Doula

Three Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Had A Baby

I had my babies a long time ago, but I still remember the feelings of anxiety. Was I doing it right? Was I making the best choices for my baby, myself, our family? There was so much noise being thrown at me from well meaning family, friends, doctors and experts, sometimes it was hard to hear my own heart. 
 


I knew that my guts and intuition were spot on when it came to my baby's needs.

 

I wish I had known that it was appropriate to expect the people around me to respect and support my choices. As a new parent, it's healthy to set boundaries when the people around us are not being supportive. It's not okay when other people undermine our confidence in our choices. Having healthy boundaries is a huge part of emotional health in the fourth trimester. Well-meaning relatives and friends like to give advice and to help solve problems that aren't always actual problems, just normal adjustments postpartum. This can keep new parents from finding their own rhythms.

I knew that it was impossible to spoil my baby, whether through too much snuggling, baby wearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding and attachment parenting.  I wish I had known that other people's choices were equally valid for their families, that those choices do not define a "good" or a "bad" parent.  These divides undermine every new parent. It makes little sense to create separation where we could be building supportive community. The truth is, we don't know the details of another person's life or why they make the choices that they do. We're all doing the best we can, for the most part, making the best choices we can.



We all deserve respect for our parenting choices, even when we disagree.

 

I wish I had known more about what to expect during my second birth in the hospital. My first birth was a home birth. I had a great birth team, I was prepared, and I knew exactly what to expect. My second birth was in a hospital. I didn't do any preparation for what hospital birth would entail. I didn't really realize it would be that different from my home birth!  I wish that I'd had more access to education and information, that someone had explained what a hospital and its procedures would be like. As it was, the hospital birth I had was also positive, but it was very different from what I expected. I felt like I was learning to swim, in the middle of labor, and hospital procedure was a shock. 

I've long since worked through the emotions and feelings about my own birth experiences. But those experiences inform what I try to bring to my clients during their pregnancies, labors and births. It's a huge part of my "why." Why I listen, why I validate, why I encourage birthing people and parents to trust their intuition, to ask questions of their providers, to set boundaries, and to use their voices when they disagree. It's why I bring an attitude of non-judgment to the table, so that all of my clients feel supported in their choices, no matter what those choices are. And why I strive to stay informed, so I can offer the most current, evidence based information to my clients so that they are never left adrift or bewildered in the face of a decision or a hospital procedure. 



What we know about birth is that it does not always go as planned. It can be full of surprises.

 

Having a doula doesn't guarantee outcomes but it can help you deal with surprises or when your plans change. A doula offers validation, support, empowerment and information. These things all go a long way towards helping you get the outcome you want and can help you feel good about your birth outcome even if it wasn't what you'd planned for. And that's a good thing to know before you have a baby. 

Three "Must Haves" For Every Pregnant Person

Every baby magazine and website on the planet has a list of “must haves.” From fancy creams, essential oils, bags, clothes and baby products, everyone has their favorite.  

I've boiled it down a little bit more to my three most essential things for every pregnant person.

 A positive attitude can have a tremendous affect on your pregnancy, labor and birth outcome.  


1. A good sense of humor.  You’re going to need one.


Pregnancy is fraught with change, both physiological and emotional. Changing hormones, a changing body, it’s a roller coaster! There are days where if you don’t find something to laugh about, you might cry. And there days when you will cry anyway.  Heartburn, morning sickness, a sudden aversion to your favorite snacks, no sushi for 9 months, and baby rolling on your bladder 2 stops away from home on the subway; all of these things are temporary, but they can also be inconvenient, frustrating, and very uncomfortable.


Don’t talk yourself out of the very real feelings you will experience during your pregnancy.


Give yourself the space to simply experience what is real for you, good, bad, easy, hard, conflicted... It makes the ups and downs of making a tiny human just a little bit easier.  


