What are the Birth Doula Dos and Don'ts?

It's 2016 and doulas are in the zeitgeist. Even NPR reported reported this year on the effectiveness of doula care. But amidst the fanfare, it seems like an important moment to reestablish the basics of doula practice. What, exactly, do doulas do? You might be asking. Or: What should I expect of my doula? Here are the DOs and DON'Ts of birth doula care that I work by:

As a doula I DO:

       Provide non-biased emotional, physical and informational support during pregnancy, labor and the birth process, and the immediate postpartum period.

       Work closely with the birthing woman and her family as she explores her values and needs surrounding birth.

       Encourage the birthing woman and her partner to seek care and a place of birth that reflects their values and needs.

       Assist in the preparation of birth preferences to facilitate communication with the birth team.

       Provide information on birth options and resources

       Provide the birthing woman with non-medical comfort techniques and alternatives for labor (including but not limited to positions and movement, comforting touch, visualization, breathing techniques, essential oils, rebozo and affirmation).

       Provide support and assistance with initial breastfeeding.

       Assist the mother in processing her birth experience.

       Answer general questions about newborn care and breastfeeding.

       Refer to healthcare professionals when support requires clinical assessment, a need for prescription or medical diagnosis.

As a doula, I am not a clinician and therefore I DO NOT:

       Diagnose medical conditions

       Perform clinical procedures

       Interpret medical diagnoses or clinical results

       Prescribe or administer treatment of medical conditions

       Perform clinical procedures

       Make decisions for the birthing woman

Are you in need of birth doula services and want to learn more? Drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you!

Amy Mager's Six Empowering Things You Can Do to Prepare for Birth

Amy wears a patient's baby at the clinic!

Amy wears a patient's baby at the clinic!

Amy Mager is a doula, acupuncturist and mother of six (!) based in Western Massachusetts. I am missing her treatments and amazing motherly advice while I'm here in Tokyo, but thankfully her wisdom travels everywhere. 

No matter what kind of birth you're planning and no matter what country you find yourself in, Amy's tips for birth preparation will help you. Yes, YOU!

From Amy:

1. Watch Funny Movies! Laughing opens and heals. This relaxes your jaw & your mouth which relaxes your pelvic muscles & the mouth of the cervix. Watch movies so funny they make you pee – relaxing is the goal and fun is a good thing.

2. Enjoy the prospect of breathing softness down and into your cervix. “Softening, ripening, opening” has always been my mantra from 37.5 weeks on. Say it to yourself 3 times. Right before you get up and as you get into bed. Your subconscious is more open to shift then.

3. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose & out through your mouth. Breathing in anything you need to nourish and nurture yourself. Breathing out, letting go of one thing you’re holding onto, one thought, one place that’s tight or holding so it can be absorbed and dissolved. Do this twice a day, 10 times. We are most affected as we're falling asleep and as we are waking up. And, if you're feeling stressed? Give yourself the gift of 3 breaths - any time.

4. Squat, squat squat. Flat footed squatting opens your pelvis, supports your babe to move down and apply pressure to your cervix. You can lean on a ball or at the foot of your bed. You can also do supported squats with your partner behind you, arms through your armpits. By yourself? Want something less intense? Bounce on a ball, slideback and forth over the ball.

5. Dance party at your house :). Turn on your favorite music and rock those hips! Your baby’s head is the heaviest part of your baby. Hip circles will help move your baby into helpful alignment for birth & apply pressure to your cervix. The most comfortable thing? Not always, AND it will support your cervix to soften, ripen and open. Helping your cervix be soft will help your contractions work effectively. When it's right for you, dancing intimately with your partner will help. Relaxing an opening are the name of the game and support the process.

6. Talk to your precious one. Engage and involve your baby in the process. Your baby understands everything but highly technical language. Ask your babe to move down and down. Putting pressure on your cervix, asking baby to help you open. This is a helpful thing to do while doing hip circles and squatting.

(Find out more about Amy and her acupuncture clinic in Northampton, MA)