taking charge of your birth

I want to emphasize something that is a big deal. It’s something I see overlooked often. It’s something that can cause a lot of tension during your birth. Nobody wants that, but sometimes we just don’t know what went wrong. Let’s take a look at what could save your birthing space…

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Who you choose for your provider is extremely important. This is the person you are trusting with your life and with your babies life. They need to be knowledgable. Their degree or licensing should let you know that they check off that box on the list. But what’s maybe more crucial to your birth than knowledge? Respect. Aligning views on topics. Willingness to trust your instincts and work with you. 

Now, I’m not saying your OB or midwife has to obey your every command. I don’t think that’s realistic. I mean, let’s be honest, most of these providers have been doing their job for many years. They’ve seen birth numerous times. They know what pregnancy entails. Whether they are more natural or more medically inclined, chances are they have more experience. And a lot of us are just dipping our toes in the water… I knew nothing with my first pregnancy, but I thought I knew a lot. I did my research, watched the videos, talked with others. But that doesn’t fully prepare you for all the possibilities. Having a knowledgable provider on your side is priceless! But having a knowledgable provider who respects informed consent and works with you, that’s immeasurable! 

We all know that the doctor works for us. I pay him, he gives me care… That must mean I’m in charge. It does. It does mean you are in charge. But part of being in charge is choosing the provider that best fits your needs. I mean, I’m not about to hire a dog trainer to teach my rabbits manners. I certainly am not going to hire them and then demand that they change their entire style to fit my needs.

Beccas Birth Services (30 of 43)
Photo by Malia Maureen Photography

I believe that part of being in charge is finding the right person, not demanding that the wrong one comply to your demands. I realize in some areas and in certain situations this isn’t possible. If that’s the case then stand your ground and push for the birth you want. But if you have the choice, why would you choose the 1 star vehicle technician over the 5 star one? Why would you choose the OB with the 90% cesarean rate when you want a non intervention vaginal birth? That just doesn’t make sense. There are OBs who love natural birth. There are ones who respect your wishes, even if they don’t typically practice that way. And there are ones who prefer to hook you up to pitocin as soon as you come in. Pick the one that fits your situation best. Interview them. Find the one that feels the most comfortable. Be in charge- choose the right provider.

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You can’t hire a home birth midwife and demand that she give you an epidural. She can’t do that. It won’t happen. So don’t hire a non-natural friendly OB and demand she change all of her views for you. It won’t happen. You’ll end up fighting the staff throughout your labor. It’s stressful. It’s not worth it. The most important thing in labor is relaxing and working with your body, don’t set yourself up to fight during that time!

And for those out of hospital births… find the right provider. Not every midwife is the same. Some of them rub your back and comfort you throughout the process. Others stay on the side and watch you. We all need something different. There’s a place for each provider. Just find the one for you. Interview them. Ask questions. Ask yourself how comfortable you feel. Ask yourself if you trust them. Ask yourself if they will respect your wishes.

Be in charge of your birth. It’s never too late to change care.

 

 

*Images used are from Malia Maureen Photography

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I don’t NEED a doula

“I have a midwife”

“My husband (mom, sister, etc.) will be with me”

“They cost a lot”

“I don’t want a natural birth”

I’ve heard all kinds of reasons why people think they don’t need a doula. I’ve also seen numerous times where these people get to the hospital and realize they do or regret not having one after they’ve had their baby. They feel alone and sometimes even afraid without having support.

For this post, I asked a dear friend of mine to share her opinion and experience in having both her husband and mother present and hiring a doula. Here’s a word from Cassandra:

At the moment I found out I was pregnant all I wanted to do was research. As a first time mom, I did not want to go through my pregnancy ignorant and uneducated. I read numerous books and online articles.

I initially intended to have a very intimate hospital delivery room setting. I wanted only my mom, husband, nurses, and my Dr. in the room. I wanted to ensure I could block out most distractions while giving birth to my child. I later realized I was missing a very fundamental piece to this birth plan I had in mind. I was approached by a doula, she provided insight about how she could assist with managing my pain throughout my labor and delivery process. At first, I thought my mom, husband, and the hospital staff were responsible to keep me comfortable. At this point of my pregnancy I did not plan on having an unmedicated birth. The doula explained she was certified and trained to assist women in various types of births. I was informed there are numerous methods to naturally manage contraction pain. I then decided to plan to have an unmedicated water birth. My doula also explained she would be present to assist and encourage me mentally and emotionally throughout labor and delivery.

