What is a Babymoon and Should I Take One?
Pregnancy is a super sweet time of excitement and happiness but can also start to feel a little hectic now and then. Doesn’t it feel like there are so many to-dos and checklists? In between doctor/midwife appointments, baby showers, nursery painting, maternity photos and classes you’re also supposed to relax and take good care of yourself. It’s all a little overwhelming!
What is a Babymoon?
For all you expecting mamas, it may come as no surprise then that babymoons have become so popular in recent years.Though the term ‘babymoon’ used to mean the days immediately after birth when a couple took time to rest, bond and generally bask in the glow of their new baby, it’s now applied to a couple taking a big (or not so big) trip away together before the birth of their baby. Consider it a last hurrah before life changes in a major way.
Celebrities have made these getaways all the more mainstream and can be a great source for inspiration on locations to check out. A consistently popular destination is Mexico (famous babymooners include Kate Hudson, Kourtney Kardashian and Kristin Cavallari) and the Caribbean (Uma Thurman) but with Zika Virus other spots like Hawaii (Hilary Duff, Marissa Miller), Italy (Camila McConaughey, Sienna Miller and Hayden Panettiere) and California (Natalie Portman, Mariah Carey) are getting more love from couples wanting a beautiful babymoon without the worry.
Why Take a Babymoon?
Babymoons aren’t just for the rich and famous—the reasons why a babymoon is beneficial for all couples are simple but so important: Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, your free time is about to get cut down. Way down. A babymoon is a great opportunity to slow down, reconnect and make new memories as a couple. Use your babymoon to sleep in, relax and indulge in self-care before your focus shifts to midnight feedings and diaper changes. After all, happy, loving parents often make for a more relaxed baby so think of your babymoon as a gift for your baby as well—once your little one is on the scene you’ll be glad you invested in your relationship as a couple.
Babymoon Options for Expecting Couples
And lest you think a babymoon has to be expensive and exotic (although who doesn’t love a good tropical beach?!) think again: consider a ‘staycation’ style babymoon by spending the night in a nice hotel near you or a long weekend away to someplace within driving distance.
It’s now even possible to knock out two birds with one stone: as babymoons have become more popular—and expecting parents busier than ever—you can find beautiful weekend getaways that include all of your classes to prepare for childbirth and beyond. Here are a few of our favorites:
Set in the rolling hills of Fredericksburg, Texas just 80 miles west of funky Austin, The Babymoon Retreat offers a 4-night stay for couples in a boutique bed and breakfast. Led by doulas, childbirth educators and lactation counselors couples get daily classes in birth, breastfeeding and baby care so they don’t need to take a single class at home. Activities include complimentary massage therapy, daily yoga, Ask the Doula Session and more.
When: Late March and Mid October
Cost: $2,495 – $3,000 per couple depending on early bird sign-up
If you’re looking for an east coast getaway, this one’s for you! Hidden away in beautiful Maine, this 3-day weekend at a luxury resort includes private daily childbirth preparation and coaching with Laura Thompson Brady, founder of The Nourished Home. Activities include massage therapy, yoga, hiking and more.
When: Dates are customized to you! Laura takes only one couple at a time and offers this Babymoon to only a handful of couples each year
Cost: Also customized based on your needs
Regardless of where you end up, you won’t regret this little pitstop for two before reaching your final destination of parenthood!
This guest post was written by Phyllis Braesnell.
Backseat Car Birth Followed by Homebirths
Melissa opted for a birth center birth for her first baby. After an unexpected first birth in the backseat of the car, she chose to have her next two babies at home with the support of a midwife. She pulls from these very different birth experiences and the confidence that they granted her daily as she leads a Facebook community of over 200,000 moms.
Melissa Wirt Bio
Melissa is a mom to Nathaniel (4), Alexander (3), and Caroline (1). Empowered and inspired by the births of her children, Melissa founded Latched Mama: an online community and a clothing line for nursing moms. She spends her days outside of Richmond, Va with her husband, Eric, chasing after the kids, searching for new ways to innovate and grow the business, and trying really hard to keep it all together. As a trained (non practicing) birth doula and CLC, she is passionate about supporting all moms no matter what their journey to motherhood looks like. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram (@latchedmama, @thelatchedmama).
Latched Mama is on a mission to support new moms with affordable and functional nursing wear. Using comfortable fabrics and modern designs that also work for tandem feeding and pumping, Latched Mama is helping moms nurse confidently and comfortably wherever they are. Also, check out their new labor dress! Made from a super-soft fabric and featuring snaps up the front and back for monitoring and epidural placement, and snaps at the shoulders for skin-to-skin and breastfeeding access. The Latched Mama labor dress can truly bring a little extra comfort and confidence to your next birth.
