March 14th, 2013 by tbailey
The epidural catheter threaded into the epidural space in mom’s back.
As a working doula, what can I say about epidurals today? I have three things to say about them. First, if you are giving birth in a non-rural part of the U.S., you should decide what you think about having an epidural prior to your birth. You should read about them and discuss them with your care provider (doctor or midwife) and also your doula.
Second, please realize that most mothers can give birth without an epidural and that there are distinct advantages to not having an epidural. All the mothers who have spoken to me about giving birth without pain medication have been glad that they did it! Not just some of them, all of them! That is significant. They may have different reasons, but moms who have a pain-med-free birth are proud of themselves. They have conquered their rite of passage into motherhood. They have accomplished something that no one can ever take away from them. Ever.
That isn’t to say that moms who have an epidural (or other pain medications in labor) won’t have a lovely birth. They can also be proud of themselves and their births. It isn’t the same sort of birth, though. When a mom chooses to have an epidural, she really becomes a patient. That makes the flow of the birth more medical. She has to follow the safety protocols for epidural labor, which usually include continuous fetal & contraction monitoring, continuous IV, staying in bed for the rest of labor, catheterization for urinating, and more.
Finally, epidurals are big medicine. That is, they produce a big effect and they can have some big side-effects as well. Here is one side-effect people don’t usually talk about (luckily, your doula will talk about anything!): having an epidural in labor often makes moms feel more vulnerable. The labor is being guided by doctors and medicine instead of mom. There is a catheter in her back that is there to stay until after birth. Mom feels like she couldn’t do it without outside help. Mom feels tied down to the bed.
So when you are thinking in advance how you feel about epidurals, think of how this will affect you, because it is your birth!
November 18th, 2012 by tbailey
A Watsu session
Watsu is terrifically relaxing and can benefit pregnant women. Jeff Bisdee is the only Watsu practitioner in Pittsburgh. Watsu is water Shiatsu. It is a relaxing type of massage that takes place in a warm water pool. Floating takes stress off a pregnant body and the gentle floating and gliding in the water is very relaxing. During a Watsu, both the practitioner and the mother wear bathing suits. It has been shown that swimming helps to orient the baby correctly in the birth canal. Watsu, like swimming, can be helpful for aligning the mother’s and baby’s bodies. And, it is fun! Take a look at Jeff’s Watsu website:
I have had several Watsus and if I were pregnant, I would want several of them, especially during the last trimester. Watsu is a relaxing and meditative experience. Contact Jeff Bisdee for a Watsu of your own.
November 12th, 2012 by tbailey
Penny Simkin, one of the founders of the doula movement, has a YouTube demonstration on why delaying cord clamping at the time of birth, makes sense. Watch it and see what you think.
October 31st, 2012 by tbailey
Normally, I’d talk about how beautiful it is for a mom to have doula support during her birth and beyond. But today, I’m talking about the support we doulas get from our families so that we can function. We are on-call for a particular woman’s birth and go whenever she is in labor. In order to do that, we must have a lot of support in our own homes. Our families and friends make sure that our children are safe and looked after. They make sure that we can be available to women whenever they need it.
I know my own family has supported me throughout my doula career. In November, I’m going to help by supporting my husband as he reaches to write a novel of 50,000 words in one month. Together we are participating in National Novel Writing Month. I’m going to give him whatever support he needs. I’ll be his researcher, his muse, his drill sergeant. Together, I know we can succeed, because support can be beautiful!
October 10th, 2012 by tbailey
I’ve been working on my texting skills lately. Some of my clients rely on texting often in their daily lives. They feel the doula-mom relationship should also involve texting for fast communication. I agree, but there are some limits that I am discovering. It’s difficult to have a meaningful dialog while texting. When a mom asks my opinion about some birth- or breastfeeding-related idea, I usually feel there are several options for a particular situation. Normally, I would offer them all to her. They don’t often fit into a short burst of information. More importantly, while we’re talking on the phone, I can hear not only the words of her response but the tone of it. “Ugh” doesn’t translate well into a text. She could possibly type “ugh,” but did she mean a strong “ugh,” a weak “ugh” or an in-between “ugh”?
This is even more important when I”m trying to answer the question “What should I do now?” I can offer a triage of solutions using a dialog and her voice as my guide. When she’s calling to ask if I think she’s in labor, I rely on listening to her breathing, her voice and her silence to help me decide where she is. If she texts me information like “I’m having contractions,” she’s giving me her opinion, but she isn’t getting the benefit of my experience. My experience is part of why she hired me.
A doula-mom relationship should be built using several kinds of communication, but shouldn’t rely too heavily on one. Emailing and texting shouldn’t take the place of phone conversations and private meetings. What I’ve discovered is that texting ≠ nuance. Every relationship is full of nuance. I need that nuance to make the woman-to-woman connection we need so that I can support this new mother.