Yes, You Still Need a Doula!

Yes, You Still Need a Doula!

Even if you’ve found yourself saying any of these things while you’re preparing your birth (and postpartum!) plans, there’s a good chance that you will still benefit from having a doula support you throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum! Do any of these apply to you?

My partner says, “I’ve got this!”

First, let’s be clear, we can’t say this enough – A. Doula. Does. Not. Replace. Your. Partner! Your partner is amazing – we can already tell that by how involved and engaged they are. However, a doula can help support your partner or free them up to help you. Your partner knows you better than anyone, and while a doula will work to get to know you better throughout your pregnancy, they cannot provide the same level of intimacy that your partner can. Doulas know birth. They are trained in the physiological aspects of the natural birth process and can be like a handy cheat sheet of all the things you learned in your childbirth education classes. There’s no pressure to remember every phase and stage of labor on your own! It’s also important to remember that your partner is going through an emotional transition too and may benefit from doula support or even just a reminder to drink some water or use the restroom from time to time. Just like they’re looking out for your needs, a doula keeps your partner’s needs in mind as well.

“It’s not my first rodeo.”

Just like each baby is different, no two birth experiences are exactly the same. Your first birth may have left you with high expectations or a need to emotionally heal, but either way,  your first birth experience will have an impact on how you enter this one. Those are all things that you can talk through with your doula leading up to birth that will help them provide the most personalized support possible. The second time around you may also be thinking about how your oldest child can be involved in your birth experience. A sibling doula can be a dedicated support person for your first child by getting to know them ahead of time and being on-call for when you need them during labor. They can help children feel safe when mom is “roaring like a lion” or even help them to bake a birthday cake or draw a birthday card to welcome baby.

“My midwife already supports my choices, so I don’t need additional support.” 

Shout out to all of the supportive, loving and knowledgeable providers who engage in shared decision-making and honor your choices! It is SO important to have a care team that fully understands and respects your wishes.  A midwife and doula work together, but actually hold very different roles. They’re both professionals who understand the physiology of birth and work to make sure you and your baby are fully supported throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Midwives are medically trained to examine, diagnose and provide medical support and care for healthy, low-risk pregnancies. Doulas provide emotional, physical (such as touch and massage), and informational support for the birthing person and their family.

Why did you decide to hire a doula? What impact did that decision have on your birth?  Tell us in the comments.

Michelle Petkovic

Michelle Petkovic

Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn

Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler born at a birth center and loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.

Medications and Breastfeeding

Medications and Breastfeeding

People often instinctively avoid medications – both prescription and over-the-counter—when pregnant or breastfeeding. 

The good news is that that most medications are safe for breastfeeding.  The really good news is that you can easily look up medications and even environmental substances to see what’s known and what’s safe.  (links below)

The best news of all is that there are dedicated researchers who continue to study the amazing attributes of breastmilk (the human variety in particular) and how some substances get through the mom’s body into the milk and how they affect babies.  Dr. Thomas Hale of Texas Tech University is a champion in this field with his Infant Risk Center.  You can even help, especially if you or a friend needs a medication that’s on the list of drugs under study and can provide breastmilk samples. 

The bad news is that if you ask a medical provider, you may get poor advice!  Many doctors, particularly in specialties that don’t see breastfeeding often (like urgent care, emergency and surgery) will advise mothers to stop breastfeeding either temporarily or permanently.  The medical field is just starting to improve on its education and advocacy for breastmilk, including the risks to babies who aren’t breastfed. 

Here’s where you can go for accurate information when you need it:

www.mothertobaby.org This FREE source is super handy.  You can email them, call, text or IM on any substance exposure, including medications.  The University of Arizona is part of their team! 

https://www.infantrisk.com/apps  Dr. Hale and the Infant Risk Center have up-to-date apps that are really handy.  It summarizes information on medication safety for pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is the one I recommend to professional colleagues – it’s one of the few “paid” apps I keep!

The Arizona Breastfeeding Hotline:  1-800-833-4642     There’s a lactation consultant always available to answer your question, even in the middle of the night.  It’s a FREE call, and the lactation consultant can talk to you about any questions or subjects related to breastfeeding at any stage.

The Babymoon Inn Midwives!  Just give us a call, we’ll be happy to chat about your question.  

Olga Ryan MS-NL, RN

Olga Ryan MS-NL, RN

Director, Babymoon Inn Tucson

Olga has been in Perinatal nursing since 1995 and in birth center nursing since 2006.  She has been studying leadership her whole life and recently joined the Babymoon Inn team as director of the Tucson location.

Delaying the First Bath

Delaying the First Bath

Waiting to bathe babies after birth leads to better outcomes, according to an Illinois nurse conducting research on the subject.

Unable to find significant research about the benefits of delaying the newborn bath, nurse Courtney Buss spent six months observing and recording outcomes for babies whose first bath was immediate or delayed.

After one month, she found that delaying the first bath for 8-24 hours resulted in the following outcomes:

  • Hypothermia rates decreased from 29% to 14%
  • Hypoglycemia rates decreased from 21% to 7%
  • Breastfeeding rates increased from 51% to 71%

Vernix, which is the white, waxy substance covering newborn babies, keeps babies warm and helps control blood sugar. Because the baby’s body doesn’t have to work hard to stay warm, energy is conserved that can be used for breastfeeding instead.

