Birth Support

My Doula Made Me Feel Like a Badass--A Cesarean Birth Story {Guest Blog}

When my husband and I found out we were expecting our third child, we were ecstatic. My first two children were born in Louisiana where my husband was stationed with the Army, so I was really excited to be able to deliver in my hometown of Waterloo this time, with my family nearby.

I really wanted to try for a VBA2C with this baby, and after consulting with my OB, we decided I was a good candidate. 

My OB that I saw for my prenatal care was very supportive and informative about the medical aspect of a vaginal birth after cesarean, and I felt comfortable with her overseeing my medical care. Around this time, I had been going to monthly ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) meetings. ICAN offers support for those who have previously given birth via cesarean or for those who are planning to deliver via cesarean. I had spoken with a few women there who have had VBAC deliveries and they highly recommended that I look into hiring a doula for my upcoming birth. I had no idea what a doula was so I did some research and after a lot of reading, I decided that maybe it would be a good idea. 

I began researching the area doulas. It wasn’t long before I found a doula who was the perfect fit for me and my husband.

We met with her for the initial consult and secured services shortly after that. She guided my husband and I as we came up with the ideal birth plan. She helped us understand how we could advocate for ourselves and our baby and explained how she would be there each step of the way supporting us through every decision we make throughout my labor, birth, and postpartum period. There were a lot of things we didn't know about hospital policies and procedures and she helped us better understand informed consent, and empowered us to make the decisions we felt were best for me and our baby.

Finally, after about 41 loooong weeks, I went into labor. My doula met us at the hospital and was very reassuring throughout each part of the labor/birth process. She made me feel comfortable, safe, and eased much of the fear I had. The OB on call, (who was not the same doctor I had for my prenatal care) did not support my choice to have a VBA2C, to say the least. I felt patronized and judged for my birthing decisions by her, and this was the exact opposite of how I felt under the care of the other OB’s at that practice. My doula stood by us without interfering but supported us. She also she gave us the confidence to advocate for ourselves and let my husband know that it was okay to speak for me when I wasn't able to speak for myself. 

My labor was 55 hours long. 

My baby flipped sunny-side up and I stayed at eight (8) centimeters dilated for what seemed like an eternity. I had denied any pain relief and really wanted to do this birth with no medications. Seeing my mental and physical exhaustion, my doula gently suggested seeking some sort of pain relief. In my birth plan, I was adamant about not having an epidural, but like most people know, birth plans are just guidelines and not everything goes as planned. I went ahead a got an epidural placed about 53 hours into labor so I could rest. We tried changing positions multiple times to hopefully encourage baby to get in a better position, but baby decided she was comfortable in the position she was in. It had been about 2 hours since I got my epidural and started Pitocin when my nurse came in to check my cervix. 

I was still at eight (8) centimeters and baby was still face up.

At that time, I decided I wanted to have a c-section as I was not comfortable being on Pitocin for a long time since I have had two previous c-sections. I was worried that my doula might think I was weak and that I was taking the easy way out, but that couldn't have been any further from the truth. She was so supportive. She told me over and over how strong I was, and that she would be there for me and my husband not matter what, and that she completely supported our decision. She talked with my husband and I about our preferences for our cesarean birth and educated us on the options available. She could tell how nervous I was and was very reassuring and provided so much comfort.

When the OB came in to discuss our cesarean birth plan, we expressed our desire for a family-centered cesarean.

  • I wanted the sterile drape to be lowered so I could watch our daughter enter the world. 

  • I requested that both of my arms remain free throughout the surgery.

  • I wanted to be the first to hold my baby skin-to-skin while still in the operating room.

  • It was also extremely important to my husband and I that my doula be allowed into the operating room to support us throughout the entire birth. 

Beautiful Baby Rosalie - April 19, 2015 - 11:26PM

Beautiful Baby Rosalie - April 19, 2015 - 11:26PM

I delivered my beautiful baby girl via family-centered cesarean at 11:26PM. I got to watch her come out, and I was the first to touch her and the first to hold her. She was stunning! After a few minutes of getting my baby snuggles in, I had a complication with my epidural. It was wearing off on one side while the doctor was still closing me up. The anesthesiologist had to sedate me. My husband and my baby girl were together on the other side of the room while I was getting the care I needed. During this time, my doula never left my side. She was right by my head the entire time. As the sedative was wearing off and I was coming back to, I was loud, obnoxious, and quite out of it-- but my doula was there holding my hands reassuring me of her presence and that everything was okay, while my husband was standing nearby holding our daughter.

It was the only birth where I didn't feel alone after baby was born.

