Going out of business…

If you have had a doula you will know that a doulas presence is invaluable.  If you haven’t had the opportunity of learning first hand what a doula does please take the time to read and listen to reviews, scientific articles, blogs, magazines, podcasts, books, and social media (please see the links provided below)

Primarily doulas support women through pregnancy, birth, and the post partum period.  Not necessarily to have a natural, drug free birth absent of all modern and medical support often we are getting water, carrying bags, holding monitors and heat packs in place.

There is a problem, being a doula as a job is not sustainable financially, working in a relatively unknown industry, paying for our own training, also being business owners with all those expenses financially and hours upon hours upon hours of our unpaid time.  This has led to doula prices raising and raising and suddenly I am hearing within the industry “doulas are a luxury not a right” “If they are that disadvantaged than maybe they should look for affordable food and nappies, not cheap doulas”  Doulas are now marketing themselves as products.  They are “charging their worth” and “making a living wage” The issues I have with this is

A) no one could possible pay me what I am worth, there is no dollar value you can give me to compensate for the hours on call, time away from my family, 3am wake ups, and labours that last for days

B) should one person be paid more because they chose to own and pay a mortgage on an expensive home and holiday overseas every year? Do I deserve less because I keep my expenses low? and

C) doulas are NOT a product.

Doulas represent many positive changes today, women all over the world, including doulas, have been called in to action to bring awareness to womens issues, gender equality, slut shaming, body positivity, obstetric violence, birth trauma, abuse, women’s health, informed consent vs informed choice, depression, feeding aversion, the need for post natal support, the need for community support for breastfeeding to work, participative health care.  I witness these women tirelessly devote hours of time, giving up much sleep to keep the fires burning, to wipe the brows, lessen the pain, and protect that which IS of value.

By hiring a doula your are not only honouring your value and the value of your experience, you are also acknowledging the value of an industry that is pushing boundaries, changing laws, fighting for choices, respect, to be heard. An industry that without your help will all but disappear and what will be left? A luxury.  A product only attainable to the highest bidder.

Research – Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes

Media – ‘Society makes us scared of giving birth, but it doesn’t have to be like that!’

Media – Postpartum doula eases transition to motherhood

Working with Childbirth Pain, with Julie Bonapace

Top 10 doula bag secrets revealed

I kind of feel like I am telling everyone how to do a magic trick here.  Every doula is so different and what they bring to each labour they attend is just as unique, however I have come across some very common and essential items that doulas pack when attending labours and I want to let you in on our secrets.  Here are the top 10 things you are likely to find in a doula bag or basket;

  1. A water bottle, staying hydrated is super important when you are supporting another person in labour.  Mamas are usually supplied with cups and jugs of water but we wont to make sure we are stocked up and don’t have to leave the room.
  2. Hairties, clips, and bobby pins. If you have hair NO ONE can have enough of these
  3. Various breath fresheners, these are great for everyone in the birth space.  Often you have to be up close and personal and you are regularly in attendance for a long time.  I am more than happy to receive morning breath from my mamas but I want to save them from mine.  Often clients have wanted to brush their teeth but don’t have the energy, gum can help here.
  4. deodorant, same reasons as above.  Also during an intense or long labour its nice to take yourself away and freshen up. It can make you feel like a new person
  5. A change of clothes! I cannot encourage this enough.  At the time of a birth being covered in bodily fluids and soaked in a shower is just par for the course then you have to step out in the light of day and often meet family members on the way.  Driving home in a set of fresh clothes feels AMAZING

6. Pen and paper, it is great to record certain events during a labour.  Recording regular events can also be used to involve a support person who may otherwise feel at a loose end.  Mamas often like to look back at the details also

7.A battery operated oil diffuser, a carrier oil, and essential oils.  These should only be used with the informed consent of the client.  My oils of choice to take to a birth are;  Peppermint (great for nausea, a drop in the toilet to encourage urination, and to banish any odours.  Use in a limited capacity due to some concern it can affect breast milk production, best not to diffuse but a sniff or a few drops in the room should be fine) Clary Sage (this oil known for female health and wellbeing, it is great for the working uterus and the hormones related to female cycles including birth and labour) There are many more however that is another post for another day

8. Your phone and or camera, it is becoming more common for couples to hire a professional to take photos during their labour and birth if this is not the case it never hurts to have a camera handy to capture moments that would otherwise be lost

9. LED candles.  These babies are a must have.  Labour rooms are best kept dim to encourage oxytocin production.  LED candle lights allows for come gentle soft lighting.  It makes the room feel pretty magical too

10. Honey and snacks.  It is great to have a back up snack ready to go in case anyone (including yourself) is hungry and it means you don’t HAVE to leave the room.  I also cannot stress enough bringing some honey for the mamas.  Labour is hard work and when you need energy the most, you can feel the most exhausted.  Mamas are not often wanting to eat as they move in to second stage however a little bit of honey can go a long way to getting the little boost that is needed.

