The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A Birth Doula
Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
Stays with the woman throughout the labor
Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level
A birth doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials CD(DONA).
Research evidence shows that the quality services of a postpartum doula can ease the transition that comes with the addition of a baby to a family, improve parental satisfaction and reduce the risk of mood disorders.
Haptonomy is defined as the “Science of Affectivity”, with a framework put together by Frans Veldman
Haptonomy defines several ways of existing towards the world and relating to others. Most of us exist within a rational mode of existence; the goal of Haptonomy is to allow any individual to reach an affective mode of existence, one that allows full autonomy to cope with all the difficult avenues of life, as well as be present and available for the more enjoyable ones. It’s a mode of existence that enlightens our existing rational attributes. This is done through a work that includes integration and affective confirmation (a form of intrinsic, core experienced emotional validation) and set of skills that incorporate a form of affective contact.
Haptonomy is usually most known in mainland Europe (primarily in France, followed by Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany) within the context of pregnancy accompaniment, and has also applications in nursing, medical science, physical manipulation such as chiropraxy, counselling and psychology, and palliative care.
"People never sing...except in the bathroom. Birthing women also make their natural sounds next to running bath water. There is something about the power of water. People are drawn to water, spas, and sacred streams. Women in labor are drawn to water, too."- Michel Odent, MD.
Birthing in water is every womens right. With the right tools, research, and prenatal care all women can accomplish this. My wish and goal is to help provide one of these tools for your family to help create your sacred space on your Birth Day.
.Benefits for mom
Pain relief: warm water immersion decreases secretion of stress-related hormones (noradrenaline & catecholamines) associated with fear and anxiety; increases production of endorphins—the body’s natural pain killers. Mom is able to attain a deeper state of relaxation and conserve her energy. Buoyancy in water reduces effects of gravity and creates weightlessness; less abdominal pressure promotes more efficient uterine contractions.
Decreases hypertension and reduces edema: mild vasodilation occurs thus decreasing maternal BP
Increases oxygenation to uterus; no external compression of inferior vena cava; promotes better blood circulation and supply to the uterus/placenta improving fetal oxygenation.
Facilitates a dysfunctional labor; stimulates effective dilation of the cervix. Provides greater mobility for maternal positioning during labor and birth.
Reduces perineal/cervical injuries. The warm water softens the vagina, vulva and perineum making the tissues more supple and able to stretch gradually.
Best water temperature: 86-96°F induces mild hypothermia; intensifies uterine blood flow; makes glycogen reserves available and activates insulin receptors in the mom thus is beneficial for diabetic moms.
Shortens length of labor.
Improves placental blood flow; increases efficiency of uterine contractions which assists in efficient placental separation; reduces postpartum hemorrhage.
VBAC: lessens danger of rupture; safer for scar; uterus has better blood supply.
Empowers mother: when mom is awake, aware and in “control” of her birthing experience it becomes a source of great personal strength and enriches her life forever.
.Benefits for Baby
Gentler transition from maternal womb to external “womb” of water with less trauma at birth
Enhances fetal oxygenation. Improved blood flow to baby due to better blood circulation in mother
Best water temperature: 86-96°F helps regulate fetal heart rate; protects against hemorrhagic disease of the newborn by normalizing clotting response; stabilizes primitive reflex responses and activates fetal movements.
Water mitigates the shock and sensory overload to the newborn that are so often an inextricable part of “dry-land” birth
.Benefits for family
Greater involvement of the father—because mom’s pain and stress is greatly reduced, fathers take a more active role in the birthing process.
Enhanced family relationships—involvement of father creates a greater family bond
Better parent-child interactions—a mom who has an empowering birth experience will have a positive association to the baby; and a baby who experiences a non-traumatic, painless, gentle birth will have a positive association to the parent.
The birth experience is one of several causal factors in determining the kind of personality an individual manifests later in life. (The Calif. Commission on Crime Control & Violence Prevention spent two years studying the root causes of crime. It found that gentle birth, more loving families and less violence on television are three major factors that curb violent crime. The Commission said that “a positive birth experience, one that is gentle, loving and non-traumatic, increases the likelihood of healthy child development and less violent behavior.”)