After the OB finished closing me up, I was taken back to my room for recovery. Unfortunately I was not able to nurse right away due to the medication I received in the operating room. The nurse asked us which formula we wanted to give baby, and this was not an option I was comfortable with if it could be avoided. I had breastfed my other two and it was very important to me that my new baby be breastfed as well. My doula saw my husband and I both hesitate as we were thrown into unknown territory with the question of formula. She reminded us that there was a milk bank at the hospital I delivered in. We requested the donor milk and it was brought up right away. I watched my loving husband be the first to feed our baby, just like he was the first to feed our other two babies.

My birth experience did not go exactly as I had planned.
However, even though I did not have a VBA2C, I felt empowered.

That. Was. Huge. 

During my other C-sections, I did not feel empowered and I did not feel I could make any decisions regarding my care throughout any part of the birthing process. All decisions were made for me.

I had the choice this time and I was an active participant in my birth experience.

My doula made me feel like a badass for being able to have the power to make my own choices and supporting me through each choice along the way.

She made me feel like a badass for enduring a long hard labor.

She made me feel like a badass for choosing the c-section in the end, and she made me feel like a badass for being the mom that I am.

Authored by: Amanda Perkins, Waterloo, IA
Client of Northeast Iowa Doulas
 

Working in a Salon Made me a Better Doula

That’s right; because I worked as a salon receptionist, I am a better doula. Now, you may be wondering how that works out. What does working in a salon have to do with being a doula? Surprisingly, A LOT!

I’ll be the first to say I never thought I would work in a salon; it’s just not my thing. I took the job just a few months after graduating from college with a degree in the social sciences. Coincidentally, this was also a few weeks after completing my first doula training. My friends and family were baffled, and I felt so judged.

“THIS has nothing to do with your future!”
“How are you going to make time for your clients?”
“You’re going to drive an hour to work to answer the phones?”

 
but I needed a job...

Feeling judged is not a good feeling. I felt like people thought I was taking a job that was below me. Several comments were made about how I could do better than that. They didn't understand that working was something I needed to do in order to support myself financially.
 
"That's a job for someone in high school." Yes, a few people actually said this to me. They might as well have told me I was wasting my time and my education meant nothing. 

Like I said, I had just graduated from college and moved back home to Minnesota. Oh, I had also just left my previous job as a caregiver which was very flexible and full of wonderful benefits. I was running out of money fast so I held my head high and took the job nobody saw me working in. Through this I gained self-confidence and so much more.

When I started I couldn’t tell you the difference between an ombré and a balayage or the difference between a double process and a dimensional color; I had no idea how long a perm took versus how long a foil took. Despite my lack of experience and knowledge, the amazing women I worked with at the salon were more than willing to help me figure it all out.

During my time at the salon I saw and heard a lot of things.
 
-People preparing for their weddings
-Women who had been cheated on
-Young adults who just wanted to fit in
-People who had lost their loved ones
-Girls who let a friend color their hair blonde using a cheap box dye only to have it turn out bright orange (Note: please don’t do this!)

Some of the things I learned while working at the salon include:

-How to connect with customers in person and over the phone
-Knowing what to say to make people feel like their very best
-How to talk people through a major life crisis
-How to hold my tongue when I had a million things I could have said
-How to manage my time to call 35 people in one day.

How to be the best ‘me’ I could be…

Because I worked in that salon I have the skills to support you and tell you we're going to figure out a way to get you through this; even if you’re in a fog at the moment. I specialize in providing you with personalized professional support as we work together to meet the needs of you and your family.

Have you ever taken a job position at a place you never thought you would see yourself in? What was the result?

My ending results turned out to be amazing. Everything we go through in life is a learning experience and I believe there are lessons to be learned, skills to be taught, and knowledge to be gained with each life experience. 

Everything I learned during my time at the salon translates over into helping me provide the best unwavering, unbiased and unconditional support as an affiliate doula at Northeast Iowa Doulas.  Life is not entirely predictable; yet we are always able to learn and to grow from our experiences, and if we're lucky, we can find surprising gifts of insight and experience by enduring what we had hoped to avoid.
This can help us connect with others -- to know that they are not alone.  We are all doing the best we can. We are doing what we need to do in our own unique situation.

For more information about our professional doula services click here or contact us today for more information. 

We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by: Victoria Cartland
Edited by: Kaity Klotzbach 

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For more great #WorldDoulaWeek blogs from doulas across the country, visit http://louisvilleareadoulas.com/blog/2016-world-doula-week

Natural Birth Only? Let's Put That Misconception to Rest.

