I’ve been a doula for about 7 years and a childbirth educator for 5 years. This past week I went back and read my very first post about my early journey as a birth professional. It’s a long post and I loved looking back and thinking about how far I’ve come. I thought I’d share more of my journey as a doula and educator the past 4-5 years.
As of this month, November 2017, I’ve been blessed to attend almost 100 births and have taught almost 100 couples in my childbirth classes. I’ve attended home births, birth center births, and hospital births. My life has been enriched by each and every one of my clients. I’ve learned something from each client I’ve worked with and from each birth I attend.
Looking back on the past 7 years and how far I’ve come as a doula I made a quick list of a few things I’ve learned along the way.
I’ve learned it’s not about me. It’s about my clients. I support my clients in all of their decisions, no matter what they may be. My clients may choose to have a medicated or unmedicated birth. She may choose to be induced or have a c-section. I will support all of my clients in their decisions and help them have the best birth experience for them.
I’ve learned that women are amazingly strong, stronger than they think they are. Women go through so much during pregnancy, and then the amazing journey of birth. They make tough decisions when the birth isn’t going exactly as she had hoped, but she makes those decision with her baby in mind. She overcomes so much and comes out the other end with a new life.
I’ve learned that spouses and partners are incredibly capable of providing amazing support during birth. Partners know what specific comforting words to say and give great counter pressure and hip squeezes. Partners are wonderful advocates and most want to be active part
I’ve learned that your care provider and birth location matter. Find a provider that supports you in the birth you desire. Also, choose to birth in a place that you are most comfortable and is also supportive of the birth you want to have. I’ve seen these two things make a big difference in birth outcomes.
I’ve learned that being on-call is tough. I have to be ready to go at all times. I have to have last minute childcare ready and a bag packed for my kids. My phone is always in my pocket with the ringer on high. I check it multiple times before I go to bed to be sure that it’s all the way up so I hear it in the middle of the night. I schedule everything with ,”If I’m not a birth…”. Yes the on-call life can be tricky, but it hasn’t stopped me from doing this work.
So why do I love my work as a doula? I get to witness one of the most special events in a family’s life. I get to witness and support women and families becoming educated and empowered to make decisions regarding their care. I get to see women become strong, capable mothers. I get to see husbands and partners become fathers.
A TENS unit can be a wonderful tool to use during your labor to naturally relieve some of the pain and discomfort. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A TENS unit is a small and easy to use hand-held machine that will help you have a more pleasurable birth experience. It is a safe, non-pharmacological method of pain relief and is so helpful for back labor.
The TENS unit is connected by lead wires to four electrodes, or stimulating pads, placed on the back. When stimulated it will feel like a prickly or tingly sensation where the electrodes are placed.
Benefits of Using a TENS Unit
The TENS unit works in two ways. The first is through the Gate Control Theory. To put it simply, the sensations from the TENS unit travel to your brain faster than the pain from contractions. Your brain will pay more attention to what gets to it first, thus muting everything else that comes behind it. Secondly, your body produces amazing endorphins that are released in response to pain or stress. These endorphins reduce pain and help you feel more relaxed. The use of a TENS unit stimulates the brain to more more of the wonderful hormone during labor.
Studies have shown that using a TENS unit has a specific effect on the pain localized to the back, fewer women used pain medication, and they were more likely use a TENS unit during any future births as well.
My clients have been using the TENS unit since my training in 2014. If you’re interested in using a TENS unit please let me know. It is included in many of my doula packages as well. I will bring a TENS unit to one your prenatal visits that we have together and I will show you how to use it and you can try it out.