My dear friend. My English is approximate but I want to say to you : thank you! Your support and your advice were very precious for us. I am sure that you will help other parents (as you help us). Théodore is healthy today: It is a miracle! Born 29/12/12 at 29 sa 3 Pounds 15 inches,Today 30/11/13 11 month 8540g 69 cm Good development. Just a littel "hypermétropie". He wears attractive Blue glasses. I want the same!
Theodore Born at 29 weeks and 4 days PARIS France 3pounds 15 inches
Theodore is home
Theodore 11 months with his big sister Lise 3 Year old
It takes a village to raise a child, as it does to give birth to a healthy baby. So let me express my deepest gratitude to all the wonderful practitioners who cared for me during my pregnancy and birth: the Midwives at Norwalk Hospital (Sara Church), who cared for me during my first pregnancy and well into my second; Circle for Life Midwifery, who took me in during my third trimester and helped me have the natural birth I'd been hoping for; Caroline Doula Nine Monthswho gave me wonderful support before and during labor, I'm not sure how I would have done it without her; and HypnoBirthing of CT for teaching me great techniques for a calmer birth.
Jakob Chaim born 10/22/2013 st Vincent Bridgeport ct
I have to thank the amazing people who made yesterday such an amazing experience. Caroline Doula Nine Months who helped so much & made my labor quicker & smoother, my midwife Sarah for bringing my baby into the world safely, my amazing birth partner & life partner Newell Wakeman & my mom for her support. The birth center at St. Vincent's for providing the perfect setting to bring all of this together. Thank you all! My final birth experience was truly memorable. —
The placenta benefits a healing mother after birth in many forms. Placenta smoothies, capsules, creams, tincuters, essences and homeopathic remedies can all be made using the placenta; each having their own benefit to the body and encouraging a quicker more natural recovery after birth.
Delayed cord clamping, also known as ‘optimal cord clamping’, is becoming more popular due to the many benefits this simple practice can do for your baby.
Published studies suggests delaying cord clamping results in healthier blood and iron levels in babies.
When your baby is born – premature or full term – only about 2/3rd of his/her blood is in its body with a 1/3rd remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta. It is during the mother’s third stage of labor (lasting from delivery of baby to delivery of placenta) that the cord actively pumps this iron-rich, oxygen-rich, and stem-cell-rich blood into baby. Just 3 minutes after birth, more than 90% of baby’s blood transfusion is complete!
Immediate cord clamping is a medical intervention with NO proven benefits.
If you live in the U.S. or Europe, your baby will often not receive this cord blood because its umbilical cord is cut before baby has received all its blood. The result is a baby is deprived of precious early-life resources that could allow him or her to flourish. Did you know that one third of your baby’s blood is outside of its body at the moment of birth?
Support your baby’s developing immune system and ability to resist infection.
If the cord is clamped too soon (before it stops pumping) your child misses out on 60% of its red blood cells, additional iron, stem cells, white blood cells, and much more. These are the same ingredients that support your baby’s developing healthy bodily functions, intelligence, resistance to infection – and much more.
Wait just 90 seconds to clamp your baby’s cord!
Delayed cord clamping means waiting at least 90 seconds after baby’s birth before clamping and cutting the umbilical cord. During this time, blood continues to pulse from placenta to baby until naturally stopping about 3 minutes after birth. This transfer of blood from placenta to baby is most effective if baby is placed on mother’s lower belly.
Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
Gives baby the oxygenit needs immediately at birth
Allows 4-8 teaspoons more blood to pulse from the placenta to baby
Gives baby an additional 30 to 35 mg of iron to lower risk of anemia
Promotes a healthy neonatal cardiopulmonary transition
Prevents iron deficiency at a critical time in brain development
Reduces birth asphyxia (inadequate oxygen to brain) and cerebral palsy.
Gives baby the red and white cells it needs for optimal health
Provides newborn with a rich supply of stem cells*
Helps a sick baby achieve better outcomes
Little to no apparent risk to mother or baby
*Stem cells play an essential role in developing immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems. The concentration of stem cells in fetal blood is higher than at any other time of life! When a baby’s cord is immediately clamped, 1/3rd of these critical cells remain in the placenta, NOT your baby.
