Doulas and Dads

Although the information here will reassure any partner, this article intentionally addresses dads-to-be. All the quotes, links and videos are made by dads for dads-to-be, about their most common concerns about birth support:  1) Value; why should I pay for a doula if I’m going to be there?  2) Why do we even need a doula; what does she have that I don’t?  3) How will I be included if a doula attends?

Avoiding Post-Dates Pregnancy

Post-term or post-date pregnancy is one that exceeds 42 weeks gestation.  If a woman is healthy and well nourished then her placenta is likely to thrive and nourish the baby at any gestation.  If there are signs that mother or baby will be healthier with baby Earth-side, then induction is warranted; otherwise it’s a much overused intervention that leads to a Cascade of Intervention.    

Released Waters (a.k.a. Ruptured Membranes,Water Breaks) – What to Do!

Your waters just released – now what?  Waters can release as a few drops at a time or in a gush.  Only 10% of women will experience waters releasing before labour has started.  In that case labour usually starts within 24 hours.  The other 90% of women’s waters will release at some point during labour, usually in active labour.  Below is info on self-care and warning signs.  

Labour Drinks

“Labouraid” and broths are excellent for hydration, energy and electrolytes.  They help keep the powerful forces of labour progressing.  Stock the ingredients at home and prepare at the first sign of labour.  Or make ahead (this is a great task for someone who wishes to help out) and freeze as cubes, popsicles, or in a bottle, to be thawed and consumed as labour progresses.  Most women prefer their labouraide chilled and their broths warm.

LABOURAID DRINK – version #1 (From many midwives and natural birth books)
1 L  water or Pregnancy Tea
1/3 C  raw honey or real maple syrup
1/3 C  juice, fresh-squeezed from a real lemon
1/2 t  salt, preferably Celtic or Himalayan
1/4 t  baking soda
2 crushed calcium tablets

These next two versions are from http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-make-a-labor-aid-electrolyte-drink/).  See site for details of ingredients.

LABOURAID DRINK – version #2 / Lemon Labor Aide
4 C  water
1/2 C  freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 t  salt, preferably Celtic or Himalayan
1/4 C  raw honey (or more to taste)
a few drops concentrated minerals (available at health stores, optional)
a few drops Rescue Remedy (optional)

LABOURAID DRINK – version #3 / Coconut & Lime Labor Aide
3 C  coconut water
1 C  water (or more)
1/2 C  freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 t  salt, preferably Celtic or Himalayan
2 T  raw honey or maple syrup
a few drops concentrated minerals (available at health stores, optional)
a few drops Rescue Remedy (optional)

VEGGIE BROTH
Add fresh or dried veggies (e.g. carrots, celery, onion, garlic – anything) to boiling water
Simmer for 20-30 min
Add 1 T  apple-cider vinegar
Season with any herbs or spices you like
Add salt to taste, preferably Himilayan or Celtic (kelp powder can be used instead)
Blend to smooth consistency or strain veggie chunks out

BONE BROTH
Put bones and any left-over bits, including meat on bones in pot and cover with water.
Add 1-2 T  apple cider vinegar
Bring to boil then simmer (large bones such as beef for up to 24 hours; small animal bones such as chicken only need 3-4 hours)
Strain
Add salt to taste, preferably Himilayan or Celtic (kelp powder can be used instead)
Optional:  Add dried or finely chopped fresh veggies, herbs or spices and simmer for another 30min

 

1 comment on “Birth Doula FAQs”

Birth Doula FAQs

What’s a doula?
A doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother and partner during pregnancy, birth & early postpartum. In much of the world today and throughout history, women support women through labour & birth.

What’s the difference between a midwife and a doula?
Doulas work as part of a team with doctors or midwives, but not instead of. They provide non-medical support and comfort measures (e.g. encouragement, massage, positioning suggestions). They do not perform clinical tasks such as heart rate, blood pressure, or internal exams.

Midwives are highly trained in the medical aspects of birth. The carry oxygen, medicines, resuscitation equipment and other gear, and are known as primary care-givers during birth. In North America primary/medical birth care is offered by either a midwife or a physician.

Why choose a doula over simply using a friend or family member as support?
Doulas are trained and experienced in childbirth support. They know the sounds and behaviors of laboring women, and what that may indicate about progress. Doulas are trained in pain-reducing comfort measures, natural methods to keep labor progressing, and to support both the laboring woman and her partner. Doulas are familiar with local hospital policies & practices and have often built a rapport with the doctors, nurses and midwives. See http://evidencebasedbirth.com/2012/06/26/why-wouldnt-you-hire-a-doula/

In most Canadian hospitals, women are allowed 2 support persons – usually that’s her partner and a support person. Some hospitals accommodate a 3rd support person. Homebirths and birth centers encourage women to have all the support they wish.

