As a doula and midwifery apprentice I see a lot of dads and other partners at a birth who are standing around awkwardly, just lost, and not knowing what to do. And thats okay, I know how hard it is! I started out that way too, but now I’m deep in this process of supporting women during birth here in the Greater Cincinnati area and have learned some things. I want to prepare you, as partners to a pregnant woman, to be your very best self, one who is prepared, willing to work hard and will meet the mom right where she is.
So there are a couple things I want to talk about…
First: If you get nothing else from this post, I want you to remember that during a birth, you should be calm, grounded, peaceful and know without a shadow of a doubt that she can birth her baby. Everything else after your grounded energy comes second.
For those of you who are list people, here are the top things i think you should have under your belt.
Before the birth, its incredibly valuable if you, as the partner…
have met the care provider and established a relationship of trust and respect
are friendly, grounded and aware of others in the birth space
know the mothers birth plan and a little about each aspect
share the mothers expectations of you during the birth experience
have practiced different positions and ways to touch her during her labor
are familiar with the stages of labor
have 2-3 encouraging phrases that you know she will like to hear during her labor
know that its inappropriate to be on your phone in her line of vision during the labor
are able to establish boundaries around the mom if she needs a it
be open to having an experience too
Luckily for you… I have midwifery classes, which means I have to make client handouts, and then want to share them with all of you! So here is mine on supporting moms as partners during her labor and birth : ) PS: its a trifold in case you want to print it out. Partners at Birth.pdf
Last week i was on call for a doula friend and i was called to the birth! I couldnt believe it! My friend was unavailable for a 18 hour window, and it was the babies due date, so i mean, come on, the odds were SO low. Lesson learned… I am the luckiest!!!! : )
Its been awhile since I have been to a birth as a doula, with all my apprentice/ student midwife work, and man have i gotten good! I kept surprising myself with knowing how to be, what to say to her and her husband, how to touch her and what suggestions to make next. I was with Julie and her husband for 17 hours at the hospital and never once did i get stressed or anxious, I have been struggling with those in my life and it was so good to let go. I have been reaffirmed that birth work is in my blood! Its in my heart and i LOVE it!
So Im moving forward, Im going to pursue more doula work! And ill keep being a student and do placenta encapsulation because i believe in this work, and i believe in women and i believe in the power of birth!
Please let me know if there is someone who could use a doula and i would love to talk to them!
PS: Tolabor is the organization i was trained through, and i would recommend them to anyone. They also have this free podcast, link provided here…. http://www.tolabor.com/toraise-podcast/. Its called To Raise Questions and they have so many great topics, and one of the ladies who is talking Terese, is the women who trained me. Man! She is great. I listen to this podcast sometimes to connect me with the broader picture and because these ladies and so sweet and they talk about their experience as doulas and its all about honoring women.
I watch new mothers and babies learn to breastfeed a lot these days. Its a whole trial and error learning curve, for both. Some get the perfect latch the first time they try, just after birth and some take weeks to work out, with tongue tie revisions or torn up nipples. I feel so lucky to work with clients who are so devoted to breastfeeding that, despite challenges, they dont give up, even if it means donor milk… they keep pursuing a breastfeeding relationship with their child.
Im sharing this video, that a friend shared with me awhile back about laid back breastfeeding. Its just another position to try while your learning, or if you have an oversupply, with gasping baby to show for it ; ) I hope you find it to be another helpful resource. Laid Back Breastfeeding
For those of you who are learning to breastfeed, I applaud you. For those of you who will be learning soon, you wont regret it! And for those who have, I bet you miss it!
My life recently consists of two types of days, both pull at my heart and keep me excited to do the other. My life as a mother and life as a birth worker.
As a mother my life is paced by a sweet baby girl, Everly Ruth. At 9 months old her life is set by naps, and putting everything possible in her mouth. She enjoys playing games with her older brother like, who can crawl the fastest. It is so sweet when he lets her win too! Oliver, my brave and rambunctious 4 year old, keeps me learning and growing. Most recently we have been focused on ‘Birds of Prey’, ‘Big Cats’ and learning all the letters of the alphabet. It’s too exciting to contain!
