of their sibling as is appropriate for them and their family. Sometimes this means making a card for mom and the new baby, working on some crafts at home while mom labors in the hospital, or being with mom and offering her a cool towel for her head.
So, here's the big news . . .
there's a new midwife in town!
How exciting is this? It wasn't long ago that hospital midwifery was virtually unheard of in our crescent city, homebirth midwives were only found by carefully listening for the whispers of others and VBACs were rare at best.
We were invited to meet Alison Clark, CNM and chat with her about her new home with Crescent City Physicians at Touro's Family Birthing Center. She has been practicing in Mississippi and is thrilled to be growing some roots in New Orleans. She's looking forward to supporting women in using water to labor and birth, encourages movement during labor and also offers pre-conception care.
Midwifery offers women care that includes a philosophy that
birth is normal.
This is different from the medical model of care ascribed to by physicians (although we are super lucky to have some amazing physicians in our area that have a great perspective of birth). Every woman, baby, pregnancy and birth is different and will have differnet needs. Options are what women need. Women deserve the ability to have a conversation with health care providers and choose what route, what provider, is best for them. In a city that is often (sometimes) endearingly slow, we are rapidly seeing more birth options and this is beautiful progress!
We are thrilled to have Alison Clark's midwifery practice in New Orleans and are looking forward to meeting the other midwives joining her. And we were VERY happy to hear that whether you are planning a natural birth or a medicated birth (epidural) she is available to support you. While cesareans are out of scope for midwives, this midwife will be supporting VBAC moms!!! (can you feel our excitement?) You heard me right ladies, bring on those healing births! She is bringing holistic care to women, is supportive of her clients inviting Nola Nesting Doulas to their births, loves Birth Boot Camp and she's working with some great OBs to offer women the care they need should medical reason arise.
Alison Clark, CNM
3600 Prytania Street, Suite 30 New Orleans, LA 70115
41 weeks and 3 days pregnant is uncomfortable, but at that point I was kinda on autopilot. I was used to it and just trying to wait it out and not be impatient. Liam was 10 days "overdue", but I realize that my kids take longer to "cook". My babies are never big, they have been 6lb. 9oz., 7lb. 11oz., and now 8lb. 2oz. So not too big of babies and two of those were "overdue." Also, I am not fond of going by due dates because there can be so many flaws with that. But I won't get started on all that. On Wednesday, February 19, I had my regular doctor appointment and like usual I took the kiddos with me, but they (mainly Cason, who is 2) were exceptionally crazy that day. It was a really stressful day to say the least, and when we finally saw the doctor she said what I had feared. She legally had to put an end date on when baby had to come (which is so wrong and even she agreed). So she said she would strip my membranes that day and see if that did anything, but if nothing happened that I would have to come in Monday and try something else (breaking my water bag, or....Pitocin). Neither of which I wanted! So she stripped my membranes and said I was 4 centimeters and she didn't know how I would NOT go into labor at that point. She laughed that some people get epidurals before 4 centimeters! lol This was at 1:30 p.m. I left the doctor's office to go pick Bradley (my husband) up from work. I started having contractions approximately every 5 minutes but didn't think too much about it since I had heard many stories of people getting their membranes swept, having contractions, then the contractions dying down. I kinda kept count in my head how close together they were but didn't think a whole lot about it. We got home and I started washing dishes and cleaning since it was possible that the contractions would stay. But when I was standing my contractions went away! I was disappointed and thinking, hello? this is backwards. So I decided to just sit for a while and luckily they picked back up. Bradley made dinner and I cleaned some more and by the end of dinner the contractions were definitely there to stay I thought. So I let my parents know and let a few others know what was going on too. By 6:00 the contractions were getting uncomfortable so I let my wonderful [awesome Doula, Grace], know what was going on. We finished up dinner and I got the kids to bed. After I finished reading Cason a bedtime story I went to put him in bed real quick because I felt a contraction but he got so sad and said "Please rock a baby!" Which means that he wanted more cuddle time and rocked, so of course I rocked that baby!!! After that I walked around some and was getting very "discomfortable" and remember saying to Bradley that it kinda sucks how we forget these pains because right about then I was annoyed and wanted them to go away. They were 2-3 minutes apart but only lasting 30-40 seconds which meant that I probably wasn't as far along as I thought I was. Thats a disheartening thought. I text Grace again and she suggested getting in the tub/shower. So I decided to get in the tub and it was ok but I was seriously just annoyed and the bathtub is too long at our place so it was just frustrating more than anything. So by 8:00 the contractions were really wearing on me and I was kinda panicking, I will admit. I was thinking I can't do this, this is ridiculous; I mean I had only been "hard" contractions since 6. How was I going to last several more hours (my other births were both 12 hours from start to finish)? At 9:00 I laid on my side on the couch and felt so defeated. Then what happens?...a MUCH worse contraction with some weird pressure that felt like Liam did a huge flip or something. So I got up only to realize that my water leaked! (it never did more than that for the rest of the labor) I text Grace that and she came right over and helped me with assessing where I was in labor and to get a few things straightened out. I really wanted to go to the hospital, actually I wanted to BE at the hospital already, I was just