“I used the TENS unit for my labor. I had a 12 hour labor and my contractions were in my lower back, and that little machine made my life so much better. Between my doula, my partner and that TENS machine we were able to get through the hardest part of labor.” – Anne
“The TENS Unit was really helpful, partly as pain relief, and partly as a distraction.” – Amanda
"I found the TENS unit to be really helpful especially in early labor when I had back pain. I remember using it through the night to get some extra sleep. It didn't take away the pain rather the sensation of the nerve stimulation dulled the labor pains. Overall I found it to be a helpful tool and was thankful to have it for added relief." - Lisa Thomas, BBCI
“Many of my clients love using the TENS. They particularly like that they can start using it at home and it offers some pain relief in the car ride to the hospital or birth center. I have used it for cramps and it works so well, especially for those first periods postpartum.” – Rebekah Lewis, Doula
“As a doula, a few of my clients have having back pain have found it to be helpful. My last client used it at a birth center and actually chose to get out of the tub and put the TENS unit back on because she found it more helpful for her back pain than the water.” – Kelli Besancon, Doula
#1 Cloth Diapering is Better for the Environment
In the first two years of your baby’s life you will go through thousands of diaper changes. If your kiddo potty trains later (many do) it will be much more. With disposable diapers, those diapers are headed to a landfill where they sadly won’t decompose. Even the eco-friendly disposables are often not exposed to enough air to allow them to compost properly.
While it’s true that cloth diapers will require more water to wash them, using an HE machine/and lower water settings, and owning enough diapers to make an efficient load (versus washing each night), this can be reduced.
Also, I view disposable diapers like I view plastic silverware and dishes while on vacation or camping. It is a lifesaver. But when I am at home or nearby with access to a washing machine I have no reason not to use something that I don’t have to throw away (and throwing away disposable diapers sure can get stinky).
#2 Cloth Diapering is Cheaper than Disposable Diapering
Though the math will be different for every family and situation, ultimately, cloth diapering will save you $$. Well unless you end up collecting them, but that’s a story for another day.
The average disposable diaper costs $.27 (with couponing getting that lower, but more eco-friendly options running up to $.50 a diaper). Newborns will use 10-12 diapers a day and older children near potting training around 6. Considering most children don’t potty train before age 2 you are looking at several hundreds of dollars on diapers alone (and several hundred dollars more on disposable wipes. When all is said, and done those diapers end up in a landfill.
Cloth diapering will cost you at least $150 to start with most families spending closer to $400. If those diapers are used for at least 2 years you are looking at a significant cost savings. If those same diapers are used for an additional year (and sometimes for additional children), the savings are that much greater. That being said if a family is in a financial bind there are several cloth diaper banks that will give or rent you cloth diapers to use, this is a wonderful tool as food stamps and similar programs do not provide diapers. Nobody should have to choose between buying diapers and buying food.
#3 Say Goodbye to Blowouts!
We’ve all been there…. That horrible wetness in your lap or baby’s car seat. You try to decide if the outfit is worth saving (we promise it is, we have all the stain fighting tips here) and pray you have a spare in the diaper bag.
Enter cloth diapers with their super sturdy backs and leg elastics that keep those liquid poops on lock down. While there may be, those truly earth shattering explosions that will be exceptions, but overall our blowout ratio decreased exponentially upon switching to cloth diapers.
Don’t want to go all in on cloth diapering but want the benefits of no blowouts? You can use cloth diaper covers over disposable diapers. We especially recommend this to parents who are traveling (because cleaning poop out of a car seat is nobody’s idea of a vacation).
#4 Cloth Diapers are Cuter
While this reason may seem a bit silly to those unversed in the cloth diaper world, quick browsing on the walls of your local cloth diaper store may change your mind. You can find a cloth diaper in every print you can imagine. Sports teams, holidays, planes, trains, automobiles, flowers, fairies you name it. We also love the good old fashioned solids for under my daughter’s patterned dresses (bonus: no diaper cover needed).
Cloth diaper can be the perfect accessory to any outfit. Or they can be the “outfit.” Newborn photo shoot outfit? Check. Birthday cake smash photo shoot outfit? Check. If you cloth diaper, you already have them in your “stash,” (cloth diaper world lingo for the collection of diapers you use on your child).