Being a birth worker consists of going to prenatals, births, and postpartum visits, Meet the Doulas, writing blog posts, and studying in any gaps of time. I’m reading textbooks such as Varneys, Holistic Midwifery, Clinical Practice Guidelines, and Heart and Hands.When I’m not reading books I listen to all the talks I can get my hands on. I often find myself going down rabbit holes learning about nipple pain, fetal heart tones, and practice guidelines. I laugh it off when i get it wrong and keep trying to get it right.
At the end of my days I am both exhausted and anxiously excited. I have pushed myself and remain open to where my path will lead me. I have arrived and I keep telling myself, “what i put in, is what i will get out”.
Reading Heat and Hands by Elizabeth Davis last night, I was reminded of how hard it was to continually accept my pregnant body as beautiful, as I gained more and more throughout my pregnancy. I went up 50-60 pounds (I no longer wanted my midwife to weigh me at the very end after I hit 50 lbs!)
Davis explains all the causes of weight gain in pregnancy and they are comforting!
Causes of Weight Gain in Pregnancy:
-Water retention due to hormones
-Increased fatty insulation over the belly and backside
-Increased weight in breasts (One reason i want to get pregnant : )
-Increased blood volume
-Weight gain of enlarged uterus: including the amniotic fluid, placenta and baby
Women lose an average of 15 pounds within the first few days of birth and the remaining weight used for sustenance during the first few months postpartum. Making breastmilk, getting up several times in the night to nurse, and dealing with the stress of caring for a newborn defiantly burn up the fat reserves.
End Heart and Hands.
Now i will tell you that all this is comforting but my pregnancy weight didnt leave until my son was 2!
**I bet you thought your face was blowing up just to keep your admirers away!
I have attended a few homebirths lately, And i am continuously awed by the peacefulness, respect and trust that is flowing through the space. I just cant stop talking about it… even around those who i know may think its dangerous, etc.
I found this table recently and am thinking about making a wallet sized copy to flash at people as they scoff at my path of Student Midwife. Hahaha. Really, i know that the best defense will be to become educated, so i study away, every day.
If you are a birth story enthusiast, like me, your will find this one thrilling and empowering. She has a home birth, but not just any, because her home is off the grid, on a mountain top. Its about a woman finding her power. And about all women finding their power. Enjoy!
I’m looking through my files to choose a reading for a mother blessing this weekend, I felt like sharing some of them here for people who might be googling around looking for something to share at a blessingway:
From the book Joyful Birth: A Spiritual Path to Motherhood by Susan Piver
The path of motherhood has a beginning, but no end. It’s constantly changing and constantly challenging. Along the way, we encounter our personal limits over and over. We fall in love over and over. We ride the sharp edge of hope and fear. On this path of discovery, as on any spiritual path, our pretensions are shattered, our minds are blown, and our hearts are opened. We cry, we laugh, we bumble around and make countless mistakes. Through it all, we are gently—or abruptly—poked into greater honesty, lovingkindness, and understanding. It is a truly joyful path.
The memory of [my child’s] birth has become a talisman that I hold in my heart as I journey deeper and deeper into motherhood. For these moments come again in every mother’s life—the times when we are asked to walk straight into our pain and fear, and in doing so, open up to a love that is greater than anything we ever could have imagined: all life’s beauty and wonder, as well as all the ways that things can break and go wrong…Again and again, motherhood demands that we break through our limitations, that we split our hearts open to make room for something that may be more than we thought we could bear. In that sense, the labor with which we give birth is simply a rehearsal for something we mothers must do over and over: turn ourselves inside out, and then let go.
This is the reading we often use for symbolically summoning the four directions. It is from the book Mother Rising: The Blessingway Journey into Motherhood:
Blessed be this gathering with the gifts of the East: communication of the heart, mind, and body; fresh beginnings with each rising of the sun; the knowledge of the growth found in sharing silences.
Blessed be this gathering with the gifts of the South: warmth of hearth and home; the heat of the heart’s passion; the light to illuminate the darkest of times.
Blessed be this gathering with the gifts of the West: the lake’s deep commitments; the river’s swift excitement; the sea’s breadth of knowing.