The hospital staff have several patients to tend to, which doesn’t allow them to be hands on throughout labor. My husband and mother are not trained and were also very emotionally vulnerable. However, with assistance and guidance from my doula they were very hands on and helpful. It was very nice having my doula’s support and assistance throughout postpartum.

I am beyond grateful I decided to hire a doula. My mom, spouse, and hospital staff were amazing. However, I can honestly say my doula deserves majority of the credit for managing my pain and emotional distress while I was in labor.

I highly recommend all women, whether it’s their first or fifth baby, hire a doula.

I cannot agree more with what Cassandra said! Women need a doula. They need someone to stand by their side and support them no matter what. They need that unbiased, yet caring attention. Just to give you a little more background on why I believe this so strongly, here’s a piece of my birth story and experiences as a doula:

For my first birth, we planned a home birth. During our anatomy scan, the technician found a succenturiate lobe on my placenta. They told me that meant there were two separate pieces of placenta only connected by a very thin amount of tissue. There was a large chance that when I delivered my placenta the smaller second piece would be torn off and stay attached to my uterus. This type of attachment would cause hemorrhaging because my uterus wouldn’t be able to properly clamp down and close the wound left behind by my placenta. So with this information my husband and I did a lot of discussing. We decided we felt most comfortable with transferring into hospital care. When I called my midwife to let her know, she offered to come as my doula. I thought that was a wonderful idea! Now I would get the best of both worlds!!

 

Being a first time mom I didn’t really know what to expect when labor started. But I called my doula around 10 pm and she said she would be over soon. How awesome is that?! This person is willing to give up her sleep to come and support me? YUP! That’s what a doula does. She got there and made me feel so comforted! She rubbed my back, helped me find good positions to labor in and offered more encouraging words than I can remember. 15 hours later we decided it was time to head to the hospital. Boy am I glad she was with me! I had no idea what to expect. Of course my mom and husband were there, but my doula knew the hospital, she knew the providers, and she knew what to expect during labor and birth. She offered my unending support. Literally. She was by my side for 32 hours of labor and delivery. She showed me how to breastfeed. Could my mom have done that? Probably, but it’s been 17 years since she breastfed a baby. I bet she’s just a little bit rusty at how to get a newborn to latch.

Overall, I couldn’t have done my birth without my entire birth team. My mom offered encouragement and gave me the confidence that I could do it. She also took care of all the little details so I didn’t have to worry about them. (thank you momma!) My husband was my rock. He squeezed my hips until he was catching my baby. And let me just say, doing hip squeezes for extended periods of time isn’t a job for the weak. My doula helped walk us through the process, find good positions to labor in, assure us when we weren’t sure what was happening, and offer comfort measures.

Not too long ago I received a call from a birth photographer friend of mine. She had a client in labor at the hospital who wasn’t feeling supported and needed some help. They asked if I could come, of course! I joined this birth team after the mom was in labor. She didn’t have a past relationship with me, but she needed support. She needed more than just nurses coming in to give her directions every hour. There were contractions every 3 minutes. She needed help working through them. She needed encouragement. Using several positions we were able to turn her posterior baby, helping her labor to kick into full gear. She got the VBAC she wanted. She rocked that VBAC!! All she needed was a little support.

A doula isn’t there to replace your husband, they are there to help him! That way he can take a restroom break or grab a snack while you are still supported. So he knows what’s going on. So he has support also. My bet is, your husband hasn’t seen anyone give birth before, unless this is a second or third kid. But even still, I bet birth isn’t his passion. He’ll do his best, and that love and support can never be replaced! But having a knowledgable doula by both of your sides is a priceless addition to your birth team.

One more point I want to make that Cassandra touched on:  it’s hard for family members, especially your husband and mother, to see you in pain. If you are going for a natural birth, they may have a harder time continuing to encourage you. They may feel tempted to just push pain medication so that it relieves your pain. Think about it, is that what you want? If so, great! If not, then you should build a plan and a team to help you achieve your goal!