#5 Potty Learning Made Easy
If you are cloth diapering with natural fibers (that let kiddo feel wet), they often potty train easier because they are more aware of when they are peeing. There are also many Cloth Diaper brands that make “Training Pants” to hold those accidents that happen as a part of potty learning.
If you do have a kiddo who is day trained but still struggles with long term bedwetting, there are awesome cloth options for overnight. Super Undies and Rumparooz both make bedwetting options for larger children (Super Undies actually goes up to adult sizes).
Thank you to Boop Baby for this wonderful post!
Boop Baby is a natural parenting store in Sandy, UT. They are your number one stop for cloth diapers, baby carriers, gently used maternity clothes, new nursing bras, etc. You can also attend babywearing and cloth diapering classes that they hold to serve the community. They have amazing customer service and want to help you in your natural parenting journey. Be sure to stop by and say hello!
This is the story of my third child. WOW, was it amazing! The exact times are a little blurry in my mind because of how quickly it all happened, but I’ll share my recollection of it.
The afternoon before my due date, my midwife came for our weekly checkup. I was honestly surprised that I was still pregnant because I had both of my other children at 39 weeks. I was uncomfortable and so ready to have this baby, as is every mom at this point. I decided to have my membranes stripped in hopes that things would get going soon. I was already 3-4 cm so we knew it wouldn’t be much longer.
At about 5pm I started having mild contractions that were anywhere from 7-10 minutes apart. We had a relaxing evening at home as a family in hopes that maybe this would be it. I really felt like it might be our last night as a family of four so I was trying to soak up every minute with my two beautiful children. After they headed off to bed I decided that we should go ahead and set up the birth tub as well so that it would be ready and all we had to do was fill it up when it was time. I let my midwife, doula, and photographer know that I contracting so that they could be ready just in case. At about 10pm my contractions slowed and eventually fizzled out. I was pretty disappointed, but I drifted off to sleep in hopes that baby would decide to join us then.
Fast forward to 1am, after a few good hours of sleep, I woke up to some cramping. I flipped over, tried to just ignore it and go back to sleep. About 5 minutes later it happened again, and again, and again. I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and continued to have them consistently every 5 minutes and they had become more intense in just a few minutes. I woke up Lawrence and told him, and luckily he reminded me to call everyone- my midwife, doula, and photographer. My doula was at another birth so I called her back up, who was also a good friend of mine. They were all on their way so I got in the shower while Lawrence and my mom got everything else ready. Contractions quickly got closer and closer together. I tried sitting on my birth ball, but that wasn’t very comfortable so I paced around and leaned on the bar in our kitchen. I was experiencing quite a bit of back pain so a heating pad and some massage were very helpful. By 2am our doula, Maria arrived followed by our midwife Krista 15 minutes later, and our photographer Erin, just a few minutes after that.
By this time my contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart. The only position that felt good was standing. Lawrence and Maria helped with counter pressure on my back and we began filling up the tub. I was also checked about this time and was 8cm and my water broke right after that. Contractions immediately became more intense. I started to sound my labor out a little more and it was much harder to relax. I knew I was in transition and that it wouldn’t be much longer.
Getting in the tub really helped me to relax, especially between contractions. I also got a little nauseous, but smelling some peppermint oil quickly took care of that. I hung out in the tub for about 30 minutes when suddenly the urge to push was uncontrollable. I have never felt the urge to push so strongly with my other two children so I was pretty surprised. My midwife checked to see where baby was and sure enough baby was just about to crown and was born in just one intense contraction. A sweet new baby was brought to my arms and we immediately feel in love. I was so surprised with how quickly everything went. The entire labor was only 3 hours and 15 minutes. Maria woke up my older children, Quinn and Raelynn, as it was 4:15am. They came out looking a little confused until they saw that I was in the tub and holding a baby. Smiles immediately spread across their faces. The kids helped me discover the gender, A BOY!! And Quinn also wanted to help cut the cord.
