One of the biggest hesitations I see in hiring a birth doula is fear in erasing the partner's role during birth. It's totally understandable; you're going to parent your child together, it should start right away during labor and birth. My response to this concern is always the same: A good doula should make your partner look like a rockstar, not stick them in a corner.
Having a doula is one of the best ways to ensure that your partner is as involved as they want to be during the birth experience. There is no way your partner will (or should) know exactly how to support your ever changing needs during labor! When you hire a birth doula, you hire a partner whisperer, someone who takes their birth-y knowledge and gives your partner the tools to support you regardless of the situation.
A really good doula shares their knowledge with your partner without you even noticing, leaving you wondering how they knew exactly how to support you so well. You'll think, "Oh man, they're going to be such a good parent if they could support me like this so naturally!"
Having that confidence in your partner is crucial heading into the intense first weeks of parenting. A doula can help build your confidence in your partner, as well as their confidence that, yes, they really can do this!
Your doula should be a constant presence, but one that doesn't fill the room. They should let you and your partner be the stars of the show. Birthing your baby is an important moment for your relationship, it shouldn't feel like a threesome, but rather an intimate experience that's being protected for you by your doula.
A doula can help you have much needed alone time during your labor. You may need to make decisions during your birth, a doula can help clear the room for you and your partner to make decisions quietly. They can also help you remember to advocate for the special moments you wanted, whether it's your partner announcing the gender or cutting the cord.
Even more importantly, your doula can help give your partner the physical and emotional support they need as well. Though you're doing a lot of the heavy lifting, this can be an intense transition for your partner too. Having a doula on your birth team ensures you won't be alone if your partner needs to grab food, go for a walk or take a quick power nap. I always remind clients, "I get to go home after your baby is born, but you have to start being parents, one of you should be a little rested!"
Evidence shows that having the constant support of doula improves your birth experience and outcomes. With a doula on your team, there's a 31% decrease in being dissatisfied with your birth experience; 25% decrease in the risk of a Cesarean birth; shorter labor by 41 minutes on average; 10% decrease in use of pain relief medications and more. All of these benefits don't just support you, they ensure your partner has a positive experience as well. A birth doula benefits your entire family.
If you're interested in learning more about doula support, you can read more about what I offer here. Already ready to chat? You can reach out to schedule a consult here!
Many of the Minneapolis and St. Paul parents I work with are interested in having a waterbirth. The amazing news is that in the Twin Cities, families can choose a waterbirth at home with a midwife, at one of our many freestanding birth centers, or even in a hospital.
Providers that support Twin Cities' families during birth know the evidence around waterbirth is strong, which means the option is widely available in the area. Unlike many other states, a majority of the hospitals here in the Twin Cities support a family's desire to have a waterbirth.
If you're interested in having a waterbirth, start by double checking with your provider to make sure the entire practice is comfortable with supporting a waterbirth. While most midwives are incredibly supportive of waterbirth, it can be hit or miss with OBGYN practitioners. If you do have an OB, ensure they're supportive of waterbirth as well as the rest of their team, as you never know who may be at your birth. If it's not guaranteed you'll get a supportive provider, consider switching to a different birthing location.
Many Twin Cities' hospitals offer waterbirth with certain circumstances for when it isn't advised. Double check with your birthing location to make sure you'll be able to not only labor in the tub, but also birth your baby there as well. Few hospitals do not offer waterbirth, or have very strict guidelines, these include Maple Grove Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Fairview Ridges and Southdale Hospital. Though amazing places to have your baby, if you're looking for a waterbirth, you may want to check elsewhere. Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury, St. John's Hospital in St. Paul and Methodist Hospital in Minneapolis are all really well-known for waterbirth, though many Twin Cities' hospitals can be a great option!
For families looking at midwifery care, a freestanding birth center may be an excellent option! Twin Cities' birth centers really emphasize waterbirth with amazing amenities, including gorgeous, large birthing tubs! Check out the Minnesota Birth Center, with both Minneapolis or St. Paul locations, Willow Birth Center near Lake Calhoun, Roots Birth Center in North Minneapolis, or Health Foundations Birth Center on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.
Lastly, if you're seeking the comfort of home, Minnesota embraces home birth options. The Twin Cities and suburbs have many wonderful home birth midwife practices! From Nourish Midwifery who serves the East and Southeastern Minnesota area, to North Star Midwifery right here in the Twin Cities, there are many choices for families looking for a home water birth. Often times, these practices will also offer birth tub rental for your home.
If you're looking to have a wonderful waterbirth here in the Twin Cities, you're in luck!
All of the gorgeous waterbirth photos included in this blog are by my photography partner, Meredith from Meredith Westin Photography.
