The Beauty of “Un-control”

It is funny, as a doula you would think that I am used to handling circumstances that are completely out of my control.  But hopefully a doula who is worth her salt has some handle on the situation and knows basic steps to take, right?

Well, yes, and no.  With every birth I see things that are common to all births, but with every birth I see the uniqueness of not only birth itself but also the mother who is birthing.  It is a powerful and terribly humbling place to watch her courage, her doubt, her tremendous strength, and to see her come to that place of “un-control” where she ultimately surrenders to her body and to her child.

VBAC: A Wild & Wonderful Ride

As a mama, myself, who has experienced a VBAC, it is always a joy to support other mamas who want to have a VBAC!  I have walked with some who it was not possible (for a variety of reasons), and I have walked with just as many who have been utterly thankful for this option in which to give birth.

What is the difference?  In my observation, there are just as many possibilities as there are in any mother birthing.  But I have seen a three items (checked off in this order) that are all common to VBAC’s that succeed.  First, a mother who is ABSOLUTELY determined.  Not sort of, not maybe, not “if it is convenient” but absolutely determined to have her baby vaginally.  Secondly, the support is with her–from husband or partner and from hopefully a great doula.  The mother will need them all to be as committed and unrelenting as she.  And thirdly, a birth that can be worked with.  And by this, I mean the birth circumstances are one that positions, pacing, and variations CAN and do make the difference in progression.  There are some births that medical situations arise that are outside the norm of birth, and when this happens, there is no “working with it.”  There is simply relying on the great medical support that one has hired.  When these three ingredients are present, one has the potential for a great VBAC experience.

Birthplace Cost-Effectiveness Study in the UK

In December, the thought-provoking findings were released of a study comparing the cost-effectiveness of birthplaces (obstetric units, midwifery units, and home) in the UK:

They compared immediate costs of maternity care and birth as well as long-term costs associated with the health of the mother and baby.  Very fun read!  Could we only hope that our maternity care would be influenced by these findings?

Doula Support in the Unexpected

TannerMcKinneyThe Tanner-McKinney Family

We were so grateful to have Jennifer’s support during what began as natural labor and ended in a medically necessary C-section. Jennifer has the ability to be both professional and yet offer loving, intimate care during what is possibly the most personal experience of a couple’s life.  When active labor first began and my husband and I could not find a comfortable position we were immediately relieved to have Jennifer at our side. She positioned us and reminded us of specific tips that allowed me to labor naturally for as long as I could.   Jennifer was also a wealth of valuable information in preparation for and after birth. I trust her expertise and especially feel comfortable knowing that she herself has been there.  Having had Jennifer as a doula has made my birth story even sweeter.

Midwife and Doula: fabulous birth team combo

After a recent coffee gathering with doula and midwife colleagues, I was struck by the great partnership that can happen when a mother and partner have both a midwife and doula as part of their birth team.  In a hospital setting, having both a midwife and a doula bring the medical and continuous labor support aspects together while having the additional medical staff available should any emergency arise.  I was just at a birth where the midwife and I worked together for our client at the hospital, and it was AMAZING!  So calm, so natural, so affirming:  what every new mother should have.  In a home birth, a doula can be a great compliment to your midwife, freeing up the midwife to handle all the medical aspects of mother and baby while the doula gives uninterrupted labor support to mother and partner.  Also, most doulas can offer invaluable, extended postpartum services to mother, partner, and baby.

Wisdom from 6-Week-Old Parents

BalaityFamily1Our beautiful daughter, Eleanor Balaity was born on August 4, 2013 and the past six weeks have been the greatest of our married lives! In our vast experience we have learned the importance  of two things: teamwork and the importance of maintaining our other interests. The responsibility of keeping a newborn healthy and happy can be overwhelming, and we have seen the great value and blessing in having another person to help share the responsibility. One way we have done this is having Nick change and get Elle ready to be fed and then I feed her. It not only helps in the process of feeding but also gives both of us a distinct area to help our daughter and one another. The second thing we have learned is the importance of maintaining our outside interests. For example, Nick loves running and we have made it a priority for him to continue to be able to do that. For my non-athletic self it has been great to make time to call friends and spend time reading. Being able to pursue our other interests has helped us have more energy for caring for Elle and has helped us feel like we have a life outside of changing diapers! We are so looking forward to becoming more seasoned parents and are thankful for the incredible blessing of our daughter!

By Tara and Nick Balaity

Labor Induction and Autism Risk

Earlier this month, JAMA Pediatrics published the findings from a study looking at the relationship between labor induction and cases of autism.  After looking at 625,042 live births (1990-1998) and later school records (1997-2007), researchers from the Duke University Medical Center found that those children who had labor induced and augmented had increased risk for autism.  The strongest risks were in boys whose mothers had labor both induced and accelerated. They were 35 percent more likely to have autism.  Among girls, autism was not tied to labor induction but rather was only more common in those born after labor was accelerated; they were 18 percent more likely to have the developmental disorder than girls whose mothers had neither treatment.

In the Washington Post, Simon Gregory, lead author and an associate professor of medicine and medical genetics at Duke University, emphasized, “We haven’t found a connection for cause and effect. One of the things we need to look at is why they were being induced in the first place.”  And with government data suggesting that 1 in 5 U.S. women have labor induced — twice as many as in 1990—and with 1 in 88 children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, we have to ask questions of the potential risks of induction and acceleration procedures when the health of the mother and child are not at risk.  A doula greatly assists expectant parents in weighing the risks of induction in light of their specific circumstances.  Overall Pitocin (most common drug used for labor acceleration) use decreases by 31% when a doula is supporting a laboring couple.

For further reading, go to JAMA Pediatrics: