To often women are told untruths about birth. Our minds are engraved with visions of torture or panic from media, other womens experiences, or dare I say it, the church... We are told that childbirth hurts, labor is awful and don't expect to ever have your lady parts be normal again! As a doula I spend the majority of my time with women debunking these myths. I have found that if you help a woman remove fear from childbirth she is left to experience the process with joy, which in turn provides an anxiety free perspective of birth. Most women I work with report feeling intense, or vulnerable but rarely do women tell me that was the most "painful" thing they have done. They may say that was the" hardest I have ever worked" or the "most powerful feelings I have ever felt". That being said, I know some of you reading this may think well that was them, my birth was awful and no one could tell me different. I would never try to talk you out of how you felt. You felt it, not me. My challenge would be if that was you, to look at what kind of information you had before you birthed, did you have a good support team, were you allowed to maintain informed consent through out the birth process? You could probably identify an area (that could have been different) in your experience that left you feeling regretful or fearful.
I never set moms up for failure by promising a perfect birth and its important to know I am not talking about your birth plan going exactly the way you planned and so that is why your birth is wonderful, most often birth does not go according to your plan. What I am referring to is being allowed to birth your baby and being the one to make the decision how that birth happens. Even if that means opting for a c-section. The process of birth doesn't have to be surrounded by fear, When a couple is given the ability to be fully informed and make decisions they feel are safest for them and their baby they may leave their birth feeling disappointed for not getting to do something or even everything on their birth plan, but they shouldn't have to carry regret or fear with them because they weren't prepared. If you are on your journey to having a birth following a traumatic or fearful birth experience, please don't just think this is your lot in life! Do your due diligence find a certified doula, a supportive care provider, read accurate information and most importantly resolve to be the one who takes responsibility for the decisions being made about you, and have a peaceful birth!
There is a beauty to birth and being a birth professional. A sort of Ebb & Flow that I really enjoy. Sometimes births are fast and furious. Other times they are slow and steady. Still other times they are illusive and mysterious. I find that being a birth professional is quite the same. I have found that just letting it happen is a truly beautiful process. Learning to enjoy the downtimes as much as the busy times as much as the unknown times is the fun of it. Not getting caught in the monotony of existing is so important, I want to live and enjoy each moment before it passes. The moments that excite me the most and the ones I could live without. I feel that if I learn to love and embrace the Ebb & Flow of being a birth professional, I will be able to impart to my clients how to enjoy each step of the birth process. Embracing the unknown, standing strong in adversity, having courage in desperate moments, and trusting each step of the way that their is strength for the journey. Like a woman waiting to become a mother, With every contraction she experiences and Ebb & Flow, she anticipates "this is it" and sometimes it is and sometimes it's not. However trusting and relying that you do not have to control everything around you is a freeing feeling. Recently at a birth the parents chose not to know the sex of their baby. It was the first time I ever had an opportunity to experience the excitement and anticipation of not knowing. By making that one decision this mom had a card in her hand that helped her all the way through her birth. The joy of not knowing drove her further than she ever thought she could go knowing that the prize was the unveiling of their new baby. They chose to not take control over something they could have and it gave her the energy she needed to deliver her baby, EBB & Flow! Sometimes it helps to just realize that you don't & really can't control everything.....
"Having the essence of the people who support you and your choices; surrounding
The older I get, the more I realize how important we are to one another. Everywhere in life there are choices to either work as a team with those around us or go it alone. I have found that in any given situation the “go it alone route” is truly a lonely path. It may seem appealing; you can make your own decisions, no accountability,
come and go as you please. But in the end that path can lead to heart ache and disappointment and on top of that you are generally left to deal with it alone.
Developing a birth team is crucial to achieving your desired birth goals. Even if the members of that team never have to touch you, bring you a drink, help you change positions, apply counter pressure, check to see that baby is doing well, or the countless other things I could list that go into supporting a mom in labor. Having the essence of the people who support you and your choices surrounding you during labor can be enough to create an environment of protection and safety for a laboring woman. You may never truly need anything from your team but it is impossible to know ahead of time exactly how much team work it will take to get the job done.
In one instance I had a couple whose birth plan did a complete 180 because of a truly needed medical intervention. I at first wondered if I would provide them with enough care and support to compensate for the care and support they expected to receive from me based on the original birth plan. I quickly realized that although my role on the team had changed some, my importance had not. In the end I gave to that family what they needed to birth their baby with confidence and the peace of mind knowing they did everything in their ability to bring their baby into the world safely. I also realized that without the support and care of every team member who played a role in this birth that their ship would have sank midway through the journey.
