Five surprising ways…

…that Doulas Support Birthing Families!

In a 2012 survey, 27% of those who knew what doulas were but did not hire a doula for their birth said that, in hindsight, they wished they had hired one. Here are five surprising reasons to hire a birth doula you may not have thought of before!

1. Birth doulas help you prepare during pregnancy.

You might assume that a birth doula only helps with, well, birth. But doulas can play an important role as families navigate the period before baby is born, too. As your belly grows, people might tell you you’re “glowing,” but if we’re honest, we know pregnancy can sometimes be really unpleasant! Doulas can teach many comfort techniques to help ease the aches and pains of pregnancy (bonus—these techniques work wonders during labor, too!). Pregnancy can also be a bewildering time emotionally. As your body changes, so does your sense of who you are now and who you will be when the baby arrives. Doulas are trained to help you understand and process the physical and emotional changes you are experiencing and adapt to your changing needs. The practical concerns of preparing for the birth of a baby can be overwhelming, too, as you consider what kind of birth you want to have and who your care team will be. Doulas know the providers and facilities in your area and can help you understand the differences between different types of care and different hospitals, birth centers, or homebirth teams. They can help you weigh your options and empower you to make informed decisions that match your values.

Photography by RockerByeBirths / rockerbyebirths.com

2. Birth doulas support the whole family.

Doulas often hear partners ask: “Why should we hire a doula? I’ll be by her side the whole time.” Our answer? A doula’s role is not to replace the father, partner, or support person or people the birthing person has chosen to have by her side during labor. In fact, a doula’s job is to help partners as much as it is to support birthing moms. Our goal is to make room for partners during birth. Doulas are trained to guide partners and support people in the best ways to help during labor. This might mean modeling comfort measures or normalizing what’s happening in the room so the partner can feel confident and calm. As doulas, we love the families we work with, but we’re not as emotionally connected as partners who have known the birthing mom a long time, which means we can be the cool head in the room. And let’s be real—while partners are super, they’re not superhuman. Your doula will be as in tune with your partner or support person’s needs as she is with yours, so they don’t burn themselves out as they support you.

Photography by Raven Ivory / ravenivory.com

3. Birth doulas stay with you during your labor.

Birth is unpredictable. Even as we learn more and more about what happens to the human body during birth, we still can’t know ahead of time how long labor will take or what might happen over the course of a birth. Hiring a doula gives you one “known” in a sea of “unknowns”: that you’ll have an informed, caring ally by your side from the time you call her until your baby is born. The rest of your care team, while incredibly important and skilled, will be focused on the medical side of things—your health and your baby’s health. Your doula will be fully focused on your emotional and physical needs as you labor, and will use her extensive training to ease physical discomfort and pain. We are trained in centuries-old comfort measures, such as rebozo techniques used by Mexican midwives. (A rebozo is a long piece of cloth, a sort of cross between a scarf and a shawl, and is used for many purposes, including to relieve pressure on the body). We are also up-to-date on the most recent scientific evidence about positioning, movement, and comfort during labor. With training and experience in both ancient wisdom and modern research, your doula can simultaneously soothe and comfort you, offer evidence-based information, help you weigh options in your care, and be your cheerleader.

Doula Alicia K from Midwest Doulas

4. Birth doulas reduce the need for interventions and improve birth outcomes.

Studies have indicated that hiring a doula can have a significant impact on your birthing experience. According to Evidence Based Birth, a doula supporting you during labor has been shown to shorten labor by an average of 41 minutes, decrease your risk of a C-section by 39%, and increase your likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth by 15%. Doula support impacts infant health, too—having someone provide continuous support during labor was shown to result in a 38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five-minute Apgar score (Apgar scores are a common immediate postpartum assessment to assess your baby’s health). Perhaps most importantly, the support of a doula has been shown to result in a 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with your birth experience. This means that, no matter what happens physically during birth, your chance of feeling satisfied with what happened increases significantly with a highly trained, informed, and empowering doula by your side.

Photography by RockerByeBirths / rockerbyebirths.com

5. Doulas help with the transition into the “fourth trimester.”

Congratulations—your baby is here! You did it. But…now what? The first three months of a new baby’s life are often called the “fourth trimester”—a time of adjustment and growth that can be as intense, if not more so, than the experience of pregnancy and birth. You may find yourself overwhelmed by a wide range of emotions when faced with the new reality of life with a newborn. Or, if this is not your first baby, you may find the transition to life with more than one child to be challenging for your whole family. Your birth doula will visit you after your baby is born and help you process those emotions, give you evidence-based information on baby care to help inform your decision-making, and generally support you as you transition into this next wonderful and challenging stage. They will also make sure you have all the resources and referrals you need to be supported as you move forward. And, if you find you want more regular emotional and physical support, many birth doulas also offer ongoing postpartum services that can extend through the first months of your baby’s life and beyond.

