Thursday, September 24, 2009


I am hoping that my postings will be helpful to others so I would love to have some feedback. If you have any comments, questions, concerns, would love to hear from you!


No, not six dollars and 50 cents.  I had the pleasure of attending my 650th birth on Tuesday.  And I do mean my pleasure.  It was hard to get that first l:30am phone call when I had not slept well the night before, but once I was up and moving, the day moved quickly.

Although this is definitely a milestone in my doula career, each birth still has such special meaning to me.  I am in awe of the laboring mom and dad working their way through the process, weighing decisions, grabbing at the "anchors" I provide in a position, a touch, a word.

The strength women show in labor is always encouraging and remarkable and a pleasure to witness. The power a dad shows in his hold, his touch, his presence is a joy to watch.  Two people coming together for a common goal - a healthy birth.

And if anyone has any comments on my blog, I would love to hear them.  This is a journey I hope to share with many families.  I would love your feedback.

So when this 650th baby emerged into the arms of her mom and and dad that morning, I was just as amazed as I was the first time I attended a birth. And so grateful for the privilege of being asked to serve as a guide, a witness, a participant in the process.  Thank you to all the wonderful families who have allowed me to share their journey.  I'm ready for the next birth!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Hmmm, After 2 births in 24 hours, these words could definitely apply to my own level of energy.  But I was actually thinking about the condition in labor where a mom feels she would do just about anything for a little sleep. 

It is very common for me to hear a mom observe that she is just so tired. She has usually missed a night's sleep from contractions, anxiety over labor beginning, excitement, etc.  She would like to just lay down for a little while, but once she is reclined, the contractions can be so much harder to deal with and her resolve to go forward unmedicated can be challenged.

I have always looked at that "sleepy" attitude as a good sign of active labor.  When a mom looks very shut down and sleepy, I know her endorphins are kicking in and helping her deal with her labor.  But how do you handle this situation and continue to support a mom "moving forward"?  Keeping the reclining period to no more than 30 minutes can help - allowing a mom to rest her legs and body  while actively supporting her through contractions can give her a break.  She may not come out of it feeling that she is  "rested" but she has allowed her body to relax between contractions. And reminding her of the reason she is laying down, to take advantage of the time in between the contractions to just sink into the bed and rest her mind and body.

Using a shower for 30-60 minutes can help a mom to relax and feel "restful" before laying down for that 30 minute period.  I have seen moms actually snore between 2-3 minute contractions catching seconds of rest during the last of labor.  Low lights, soft music, gentle touch, and lots of pillows  can all aid her in feeling that she is resting.

Feeling tired is definitely a part of labor.  Being exhausted and fighting contractions is not where you want to end up. So continue to look for little windows of opportunity to recline or rest while keeping your mind on the ultimate goal of accomplishing the birth of the baby in a healthful, happy way.  And having a doula support the mom and dad in this journey can feel  invaluable.

Monday, September 7, 2009


When we prepare for parenthood, we can be overwhelmed by the many responsibilities and requirements coming our way.  But that preparation is enhanced by facing pregnancy and labor.  In dealing with the many changes and demands of pregnancy, we are starting to learn how to make decisions with the baby as first priority.  For first time parents, there is a wonderful training ground that pregnancy provides.  And one of the important lessons is patience.

There can be many goals and dreams we develope in the first 8 months of the pregnancy as to how we want the labor to go.  And then those last weeks or days seem to just drag by.  Each minute becomes an hour watching for labor signs.  Life seems to stop until that big event unfolds and we find that patience is now running out.  All those great plans of letting labor happen when the baby is ready can be changed in an instant with a simple suggestion - induction. (Now, of course, I'm talking about induction for non-medical issues.)

I have seen expectant moms receive multiple calls from their physicians offering that "they are on call that day and there is a bed available at the hospital for them" and the temptation to just get labor over seems great  but they have been firm in their determination to have patience.  And the very next day labor begins and quickly a baby is in their arms.  Would their trust in their own bodies have been as richly rewarded if they had succumbed to induction?

There is the issue of patience in labor. When those first contractions start, the big question is "Now when do we head to the hospital?"  It is very difficult for a family to determine the right time to go even though moms are equipped with such a great instinct as to the best time.  Those who had said they wanted to stay home as long as possible, find that quickly they are puzzled with how that will happen.  (In those instances, having a birth doula can really help!)

And why is patience such a great lesson?  How patient do you have to be to establish breastfeeding?  How patient do you have to be when your baby's schedule of sleep differs from your routine?  How patient do you have to be when your baby is teething, learning to hold objects but dropping everything quickly, and even later, learning to tie their shoes?  Patience is vital to a parent and it begins in pregnancy.  When we view pregnancy and labor as a wonderful training ground, it can add so much to our own qualities as a parent. So take a breath, let go a little, and relish the peaceful quality of patience!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Today the majority of women  in this country facing labor feel comfortable with the choice of an epidural.  Many women don't have any friends or workmates who have tried to go without an epidural in labor - or they have talked to women who started with that goal but abandoned it during the labor.  After over 600 births, I do not feel that there is one way to have a baby - I feel  it is important for women to be comfortable with their choices and realize this is not a "pass or fail" process.  I'm really most concerned that moms feel they have made informed decisions. And one of those decisions could be to avoid pain medication.

I have worked with many moms who were upfront that they planned to use medication in birth.  They wanted a support person who was comfortable with their choices. I provided support for the birth with their choice in mind.

I have also worked with many moms whose goal was to go unmedicated.  Is this possible?  Yes! Is it valuable to pass on an epidural and get through the labor process unmedicated?  Yes!  But is it the only way to birth a baby?  Of course not.

We never know the challenges a mom will face in labor - and babies have to cooperate with the process also. Sometimes they are the smart ones, knowing it was safer to come through surgery than vaginally.  We just never know until we get into the process.

Why do some moms choose to avoid medication?  It's certainly not that they want to be martyrs.  Many times it is hoping to avoid the risk of medication or what they feel will be a domino effect - starting one process that leads to the next, etc.  Some feel their body knows how to birth a baby and they want to trust the process.  Some want the  challenge of working through labor and having nothing to dull their senses or the experience.

Whatever the motivation, I am happy to support the goal.  I have seen so many unmedicated births where the value of that choice was not realized until later.  And when I ask after the birth - are you happy you did it this way - almost every mom has said an emphatic YES.

Does that mean moms who choose medication are not happy with their choice.  Not at all.  Again - the biggest issue is informed consent.  Has the mom weighed the risks and benefits and made a choice with this given birth and circumstances that she is happy with.  Then it is probably the right choice for that birth.

Having a goal for birth is wonderful - it is a dream to reach for - having a great birth memory is a happy memory.  Should it be unmedicated or medicated?  Ultimately it is usually your choice. Having a support person or doula is also your choice - and I'm hoping it is a choice you will definitely consider!