Your spouse, your family, your care provider, your nurses, your doula, or whoever it is that you have in your life
that supports you, should be the team that helps map the path of the safest route for delivery, sometimes that is completely hands off, and sometimes that is completely hands on. However the goal is accomplished, you can and should feel empowered and satisfied when you have had the loving support and team work of the people you have placed around you working on your behalf. How can you be sure you have a strong birth team? Answer the following questions as honestly as possible. If you answer no to one or more of these questions you may want to
reevaluate your birth team and be sure you have the support you need to achieve what you believe about birth!
1. Does my care provider truly support my birth plan, or am I just receiving lip service?
2. Will my care provider provide me with options, time, information, and the respect of making an informed decision?
3. Do the people I have asked to attend my birth agree with my birth goals?
4. Does the hospital I am delivering at staff nurses who are familiar with the type of birth I desire?
5. Is my doula there to support my individual birth goals or does she have a personal agenda that is more important?
6. Am I being heard by the people who are closest to me?
you would have told me when I was younger I would be mothering mothers I would
have laughed in your face, then flipped you off, then cried my eyes out…. Not
because I was mean but because I was a very hurt young lady.
My mother was addicted to heroin, due to some pretty horrendous things
that happened to her when she was young.
So as a result she wasn’t very dependable and when I turned ten I went to
live with my dad and for the remainder of my childhood I had very limited
contact with her if any at all. Of course not having a mother was difficult for
the obvious reasons, but I don’t think I ever realized exactly how much I missed
out on by not having a mom until I started working as a doula.
It was then that I realized how much nurturing care women need during
pregnancy and labor. As I was
giving this love to them I would realize how it was something I myself never
even got to experience. But despite what you might be thinking, it wasn’t hard
or hurtful for me to realize these things. Jesus has made it possible for me to
live free. I WAS a hurt girl who WAS very angry that she had been abandoned, I
WAS the child who had a lump in her thought at the mention of the word mother,
and I WAS the little girl who had to learn to take care of herself. WAS! When I
became born again, Jesus healed me of all those past hurts. He took away the
feeling of abandonment, sure sometimes I still feel a little sad that I didn’t
have a mom, who wouldn’t? But I am
amazed at what He has done in me as a person and just how free He has made me! I
am able to care for women and mother the mothers, give them advice and nurture
them. Help these moms achieve what they believe about birth and watch as they
hold and love their new child.
There is so much healing in watching a new mom love on her new baby!
Knowing I was a key component to making that moment special, blesses me beyond
measure. I have undeniably become
something that was the most unlikely thing for me to be, a
Recently at a birth I was attending, I realized that being a doula takes being more than
a cheerleader. While cheering a mom on in her labor, jumping up and down every time she makes it through a contraction and shouting with every bit a progress she makes, is all good and needed. I realized that being a cheerleader will only take a mom so far. A laboring women is experiencing the hardest work of her life, she has decided to take on the challenge of allowing her body to be inundated with hormones in order to produce a full body experience of one downward push after another. She has done this without really knowing what exactly it will be like, but trusting in the fact that the process itself was the best way to birth this new life. She has decided that this process is best done with the assistance of a doula, trusting that when presented with feelings of doubt, exhaustion, fear, she would have someone present who could help her go the extra mile. So it dawned on me a doula is really a coach!
I know to people who have been in the birth world for quite some time this is a “no brainer”, but it became for me reality when I was presented with a particularly unexplainably long labor that had been looming for this mother; she had already had two days of contractions that kept her awake and then finally her body decided it was“time” around 11:00 p.m. meaning that she again would have a sleepless night. So they press in and began the journey, mom and dad are strong and excited things are clearly progressing. We encourage her, cheer her on, and we chat. As the night progresses she decides to go to the hospital and finish the labor there. When they are presented with the knowledge that she has made it to 4cm we are ecstatic! But, still knowing we have a lot of road left to cover, she gets back to work. Mom is pressing on still feeling strong and doing a great job, dad is right beside her, a true rock!
She is steadily making progress as the night turns into day. They are tired but encouraged that things have begun to intensify signaling that she is nearing the final stretch. We speak words of encouragement and assure her she is doing great, we use every play in our book, and still we are just shy of the win. So we collaborate we pull the team together and come up with a plan, they put the plays to work and before long they have gained ground. Knowing they are one throw away from a touch down we come together again. But this time the team is exhausted they have played the longest, toughest game of their lives and need a coach who can assure them they can still win this game! So the coach steps in and reminds the team of how far they have come, all the ground they have gained, and that they DO have what it takes to go the last mile!!! I tell them in no uncertain terms, You can do this, You got this, You have all the strength you need to reach your goal!!!