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As a childbirth educator, there are a couple of topics that fill me with dread when addressing a group of soon-to-be parents, and one of them is circumcision.
If you’ve spent any time at all on the internet as it relates to parenting, you may have noticed that this topic can spark some very heated discussion, so much so that it can be hard to wade through the rhetoric to find solid information. Folks hold some strong opinions on this topic—and for good reason! The decision whether to circumcise or not will carry into every day of a boy’s life. So, how to give accurate information that will help parents decide? Here’s how I do it:
There are basically 3 things for parents to consider in deciding whether or not to circumcise their baby boy:
Religious or cultural reasons
On this point, I don’t figure I have too much to contribute as a childbirth educator, though occasionally I have helped Jewish clients who did not want to circumcise to explore the idea of holding an alternate ceremony (known as a brit shalom).
These usually fall under the headings of: “wanting him to look like Daddy” or “wanting him not to be bullied in the locker room.” Again, I don’t feel that I can speak to one person’s sense of what looks right or wrong, and I particularly don’t need to know which of the fathers in my class were circumcised or not. But I can note that since the rate of infant circumcisions performed nationwide in the US is around 55%, there is a high probability that there will be another boy in the locker room whose penis looks like your kid’s, whichever route they choose to take.
Health benefits and risks
Since I work very hard to research and present information based on current research evidence in my classes, this final category is the one to which I can really speak. And it can be surprisingly hard to sift through the claims that are out there about risk and benefit!
The American Academy of Pediatrics has been equivocal, to be sure. Their current statement on the one hand seems to endorse the practice, and on the other hand it doesn’t. This statement can be found on their website for parents:
“The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages, as well as risks. Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it, however, existing scientific evidence is not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision.
Therefore, because the procedure is not essential to a child’s current well-being, we recommend that the decision to circumcise is one best made by parents in consultation with their pediatrician, taking into account what is in the best interests of the child, including medical, religious, cultural, and ethnic traditions.”
Their longer policy statement can be found here and the very detailed and long article from the task force behind the policy statement is here.
So, according to the AAP, the benefits outweigh the risks, but not so much as to become “essential to a child’s current well-being.” Which leaves us where, exactly?
I did my best to dig for solid numbers, and came up with this handy chart to compare benefits and risks. Let’s work our way down the list together, shall we?
Yes, Circumcision is painful
First off, circumcision is painful, and medical professionals recommend adequate pain relief both during the procedure and during the healing process (which takes about a week). The choice to circumcise your baby means he will feel pain, and there is always a small risk that he will have an adverse reaction to the pain medication.
Complications can occur
Further, the choice to circumcise means incurring the risk that there will be complications to the procedure. It is basically impossible to get hard numbers on this, since there is no universal reporting standard on complications. The numbers in my chart are a good guess. Mild to moderate surgical complications include: irritation of the glans, infection, excessive bleeding, painful urination, or scarring of the urinary outlet. The much more rare severe surgical complications include: hemorrhage or having too much skin removed. Some babies will need to have the procedure redone, either because the first attempt was inadequate, or because the skin re-adhered while healing.
For a small number of babies whose parents chose to leave them intact, they will develop a medical reason (often phimosis) that will require circumcision in adolescence or as an adult.
Perceived benefits of circumcision
Now we get to one of the benefits of infant circumcision: the reduction in risk of UTI. It is important to note that most UTIs in males occur in the first year of life, but overall incidence is still low at 1%. Baby boys who are circumcised do have a three to ten-fold reduction in risk of contracting a UTI in the 1st year of life.
Sometimes a reduction in the risk of penile cancer is mentioned as a benefit of circumcision, but the overall incidence of this type of cancer is so low, that the slight reduction in risk for circumcised men is barely statistically significant.
Finally, the other major purported benefit of circumcision is the reduction in the risk of contracting HIV and some other STIs. There have been several high quality studies done in Africa that show significant reduction of these risks. Whether their findings can be generalized to the population of American men is debatable.
It is important to note that rates of contracting sexually transmitted infections are affected to a high degree by socio-cultural influences. For example, the rates of circumcision in Northern Europe are much lower than the United States, but their STI rates are much lower as well. Regardless, the reduction in risk for circumcised men would not be completely protective. In other words, parents would need to teach their sons to wear condoms.
And on the somewhat uncomfortable topic of considering one’s baby boy’s future sex life, it is debatable whether adult men who have been circumcised experience diminished sexual satisfaction and function. I’m not sure whether this could ever be definitively proven, but there are certainly plenty of people who like to argue this point.