Looking for the perfect team for your home birth? Book Birth Doula Support with me and receive a special discount with Meredith. You'll get awesome support and receive amazing photos of your mermaid baby in all their glory!
It's happening, you're finally in labor! This is so exciting! Ok, let's get to work; I need to start breaking out all the positions I learned during my birthing class and get this baby out. They'll be here any time now!
Excitement is the most common emotion at the start of labor, but it can drive you to over-exert yourself too early during the process, leading to fatigue and frustration later down the road. Here are my top tips to help ease into labor, making the early stages feel more manageable and set you up for success later on.
Resting and sleep can do so much for you during the beginning of your birthing time. I tell all of my mamas and their partners to immediately hop into bed and try and sleep as long as possible.
When labor progresses, there will be a time when it's more difficult to relax between contractions, let alone sleep. Get the rest you can now to give you ample energy for later on.
As you sleep, your body relaxes, allowing your uterus and cervix all the energy it needs to keep opening. I advise mamas to sleep until they can't anymore. If you're worried about laying down, try sleeping upright in a cozy chair or with several pillows between your legs to keep gravity in your favor.
2. Eat & Drink
Much like sleep, keeping hydrated and fed gives you that all important energy you need to last through birth.
Have your partner remind you to drink a little bit after each contraction. Have several beverage options available, including ones with electrolytes like a sports drink or coconut water.
Eat simple, but complex foods to keep your energy up. Great examples are oatmeal with honey, toast with butter, rice and fruit. Try to avoid large meals that may sit wrong in your stomach later. Eat little bits as often as you can.
3. Take a Bath or Shower
Water therapy is an amazing comfort tool during all stages of labor. I encourage mamas to take a shower or bath earlier on to help them feel clean and refreshed for birth.
Baths are a wonderful tool to sink into and relax. Light some candles, sip on your drink and nibble on snacks while listening to soothing music. Use this time to rest and take care of yourself.
A shower is a great option if you need to feel fresh and rejuvenated. I recommend a quick shower for mamas when their waters have broken and they need a pick me up. Cleaning up in the shower is comforting and helps press the reset button for the next stage of labor.
4. Avoid Spreading the Word
You're excited, I know, but try and avoid telling too many people you're in labor. My typical advice is to keep this moment between only the people who will be present at your baby's birth.
Family and friends are going to be excited too, which may lead to extra checking in. Even if they don't reach out, you may now feel an obligation to let people know how things are going, or even feel stressed at how much time is passing during labor.
If updates are really necessary, pass your phone off to your doula to keep track of. You and your partner should be completely focused on birthing your baby and each other.
5. Have Plenty of Support
There is a lot to remember during birth, it's nice to have a professional with you from start to finish. A doula's job is to remember the things you can't and guide you on options that will help your birth be more comfortable and progress.
If you're concerned about remembering everything, being influenced by your care team, managing other family members or preventing a stressful environment, a doula would be an excellent tool for you.
You're nesting like crazy. You're days, weeks or maybe months away from meeting your new babe. You absolutely need another project to prep before the little guys arrival: time to pack a go bag for the hospital.
Okay... wait, what the fork do I pack in my go bag? Am I only supposed to have one bag for myself, my partner and my baby? Do I have one bag for each of us? What is enough? What is too much?
Mama, let me help you. First, I'll break down the essentials, then get to the good-to-haves and some bonus items to consider. Finally, I'll discuss some items to skip. Let's get packing!
The essentials of a go bag are all about items that will get you through a several day stay at a hospital for your baby's birth. Consider your essentials to be personal care items and clothing.
Wait, that's it, that's all that is considered an essential? Yeah! Hospitals are supplied with many other essential items for your birth, postpartum and even for your babe, so if you're running out the door and packing a two minute go bag, just make sure you grab these items.
Now, the idea of the bare essentials isn't super appealing to most. There are several additional items that help make your stay in a hospital during your birth feel more at home and comfortable.
You'll have a wealth of supplies at your hospital as you transition to your postpartum room. This includes all of your postpartum care supplies, including peri bottles, pads and mesh underwear. Most hospitals also have amenities like a hair dryer, lotion and socks. Your baby will also be taken care of with hats, diapers, wipes and swaddles.
There are little touches that can help elevate your birth experience. Some of the items may seem pointless to you, while others seem like a perfect fit. My suggestions are called add-ons for a reason: they help make your experience perfect for you, but not every items is the right fit for your family.
As I mentioned earlier, how many bags do you actually need? Well, there is no perfect answer because the right one is however many you pack. I do have a couple items you could safely ditch to help lighten your partner's three trips to the car.
The placenta is an amazing organ. It’s the only one which is grown specifically to support new life and then leaves your body once its purpose is complete. Your placenta nourishes and protects your baby all through its time in your belly, for some, it feels natural to find ways to honor it or let its power continue even after your baby’s birth.