Don’t we all need support? Don’t we all crave for someone to help us out in our weaknesses and encourage us to keep going? I know I sure do. Especially during labor. It’s hard work. Hard work made a little bit easier when you are surrounded by a great team that cares about you!

This is why I believe so dearly in doula care. Nothing tears at my heart strings more than talking with a woman who gave birth unsupported and didn’t like the outcome.

 

Thank you Best Doula Training and KEDocumentary for the photographs. 🙂

A Whole New World

Just find out you are expecting? Weren’t expecting that? Or maybe you’re planning ahead to save up for when you do get pregnant? It’s a whole new world, isn’t it?!

The first time for me was a complete surprise. It did explain why I followed through with a random urge to chop off all my hair, but a surprise nonetheless. I had NO IDEA what to do. I mean obviously eat healthy… take your vitamins… (which ones?? There are sooooo many!) Find a care provider…

I thought that covered it. It didn’t even scratch the surface of possibilities during pregnancy. Here’s an overview of what could be helpful and necessary during a pregnancy and about how much you should expect to pay.

 

DURING PREGNANCY:

Prenatal Care and Delivery

One of the main things to consider is what kind of birth you want to have. Home, birth center, or hospital? Which one feels the most comfortable to you? After you decide what you want it’s time to start interviewing. Check out several providers. Tour their facilities. Take some time and decide what feels right!

The average cost of midwifery care in Texas is around $5,000. A hospital delivery could cost anywhere from $8,000-25,000 or more

Supplements

Depending on what you take, this section could be very cheap or pretty costly. I’ll just put down the costs for what I take, and you can do your own research on what you’d like.

Here’s my standard supplement routine while pregnant:

  • Prenatals/multivitamin: $23/ month
  • Shaklee GLA (sanity-saving-hormone-balancer): $33/ month (I highly recommend this for the last trimester especially, but it’s great throughout your entire pregnancy)
  • Pre/Probiotics: $33/month (this stuff helps me stay regular. And that’s a huge deal during pregnancy… in case you didn’t know… I didn’t.)
  • Red Raspberry leaf tea: $5/16 serving box (After 30 weeks I try to drink at least one glass of this a day. The more, the better. It has really helped with delivery and recovery for my births.)

I’ve used other supplements during pregnancy as needed, but these are my definite needs.

That totals to somewhere around: $760

Food

Since eating healthy means something different for everyone, and I am definitely not an expert so I will leave this one open for interpretation.

I do want to stress how important it is though! What you eat is what’s feeding your baby. Make wise choices, not only for yourself, but also for that precious bundle.

Chiropractic

This is high on my list of priorities when I’m pregnant. During pregnancy your body begins releasing the prolactin hormone, which lets your muscles relax in order to accommodate for the growth of your belly/womb. This also means that it’s a lot easier for your bones to shift around and potentially get out of place. For me and many other mamas, this means sciatica pain if I don’t get my routine adjustments.

I’ve also found that having chiropractic care can help keep your baby in a good position, which makes for a much easier delivery. I’ve done it both ways… with regular care and without. It makes a WORLD of difference. Trust me. I’m talking 32 hours of back labor versus 6 hours of regular. This stuff matters. It is very important to make sure you use a Webster certified chiropractor, they have special training in caring for pregnant women.

You’ll also find it helpful to see your chiropractor right after you deliver the baby. Childbirth can sure do a number to a woman’s pelvis. Baby can be adjusted too!

Some chiropractors accept insurance and some don’t, so that will play a role in what your final cost is. There are also some who offer a box-on-the-wall system of payment. In those situations you usually pay an initial consult fee and then pay what you can for the follow up visits. Here’s what I’ve found to be the average cash pay price near me:

Normal adjustment: $50/visit

***A good rule of thumb is to see your chiropractor as often as you go to your prenatal appointments. You usually start seeing your care provider around 10-12 weeks into your pregnancy. Until somewhere around 28 weeks you go once a month, then every two weeks until 36 weeks when you go weekly. So that’s around 14 appointments.

Average Cost: $700

Maternity and/or Newborn Photography

These are some milestone memories that you will definitely want documented.