Un-clamped Cord Over the Course of 15 Minutes. Photo Credit: nurturingheartsbirthservices.com
History of Immediate Cord Clamping
Immediately clamping the umbilical cord was popularized in 1913 as one of three pillars of active management of the third stage of labor. While this intervention began in the West, we exported this technique to developing nations around the world. Today, in some low-income countries as many as 95% of delivery clinicians surveyed practice immediate cord clamping. Immediate cord clamping results in up to 10x the risk of developing iron deficiency anemia.
The WHO no longer recommends immediate cord clamping.
Not only have people around the world traditionally waited for the cord to stop pulsing until the 20th century innovation, every other mammal studied instinctively waits for cord to stop pulsing.
One Happy Baby – Delayed Clamping Cord Calmness Photo Credit: Kelly PhD
If a newborn is sick at birth, one of the first things they often receive in NICU is fluid support (about 4-8 teaspoons of normal saline or blood. Yet that is exactly what’s left behind in the placenta when a cord is immediately clamped—about 2 tablespoons of whole blood. Therefore, it can sometimes be beneficial for your baby to let nature do its own transfusing!
If a baby is born in distress and needs resuscitation, delaying cord clamping may need to take a back seat. Babies in distress need immediate attention and it may not be practical to care for them with the cord attached. As more is learned about the benefits of delayed clamping, pediatricians may adjust protocols to do some procedures at bedside, allowing cord to remain attached. If the cord must be clamped immediately, you can make up for the lost iron by giving baby an iron supplement, or feeding her iron-rich foods, when she is ready for solids.
Unless there is a strong reason to do otherwise, it is best to
WAIT until your baby’s cord stops actively pumping fetal blood.
Most midwives/doctors will agree to delay cord clamping as long as they know ahead of time that this is what you want. It is a good idea to request delayed cord clampingin bold in your birth plan and discuss it with the attending nurses at your birth.
If you’re birthing in a hospital and find that your labour reaches a plateau or stalls, unless you’re informed about what a stalled labour means and what you can do to help yourself, it can become a very anxious time.
Sooner or later, you will receive (increasing) pressure to accept a medical augmentation to hurry things along, for example, breaking your waters or using Syntocinon, which is the same drug used intravenously (in a drip) to induce labour, making it much more painful and intense. It can give you less of a rest between contractions, at a time when you’re probably already exhausted, and will greatly increase the likelihood of further medical procedures, particularly caesarean section.
Emotionally, you and/or your partner may also start to experience negative and disempowering thoughts, which can make matters even worse, for example: ‘My body doesn’t work’, ’I’m failing/a failure’, ’I’m just one of those women who can’t birth vaginally’, or ‘All this work, all for nothing.’ This in itself can set a labour back.
In the first stage of labour (contractions phase), some women will experience a plateau and some will not – there is nothing you have done wrong either way, it’s just one of those things that happens. The good news is, there is something you can do about it.
Firstly, you need to understand that there are several ways a doctor or midwife will medically evaluate and label the progress of your labour. This may include any of the following:
Dilation (10cms being a fully dilated cervix, allowing for pushing)
Strength of contractions (feeling your abdomen/electronic monitoring)
Time between contractions
Length of contractions
Behaviour being displayed by the mother
Unfortunately for the birthing mother, none of these methods are reliable or foolproof, even for the most experienced carer – meaning she may end up with unnecessary interventions or tests based on those evaluations. This is especially the case when trying to assess how many centimetres dilated a woman is, for two main reasons:
1) They can’t see your cervix – they have to guess with two fingers inserted into your vagina. I’ve seen a midwife and a doctor give quite different measurements, hours apart, which greatly upset the mother. She felt like she had gone backwards from what the midwife had told her earlier. She was tired and now discouraged, anticipating the end and was closer than what the doctor had said based on his estimate.
2) One centimetre of dilation could take 10 minutes or it could take 2 hours – yet the labour could still be progressing in a healthy way. Doing an exam is not going to speed up your labour or change your progress, but it could end up slowing labour down and make you feel miserable in the process.
So there are two perfect reasons why these sorts of exams should be avoided, unless there is a genuine medical need! It doesn’t matter what ‘number’ you are… your baby WILL come out, no matter if you’re 2 or 10!!! You wont be pregnant forever.