And that’s it. The risk/benefit ratio for circumcision as it regards to health concerns. You can see why the AAP has had a hard time making a definitive recommendation in favor of circumcision. It is, as they wisely put it, a decision that parents must weigh for their own sons. If you want to read more science-based conclusions, check out The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child’s First Four Years.
This guest post was written by Stephanie Spitzer-Hanks. Stephanie gave birth to her first child in the Netherlands, where the nurturing and encouragement she received from so many women there inspired her to become a doula. Now she strives to give unconditional support and evidence-based education to families so that they can be confident in making the choices that are right for them. She is an ICEA certified childbirth educator, an Evidence Based Birth® Instructor, a DONA certified birth and postpartum doula, a StillBirthday certified bereavement doula, and a certified lactation counselor through Healthy Children’s Center for Breastfeeding. On the side of all of that, Stephanie is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, and she serves as a chaplain at a hospital and writes and speaks about birtheology when she gets the chance. You can find out what she is up to at www.revdoula.com.
Sure that her baby would not arrive on his due date, Sara settled in for the evening only to wake up to her water breaking at 11:00 pm. She and her husband, Dave, had planned an at-home water birth, and the journey began as she woke him up to tell him about the water dripping between her legs. They had a fast yet gentle birth at home, delivering an 8lbs 1oz baby boy, Bodhi, at 5:23 am on the winter solstice. One week after Bodhi arrived earthside, he was rushed to the hospital because he was displaying signs of respiratory distress. He had a urinary tract infection caused by E.coli, and had to spend a week in the hospital. Sara and Dave were forever changed as parents after going through such a scary experience, but are so grateful that Bodhi was able to get the care he needed to recover quickly. Connect with Sara on Instagram.
Sara Hiatt Bio
Sara is a first time Mama to an amazing 15 month old baby boy named Bodhi. She lives in a tiny cabin in the woods of Arkansas with her family, and is currently working from home for a superfoods company that helps Mamas and Papas get the daily nutrition they need. Becoming a Mom has completely blown her heart wide open. She has learned so much about life in the past 15 months, and is just completely humbled to be a part of this amazing human experience.
Birth Song Botanicals
Today’s episode is brought to you by Birth Song Botanicals. Birth Song Botanicals was founded by a midwife and herbalist who’s mission is to produce high-quality herbal products that are naturally safe for pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, and their children. I met Maria when I lived in Arkansas, and am so honored that she is sponsoring an episode of The Birth Hour. Maria is offering 10% off for Birth Hour listeners at Birthsongbotanicals.com with the code: THEBIRTHHOUR. Today’s birth story is actually a mom who had Maria as her midwife.
You can also enter a giveaway for the Deluxe Organic Herbal Gift Set For Pregnancy, Birth and Breastfeeding which includes everything you need to get you through pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and beyond.
My favorite Birth Song Products are:
Being a Foster Mom and Having a Baby at the Same Time
In 2015, Lori Kitchen-Buschel and her husband, Kenneth, became licensed foster parents: in less than a year, they went from 0 kids to being the parents of 3 children under 5 with the addition of their daughter Louella Kitchen-Buschel in 2016. In this extremely moving episode, she talks about her journey from meeting her foster children, to finding out she was pregnant unexpectedly and struggling with wondering whether she would have enough love for all of her children.
Lori Kitchen-Buschel Bio
Born and raised in Metro Detroit, Lori’s career and family is a testament to her passions: social justice through philanthropy; women’s leadership; human safety and security; and, nonprofit management. She earned her BA from American University in politics and woman-focused public policy, and worked for the U.S. Agency on International Development (USAID). It was while working there that she discovered the fascinating world of grant making. After 7 years in Washington, Lori returned to Michigan to work with United Way for Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM), the Michigan Women’s Foundation (MWF), and Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW). In these roles, she led education and advocacy campaigns on basic needs, 2-1-1, food access, and human trafficking. While at MWF, Lori partnered with Girl Scouts for Southeastern Michigan to bring her concept of a civic and philanthropic leadership program for girls to life through a program that eventually became Camp Moxie!
While at NEW, she coached and trained nonprofits on practical and tangible fundraising goals, demystified the fundraising process, and taught them to be strategic in their fundraising priorities and tactics. She simultaneously championed the wider community to be more inclusive of marginalized groups and areas by teaching donors and fundraisers that donations send a message about community priorities. Now at Wayne County SAFE, Lori is able to marry her passions together to build relationships and philanthropic partnerships to support survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking. In addition to her family, Lori’s passions include children in foster care, hugging basset hounds, and creating essential oil blends. You can connect with Lori on instagram @DetroitLuvYo
This episode is sponsored by Aeroflow Breastpumps. Aeroflow helps new and pregnant moms qualify for breast pumps through their health insurance. They carry all of the major brands, including Medela, Spectra, Lansinoh, Evenflo, and more. Visit their website to get started today, and your dedicated breast pump specialist will take care of all of the paperwork for you, including getting a prescription from your doctor and filing the claim with your insurance. Go here to get started!