Malia Maureen Photography does some really awesome work!!

Average cost: $500-$1,000

Ultrasound

Who doesn’t want to see a glimpse of the cute baby growing inside of them? Your care provider will typically want to have an anatomy scan done around 20 weeks to make sure everything is going well. That’s the only truly necessary ultrasound during a normal, healthy pregnancy with no complications or concerns. But there are lots of places that offer 3D ultrasounds where you can see babies actual features, instead of what may just look like fuzzy lines on the screen.

Cost: anywhere from $50-200 depending on the location/package

Childbirth Education Class

You don’t know what you don’t know. As with anything new, there’s lots to learn. So why not take a class with a trained individual who is knowledgeable in the topic already. You may not agree with everything they teach at your class, but it should give you a definite idea of what to expect during labor/birth and open your eyes to options you may not have known you had. From here you can do further research on exactly what you want! You may even make friends with the other expecting couples in your class.

There are lots of options on what to take for classes, so do some research before and see what the best options are in your area.

Most classes cost between $150-300

**You may also be able to find a free class (ask me about one offered in the DFW area by The Natural Way Birthing Project), or attend different meetings on various topics that will aid in your research. It’s usually easy to find some of these with local pregnancy or birth centers.

Massage Therapy

Who doesn’t love a massage? Especially when every part of your growing body starts to ache. One of my best friends gifted me a massage with my second baby, and I am forever grateful. Obviously, this is more of a treat than a necessity, in my opinion anyway. So let’s say you go twice during your pregnancy… I’d save them for the end.

Average Prenatal Massage: $60

So let’s say $120 for the whole pregnancy

Since everything is up to you and what you want,

I’ll let you do the math. 😉

 

DURING BIRTH AND IMMEDIATELY POSTPARTUM:

Doula- Birth and/or Postpartum

Having a labor support person is critical in my experience. A doula can make you a snack, offer positions and comfort measures to make labor more comfortable and help you acclimate to the new baby. I couldn’t have done it without my doula and love getting to be that support for others. The cost ranges depending on where you live and who you hire. Just like with your care provider, interview several people. Find the best fit for you!

Postpartum doulas are available to help you with adjusting to life with a newborn. Some of these ladies offer meal prepping, light house cleaning (we’re talking switching the laundry and washing a load of dishes, not scrubbing your baseboards), nursing advice and help, caring for the baby while you sleep/shower and more. Once you find someone to interview ask them exactly what they offer.

***Some doulas are in training and cannot charge for their births, it’s still a nice idea to donate something for their time and dedication to you. Others may be willing to make a trade for a service or product you offer. Almost every doula I know offers some sort of payment plan, this usually needs to be paid before 37 weeks when they go on call so make sure you plan accordingly.

You can checkout doulamatch.com to find out what the average cost is in your area and set up interviews with local doulas.

I offer doula services to Cleburne and the surrounding areas.  I would love to schedule an interview with you!

In the DFW area, the average cost is between $600 and $1300 for a birth doula and around $30/hour for postpartum doulas.

Birth Photographer

These pictures will last a lifetime. Those moments of smiling and laughing between contractions, the intense focus during transition, and the first time you hold your baby are special. You only get one chance to capture them. Check out photographers in your area and find someone with a style you like.

***Make sure they know what being on-call means (they will drop everything and come to you, even if it’s in the middle of the night) and that they have a backup. Hiring a new photographer may help you save some money, but be sure the person is serious. It’d be awful to pay someone for those important photos and never get them.

KEDocumentary is amazing!!

Average cost: Between $1,200-$2,500

Placenta Encapsulation

This is something to do research on and decide if it’s right for you. There haven’t been any formal studies done on it so far, but it is reported to help with lactation and energy during postpartum recovery.

Check out my website for the packages I offer.

Average Cost: $300

Lactation Consultant

Figuring out your nursing relationship with your new baby can be difficult. Getting the right latch is often daunting. How do you hold the baby? Why did they latch right on for the nurses but you can’t get them to do it again? Having a meeting with an IBCLC after baby is born can help sort out the kinks and ease your nerves.

For Babies Sake is fantastic at helping with lactation!

