Working Together

I have been so blessed to work with many amazing practitioners.  I have also seen laboring mothers treated as though they were 2nd class citizens – stupid, and unable to think clearly or logically.  When I’ve seen the entire birth team working together, the outcomes are beautiful.  They might not always be ideal, and they might leave the mother with feelings of sadness or disappointment, but they don’t leave anyone feeling as though they were taken advantage of. They don’t leave questions behind.  When the whole team works together – mother, father, doula, nurse, midwife and/or OB – the world the baby is born into is one of harmony and respect.

birth team, doula, nurse, OB
The Whole Birth Team

I consider myself a mother advocate, and perhaps even a birth activist *gasp*.  I believe ALL women deserve to have supported, informed births – in whatever shape that takes for them.  Women are strong, and in almost all cases can speak for themselves and advocate for themselves.  However, in our culture, many people feel powerless as soon as they enter the hospital or doctors office, so while you may be a wonderful advocate for yourself, adding labor and white-coat syndrome to the decision making process should be taken into account.  I also know, that in any setting, especially a hospital, many women will labor better when left alone in quiet darkness.  I know the difference between reminding care providers about the mother’s wishes, and making decisions for the laboring family.  It is NOT my place to make decisions, but I am perfectly qualified to refer to the Birth Plan to remind a nurse or OB what the wishes of the client are.

Respect is so important.

Respect for the medical team, who have spent their entire adult lives learning and perfecting the science surrounding birth.  Respect for the mother, who’s innate knowledge of her body, baby, and boundaries is sacred and worthy.  Respect of the supporting birth team.  The partner, who loves and supports, yet is also nervous and only wants everyone to be safe.  The Doula, who is present to make sure that the team can all work seamlessly together.  Is the mother being heard, and does the partner feel safe?  Has the doctor, who has seen a lot of trauma, (which can alter the way information is taken in and presented) spoken clearly and respectfully to the clients.  Has ALL of the information been shared, so an informed decision can be made?

When a birth team works together to provide safety and knowledge to a birthing family, the results are profoundly empowering, while the opposite can be devastating to the mother’s self-esteem and trust in her instincts.  A mother’s instinct, when allowed to have a voice, and when listened to, can set the stage for a closer mother-baby bond, a healthier relationship as the infant becomes baby, baby a toddler, and toddler a child.  When a mother can trust her instincts, when she is taught that her instincts are valid, her relationships – especially with her children – can flourish in a real and meaningful way.  Breastfeeding is better when babies and mothers are bonded.  When a mother’s instinct to be constantly near her newborn is trusted, outcomes are better; less jaundice, better heart rate and breathing rate, better temperature regulation, better sleep, and better weight gain.

Having a less than ideal birth team does not mean you are guaranteed to have a less than ideal birth experience. Have a clear idea of what you would like, understand WHY you want what you want and then write a birth plan. Being able to advocate for yourself, and having open and clear communication goes a very long way!

Labor and Delivery Teamwork Leads to Fewer Cesareans

When the (doula) fruit is ripe…

Ann Arbor  flowers doula wedding
Beautiful farmer’s market flowers arranged by Katy!
It’s finally happening. My transition to being a doula has been a vacillating one, but it is time for me to make it a bigger part of my life. Starting in September I will be cutting hours at my nonprofit desk job in Detroit so I am able to spend more time doing this doula work that I love.
The backstory – When I first completed my training in 2012, I knew that I wanted to support women and their partners through labor and birth, but was having trouble figuring out the particulars. I already had a full time job, was living in an intentional community, and was freshly out of school. How would I balance my commitments to job, housemates, boyfriend, and sanity while also committing to 4 weeks of on-call time and prenatal meetings with birth clients? Longish story short, I decided to press the pause button on my doula dream; until a friend’s pregnancy pressed play again.
I had the honor of going to my first birth as a doula in June 2014, and it rocked my world more than I could have imagined. It was another cosmic nudge to make this doula thing work… but first I had to buy a house…plan my wedding to the love of my life…
New  Ypsilanti doula wedding photo
Bridesladies + Katy before the wedding.
Fast forward a year – we have a home, we got married, I’ve got an official doula mentor, I will have attended 7 more births by the end of August, and the nudging from the universe has gotten stronger and more persistent.
Katy and I started working together in January as mentor/mentee and already I feel like a smarter, savvier, more confident doula. However, I haven’t been able to give the time or energy to Sacred Roots that it deserves. Through conversations with Katy, Dave, and other trusted folk it became clear something had to give. I realized working full time and trying to doula full time would cause my work and relationships to suffer.  Around this time a part time position with my current employer became available, and I took the leap. I am over-the-moon thrilled to have more time to support families through their transition from pregnancy to postpartum.
A friend recently shared a bit of wisdom with me about fruit dropping when it is ripe, and I feel like the time for my doula dream is ripe and it’s about to drop!