Admiring the Rebozo

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20th, 2013 by tbailey – Comments Off

Last week I took a master class on that amazing piece of cloth, the rebozo, with Gena Kirby. Gena has an amazing passion for the rebozo as a cultural staple as well as a tool to use during birth. She helped us understand much more about our attitudes towards both birthing moms and dads and our place in the birth as doulas. She gave us this quote (a common saying from Africa):

“Being pregnant and giving birth are like crossing a narrow bridge. People can accompany you to the bridge and they can greet you on the other side but you walk the bridge alone.”

She went on to say that the rebozo was like the rail of the bridge. Sometimes you don’t need to use the rail, having it there is support enough. Sometimes the rail is essential. It depends on your journey.

Below are three photos I took during the class. The first shows a laboring woman supported by 2 rebozos while pushing. The second shows the laboring mom being supported under her shoulders while the rebozo helps her move her baby. The third shows the laboring mom holding the ends of the rebozo while she pushes. Thanks to Gena, I’m incorporating some new ideas and techniques into my doula practice!

rebozobirth Rebozojan rebozopushing

World Breastfeeding Week 2013

Posted in Breastfeeding Support on August 1st, 2013 by tbailey – Comments Off

World Breastfeeding Week 13


Happy World Breastfeeding Week 2013! In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, please support the nursing mothers that you encounter. How do you support them? Bring a new mom some supper. Help nursing moms feel welcome in public. Let a nursing mom know you support her efforts.

This year’s theme is “breastfeeding support, close to mothers,” and highlights peer counseling. As you can guess, La Leche League does a lot of peer counseling. One reason to consider going to your local La Leche League meeting is that even when breastfeeding goes well, you can get continuous support from moms who are nursing and overcoming the same hurdles you might be facing in raising a new baby.

I’ll be celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in three ways. I’m going to be at Sunday’s “Babies R Us Breastfeeding Expo” at the Bethel Park store. I’ll be representing La Leche League. On Monday, I’ll be teaching new doulas to be peer counselors for breastfeeding moms. And throughout the week, I’ll be helping new moms work through any difficulties with home visits.

Remember, breastfeeding is about more than human milk, it’s an important part of the mother and baby relationship. La Leche League calls the nursing mom and baby a “diad”. Whenever you can support nursing mothers, you are also supporting happy babies!

The Starfish Principle

Posted in About Doulas' Guide to Birthing Your Way, Why have a doula? on July 23rd, 2013 by tbailey – Comments Off

Starfish on beach

Why continuous doula support is so helpful for making labors easier and more enjoyable has been studied quite closely. I have a theory of my own. I think it has to do with the Starfish Principle. You can find the starfish story in our book: Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way. The basic idea is that a young girl finds a beach covered with starfish far from the water. She sees they will die unless they get back into the sea. She starts to throw the starfish back, one at a time. Her mother tells her not to bother, she can’t possibly save them all. But the daughter is determined, she can save some, one starfish at a time.

As doulas we only have one client at a time. Therefore, how that one labor goes really makes a difference — to us! There is something special about having a small sample size. You can make a big difference to one woman. It is harder to make such a big difference to many women.

Because she is our one birth, this month, this week, this day, we work as hard as possible to make a difference for her. As we make a big difference for her, we enjoy that big win, too. Just as we are one for her, she is one for us. Her joy in meeting her baby is our joy. Her success in breastfeeding is our joy as well.

I learned early on that I can’t be at all the births all the time, even just the Pittsburgh births. There are way too many! But I can be at one special birth to one special mom and dad. And I can make a difference!

Everybody Waits

Posted in Emotional Support on July 20th, 2013 by tbailey – Comments Off

Lady waits pregnant

Now, as British royalty watchers are waiting for news of Kate’s baby, many of us are waiting for the birth of our baby as well. It seems painful, all this waiting. Why me? Why can’t labor just come already? Patient doulas have been answering that question forever. The answer is: it always seems to take forever. The longest known pregnancies (from an emotional point of view) are generally first time moms-to-be. They have expected their darling since they peed on the stick, many moons ago, and are now feeling like the watched pot that won’t boil.

Apparently, Princess Diana’s labor with Prince William was induced because she couldn’t stand the wait and being watched by a whole country. Hopefully, not that many people are watching your pregnancy, but it sometimes feels like it. In the grocery store, people look at you like the balloon that is about to pop. At meetings, people view you with astonishment and say, “Are you having twins? When’s your due date again?” If you have the effrontery to have passed your due date, people will show you their concern, over and over, especially relatives.

The simple truth to keep in mind is: you will have your baby! In general, it is better to wait than to induce. All women have felt like this, even the ones whose babies were born before their due dates. Each day past your due date greatly increases your likelihood of going into labor. And also, this too, shall pass. Meanwhile, your doula is patiently waiting with you. Give her a call if you need sympathetic support.

Labor Progress without Cervical Exams

Posted in Doula to Doula on July 14th, 2013 by tbailey – Comments Off

birthing woman

Doulas can’t check a laboring woman’s cervix, or perform medical procedures, but knowing where a woman is in labor is a very helpful skill. Experience with laboring women helps us figure it out. Nicole D. who writes the blog, Bellies and Babies, has a very helpful article that describes multiple ways to help a woman figure out her labor progress.

Some methods that can help a caregiver or doula know how dilated a woman is during her labor include:

  • Teach self exams
  • Sounds she makes
  • Smell of the room or the mom
  • Bloody Show
  • Emotions
  • The bottom line
  • Physical Make-Up
  • Fundal height
  • Symphysis Crease
  • Mexican Hot Legs
  • Pressure

Her article is nicely descriptive and helpful. I had a birth recently during which I used the Mexican Hot Legs technique. It worked for me! I was able to gauge her labor progress very well. Nicole describes this:

“As the birthing woman’s body works harder, blood is withdrawn from the extremities to be utilized by the womb. Thus, the woman’s legs get progressively colder from the ankle to the knee as labor progresses. At the start of birth, the whole leg will be warm. At around 5 cm, the leg will be cold from the ankle to around mid-calf than it is above the calf. Once the whole leg feels cold up to the knee, then the urge to push should shortly follow.

This technique is less reliable if the woman is having an epidural, as the drugs will also affect the temperature of the hands and legs. If a woman is birthing in water then she’d need to be on dry land for around 20 minutes to allow the temperature in her legs to be measured accurately. “