Average cost: anywhere from $60-200

 

 

 

There is much to research during pregnancy in preparation for your new baby and the changes that come with parenthood. This should give you a good idea of what to look into for your current or future pregnancies!

So what are you waiting for?

Get out there and schedule some interviews so you can sign those contracts!

 

 

 

*** I’ve included links to some of my favorite providers/resources. There are a lot of other great options out there also! I encourage you to find the one that works best for your family. I am happy to talk with you and help you find exactly who that may be. 🙂

** I can offer provider recommendations based on location and desires. Please just send me a private message so we can chat.

*Images used are from KEdocumentary and Malia Maureen Photography, as well as Adrianne Rodrigues, photographer

What do I do?

Webster dictionary defines a doula as “a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth”.

My goal as a doula is to develop a strong relationship with each of my clients so that I can provide that support not as a stranger, but as a friend.

Once hired I am available for phone conversation/texting throughout your pregnancy. I am more than happy to schedule extra prenatal appointments with you, if you would like them, but I typically only provide two. These are done once you get closer to your due date. After 37 weeks I am on call 24/7 and will arrive to your location promptly after receiving your labor call. Once there, I help during labor and immediately after your baby is born. Then we have our follow up appointment a couple weeks after the birth.

During labor I work with you and your partner and care providers to help you have the best birth possible. Most of the time this means I’m offering words of encouragement during contractions and lots of counter pressure. During my own births I wanted someone to do the double hip squeeze the entire time (thanks hubby). It just felt so good. And when that pressure wasn’t there? Well, it felt bad. haha. I love being able to apply that pressure on just the right spot to give a little ease during contractions, and this allows your partner to hold you and really love on you. Sometimes my job is making sure you take a sip of water, even when you don’t really want to. Suggesting you try a different position to see if that helps or even making you a snack.
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Whatever labor throws at us, I’m glad to adjust and do what’s needed at that time. Part of the wonderful mystery of labor and birth is never knowing what to expect. That’s why I think having a support person, like a doula, is so very important.

Doula What?

A doula is like a super knowledgeable, unphased by anything, non-biased, best friend during labor. At least that’s how I like to think of itBeccas Birth Services BW (4 of 43)

This is a person with some level of expertise in labor support. This is someone you can ask about things you aren’t sure about, she should be able to provide some emotional support as well as point you towards some evidence based information. A doula stays on call for your during the weeks surrounding your due date. For me, this means always having a babysitter available, snacks in the fridge and my bag of supplies packed. It also means making sure my phone ringer is turned on loud so that I don’t miss your call in the middle of the night. When I’m at a labor I naturally have compassion for the mom, this allows me to squeeze hips for hours, rebozo sift continuously (even when my arm muscles don’t think they’ll survive) and offer encouragement throughout the whole thing.

I don’t know everything about labor (who does??), but I have a lot of experience and connections with others who do. Every birth is a new experience with some kind of new knowledge to be gained. Who doesn’t want someone who has been there and done that to stand along side them and cheer them on? I sure couldn’t have done it without my doula and hubby by my side!!

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Becoming a new mom puts you in a position of learning a LOT in a limited amount of time. I’ve been a mother for three years and I’m positive there’s things I’ll learn with each new baby I have. Trying to figure it out on your own can be overwhelming. I mean, there’s the car seats, strollers, clothes, cribs, food, pediatrician, who’s going to help after baby is born, cloth or disposable diapers, what type of cloth, baby wearing options, and the list goes on… and on… None of that even covers your birth options. Part of my job as a doula is to help you discover your birth options. There are things I’m just now realizing that I had a choice or say in during my labors. I just didn’t know better. I want you to have the ability to know all of your choices and make them with confidence.

Something I love to focus on as the doula is keeping your partner involved. You didn’t hire me to replace them, you hired me to work with them. A lot of times that means giving him a job, like holding your hand, letting you lean on them, or maybe even putting them to work with some counter pressure. We are a team and we work together!

Once baby is born, my focus is still on you. I love babies and they are so adorable! BUT this isn’t my time to admire your baby, it’s yours. After birth, my goal is to support you with feeding and bonding with your baby.

To get a better idea of what it looks like to hire me as your doula, check out my new blog post What do I do?