Labour does not follow any hard or fast rules and can respond to so many different factors and influences. However, there is evidence that a plateau in labour is very normal and healthy – instead of failure to progress, it’s very much failure to wait.
So with that in mind, let’s see what you can do.
Go for a Walk / Get Up
Getting up and moving is a great way to encourage baby’s decent, which involves lots of shifting, wriggling and turning it’s way through your pelvis and behind your pubic bone. Movement on your part, especially walking and going up and down stairs, helps that shifting and moving. It also helps to put more pressure on the cervix to assist with dilation. If you can walk through a contraction, even better, but this can be a tricky feat especially later in labour!
Change the environment
Some questions you (or your support people) might like to consider are:
Is the room too bright?
Do you feel closed in or claustrophobic being stuck in a small room and need some fresh air?
Is there too much stimulation/chatter/annoying noise going on?
Do you need some privacy?
Do you feel uncomfortable and/or are there a lack of labour aids?
Is anyone making you feel uncomfortable or is someone there who you don’t want to be?
Sometimes things going on in your environment can raise your stress or adrenaline levels which can slow down or halt labour. Adrenaline reduces the amount of oxytocin (the labour hormone) in the body – you can’t have both as it’s a response your body creates to shut down your labour until you are in a ‘safe’ place again. Imagine a set of scales – one side up, one side down. High oxytocin requires low adrenaline. High adrenaline means low oxytocin… and you don’t want that in labour. If you are able to, get some fresh air, think about what you might need and consider asking for a different midwife if you’re having trouble relaxing around the one you have been assigned.
Similar to the comments on walking, changing your position helps the baby to shift and move around to get into the right spot – help him wriggle on down! Being stationary in one position can slow things down and make things more uncomfortable for a birthing mother.
Nipple stimulation produces oxytocin and can produce some strong effects, so you can try stimulating your nipples (including your areola, as a baby would when sucking) with your fingers, massaging one at a time. An alternate option is if you are still feeding a toddler, let him attach and the sucking action will do the same thing.
Massage the first nipple for 5 minutes (when there are no contractions), then wait to see what happens before doing more. It’s a good idea to take your mind off things by getting on with your usual duties than sitting and waiting for something to happen – so try and keep busy!
Once labour is well established again, stop the stimulation.
Orgasm produces oxytocin… so tap your man on the shoulder or DIY – because it could well help labour along, and let’s admit it, you’re not exactly going to suffer for trying!
Acupressure can be learnt before labour, so you or your partner can work on acupressure points should you want to get labour moving. Alternately you can speak to an acupuncturist about the possibility of them supporting you at birth or attending your labour.
Debra Betts has put together a brilliant document on acupressure for pregnancy, labour and post birth, with solutions for all sorts of situations, from encouraging labour to vomiting and nausea in labour. You can download a copy here.
This can be an unexpected thing to consider, but childbirth can bring about a big emotional upheaval for some people, anticipated or not. Perhaps you or your partner is really wanting a boy and you’re having a girl… perhaps you’re anxious about pushing baby out or are recalling a horror story from a friend… perhaps you have had someone close to you pass away recently… perhaps you feel scared worrying about what will happen after the birth, because the baby was unplanned and you or your partner are not sure how you feel about things.
At births I have supported, I have seen occasions where parents (or others) turn up unexpectedly and unannounced, asking to wait for the mother to birth – even where it was the mothers wishes for them not to be there. This happen and it can really set back a labour, requiring time to help the woman become focused and calm again – never anger a labouring woman!!! So perhaps you are worried this situation may occur and feel anxious for this reason. At the end of the day, there are just so many things that can mess with the process of labour when you mess with the mother’s right to privacy and safety.
Exploring any psychological reasons that may come up during your labour can be a huge help, ideally if you are aware of any before you give birth. It is common for women giving birth who have lost their own mothers tend to go through some strong emotions. In any case, it would be a good idea to seek counselling to help deal with how you feel to prevent events playing out in labour. If something does happen during labour, then hopefully you can find a midwife (or your doula or partner) you trust to let them know what’s going on.