As a coach I realized then that sometimes you have to believe more in your team
than your team believes in themselves, that even when it feels the like the win is out of reach, it is best to give it your all and press in a little more, because you just might get the win!! And they did win! They achieved the beautiful intervention free birth they had planned for! They had together labored through the longest journey of their lives thus far. The end result in this case was a stronger family unit, a woman who trusted and relied
on her man more than ever, a mom who feels ready to conquer motherhood, and a new dad equipped with what it takes to lead his family through a sometimes uncertain world! I am honored to have been a part of the history of this family and to witness the strength of such a great team. Thank you, for teaching me something about myself!
Time to wait
One of the most important things I say to my mommies to be is“you have time to
wait.” I am a firm believer in letting labor begin on its own. I am cautious and of course rely on the the mothers primary care for instruction, however when I see a suggestion made to a perfectly healthy mom & baby to go in for an induction at 38 weeks I cringe… Why? I was wisely taught that one intervention leads to another and so forth. I actually experienced this in my own birth experience.
It is possible to wait for labor to begin on its own. Is it easy? No! In our society we bombard women with a barrage of unintended insults during the end of her pregnancy. For us those simple comments of “your still pregnant” or “Oh man you look like you’re gonna burst” or better yet how about “how do you not fall over.” may seem innocent enough when said, however when you have several people saying this to you daily, not to mention the gawking of strangers and nervous looks from grocery store owners concerned about your water breaking all over their floor it starts to weigh on you. Women do a self-analysis and start to think things like “you know I am really uncomfortable”, “I really do want to meet my baby”, “having a scheduled delivery may not be so bad”. This leads them down the slippery slope of interfering with the divine system God put in place to begin with.
If a woman is able to overcome all of this and wait for labor to begin on its own, she is more likely to accomplish her birth intervention free. Now of course I will add in a disclaimer that if all is not well with mom
and / or baby interventions are well welcomed and I am grateful they are available in those situations.
However when you are in good health and baby is too, there is no reason to have an induction just to simply meet your baby, or finally get everyone off your back. These are not the reason we should choose to interfere with Gods plan for childbirth.
Our bodies are simply amazing! It never surprises me when I learn another way that our body helps us prepare for childbirth. God truly had a plan and knew what he was doing when he created woman unique from man yet the two are one! When combined a husband and a wife bring key elements to the table in helping a woman be ready to birth. We actually help each other mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically to be prepared to welcome our new babies into the world. Key elements like hormone levels, cervical change, and physical energy, are just a few of the benefits a husband and wife provide each other. So take the time to wait on your body to begin labor on its own. You will not regret looking back and remembering those first few
contractions, the burst of energy you get when you realize this is it, or the sense of peace you feel knowing your body is doing what it was designed to do!
There comes a point when you have to push.
When a woman is laboring she will ultimately get to a place when she has
to push. You don’t arrive there
without having gone through all the necessary stages but you may arrive sooner
or later depending on the speed at which you are traveling.
Some women like to putter along stopping to window shop and take in all
that is around them, while other women are on the fast track to the finish line
and see little of what has just passed them by. However a woman arrives to her
destination isn’t really the point; the point is that she will get there. As a
doula it is my job to jump-in the this vehicle called labor and take this joy
ride with each women no matter how fast or slow it may go and be confident that
given the proper directions she will arrive at her pushing destination and
ultimately achieve the prize at hand. Labor is not something that should be
given a proper time frame for completion; rather it should be given a road map
on how to get to the finish line, and so long as we do not veer off the road
along the way she will safely arrive at her destination.
You can think of your doula as your labor GPS she can locate where you
are headed, help find the quickest way to get there, tell you when to make
turns, and find detours in case of road blocks. So just like you wouldn’t leave home on
a trip without directions, don’t start your labor journey, without your
As with many things in life, usually we are much more capable of handling life’s
changes and situations if we are educated, supported, and cared for during those
times. Becoming a parent is a rite
of passage. Becoming pregnant
suddenly takes you out of the social sect of married couples with no children or
single with no children and places you in limbo (for the most part) until you
give birth and enter into a different social standing as a parent.