The bottom line? Your doula is there for you when you need her throughout pregnancy, birth, the postpartum period, and as your children grow up. Our motto at Midwest Doulas is, “Once your doula, always your doula.” When you hire a doula, you’re making an investment in the wellbeing of your entire family.

How did your doula support you in your labor? Share your doula story below!

Justine Temke is the founder of Midwest Doulas. She was born and raised in France, and that unique worldview drives her passion to educate and support women. She loves to share her knowledge of pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding and strives to empower women and their families by providing compassionate support during and after pregnancy. Midwest Doulas was the winner of “Best of the Twin Cities” at the 2018 Birth & Baby Expo.

Fond Farewells + New Beginnings

To our MBC clients, friends, and community partners,

After recently celebrating the 2,000th birth for our practice, the team at MBC is certainly familiar with new beginnings. Today we have an exciting new beginning to share with you. At the end of March, we will be welcoming a new Clinical Director to lead our wonderful group of midwives. Patricia Hinck is joining our team to take over for Mary-Signe Chojnacki, who has been our Clinical Director for the past two years.

Mary-Signe was one of the original Certified Nurse Midwives hired at MBC seven years ago, and she has been an integral part of the birth center. Many of our staff and clients have been honored to call her their provider, friend, trusted colleague, and leader. Her presence, skills, and knowledge will be greatly missed. We are excited that she will stay on part-time and will continue to be a part of MBC and the care we provide patients. She has been called a protector of physiologic birth, and we couldn’t agree more.

Patricia Hinck, APRN, CNM, and Mary-Signe Chojnacki, APRN, CNM

Taking over as Clinical Director will be Patricia Hinck. Pat comes to MBC from Olmstead Medical Center where she founded and led the CNM group for five years. Pat brings a wealth of midwifery experience, and passion for physiologic birth and the midwifery model of care. We are so excited for her to get started! We can’t wait for you to meet her in the coming weeks and months.

Just as the transition from birth to postpartum and parenting takes time, so do big transitions like a change in leadership. We will take our time in ensuring a smooth transition and continuity of the excellent care you expect and deserve from MBC. We hope to see you in clinic soon!

With heartfelt gratitude,

The MBC Team

 

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

If you haven’t had anyone tell you yet, let me be the first: Happy World Down Syndrome Day! Yes, that’s right. Today, March 21st, is a day to celebrate individuals living, and thriving, with Down syndrome. 3/21 is particularly chosen for this day of celebration because of the third copy of the 21st chromosome that is present in those with Down syndrome. Whether or not you have the privilege of having one of these amazing people in your life, would you please take a minute to hear our journey and celebrate this day with us?

My son Calvin was born in November of 2015, the third son born to us within three years. What a surprise to us when he entered the world at just 25 weeks, weighing a whopping one pound, six ounces. And then again to our surprise a week later we found out he had been blessed with an extra copy of his 21st chromosome, also known as Down syndrome. For so many this conversation comes with a negative bias and being told inaccurate things about the child’s future. That, thankfully, was not our story. We were met with compassionate words and reminded that, like every child, his biggest need was to be loved and treated with the dignity and worth that every one of our children desires and deserves.

Our journey since then has not been smooth, but it has been uniquely ours. Our son has fought for his life in the hospital on two separate occasions because of his early birth and Down syndrome diagnosis. These struggles pale in comparison to the love we have for him. We have fought alongside him, with prayers and tears for his life to be spared and for more years with him. We can’t imagine our lives without Calvin. His smile, sense of humor, the way that he lights up any room he’s in, and his ability to make his brothers laugh until they cry, are attributes that are uniquely his. We can honestly say that we wouldn’t change him for the world, or the road that we are on. It is a road that very few get to take and that is why we like to call ourselves ‘the lucky few’. We truly are.

If you get the chance to join someone on this unique journey, will you do me a favor? Would you consider making your first word, “Congratulations!” instead of “I’m sorry”? I know that from the outside looking in, it looks hard and it may be hard to relate to. But trust me, it is worth congratulating and joining them on the journey. After you’ve said that and helped your friend wipe away their tears, please share with them these amazing resources:

  • Jack’s Basket: Their mission is to celebrate every baby born with Down syndrome and congratulate their family with gifts, support, and resources. Anyone can request a basket to celebrate these amazing people and give them a positive start to their unique journey.

  • Gigi’s Playhouse: This ‘Down Syndrome Achievement Center’ provides numerous services and fun classes and events to families of individuals with Down syndrome. We have met some of our best friends there!

  • Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota: Connects families with others in their area for support groups and education on different topics related to raising children with Down syndrome.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day – to you and your family and to our Calvin.

Blog post contributor Lynn is a friend of the Minnesota Birth Center and proud mama to Jacob, Lewis, and Calvin.