How does the doula fit in with nursing staff?
Doulas do not replace nurses or other medical staff, but rather work as part of the team. They are there to comfort and support the mother & her partner. Nurses change shifts; doulas stay.

How does a doula assist with communication in hospitals during labor & birth?
During prenatal meetings doulas learn what’s important to a couple and discuss how to make informed decisions. A doula may remind or encourage a client to ask the questions necessary to understand a procedure and make informed decisions. Doulas do not speak on a client’s behalf nor intervene in their clinical care. They do not make decisions for clients, nor judge the decisions clients’ make, but are there to support those decisions.

What difference does the presence of a trained doula have on birth outcomes?
The presence of a doula tends to result in shorter labours with fewer complications and less interventions. When a doula is present during and after childbirth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, make more positive assessments of their babies, have fewer caesareans and requests for medical intervention, and less postpartum depression. In case of unplanned circumstances, doula support helps reduce negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience. Studies [1],[2],[3],[4]   have shown that babies born with doulas present tend to have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries, breastfeed more easily and have more affectionate mothers in the postpartum period.

Analysis of six randomized trials1 demonstrates that lack of doula presence correlates with:

  • Double the overall caesarean rate
  • 33% increase in length of labour
  • 67% increase in oxytocin use
  • 2 ½ times more requests for epidurals

Will a doula make my partner feel unnecessary?
A responsible doula compliments and enhances the father/partner in their supportive role rather than acting as a replacement. (While I respect people’s individual circumstances, I will use “father” words for most of this paragraph.) The presence of a doula allows the father to support his partner emotionally during labor & birth without the pressure to remember everything he learned in childbirth class! The father typically has little-to-no actual experience with the birth process, yet is expected to act as a coach. Some partners feel (accurately) that this is a huge expectation. Many fathers experience the birth as an emotional journey of their own and find it hard to be objective. A doula is supportive to both the mother and her partner, and plays a crucial role in helping a partner become involved in the birth to the extent he/she feels comfortable. Studies have shown that fathers usually participate more actively during labor with the presence of a doula than without one.

When a couple works well together during the birth process they’re better able to handle the challenges of early parenthood. An incredible bond forms or is made stronger.

How often and when do we meet?
We’ll meet 2-3 times before the birth. The introductory meeting is any-time – it’s never too early. The prenatal meetings are best done between 24-36 weeks. After your baby is born there will be a minimum of one postpartum visit, more if needed or desired.

Are doulas only useful if planning an un-medicated birth?
The role of the doula is to help attain a safe and pleasant birth, not to choose the type of birth. The presence of a doula is beneficial no matter what type of birth you are planning. In fact, women who choose a medicated birth need as much support as those who choose a natural birth, but a different kind of support. For women who know they want a medicated birth, the doula still provides emotional support, informational support and comfort measures to help the women through labor and the administration of medications. Doulas can help a mom deal with possible side affects and by filling in the gap that medication may not cover; rarely does medication take all discomfort away.

For a mother who faces a cesarean, a doula provides comfort, support and encouragement. Often a cesarean is an unexpected situation and moms are left feeling unprepared, disappointed and lonely. In this case doula support is especially helpful during the early postpartum period.

What if I planned a drug-free birth then change my mind during labour?
Doulas don’t make decisions for clients or intervene in clinical care, nor do they judge women’s choices. They provide informational & emotional support while respecting a woman’s decisions.

What kind of comfort measures do you use during the labour & birth process?
While there are common comfort measures taught in doula training courses, each doula also brings her own tools and methods. Ours include the following:

  • Positioning suggestions
  • Massage & various touch methods
  • Homeopathy & Bach Flowers (optional; no extra charge)
  • Aromatherapy
  • Encouragement & reassurance
  • Heat or cold as desired
  • Hydrotherapy (water for comfort in labour, and/or water-birth)
  • Create space for partner, and recommendations to help partner to offer support
  • A calm, reassuring presence who trusts the birth process

When do we call you in labour?
Please call at the first signs of suspected labour. We’ll discuss what those are. From then on you’ll keep us posted on your progress and what’s happening.