There is a common stereotype that doulas are only for those planning a “natural” birth. This can have many meanings but oftentimes refers to an unmedicated labor resulting in a vaginal delivery. Many have said they haven’t even considered hiring a doula because they already know they want pain relief via IV meds or the epidural. Well, we want to take a moment to shout it from the rooftop:

NORTHEAST IOWA DOULAS SUPPORTS ALL BIRTH CHOICES!!!

Seriously...We don’t come in with that “natural birth agenda.”  We support you in whatever your birth preferences are; period.

Unmedicated? Great!
Epidural? We love epidurals!
IV pain meds during labor? Fantastic!
Planned cesarean? Super!
Change in plans? We've got your back!


It is so important for a laboring mother and her partner to feel safe, supported and as comfortable as possible when they are working so hard to bring their baby into the world.

Another misconception is that your doula is your advocate…

This should NOT be the case. It is completely out of the scope of a doula to speak on their client’s behalf. We will not take away your voice by speaking for you in any situation but will empower you to speak for yourself. OB’s, midwives, nurses, and family practice docs did not get into this profession so that they could purposely inflict harm or discomfort in their patients. We truly believe that healthcare professionals want you to have a great experience just as much as you want to have a great experience. We look at our professional birth support as complementary to the clinical care you receive from your providers. Northeast Iowa Doulas has fantastic working relationships with the healthcare professionals in the Cedar Valley and Corridor areas. They know that when one of our doulas walks into the room, we are there to be a team player and collaborate with them to provide the best overall care to the mother and her partner.

"Providers are focused on healthy moms and healthy babies. Doulas are focused on a healthy mind and a healthy bond." --Randy Patterson, ProDoula Co-Founder

So, what can you expect when you hire Northeast Iowa Doulas for something other than a planned ‘natural’ unmedicated birth?

Support for an Epidural
Oftentimes it can take up to an hour before the anesthesiologist arrives in all his glory. It can be very difficult to sit still through contractions while the epidural is being placed. Once in place, it can take a good 20 minutes or longer before the epidural is providing much pain relief.

While waiting for anesthesia to arrive we can offer support by:

  • offering an explanation about what to expect

  • verbal coaching, praise and encouragement

  • massage, counter pressure or position changes

  • relaxation techniques (taught in our childbirth education class)

Once your epidural has been placed and has taken effect we can offer support by:

  • Position changes, massage, utilizing the peanut ball in bed

  • Keeping mom engaged in the process if she desires or assisting her in a position that allows her to get some much needed rest

  • Maintaining a relaxing and comfortable environment

  • Keeping the focus on mom and her partner; not the monitors

There are times when the epidural does not work or sometimes it only works on one side and this can be very frustrating to a laboring mother who is expecting a pain-free labor and delivery. Attempts can be made by the anesthesiologist to place another epidural but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Then what? Then your doula is there with her skills and knowledge to support you through it.


Support for a planned cesarean
This includes but is not limited to:

  • Prenatal discussion about the process:
         -Checking into the hospital    
         -Administration of medications 
         -Preparation for surgery and being brought back to the OR
         -Assistance with creating a family-centered cesarean birth plan

     
  • Support during admission while waiting to go back to the OR:
         -Creating a relaxing environment   
         -Massage and other comfort measures
         -Helping the family unpack for the hospital stay

     
  • Providing support to the mother's partner during the time they are separated
     
  • Assistance with breastfeeding after baby has arrived
     
  • Extended postpartum support in the hospital to help the family get settled

The 'wait-and-see' approach

Maybe you aren't sure what kind of birth experience you want...Maybe your only goal is a birth that results in a healthy mom and healthy baby. Great--We support that!

Maybe you like the idea of having a 'natural' unmedicated birth but you are totally open to pain relief options if and when they become needed. Fantastic--We support that, too!

Support when plans change

Sometimes things don’t go as planned and that is okay! Just because one part of your plan changes doesn’t mean the whole plan needs to go out the window. All of our doulas are trained and skilled in helping you transition when your birth experience is unfolding differently than you had hoped.

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We’ll say it again... We support ALL birth choices! We support you in whatever your plans for birth are and no matter how your birth unfolds.
Feel secure in the fact that a knowledgeable, reputable expert in birth support is there to unconditionally accompany you throughout every part of this experience.

By hiring Northeast Iowa Doulas you can be sure that you will receive only the best professional support that Iowa has to offer. For more information about our doula services click here or contact us today for more information.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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For more great #WorldDoulaWeek blogs from doulas across the country, visit http://louisvilleareadoulas.com/blog/2016-world-doula-week

Co-authored by: Victoria Cartland & Kaity Klotzbach

 

 

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