Dealing with Loss While Growing a Life
Tricia was shocked to find out she was pregnant shortly after getting back from her father’s funeral. She hadn’t been really trying to get pregnant with her husband but they had agreed to go off birth control. She figured it would take a while, but it didn’t! She has a lot of feelings and things to say about grieving while pregnant, and mostly remembers crying…sleeping…working…and eating ice cream for 9 months. She is forever grateful that home birthing crossed her radar while she was pregnant and feels like the universe was looking out for her and she listened, and it forever empowered her.
Stages of Tricia’s Homebirth
Tricia’s first birth was a home birth at 37 weeks. Labor began by her water breaking in full after sleeping for about an hour, and was followed fairly quickly with consistent contractions. Although she remembers thinking she should go back to sleep, her husband and her were too excited. Justin had just come home from working all day at their bar and he popped up and made nachos for them to eat while they waited in anticipation for contractions to start. Tricia was blown away by how here body needed to squat through every contraction and felt at the end that she was back in high school playing a volleyball tournament all day. Externally Tricia’s labor looked straightforward and smooth, but internally it was an immensely intense physical, emotional, and spiritual event. She dilated to 10 cm within 8 hours of her water breaking, but then developed a swollen cervical lip and pushed on and off for 4 hours.
Her labor stalled during the pushing stage and didn’t pick up again until she was able to release some emotional energy and fears surrounding her son and her father. During her labor she saw visions of her son as a grown man, had conversations in her mind with people she saw in her neighborhood, felt a deep golden initiation into the energy that is motherhood and generally was exposed to a unexplainable dimension outside of chronological time and space. Her son was born with a nuchal hand which helped explain a little about the prolonged pushing phase. Even though her birth was smooth and healthy, the pain and sensations Tricia experienced were emotionally traumatic. She remembers clearly thinking while she was pushing and the crowning began how sad it was that Cedar was going to be an only child because she really wanted two, but she would NEVER be able to tolerate birth again. After Cedar was born though the endorphins kicked in and she felt AMAZING. To her, the feeling she got directly after birth was strangely worth all the pain during the labor.
The day after her son was born she found out her father in law had left her mother in law after 30 years of marriage. This devastating reality coupled with the flashbacks of the pain during labor made for a tricky first few weeks of parenting. Tricia dealt with a lot of new feelings and fears with her own mortality and felt as though she had lost an innocence to life that she could never regain. With losing her dad to suicide, losing her family structure on her husband’s side, and the normal emotions of motherhood Tricia felt overwhelmed. She credits her husbands strength and the strength she gained from her powerful home birth as to how she was able find her way and feel joy during those first few weeks. Cedar was very sleepy and wasn’t gaining enough weight, but after the help of a lactation consultant Tricia figured out breastfeeding and continued to breastfeed Cedar for 3 years.
Tricia’s Second Birth Postdates
Tricia found out she was pregnant again when Cedar was 10 months old. She had just had one period and she had read a lot about the rhythm method and how to time conception to try for a girl. She was shocked to find out she was already pregnant and she and her husband decided to keep this baby’s gender a surprise. Tricia noticed so many differences the second time around. Mainly toward the end she felt much softer and ready to go. Tricia kept anticipating labor coming early like the first one, but alas it did not arrive early. The due date came and went, and Tricia gained a lot of understanding for how difficult it is to pass your due date. The next day, after emotionally tying up some work related stress, Tricia’s water broke in full and labor began around 3 pm. Contractions didn’t really pick up until after her toddler was put to bed…it’s funny how that works.
Baby #2 came 1 day after her due date after 6 short but intense hours of labor, which she describes as feeling like a freight train making it’s way through her body. She learned a lot from her first birth and wanted to try using the birth ball as a tool to avoid squatting with each contraction. When it was time to push Tricia raised up on her knees and was startled to hear a high-pitched gurgling scream coming between her legs before she even knew her baby’s head was out. The next push birthed her baby’s body and everyone laughed at how funny it all was. Baby #2 was born with a nuchal hand just like baby number 1. After about 10 minutes of holding baby #2 Tricia realized she hadn’t thought about the gender yet. She had suspected it was a boy and had made peace with being a mom of 2 boys, but as she unwrapped the blanket to check the gender, she was overjoyed to see she had birthed a daughter. The first thought that popped into her mind was, “i am so sorry…being a girl is so hard”. Tricia loves being a woman, but had an immediate feminine connection with her daughter that was different than the connection she immediately felt with her son. Her daughter Linden breastfed like a champ right away, and other than having a tongue tie that needed clipping, breastfeeding and postpartum went relatively smoothly. At this point Tricia’s mother-in-law moved in with their family and was a tremendously help with caring for Tricia, her husband, and two children.