2. A Reliable source of take-out and well-stocked snacks.


You don't always have the energy to run down to the corner bodega or go pick up an order of 9pm egg rolls. Having a reliable, pre-planned source of take-out during your pregnancy is key. When you want Thai food, you want it now, right? 

It’s also really handy if you think ahead each week and pre-stock your favorite pregnancy snacks. Whether that’s pre-slicing veggies, bagging up smoothie fixings, making up a batch of fresh, healthy salsa, or making sure your favorite ice cream is in the freezer.  By planning ahead you’ll be more apt to make healthy choices, plus you'll feel less deprived and grouchy when you’re peckish and wanting a nibble of something right now. And if you're planning ahead, you might just think about putting some healthy (well, healthier anyway) egg rolls or chicken satay in the freezer for those days when a smoothie just won't do. 
 

 A healthy berry smoothie is a wonderful pregnancy pick me up and can contribute to your prenatal nutrition. 


3. A pregnancy buddy. Someone who is there for you through it all.

It really helps when there’s someone you can call, day or night, with questions and concerns, or when pregnancy anxiety has you fretting. It’s nice to know you have someone who will squeal at the tiny jammies you just bought and get excited that you bought your first box of newborn diapers.  That stuff is fun and believe me, you need that joyful, fun support just as much as you need support for the tough stuff. Could be your bestie, your mom, your sister, and... it could also be a doula.  

It helps to know you have the rock-solid support of someone who won’t judge the choices you make for yourself or your baby.

It helps to know that you have someone in your corner who isn’t going to put in their $.02 unless you ask for it. Who, even then, is going to keep the conversation centered around what you think is best for you and your family, not their opinion. That’s what doulas do. We’re there for you, when you need a laugh, a shoulder, wisdom, support, or just a ready ear.  Your doula is going to be excited to hear that you found a super cute Doctor Who onesie or bought a car seat and your doula will be there for you if you just need an ear because your sense of humor is faltering. Your doula will help you B.R.A.I.N through important decisions and help you with research to find the resources you need, when you need them.


And who knows? Your doula might even bring you egg rolls…

 

Whale Song or Whitesnake... You Lead, Let's Dance.

 Not every doula likes patchouli on their pillows! 

Not every doula likes patchouli on their pillows! 

I recently read an article in the Washington Post and I loved it! I loved that with her doula's support,  she had an empowered, supported birth experience. That's the goal! 

But I am not that kind of doula and that's okay. We're a pretty diverse group of people with a wide range of philosophies regarding birth. 

If I'm your doula, I will not throw away your tv dinners unless you specifically say, "Get those tv dinners out of my fridge and into a dumpster."  If dietary changes are what you want, I will work with you as you find your way. And, if you want me to warm up some frozen macaroni and cheese, I'm going to do that without an extra helping of side-eye. It's your call. 

I also won't give you a vaccination book unless you ask for it, I'm sorry.  I trust you to explore that topic yourself, with your physician and your child's pediatrician and my plan as your doula is to respectfully support all the parenting choices you make for your family. 

Not every doula uses a boot camp approach when it comes to being a birth partner.

I focus on empowering you to direct your own experience. My goal is to help you find your own happy place in the process. You may need me to take a more assertive role for a minute. You may need me to back off an hour later because you found your rhythm. It's a dance. We're birth partners. I will play you the Hamilton soundtrack, whale songs, the nae nae song or even your old Whitesnake CDs during labor if you want them.

The right support at the right time can make a profound difference and what is needed is unique and different for every birth, every mother, every baby. 

We are vulnerable when we're pregnant and birthing, not to mention afterwards. Support is imperative and you deserve to have abundant support during your birthing year and beyond. But you get to say what that looks like for you.  You may not like patchouli. You may want a cheeseburger. You may not want to throw away the tv dinners. And that's ok. Meeting you where you are is the point. 

Whether patchouli pillows are involved or not, it's my wish that every birthing parent can feel national news happy with their birth experience and the supportive care that they receive from every member of their birth team.