Prenatal Support & Education
The foundation of my service begins during your pregnancy as I get to know you (and your partner, if applicable) during our prenatal meetings. We will stay in regular contact from the date of hire and meet in person for a minimum of 2 prenatal meetings. The content of these meetings varies quite a bit depending on your needs and whether you plan to birth at home or the hospital. Regardless of birth location, all of my prenatals include:
identifying your birth preferences
your fears and hopes concerning birth
review of comfort measures
exploring roles during labor
how to create asafe birthing environment
pain and your options for managing it
breastfeeding basics (although I recommend a separate class for this)
optimal fetal positioning and how to support this
making a plan for postpartum support
how to recognize perinatal mood disorders
For those planning a hospital birth, we also review:
your rights as a laboring woman
common hospital procedures & protocol
evidence-based maternity care
tips for communicating with your care provider
newborn procedures & bonding
As a general rule, I will join you as soon as you feel the need for support. Often this means that I join you as you labor at home before you go to the hospital. Regardless of birth location, I will provide you and your partner hands-on guidance and support throughout your labor. This can be anything from massaging your hands/feet/shoulders, helping to ease back labor, reminding you to change positions, guiding you to regulate your breathing or providing you with calm reassurance. I'm not one to ever brag, but I can say without a doubt that I am really, really good at adjusting spaces to create a sense of safety, privacy and comfort. And I have a million little tricks for making almost any physical position more comfortable using water, towels, cushions, sheets, pillows, balls, etc. I've got you covered.
As you labor I will often normalize what you are experiencing physically or emotionally, which can be very reassuring. If you are laboring in a hospital, I am very familiar with hospital protocol and I will often give you a brief "preview" of what will likely happen during certain procedures, although a good nurse, doctor or midwife should do this for you as part of informed consent. As decisions arise I will be a supportive presence and can help you think through your options and ask questions to discover what is best for your particular situation. Although I am your advocate, I cannot and I do not make decisions for you. (But no one really wants that anyway, right?) Clients have found that my presence alone helps them to slow down, ask more questions and think more clearly so that they can make their own decisions. Some women, especially those who want to avoid pain medications, are looking for a strong, active presence to coach them through those tough moments when they don't think they can go on. I can definitely be that for you. I really do have confidence in your body! At the same time, I have experienced the intensity of labor pain myself and I fully respect your right to use pain medication when you want it. As you push, I will be there reminding you to listen to and work with your body's urges.
Many fathers and partners want to be actively involved and it is very important to me that (s)he not feel pushed out of the experience. I have experience helping partners to find their place in labor--they may want to be near your ear, offering comforting words or supporting you physically while I provide emotional support. Or both! We will work together as a team so that (s)he is as involved as (s)he wants to be.
I have worked with many, many families who speak English as a non-primary language. Childbirth for these families can be a difficult experience in terms of communication because the laboring woman is very much “in her body” (as she should be) and therefore less connected to the analytical part of her brain. If communication problems arise between you and your nurse or doctor, I can help to slow down communication and facilitate clarity so that your needs and wishes are understood.
Immediate Postpartum Support
When your baby arrives, my goal is to help you have immediate skin to skin contact with your baby and to facilitate breastfeeding, if you chose to feed at the breast. Breastfeeding is an extension of birth. Your baby is born with an array of reflexes and instincts to find your breasts and suckle. I will be there by your side to explain the behaviors your baby is showing and help to protect those first moments after birth from unnecessary interventions or separations, which interfere with your baby's inborn drive to feed. I will be there to help you accommodate your baby's natural urge to explore and suckle. In the days following the birth I follow up by phone and text. Once your new family is back home and settled we have a postpartum visit to talk about the birth and address any other needs.
Extended Postpartum Support
Experience has taught me that checking in during the weeks following a birth are crucial to a new family's transition into parenthood. While new parenthood is certainly full of wonder and joy it is also a challenging time full of adjustment. Mom and baby are getting a handle on the rhythms of breastfeeding and a new sleep rhythm and mom's body is healing and adjusting to hormonal changes. I want to ensure that you have all the resources and support you need to make this transition as smooth as it can be. Typical birth doula services include at least 1 postpartum visit in your home to review the birth and do a quick check up. I offer support above and beyond this with 8 weeks of phone support in addition to any in-person visits immediately following the birth.