When and where do you join us in labour?
When depends on the woman, her partner, and the labour. Early support often takes the form of checking in by phone and/or dropping by your place.  Your doula joins you either at your home or in hospital or birth center and remains with you until 1-2 hours after the birth.

How does shared-care work?
Doulas team up to provide enhanced service. Clients benefit from combined experience, education, and availability. Since doulas are on call for up to a month for each client, shared care allows them time for important life events and days off without having to turn clients away or rely on unfamiliar back-up. Clients meet both doulas prenatally so they’re familiar with whichever one attends birth.

What if you can’t be at the birth?
In the rare circumstance that one of your doulas can’t be there, you will be well supported. We work with reliable back-ups who offer excellent care. Fees remain the same. If the back-up is likely to be part of care, some clients wish to meet her prenatally, which can be arranged.

Do we pay more to work with 2 doulas?
No. Fees are outlined in the contract. The cost of working with both doulas is the same as hiring one of them individually.

What kind of postpartum support do you offer?
Your birth doula usually stays for 1-2 hours after the birth, until you’re ready to be on your own with your baby. We also visit in the first day or two postpartum, offering basic breastfeeding support, answering questions, and going over your birth. We are available for questions and can offer resources (educational and community). A second postpartum visit is offered.

What if I need extra help with breastfeeding or baby-care?
The information above describes our work as birth-doulas. Another kind of doula, a “postpartum doula”, specializes in extended care and breastfeeding support. There are also breastfeeding counselors and lactation consultants that can be arranged through public health or hired privately. We can provide resources and contact info. If you’re on the Mother-Baby Unit the nurses or unit Lactation Consultants can provide support.

Where’s that name from?
In ancient Greece “doula” meant the highest female servant who helped the lady of the house through child-bearing. Medical researchers Marshall Klaus and John Kennell, who conducted several randomized clinical trials on the medical outcomes of doula attended births, adopted the term to refer to labour support as well as prenatal and postpartum support.

 

[1] Klaus, M.H.; Kennel, J.H.; Berkowitz, G.; Klaus, P. “Maternal Assistance and Support in Labor: Father, Nurse, Midwife or Doula?” Clinical Consultations in Obstetrics and Gynecology 4 (December 1992).

[2] Sauls, DJ. Effects of labor support on mothers, babies, and birth outcomes. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2002 Nov-Dec; 31(6):733-41.

[3] O’Driscoll, K. and Meagher, D. Active Management of Labor. 2d ed. London: Bailliere Tindall, 1986.

[4] Klaus, M.H. and Kennel, J.H. Parent-Infant Bonding. St. Louis: C.V. Mosby, 1982.

Home Birth Supply List

Prepare Your Home Before 37 weeks:

  1. Midwife & doula contact info on your fridge; info entered into cell-phones.
  2. Other “Important Phone Numbers” list on your fridge.
  3. Some cleared surfaces for equipment set-up.
  4. Plan for birth-attendant parking.
  5. Outside lights working, house # visible at night (may require a temporary # to be put up).
  6. Clear a path to door and through halls in case we have to quickly run in equipment for set up or quickly depart.
  7. Child-care plan (unless they’re attending birth; MW & doulas can offer tips).
  8. Pet-care plan – pets with teeth / claws absolutely need to be locked up or sent elsewhere as even the most gentle animal can become over-protective and stressed while mama’s in labour.
  9. If you’d like candles then please use only unscented beeswax or battery-candles. The rest are toxic.
  10. Get your bed “birth-ready” – make bed in this order (from bare mattress): extra mattress pad, sheets for after the birth, then a plastic liner/sheet or water-proof mattress pad, a regular mattress pad if you’re using a plastic sheet (optional but nice, because plastic gets hot and sticky), sheets for birth, blankets & pillow cases that can be used for birth.  Have pillow cases and blankets for after the birth nearby.  Note: if you don’t wish to sleep with plastic in the days/weeks before birth, please have all this ready near bed so someone can quickly make the bed during labour.
    Note: Waterproof plastic liner/sheets can be a clear shower curtain liner or plastic drop-sheet (like a thin tarp). Mattress stores sell nice waterproof mattress pads that feel like normal bedding.
  11. If you’re planning a water birth then ensure hot water temperature is turned up
  12. Birth-Kit from MW (if she provides this; otherwise purchase and assemble yourself):
    – Package of 10 or more large absorbent under-pads / “blue pads”
    – Peri-bottle for postpartum perineal care (one per washroom)
    – 4 pair disposable mesh underwear
  13. If you have a guest-room, it’s nice to have it ready for birth-attendants, just in case.
  14. Extra bits if you’re planning a water birth:
    Note: I am a water birth expert and can offer all kinds of guidance if there are issues with any of this, but we need to know ahead of time!
    – Purchase / rent birth pool (unless your bath-tub is appropriate) and all related supplies.
    – Determine where and when to set up the pool.
    – Tarp to protect the floor. Padding under the tarp is nice.
    – Hot water temperature is turned up.
    – Ensure the hose for filling the birth pool fits one of your taps and reaches your pool. Seriously, you can not imagine how often this isn’t done and foils waterbirth plans! Do not just assume it all fits. If the hose won’t connect then you’ll need an adapter or extra pump; ask me.