Fast & Furious Baby #3 Homebirth
After her daughter turned 2 Tricia couldn’t shake the fact that she really wanted to have another baby. So after working on her husband for a year, he finally agreed to go for one more, and quickly she was pregnant for a third time. Being pregnant a third time was way harder than the two times before. Chasing after two children was tiring and Tricia gained more weight than she had the first two times around. Although she was thrilled to have a third child, it wasn’t as clearly joyful waiting for baby #3 to arrive. Tricia really wanted her mother to be at this birth, but found it very stressful to try and time travel plans around a birth. Tricia’s mother came a week before the due date figuring she would go early considering how large and uncomfortable she was, but birth is unpredictable.
It was great for Tricia to have her mother’s help for her two children, and she tried to make peace with the fact that her mother might not be at the birth. For two weeks before her baby came Tricia felt contractions begin at night and so Tricia and her husband would go on walks to try and kick labor into gear, but then by the time to morning came around her belly felt high again contractions had vanished. Every time she felt a contraction she experienced a milk let down reflex sensation without actually letting down milk. Her due date came and went and she wondered how long she would have to wait. But two days after her due date she woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and she felt her baby’s head bulging as she used the toilet. She thought if she looked down she might actually see the head, but she didn’t!
Her baby was born after 4 incredibly short and painful hours. This birth was nothing like the first two. Her water breaking did not initiate labor, and with her bag intact she found it very awkward and uncomfortable to brace herself during contractions. The only way to cope was to get in the birth pool. She felt like a huge cow rolling from one side of the pool to the next moaning and just trying to surrender. During a contraction her water broke and then shortly after she felt a strong urge to push. Tricia was incredibly reluctant to push, as it hurt way too much and it took a lot of surrendering to go into that pain. She felt the ring of fire so intensely that she nearly ripped her husbands nipples off when she was pushing. After the head was born the shoulders hurt even more coming out. This was a new experience for her, and afterward her midwife told her she was concerned that the baby might get stuck as he might be diabetic. But he wasn’t…he was just 10 pounds 3 ounces! She was so thankful he was born safely and that her mother and two children were there to witness his entry into the world. With the birth of her son Ash, Tricia feels her family is complete.
Tricia Phillips Bio
Tricia Philips is a wife, mother of 3, and a childbirth educator
living and teaching in Brooklyn, NY. She feels lucky to have birthed all three of her babies at home with the tremendous support of her husband, doulas, and midwives. Her journey into motherhood was preceded by the unfortunate suicide of her father, and the unexpected divorce of her in-laws. She often reflects on how the yin and yang of deep sorrow and pure joy felt during the pregnancy and birth of her first child paved a unique path to parenthood. Although very difficult, her experiences have given her a deep-rooted strength in herself and the universe that in some ways perfectly prepared her for the intense and gratifying work of raising children. Tricia is continuously humbled by mothering and is fascinated by birth as a spiritual event and a surrendering of “what is”. Her first birth unexpectedly blessed her with the knowledge that life comes from a powerful never ending source, and everyday since that experience she strives to stay connected to that knowing. With each birth and each stage of her children’s lives Tricia is learning how to hold space for her children a little more, which in turn teaches her how to hold space for herself and be open to what life brings.
Listen to me chat with Phyllis about today’s sponsor, BabyList, at the end of today’s episode and check out my sample registry of some of my favorite items for pregnancy and postpartum!
Hospital Epidural Birth & Using Meditation to Overcome Postpartum Depression
Anna went to the hospital with her intentions set on birthing naturally. However, after experiencing back labor due to her daughter being posterior, (i.e. her daughter’s head pressing on her spinal cord) she had an epidural. She often describes her decision to have an epidural as being one of the best and worst decisions she ever made. Best because it stopped the pain, worst because of what happened only a minute or two after getting the injection.
Anna Gannon Bio
Anna is a mom, the Community and Editorial Lead at Expectful, a Writer and a Yoga & Meditation Guide. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Yoga Today and The Expectful Blog. She was also a presenter at the 2014 Yoga Journal LIVE Event and the 2015 ECA fitness conference. Connect with Anna on Instagram.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Lily Jade which is a mom-created company! A mom saw a problem and figured out a way to fix it. When Meggan Wood’s oldest daughter was born, she found herself at odds with the endless parade of unstylish, impractical diaper bags. Finally, in frustration, she sketched every mom’s dream–the perfect diaper bag made of 100% premium leather that converts to a backpack and comes with removable machine-washable insert! On this episode I chatted with Grace Patton about her experience with Lily Jade bags as a mom of 5!