After getting out of the tub, we cuddled on the couch for a while and Logan easily latched on to eat. The remainder of the night went smoothly as we transitioned into bed and did the newborn exam. Logan weighed 8 lbs 14oz and was 21 inches long. He was more than a pound bigger than my other kids! I could not have asked for a better birth experience!
I have had many people over the years ask me why I've chosen to birth both of my children without intervention and without pain medication. Both of my labors were completely natural, born at a wonderful hospital with a great group of midwives that are very supportive of your wishes. My first labor was about 11 hours and my second one was about 6 hours once I was in active labor. You can read both of my birth stories here and here
So why did I choose natural birth? I have always felt that a woman's body is very strong and that we are meant to birth our babies, our bodies were simply designed to do it. I began to question and research all of the many things you hear about, like inductions, epidurals, IVs, etc. and the more I learned, the more I didn't want any of those. Any intervention during birth has side effects and can cause a need for other undesired interventions. In Birth Boot Camp we call this the cascade of interventions. I just didn't feel that any of that was necessary. My husband and I attended a great childbirth class and we prepared to have a natural birth and hired a doula. After delivering my son naturally, I felt amazing! My recovery was quick, I was very proud of myself and felt like I could do anything. I knew my body could do it!
As I've thought more about my natural births I wanted to hear from more women about why they chose to give birth naturally. I asked and received many great responses, and thought I'd share them here with you.
" I chose a natural birth because I knew deep down inside myself that I could do it and that my baby deserved the most gentle birth possible. I also hated the idea of an epidural. I had heard so many horror stories about it."
"My body was built to give birth. Plain and simple. If an emergency arises that's why we have paramedics and ambulances, but 99% of the time a woman can do it as long as she believes she can!"
"Before I had children I wanted to have a natural birth because it was safer. After I had a baby I wanted future births to be natural because the experience was amazing."
"I had never thought about having a natural birth until my husband suggested it when we were expecting our first. I was really nervous but decided to give it a shot. I was surprised how amazing my experience was. I love sharing my experience and encouraging other women to learn more about their bodies and the amazing things they can do."
"I chose a homebirth because I wanted as low intervention as possible. My decisions weren't being taken seriously or respected by my doctor so I decided to birth at home instead. Now I chose it again because it was beautiful and peaceful. There was nothing like feeling so comfortable and at home during and after birth."
" I chose a natural birth because it has less risks to me and my baby and my baby's health comes first. And I was able to do this because I knew that my body was creating my labor and I am as strong as my body so I could do it. Also I loved that I was in control of my body and could listen to what it needed me to do."
"Because a day or so of pain is worth the benefits to my and my baby's health."
" I am choosing a natural birth because there's nothing in the world that compares to the joy you feel when you have baby in your arms and realize what you've just done. That birth "high" is the best feeling ever. I give birth naturally to find myself, discover how amazing my body can be, and love myself, my baby, and my husband more than I thought possible. Also, having done an epidural, I choose natural because the recovery is SO much easier."
"My mom had all 4 of her children naturally at a birth center with midwives. I grew up learning that this was normal for birth. I began researching and knew my body was capable of birthing my baby naturally without intervention. I had an amazing hospital birth with a midwife, no interventions and an easy recovery. Medication and intervention sounded a lot scarier to me than the "pain" of labor. Although I am grateful for modern medicine when it is TRULY necessary! I'm so glad I trusted my instincts and body and birthed my baby perfectly and peacefully."
"I feel like women have so many amazing talents, and our bodies were designed to carry and birth beautiful new babies. To me the a natural birth is the most natural of things, like the definition of natural!"