Thanks to Buss’s research, her hospital system now has a policy to wait 14 hours before baby’s first bath.

How long did you wait to bathe your baby?

Undisturbed First Hour

Undisturbed First Hour

We often use the term “undisturbed birth” to describe a birth free of interventions and other stress-inducing factors that disrupt the natural hormonal process that takes place in a physiologic birth.

But as research shows, that period of minimal disturbance should continue after baby arrives as well, for at least an hour that is often referred to as “The Golden Hour.”

In a post on Collective-evolition.com, Alexa Erickson discusses four benefits of an undisturbed first hour in which the newborn and its mother have uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact:

Allows the baby to begin breastfeeding
Permits body system regulation
Allows the baby to receive better oxygen
Initiates motherbaby bonding

To facilitate this undisturbed hour, Erickson recommends

There should be a warm blanket placed over both mother and baby to slow the production of the adrenaline hormone in her to avoid interference with oxytocin and prolactin hormones being produced. The environment should be quiet.

Height, weight, head circumference, and the newborn exam can all wait. So can the eager relatives waiting to hold the new baby! For a healthy baby, the best place to be immediately after birth is skin-to-skin on its mother.

To read more about the benefits of an undisturbed first hour, see the full article.

In at least one large study, the rates of full-criteria PTSD in the U.S. following childbirth are now higher than those following a major terrorist attack

In at least one large study, the rates of full-criteria PTSD in the U.S. following childbirth are now higher than those following a major terrorist attack

Nearly one in ten woman suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after giving birth, a sobering statistic reported by The Lamaze International “Listening to Mothers II” survey of more than 1,500 mothers.

In an article for Women’s Health Today, Kathleen Kendall- Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA explores the topic of birth trauma, its prevalence, and its effects on breastfeeding and the postpartum period for mothers. A full 9% of women in the Lamaze study met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

“If the number of women meeting the full criteria for PTSD does not seem very high, then let’s compare it to another number. In the weeks following September 11, 7.5% of the residents of lower Manhattan met those full criteria (Galea et al. 2003). Take a minute to absorb these statistics. In at least one large study, the rates of full-criteria PTSD in the U.S. following childbirth are now higher than those following a major terrorist attack.”

Kendall-Tackett looked at similarities among women who experienced PTSD after birth.

“In a meta-ethnography of 10 studies, women with PTSD were more likely to describe their births negatively if they felt “invisible and out of control” (Elmir, Schmied, Wilkes, & Jackson, 2010). The women used phrases, such as “barbaric,” “inhumane,” “intrusive,” “horrific,” and “degrading” to describe the mistreatment they received from health care professionals.”

Breastfeeding following a traumatic birth may be negatively impacted, or it can be a healing experience when the mother is provided with assistance and support, Kendall-Tackett said. She cited a study by Beck and Watson where women described their breastfeeding experience after birth trauma:

“The first five months of my baby’s life (before I got help) are a virtual blank. I dutifully nursed him every two to three hours on demand, but I rarely made eye contact with him and dumped him in his crib as soon as I was done. I thought that if it were not for breastfeeding, I could go the whole day without interacting with him at all.”

“My body’s ability to produce milk, and so the sustenance to keep my baby alive, also helped to restore my faith in my body, which at some core level, I felt had really let me down, due to a terrible pregnancy, labor, and birth. It helped build my confidence in my body and as a mother. It helped me heal and feel connected to my baby.”

To help women who may be experiencing PTSD or struggling with breastfeeding after a traumatic birth, Kendall-Tackett recommends the following:

Recognize the symptoms
Refer women to resources for diagnosis and treatment, which may include psychotherapy, counseling, and journaling
Anticipate potential problems, like a delay in the mother’s milk coming in
Respect boundaries
Continue working to reform birth in the U.S.

If you feel like you or someone you know are experiencing PTSD or are struggling to process a traumatic birth, please call Babymoon Inn at 602-314-7755 so we can support you in getting the help and resources you need.

Babies In These Countries Cry More, Study Finds

Babies In These Countries Cry More, Study Finds

Anyone who has experienced parenting a baby with colic will tell you how challenging it is. And they will all likely be able to offer some advice, some comfort techniques, or at the least a shoulder to cry on. But it turns out you’ll find more of these parents in countries like Italy, the U.K., and Canada, as a new study reports that babies in these countries cry more than babies elsewhere.

The study, originally published in The Journal of Pediatrics and reported by Julia Zorthian of Time, found that:

“In the U.K. 28% of babies 1 to 2 weeks old had colic, for example, while the average prevalence for that age was only 17.4%. And 34.1% of babies in Canada had colic at 3 to 4 weeks, while the average percentage was 18.4%. On the other hand, the study found 6.7% of babies in Denmark at 5 to 6 weeks had colic, much lower than the average 25.1% for that age.”

Along with Denmark, the study found that babies in Japan and Germany cried the least. Wondering why the large discrepancy between countries? Unfortunately, we don’t know yet.

“The study did not determine a reason for the variation in crying time by country, but the scientists said there should be more research into potential cultural and genetic influences.”

What are your thoughts? Why are some countries reporting such high rates of colic in their babies?

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