Cesarean Birth Followed by HBAC (Homebirth After Cesarean)
Diana’s first baby was an unexpectedly large, 12 lbs, 3 oz. He was born via c-section after a very long labor. It was a deeply traumatic experience for her, but when she became pregnant again 2 years later she knew she’d the have this second baby at home.
Diana had a completely different labor and birth experience the second time – a beautiful, fast home birth that was also incredibly healing for her. She wants any woman who’s had a traumatic birth or a c-section to know it’s possible to not only heal from it, but to have a better, empowering subsequent birth.
Diana Forsell Bio
Diana is a full time mom to two little boys, Arakel, who is three and a half, and Rama, one and a half. When she’s not chasing around her boys, Diana is a dedicated yogi, and loves to spend as much time outdoors with her family as possible. She lives in Seattle, WA. Connect with her on Instagram.
ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network)
Homebirth After Cesarean Book
Beco 8 Carrier
This episode is sponsored by Beco. Beco focuses on bringing you an ideal combination of comfort and style to power you through daily duties with your baby close. With the new release of the Beco 8 baby carrier, you now have more options than ever to carry your baby. Learn more about the Beco 8 at becobaby.com.
Staying Grounded When Faced with an Unexpected Cesarean
Inducing labor was not Elyse’s first choice of how she imagined her birth story unfolding. However, the Miracles and Universal ‘Signs’ continued to show themselves throughout her birthing process.
Tapping into her meditation, healing and yoga skills, Elyse stayed connected to her intuition throughout the birth process even though it went opposite of what was planned. Her family, spiritual mentor and doula also supported in creating a welcoming, beautiful environment for baby Oliver to enter this world.
After 18 hours from her water breaking, Elyse was only 2.5-3 cm dilated. Oliver made his grand entrance via C-Section. In this episode, learn how Elyse & her husband came to this decision, stayed grounded, and embraced the many changes that came along the way.
Elyse Falzone Bio
Elyse is a Spiritual Life Coach and Intuitive Healer. She empowers women to be leaders in their families, communities and the world. Elyse believes we are each teachers, healers and lightworkers in our own unique way. Elyse awakens her clients’ spiritual gifts and talents so they can share them with the world. Getting inspired by her own pregnancy journey, Elyse loves to support pregnant women to connect to their babies while in the womb. She also loves being a mommy to Oliver and a loving wife to her husband, Cameron. Connect with her via her website or via Instagram
Mediation & Yoga
This episode is sponsored by WavHello. BellyBuds by WavHello are adhesive speakers that gently adhere to mom’s baby bump. BellyBuds help reduce stress, stimulate early development and promote positive connectivity in the brain through music.
Learn more about BellyBuds and their 20 weeks to bliss program to have a happier and healthier pregnancy at wavhello.com. You can also check out the video about using Belly Buds to turn a breech baby, here.
Advancements in technology, industry, and business have brought about many changes within the last century. Society has likewise evolved both for better or for worse. Among these evolutions has been a big shift in the standard process of childbirth. Back in the day it was fairly normal to live near extended family and close friends, so it was very natural to have many of them support a woman during labor and delivery. As we have changed over time, it is now more common to live far away from family and delivering in the hospital has become the norm. A side effect from these changes is that mothers have lost the standard support team of women around them while they labor. A possible replacement for this lack of support is to hire a doula. Despite the myriad of positive benefits of a professional doula, only a small percentage of women utilize them. Many newly pregnant women often wonder if a doula is a worthy investment.
Benefits of having a doula
Many studies have been conducted that show the positive effects of doula support, although currently only about 6% of women use one. These benefits include, but are not limited to: decreased labor time; and a lower rate of epidurals, c-sections, pitocin administration, and instrumental assistance during delivery. A Mother who hires a doula also tends to have a much more positive view of her experience. When she feels safe and protected, she lets go of fear (which interferes with progression). Stress levels decrease, and natural oxytocin levels rise, thus encouraging labor advancement. After babies are born, they are more likely to have higher apgar scores (Hodnett, Gates, Hofmeyr, Sakala, & Weston, 2013), and there is an earlier initiation of breastfeeding as well.
Do I need a doula?
There are many known benefits of doula support during labor, but do you really need one?
The large majority of women deliver babies in a hospital and are left to the care and attention of a medical team. A staff may be concerned and aware of a mother’s physical and emotional needs, but they are often distracted by their duties as part of hospital procedure and policy. A nurse, midwife, and doctor all have their own specific tasks to complete—monitoring the baby’s vitals, reading charts and logs, making sure mom is hydrated, and has good stats, etc. They are preoccupied with the safety of mother and baby and are also overseeing a large number of other laboring women at the same time. They will be in and out of the room constantly, and even monitoring moms from machines in the hall. Think of all that is going through the minds of these healthcare workers during delivery.