So they are my top 10 doula bag tools to assist during labour.  Use them yourself or pass this list to your support people so they can be totally prepared.  One absolutely honourable mention…

11. The birth plan.  Whilst most mamas know that birth rarely goes to plan, having a few copies of the birth plan is great to hand over to your care provider to have your wishes and requests down on paper. Even get it laminated.

Of course I have to say the most amazing thing I could possibly bring to any labour I attend is me.  Knowledge that has been passed down to me from experienced doulas (teachers) and even more so from the mothers whose births I have attended including my own.   My unconditional, non-judgemental, fierce support for you and your birth desires.  My hands to hold up, hold to, and soothe.  My presence and undivided attention and dedication during your beautiful birth.

Please add comments on anything you brought to your labour that you couldn’t live without

NAVIGATING A VBAC Part Two

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Why VBACs require more support?

I am about empowering women and mamas to find the strength that is within them to achieve whatever they are working for.  In this way all of the clients I support find their own way to surrender to birth and experiencing the transforming power of becoming with their baby.

If a pregnancy and birth remain ‘complication’ free (according to hospital standards of ‘complications’) than my job as a doula can be focused completely on a mama and her  preparation for a conscious and connected birth. If however the hospital perceives an increase in risk, for example a uterine rupture, the ability to allow for a physiological natural birth is hindered.  This in turn increases the chances of intervention and greater pain during labour, and ultimately lowers a women’s chances of having a VBAC.

Hospitals do not see the hand they play in decreasing chances of a VBAC, often it’s not even considered because all the decisions made by the hospital staff are to ensure a healthy baby and mother. Therefore anything and everything will be sacrificed in efforts to follow strict procedures put in place to ‘save mothers and babies’ and we are expected to comply because they are the experts and they know best.

I would never suggest a client ignore medical advice.  All information should be considered when making decisions for you and your baby.  Surprisingly, despite everything we have ever known and been told and continue to be told we are in fact in an optimal position to advocate and achieve a natural physiological SAFE birth, more so than hospitals, OBs, nurses, and policy makers.

Let me tell you why;

  1. We see ourselves as individuals.  Policies are made and generalised to the greater public.  This means that any measures put in place to increase outcomes apply 100% to only a small number of women.  While your exact individual circumstance may not directly require a particular intervention it will be done regardless to reduce any chance something may happen if you are possibly one of the unfortunate few and that is not identified in time.
  2. We are able to incorporate the latest research from around the world into our care plan.  All research being considered should be checked to ensure the results are significant and valid.  Hospitals are tied to managed care plans based on what has always been done, previous experience in the field, and older research.  Many procedures are outdated and don’t reflect current evidence.  Delayed cord clamping for example was recommended for decades before the practice was implemented in hospitals.  Its worth investigating the latest research and evaluating whether it’s relevant to your situation.  At the very least request that the hospital staff produce current evidence to support their path of action.
  3. We have the luxury to control patient litigation against hospitals and its staff.  Sadly potential litigation is a major consideration for hospitals.  It is expected that they will produce good results and if something goes wrong often patients blame the staff.  Right or wrong these cases are costly financially and emotionally.  Hospitals are therefore risk averse and more concerned in the quantity of alive patients than quality of alive patients, no matter the odds. Knowing all of this puts us in a position of power of understanding and working in and with the system.  Showing hospitals that you understand and accept the risks can make a difference.  Owning our births and taking them back starts here
  4. Our gut feelings, our feelings of security, safety, and happiness directly effects our birth experience and outcomes.  Dr Sarah Buckley’s work on the Hormonal Physiology of Childbirth is game changing and proof that intervention, fear, withholding natural pain management, and the way women are treated in childbirth influence birth and post birth outcomes. Its time we start listening to our instincts and demanding they are considered in our care.

As a doula knowing these things and having been there myself women need more people in their corner.  Someone to protect the space from others that may try to intervene in a perfectly healthy labour simply out of fear.  Women need more support, more love, more trust.  MORE OXYTOCIN.  Luckily doulas have this surplus.

Thank you for reading part two of Navigating a VBAC.  Next week I will share with you my personal VBAC story.

Part One

 

 

 

 

Navigating a VBAC

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) is a great opportunity for mothers to have a reduced intervention based birth post surgery if she desires so.  VBACs are often assumed difficult to ‘achieve’, in themselves the births are no harder than any other however having the opportunity to give birth can be challenging in our current health system.   Below are some great tips to help you on your VBAC journey.