Birth Container

Please prepare in a box, plastic tub or reserved laundry basket.

 1) Dryer Items
These items will be warmed in the dryer prior to birth.  Place in a separate bag or container (but keep it with Birth Container). Washed and ready for use; will get soiled or stained so consider Thrift Store purchases.

  • 6 towels (make it 8-10 for waterbirth!)
  • 6 receiving blankets
  • 2 hats for baby
  • 3 flannel sheets/blankets for mother (add an extra for waterbirth)

2) Other Linen
This is in addition to the Dryer Items above.  Washed and ready for use; will get soiled or stained so consider Thrift Store purchases.

  • Newborn outfit incl. diaper, undershirt, sleeper, socks, hat and blankets
  • Nighty / PJs for mother
  • Set of sheets to fit bed
  • 1-2 flannel sheets/light blankets for waterbirth
  • 6 old washcloths, old diapers, etc. for hot compresses
  • 10 washcloths for mother comfort
  • 6 towels; make it 12 minimum for waterbirth!
  • 10 cloths/rags for clean-up after

3) Other Items
Note: There may be some repeats from the Birth Bag Suggestions list, which you’re encouraged to check out for some great ideas of things you can use at home, hospital or birth centre.

  • Large plastic sheet to protect bedding – e.g. drop sheet or plastic shower curtain liner
  • 4 large garbage bags (1 for soiled laundry, 1 for garbage, plus 1 replacement each)
  • Large saucepan or Crockpot for heating compresses and oils
  • (optional) Small unopened bottle of food-grade oil e.g. olive or grape-seed for crowning
  • Plastic ice cream pail or other suitable container with lid for placenta
  • Flashlight with new batteries
  • Large pkg. maxi pads, extra long (the bigger, thicker the pad the better). Avoid pads with a “dry-weave” topping as they can be irritating to your perineum
  • Flexible straws
  • Cookie sheet or other large firm portable surface
  • Bottle of hydrogen peroxide
  • Digital thermometer
  • Q-tips, in case of care of umbilical cord

4) Waterbirth
Your pool should have come with a supply list.  Please ask if you need more info.  If you’re lucky enough to have a big comfy built-in tub, the only extra thing you’ll need is a floating thermometer and a small fish-net or sieve.

Nourishment

Think about lots of healthy foods and drinks (Labour-Drinks) you and your family might enjoy during and after labour and birth, and stock up.  HINT– birth attendants LOVE tea and snacks too! 😉

Make a few trays of ice-cubes (can keep cubes in a zip-lock).

Cytotec Induction Dangers: What if Viagra Made Penises Explode?

(There is a connection – stay with me here!)

Cytotec (misoprostol) is a drug for stomach ulcers.  However, it is used “off-label” in the USA, (and has recently been approved in Canada too) to induce labour, per obstetrical guidelines.  It’s not approved by the FDA for such use.  In fact the manufacturer issued a written warning against use of Cytotec for labour induction as it can cause hyper-contraction of the uterus, which can lead to uterine rupture, which can obviously lead to death.

So, when Cytotec is used as directed by the ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), a well documented, possible side effect is uterine rupture.

Ina May Gaskin started a quilt project in which each square represents a woman who died in childbirth.  Many of these squares are dedicated to women who received Cytotec induction.

This issue was raised by some classmates today.  Many good points were made; the most obvious being, why are Cytotec inductions allowed, despite ample evidence to show it’s a dangerous practice.  It was suggested that this demonstrates the extent of disregard for women and their bodies.  My friend and classmate, Kelly Graham, a passionate advocate for women’s health, speculated, “I wonder how many (of these same) doctors would prescribe Viagra if a side effect was penis explosion.”  Or – another analogy – would we use a drug to help asthma if a possible side effect was ruptured lungs?

Enough said.

Want to explore further?