Making sure baby’s position is optimal, providing perineal support, trying to prevent tearing, coaching mom how to push, monitoring baby and mother’s vitals, assisting the baby when it emerges, making sure the baby is breathing, checking apgar scores, cleaning things up, performing sutures, baby care, delivering the placenta, avoiding hemorrhaging, and keeping things sterile. They have so much going on mentally and physically that although they may be sympathetic to the mother’s needs, they cannot be too preoccupied with them. Plus they have other patients simultaneously.
A Doula’s Purpose
Conversely a doula’s primary purpose is to provide emotional, physical, and informational support for the mother for the entire duration of labor, and afterward. She will be solely focused on you and at your side continually. But what if you have a partner, sister, mother or friend with you? It is highly recommended to have support from people you love and trust. Yet keep in mind that your support group is not always specifically trained in how to care for a laboring woman, no matter how much they love you, whereas a doula is. In order to become a certified doula, a candidate must meet many qualifications. DONA International, “the international leader in evidence-based doula training, certification, and continuing education,” requires that a doula meet the following criteria:
- have a minimum of 28 hours of labor support time logged
- read several required textbooks on labor and birth
- attend at least 3 births and be evaluated by a doctor, nurse or midwife, and the mother.
This knowledge and skill set put into practice is truly invaluable in knowing intuitively how to support a laboring mother.
Doula Services Prior to Delivery
A doula will usually meet with a client about two times prior before the mother goes into labor. During these meetings, she will get to know you a bit, get a feel for what your birth vision and preferences are, and help with a birth plan. She can address any concerns and fears you have about birth, and offer educational materials to review. She can learn about your personality and what calms you, as well as what gives you a boost when you are tired, and how you best anticipate needing support.
A good doula will also be well connected to the birth community for additional support and education. This can be a great resource for women wanting to gain more childbirth education and to get involved with other moms and resources in the area.
Doulas Stay With You the Whole Time
The best thing about doulas is that they are usually available as early as you’d like them in the process, even from the first few contractions. They can come to your home and be with you while you labor there, then transfer with you to the hospital. One of the main advantages to hiring a doula is that you meet her and know her before you go into labor, whereas your nurse and perhaps the doctor on call at a hospital can be complete strangers. Having your doula with you can help you feel more at ease when you arrive. Another advantage is she will stay right with you whereas doctors and nurses, and sometimes even partners will be in and out throughout the process.
Doulas Support Your Partner Too
Doulas are also valuable resources for birth partners. A doula does not replace a partner’s support; rather she assists both parties. She can allow the partner the main role of offering words of encouragement and emotional support while she provides some physical support, and vice versa. She can offer suggestions of what a partner can do to help mom. She can also support the partner should he start to feel anxious or overtired. In one recent study, it was recorded that on average, doulas touched the laboring mother 95 percent of the time, as compared with less than 20 percent by male partners. This in no way discredits the helpfulness of a partner, but rather sheds light on the fact that a doula and a partner have different primary roles. In the end she will be able to read signals from mom and partner of what their needs are in the moment.
A doula’s job is to be there for the mom and to encourage a safe and satisfying birth experience. She provides three kinds of support—informational, physical, and emotional.
Physical Support from a Doula
A doula draws upon her knowledge of many different labor positions and offers suggestions to the laboring mother to help ease discomfort and keep labor progressing. She can offer massage or counter pressure, adjust mother’s temperature with blankets or cool washcloths and fans. She can help to implement breathing and relaxation techniques, and will offer verbal reassurances. She can offer ice chips, drinks, and food if the hospital allows it. She remembers things mom might not think of like to use the bathroom frequently. She knows mom’s preferences and will guard the atmosphere so it remains as calm and peaceful as possible. This is invaluable, especially when the mother is focused and does not want to be bothered with details.
Doulas Offer Informational Support
A well-trained doula will be aware of the hospital policies where the mother is delivering, and will know what kinds of things are allowed and/or prohibited. She can offer advice and information if the mother has concerns or questions. A doula can be a liaison between the staff’s medical jargon and the procedures that are happening. Should unexpected complications arise, a doula can offer extra information, advice and encouragement for big decisions.
Emotional Support from Your Doula
Should some unexpected things arise during the course of the labor, a doula can offer emotional support and encouragement, especially if a c-section or epidural is ordered. She can help to ease fears and guilt and allow a mother to process her potential anxiety or confusion.