so.....annoyed for lack of a better word. I even snapped at Bradley a bit! lol So we left for the hospital around 9:20 and got there at 9:36. Grace helped me check in while Bradley parked the car. This was a lifesaver! I say that because I personally would have killed all the ignorant people we ran into on the way to the Labor & Delivery! I got checked in and hooked up to monitors around 10:15. They checked me and guess what? It was like a dream come true, I was 10 centimeters!!!! WOOHOOO!! No wonder I was in so much pain! This boy was coming fast! I felt like I needed to push a little so I got on my knees on the bed while I hear the nurses calling for my doctor to come. I reallllly wanted to wait until she got there but I was in soooo much pain. I pushed maybe 3 times and really just felt like it did nothing, like he wasn't ready yet. At some point Grace was just standing by the bed and patting my back for comfort then she saw Bradley trying to get pictures so she got the camera from him and said for him to go stand by me. Well, Bradley goes to put HIS hand my back and my immediate response was "DON'T TOUCH ME!!!" Or so I have been told. This makes me laugh because I do NOT remember doing that! At some point between then and 10:30 my doctor got there and I decided I wanted to try to get in the tub, so they filled it pretty quick! The water immediately felt wonderful, I think it helped to release some tension I had since I was really tense this whole labor. I just couldn't get focused enough to go with the pain. I felt like I was fighting against it which, for me, makes it worse. So around 10:40 I tried some pushing but found it gave no relief, unlike pushing when I had Cason. This birth was so different than Cason's! At this point I am in the tub and here is what is happening around me: Dr. Lap is sitting in a chair beside the tub just chatting away with the 100 people (slight exaggeration, there were only maybe 6-8 people) who decided to be in the room. I really didn't care that there were that many people there, I barely noticed at the time. Here is what did annoy me (but as you may can tell I was just a bit irritable this whole labor): my doctor is chatting away about the Winter Olympics....at MY birth...while I am in pain, she has the audacity to be chatting it up with the nurses! lol In all seriousness this only annoyed me for a minute and then I realized how wonderfully laid back she was about all this. No one was telling me what to do or how to do it! She was letting me labor and push on my own. I seriously love this doctor! She is the best! I tried pushing a little but swear it hurt worse. With Cason it gave a little relief, but not so this time. After kinda moping to myself for a minute I decided that I needed to suck it up and get his baby out. I tried to push a couple of times but felt nothing different after each push. I felt like I was pushing and nothing was happening except more pain. I wanted the pain to stop so I just figured I needed to try harder and I did. I had to push a lot more with one than with my others, and Liam may have moved down some on his own if I would have waited but I didn't want to deal with the contractions that much longer. Dr. Lap and Grace were there to encourage me, and help keep me going. Grace gave me water a few times and I'm sure a lot things were said and done that I just don't remember or wasn't fully aware of at the time. I had a wonderful support ream. Oh yeah and Bradley was there, taking pics and making sure my birth mix playlist was playing soothing tunes. After what seemed like forever of pushing (in reality it was only 20 minutes at the most), the doctor said that started encouraging to push a little more and to keep going because he was getting close. At some point someone said he was crowning, which for me was obvious...OUCH, but I didn't have the same intense burning like I did with Cason. It was a little less intense. I did manage to to feel his head which was so cool! I pushed 3 more times I think (I can't remember a lot from the pushing phase) and out came Liam at 11:05 p.m.! Dr. Lap immediately hand him to me (I had wanted to get him myself but I couldn't muster up the strength, I was just like FINALLY!) and of course I was elated but more relieved than anything. Something I forgot to mention was that during my last few doctor visits Dr. Lap had suspected that Liam was posterior, which means he was face up instead of the way he should be; face down. She would mention it but never showed any real concern while I was slightly worried and had tried some techniques to get him to turn. On the last day I went in to see her she still acted like it was no big deal, which frustrated me! I say all that to say this. The reason the doctor even had time to make it to my birth was obviously because Liam was posterior (maybe not even all the way, but at least partially), and he was trying to flip over, which he did. He born face down, like he was supposed to. lol The following moments were packed with so many emotions it makes my head spin to think back on it all. First of all, when I was handed Liam, I was just like relieved...like YAY it's over. It really took me a minute or two to kind of come back to reality and realize I was holding my precious baby boy. Then it took me another few minutes to realize that no one was bothering me or baby. No one was rushing to "fix" anything, were just there with some towels over Liam of course, and he was looking around, just checking things out. Dr. Lap then checked the chord, which I had totally forgotten about. We got to let it pulse for several minutes (which I was elated about), until all of sudden I said ahhh...the placenta...and then it just kinda plopped out. lol. It was a crazy feeling, but once again, it happened on it's own, no one needed to rush it! Soon after, we got cleaned off and moved over to the bed where my little man continues staring at me and also happens to latch on nearly perfectly several times! Also, one the best parts about having a natural birth, and breastfeeding, the crazy adrenaline and oxytocin rush! With Cason and Liam the rush of hormones kept me up most of the night that night. Once we FINALLY got put into a room about 2 a.m. I was too excited and spent the night just staring at my little boy. He stared back at me most of the night too. Just content to be in mommy's arms.