"I chose a natural birth because I believed that my body knew what to do and the risks of interventions in a natural process were unnecessary. While I know that sometimes birth doesn't work right, I wanted to give my body a chance first. In the end, it was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I never realized just how POWERFUL women are. I'm so glad for that knowledge. So, I chose a natural birth because I believed in my body and wanted to give it a chance to work."
"The first time was because I was scared of the side effects of everything they try to give you at the hospital. The second time because I knew my body could do it without any interventions. The third time I wanted to feel empowered, and I was!"
"When I was going up my mom talked about her natural births like they were normal, wonderful experiences. When it was my turn I never had any doubt that I could do it or fear of the pain. I knew it was going to be hard work but I never considered it anything but part of the natural process."
"The first time was because I was scared of the side effects of everything they try to give you at the hospital. The second time because I knew my body could do it without any interventions. The third time I wanted to feel empowered, and I was!"
"It's the way God designed it, and if He has enough confidence that I can do it that way then I need to believe I can, too."
"I chose a home birth to prevent any interventions and give myself and my baby the birth we deserve and we're capable of. I wanted to experience my birth. I wanted it to be the way it should be and was meant to be. I never wanted anything less for my baby, as well as myself. I honestly never saw another option. Never wanted it any other way."
"I wanted to see what my body could do. In short, I believe my body was created to work right. I'm the mom of a c-sec baby, 2 hospital VBAC babies, and a carBAC baby (born on
the way to the birth center)."
"Because my mom and both grandmothers did, so I always heard stories about that is how birth is."
2014 was an amazing year for me as a Birth Boot Camp Instructor and Doula. It was my busiest year with the most births attended per year so far. I had so much fun putting this video together and what a joy it was to look back on the couples I worked with. Enjoy my year in review video!
This testimonial comes from a past client and now good friend. Every couple I work with is very special to me and I am honored when I receive these special notes.....
"Hollie was not only a great Birth Boot Camp instructor but also an amazing doula! From very early on I could tell Hollie was meant to be our doula. She always made us feel so welcome, never so much as smirked at our silly questions and was a wealth of knowledge on all things birth! When we decided to have a natural hospital birth Hollie was right on board with our plan. She stuck it out with me the entire 22 hours (and then some) and along with my husband we made the best team! I was so grateful for not only her vast knowledge of child birth, but also all the 'birth bag' she brought along with her. It was full of essential oils, heating packs and snacks! Hollie is knowledgable, supportive, comforting and most importantly a good friend." - Emily
"My wife and I loved having Hollie as our doula! She came super prepared with all of the little things that needed and she a real wealth of knowledge. Having Hollie at out birth freed me up to really just be in the moment with my wife and new daughter!" - Keith
So you've had a cesarean and now maybe you're pregnant and thinking about having a VBAC, a vaginal birth after cesarean. Or maybe you're not pregnant and you're just in the planning stages. Here is a list of things to start thinking about. (In no particular order)
1. Be sure that you choose a care provider that is truely supportive of VBAC. Talk to your care provider and ask lots of questions. If your care provider does not support you, find another one.
2. Choose a birth place that is VBAC supportive and has a high percentage of VBAC success. Talk to them about their policies surrounding VBAC's.
3. Find a local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter in your area. They have support meetings and the leaders and members can be a great resource in knowing what providers in your area support VBAC moms.
4. Attend a comprehensive birth class like Birth Boot Camp.
5. Hire a doula.
6. Do your research and know the facts! Here are a few links with great information about VBAC's. Each of these links have lots of information and even more links in them.
I hope you've heard about Birth Boot Camp by now! If not, here's a quick 5-minute video you will want to watch to learn more about what to expect in class. In my opinion, I really think that taking a live class with other couples is best, but the great thing about Birth Boot Camp is that when needed, a couple can view all 10 classes online.
I absolutely love teaching! It is the best job ever! I look forward to it ever Friday night. If you're interested in taking a class you can check out my schedule here and contact me to register.
Wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. A passionate birth doula and childbirth educator.