Keep in mind that a doula is not only valuable for mothers planning a natural birth, but for all kinds of deliveries. Birth can be an unpredictable event. Even if you plan on getting an epidural or having a planned c-section, a doula can offer tremendous emotional guidance during the process. She can help to aid in your comfort level both physically and mentally. She can be aware of the details that are happening while you are “in the zone.” If a lot of information is being thrown at a mother all at once, and she is already overwhelmed, it can be hard to process and remember what is being said. A doula can be a valuable second set of eyes and ears to absorb information and help answer your questions.
Postpartum Doula Services
Many doulas will offer care for postpartum mothers and charge an hourly rate. Their tasks can range anywhere from breastfeeding support, emotional support, physical care and healing of mother, to cleaning, cooking meals, or taking care of the baby so mother can rest. They will usually offer services up to a certain amount of time (like 4 hours), and some will even offer to sleep over and help with night feedings for an extra fee. The postpartum period can be a difficult time, especially for brand new moms, and the aid of a doula can be very valuable, so it’s something to consider. Even knowing the option is available can put one’s mind at ease.
An Example of a Positive Doula Experience
Elaine Stillerman of Massage Today tells of her positive experience with a doula.
“I called Ilana when I became pregnant. She came to my home to interview me and my husband about our hopes for the big day. Ilana took copious notes in the attempt to get to learn my likes, dislikes and what would be most helpful during labor. She gave us a realistic list of items I would need to make my labor more comfortable. Since then, I have provided my clients with that invaluable list and offer it in my textbook.
When the day came, Ilana had just returned from another birth she had stayed at for 13 hours. She had been home for two hours when I called. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’m on mommy time.” My water broke and I went into active labor within minutes. The contractions were coming one after the other. She asked to hear a contraction. Did this mean put the phone on my abdomen? Or did she want to hear the sounds I was making? By this time, all rational thought was out the window. “What?” I asked. “Let me hear a contraction,” she repeated. Mine were silent. “I’ll meet you at the hospital.”
Once there, she directed my husband to get a different nurse and a private room for me. She disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a pile of waterproof pads and clean gowns. She opened her bag of goodies and asked if I was hungry or thirsty. And she held me. She massaged me. She danced with me. When the pains got intense, she took my face in her hands and said, “Give me the pain. Give it to me.” And the pains lessened.
When I felt I was losing strength, she told me to relax my feet and let Mother Earth’s power help me. She stayed by my side for 19 hours, encouraging me, honoring my efforts and nurturing me. And when my son was born, she told me how magnificent I had been. A week later, Ilana came to my home for a visit, bringing lunch, gifts, pictures and my birth story. We shared a life-affirming experience and I wasn’t going to let her out of my life since she had been such an important part of it.”
If this sounds like an experience you’d like to have, it is worth looking into hiring a doula.
How to find a doula
There are a few resources to help with finding the right doula for your specific needs. You’ll want to read reviews, choose several options, and then interview them to get a feel for the right fit for your personality. Here are some places to look.
- Dona.org – Doulas of North America
- Cappa.net– Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association
- Alace.org– Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators
- Birthcenters.org– National Association of Childbearing Centers
- Doulamatch.com– online database of certified doulas, where you can search by state, years of experience, and price.
Doctor or Midwife Office- many offices have a list of doulas in the area or that they have personally worked with before. This is a great sign that the office is mother-centered and practices evidence based birth!
Hospital—Similarly, some hospitals have doulas on staff full time that they offer to laboring mothers.
What does a doula cost?
A doula’s services can range anywhere from about $300-$1800. They will usually charge a down payment upfront and then collect the rest after delivery. Many doulas are willing to work with you on price if you are not able to afford their fee. Some believe that every woman has a right to have the support they need. Don’t rule someone out just because their fee is high. Check with them first and see if it is flexible, or if they would accept a payment plan. Many insurance companies are now helping to cover the cost of doulas as well, so check there to see if you qualify.
Having a baby is in itself a monumental accomplishment. A doula can provide the additional physical, emotional, and informational support a mother needs to navigate labor and delivery more easily. A mother’s birth experiences are some of the most significant she will have in life. Consider enlisting the aid of a doula to make it the most positive experience you can.
- Bolbol-Haghighi N, Masoumi S, Kazemi, F. “Effect of Continued Support of Midwifery Students in Labour on the Childbirth and Labour Consequences: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial.” Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 10. 9 (2016):QC14-QC17. Effect of Continued Support of Midwifery Students in Labour on the Childbirth and Labour Consequences: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial-PubMed-NCBI. Feb. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27790526
- Stillerman, Elaine. “In Honor of a Doula.” Massage Today. Dec. 2008. Massage Today Digital Issue. Web. Feb. 2017. http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?t=38&id=13902
This guest post was written by Austyn Smith.