Gone are the days when the thought of keeping your placenta was frowned upon. Many birthing institutions support and help you save your placenta for personal use. There are many ways to keep the placenta love going even after your birth.
Some mamas go beyond delayed cord clamping and seek to give their new babe even more time attached to the life source that nourished them. A lotus birth involves keeping your baby attached to the placenta until the umbilical cord naturally separates, usually 3-10 days after birth. Often, many mamas will enclose the placenta in a bag with dried herbs to help absorb the natural odor.
Burying Your Placenta
There are many cultures and traditions that value planting their placenta in the ground as a final ritual after the birth of their baby. This may be a simple as burying the placenta in a favorite place or involve planting a tree or garden on top of the area to help nourish the new life.
Mamas that have winter babies, but want to bury their placenta can freeze the organ until the ground has thawed. Once spring arrives, they can hold a special ceremony to honor the amazing placenta.
The placenta is often called the tree of life. The side of the placenta which faces the baby is regularly described as a willow tree; the veins traveling from the umbilical cord branch throughout the placenta.
A stamping of your placenta on a canvas is a great way to remember this powerful organ for years to come. Some mamas prefer to use the remaining blood on the placenta to make the print, but it’s also safe to use a non-toxic paint. These prints are so beautiful, most people don’t even realize it’s a stamping from a placenta!
Ingesting Your Placenta
Many mamas choose to ingest their placenta for the perceived benefits it can supply. Ingesting your placenta may boost milk supply, support postpartum healing and help with postpartum mood and emotions.
Some mamas choose to ingest their placenta raw in smoothies, while others will use small pieces of the placenta in other meals. Another option is to steam and then dehydrate the placenta into small pellets that can be added to smoothies.
Placenta encapsulation is a pretty common practice as of late. You may receive the same benefits as ingesting your placenta, but in a capsule form that is more palatable to many people.
Your placenta is dehydrated, either steamed with healing herbs beforehand or left raw, then ground into a powder which is placed in capsules.
Mamas love this method because it can be added to their regular morning vitamins, but can also be easily taken whenever they feel they need a boost.
So Much More...
There are so many other options available for the powerful placenta! Tinctures are another popular option to be used medicinally. Many mamas love to save the umbilical cord, often dehydrated into a heart or their baby’s initials. Placenta broth is another option for mamas who’ve had their placenta steamed and would like to use every last drop their placenta’s goodness.
"You're using what during your birth?"
Hypnosis during childbirth is usually met with some confusion, a bit of skepticism and genuine concern for the mamas who use it. Most people come from a place of good intent, only wanting their loved one to have a "good" birth experience and rely on the tried-and-true methods people typically think of as helpful.
As a doula, and one who supports women who choose hypnosis during birth, I want to help people understand this tool and debunk some of the myths.
Hypnobabies: An Elevator Pitch
Hypnobabies is a full childbirth education and preparation tool leading up to your baby's birth, as well as the comfort measures you use during your birth. These differences are what set Hypnobabies apart from simply using hypnosis during childbirth.
Using Hypnobabies helps you train your mind and body to use hypnosis as a comfort measure during birth to make the experience relaxed and enjoyable. You do daily homework that helps remove fears and uncertainty about what your birth might be and frame the possibilities in a positive light.
This seems like a lot of work...
Preparing to be a parent, you're already doing a lot of work. Hypnobabies is the only childbirth education you'll use, so a mama isn't adding in additional to-do's. Mamas and partners listen to hypnosis tracks, practice reading prompts and using their hypnosis tools each day.
Daily preparation and education is both wonderful for the mama and her partner, helping them bond and prepare in a way that can feel super productive. Rather than worrying about fears or uncertainties, daily Hypnobabies homework helps address them and reinforce your plan for a wonderful birth experience.
So you sleep through birth?
No way! Hypnobabies helps teach mamas how to use both a deep hypnosis and something called eyes-open childbirth. When a mama needs to rest or really focus, she can use her training to sink into a deeper hypnosis, shutting her eyes and relaxing.
In between moments of focus, she can be in eyes-open hypnosis: still using hypnosis, but able to talk, laugh, walk around and do what she wants. This tool allows a mama to be completely present during her baby's birth, even while using hypnosis.
Okay, but does it work?
Each mama I've supported with Hypnobabies has had a different experience, which is exactly how birth is! What I can say is each has walked away from this tool feeling they've received positive assistance from it.
Some mamas really appreciate their hypnosis for comfort during their birth, while others don't know where they would have been without the preparation that helped them let go of fears and worries.
Seeing the positivity around Hypnobabies as a doula has led me to believe that for the people who choose this tool, it always feels positive and worth it.