Many couples experience a myriad of emotions during these times. If they
are lucky enough to be surrounded by other couples who have made this journey
the transition tends to be much smoother; simply because it is socially
acceptable to be who they are becoming. Sometimes however, you are the
first of your kind in your social circle and this can leave you feeling
bewildered and a little left out.
You are no longer just like everyone you used to socialize with, and you
are not quite at the parent stage.
Limbo (as I like to call it) can be a confusing and frustrating
time. But fear not! Doulas can
help with this too! Doulas have the
ability to help you bridge the gap between pregnancy and parenthood.
Most of us have made this journey ourselves so we have our own lifes
experiences, but more importantly we are surrounded by a variety of social
circles and have a great understanding of the strength, patience, and love it
can take to enter into a new social standing. Doulas help women with fertility
questions, pregnancy concerns, birth options, and postpartum needs!
Doulas are a little like chameleons we have been educated in a variety of
aspects that concern new parents.
Not necessarily experts on everything, but experienced enough to offer
education and support to you during this life transition.
Sometime couples don’t recognize that the emotions they are experiencing
are related to the change that is taking place socially, and so those emotions
get misplaced on each other.
Having a doula that can help you discuss the difference in your social
standing now versus pre-pregnancy can help. She can help you figure out how to
maneuver, new social settings for parents, introduce you to social circles that
provide support and education and help you learn how to educate the people in
your current social circle to receive the new family you have become. Often if
you are feeling rejected by your current social group, it is simply because they
need a little education themselves. Don’t be afraid to talk about your
concerns on how parenthood will change your life, as my mentor always says;
“preparation time, is never wasted time!”
Prepare for who you are becoming, and ask your doula for help!
Article Written by, Jenny West / Every
Quote by, Dr. Christian Harfouche / International Miracle
Being a doula I get the privilege to share the knowledge I have about birth.
Being a doula I get the honor to watch a precious created miracle come to this earth.
Being a doula I get the joy of seeing the victory on new parent’s faces.
Being a doula I get the satisfaction of supporting other women Spirit, Soul, & Body.
Being a doula I get the excitement of watching Men become Fathers, & Women become Mothers.
Being a doula I get the rarity to see the past, present & future all at the same time.
Being a doula I get the fulfillment of doing something that I love.
Being a doula I get the right to bridge gaps in societies, cultures, & races, and treat all mankind as rightfully equal.
Being a doula I get the opportunity to be selfless and give of myself to someone else.
I love being a Doula!!!
I know maybe not everyone out there can relate to this, but that’s ok! The women that can relate are the ones I am talking to! God created us in His image. Huh!?! Well that’s what it says in the bible, So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Gen. 1:27 He did however make some distinct differences between man and woman.
One of those differences is that as women we carry within us the house for all mankind to be knit and formed by God. So why does it seem like we have disregarded this very important part of being a woman created in the image of God? Why do we just turn our bodies over to the medical community thinking they "know" more than we do so we should just trust them? Why don't we go to God about giving birth? I mean, after all he did create us! Am I saying we shouldn't go to doctors or midwives? Of course not! That would be very ignorant of me. Doctors & midwives play a very important role in our births. They are like a tour guide for our births. They can tell us all the amazing facts about all the amazing sights and places we are seeing. But they are not the author of those places, nor are they the ones that lived the experiences that made those places so famous. They can just tell you about them so they play a key role in the knowledge you have about your birth but they in fact did not give you the ability to birth.
They did not knit you and make you even while you were in your mother’s womb! So why give them all the credit? Why not go to God, and ask Him how He created you to give birth? Ask Him if you have the strength; ask Him if your pelvis is big enough? He says He knows every hair on your head, right? So surely He knows how wide your pelvis is? And if He is the one, who knits babies into their mothers’ wombs, (and He is) then surely He would not make that baby bigger than their mothers’ pelvis right? Again I am not saying that sometimes things that God did not intend to happen don’t happen because they do. We do have an adversary who would like to mess around with the fact that God gave man and woman the ability to be fruitful and multiply. Our adversary does not like the fact that we are like God. But to me that is all the more reason we should go to God. We need our births to be directed by Him!
Let me encourage you, if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, pray. Ask God to show you what he originally intended for you as a woman. I think what you will find is remarkable. Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. God loves us, and love never fails! Believe what God has to say about you, your birth, and your baby! When you go to give birth, birth like your God made you!
Jenny is a dedicated christian wife and mother. That is now pursuing her passion for everything birth!
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