  1. Hire a doula – studies show being attended by someone like a doula can increase your chances of a vaginal birth and reduce incidence of intervention
  2. Know your care provider – shop around for your care provider, whether your going private or public don’t settle for someone who is not in line with your birth goals
  3. Know hospital policy – All hospitals have different policies surrounding VBACs, its worth getting in touch with your local hospitals to find out about theirs
  4. Know your rights – it is your body and no one can tell you what to do with it, no test, no intervention, no surgery
  5. Know the statistics and research – it is very hard to give informed consent if you are not informed correctly and sadly the hospitals legal obligation to ensure you are informed is limited.  Make sure whatever information you gather yourself is from a reliable source.
  6. Use your B.R.A.I.N Benefits, Risk, Alternatives, Intuition, and what if we do Nothing
  7. Be prepared – be prepared to face opposition from your care provider on one or more of your desires.  Be prepared that they may say you are putting your life or your babies life at risk, this is why it is so important to know the statistics and research relating to your choices.  Are they referring to a 0.1% increased risk or are they speaking of a 50% increase.  What are the risks of the intervention?
  8. Surround yourself with love – major complications during birth are actually quite rare so during your labour and birth surround yourself with people who are witnessing you in love and not concern.  The medical support is their IF you need it.
  9. Don’t take on negativity – a lot of us have a habit of projecting our own fears on to others, friends do it, family do it, even care providers can do it.  Know that you are the expert of your healthy birth, a previous cesarean does make you damaged goods, an emergency, or unhealthy.
  10. You can do it – I know you can

I hope these help, if you can share anymore tips, have a question or something to say please comment below.

Let’s stop normalising birth!

Yes, you heard right! Almost everywhere I look there is a hard push to normalise birth. In an honourable effort to rail against the medicalised model of birth we have alienated, disempowered, and abandoned almost all birthing women in this modern risk adverse society.

The reality is almost 100% of births are happening in hospitals and after spending the last 12 months in these hospitals training to be a doula what I must share from my experiences is infuriating and at times disturbing.

It’s about time we start exposing birth for what it truly is and what it means and stop focusing simply on the biological outcomes. We have put humans on the moon surely we can look at raising the standard of birth and assessment of its positive outcomes beyond one main criteria.
So, consider the current management of birth.

All Australian families and birthing women have access to state of the art maternal care, for free.

The biological outcomes of all births are strictly and expertly recorded and scrutinised. Data is collected from every hospital birth (and some home births) most often by midwives. This data is published annually.

Organisations across Australia work diligently to analyse this data and change practice and procedure to lower maternal and neonatal mortality.

As consumers of these services we are promised that our caregivers will do everything and anything to avoid maternal and neonatal death. This is what is expected and as such all policies and legal requirements are based on…well…death and avoiding it.

I cannot help but feel we are missing something here. Birth as it usually unfolds uninterrupted is not an illness, or an emergency. It is not a leading cause of death in women or children, it is not a problem to be solved.

So why do we medicalise birth to such an extent that women are almost literally tied down to a hospital bed covered in leads and monitors.

Why are interventions being performed that not only cause emotional and physical trauma but also increase the risks of infection, further intervention and death to both mother and baby?

During a safe, natural, life giving event why are we suddenly debating which care model is less likely to kill someone?

Why are we discounting our amazing bodies and what they can do all on their own?

Why are we increasing our actual chances of trauma and death due to a perceived risk of trauma and death?

Why?

Birth should not be normalised. It shouldn’t be sugar coated by only sharing positive birth stories. Nor should it be treated as a threat or a disaster waiting to happen. Birth is a miracle. Birth is a mystery. Birth is an innate, intellectual, independent happening. It’s extraordinary.

Birth cannot be fixed. As hard as it may be for the ‘doers’ to accept, if you intervene and disturb its natural flow there are consequences. Far reaching consequences that are not recorded and analysed diligently every year, consequences that the hospital staff need not think about when they go home after their shift ends.

I have seen these consequences, I’ve held them as they sobbed overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, and chronic pain. I’ve sat and listened to them struggling to find their way blind sighted, shocked, and dumped in to motherhood without having experienced their own babies birth because they handed it over when they walked through the birth suite doors, of course because as they are told otherwise their baby may die.

We need to take our births back. We need to be able to walk in to a hospital and say we want to do it all on our own and only get help IF the shit hits the fan because that is our right!
We need to be able to do this without having to fight with people and prove to the world that we are not being selfish or stupid believing we can do it and that we do have more concern for our babies well being than anyone else.

Let’s not give in, we must demand better, you deserve to believe in yourself, surround yourself with those that believe you can do it too and come out the other side a conqueror not a victim.