Archive for the ‘Shelley’s Blog’ Category

Each year, the world sets aside 1 week to recognize doulas. I love how it makes me feel proud to be a doula and to feel recognized as a professional, as well as recognizing the work doulas everywhere are doing to support families!!

I supported families through birth for 25 years before deciding to “retire” from that part of doula life, and now exclusively focus on postpartum support. It’s so rewarding to see a struggling family get the “hang” of parenting– when only a few weeks ago they were on the brink of meltdown! It’s incredibly fulfilling to know you made a difference in how those early weeks of parenting began.

But it’s also hard to listen to the sadness of unexpected outcomes in birth, breastfeeding and newborn life. It’s difficult to know I can’t “fix” many things that are or will be hard.

Doulas offer an ear, a hand and a heart. We can help you tune into yourself, your baby, your intuition when everything else feels overwhelming. We can help you learn to trust yourself, your body, and your baby. We can help you learn to love all that is you, the blossoming new parent.

Did you have a doula who made a difference? Or want to find one? Here’s a local resource! Central Texas Doula Association

It’s 2022 and you have access to Youtube, social media, and Google and Amazon.

Do you really need to take a childbirth class?

Yes! Why?

Your childbirth instructor will help you and your partner understand what the normal stages of labor look like, when you should call your doctor or midwife, and what to expect at each phase. For most expectant parents, just understanding what’s ahead greatly reduces anxiety.

Why is that important?

Anxiety and stress during labor can have many negative effects during labor. When we are tense, anxious, or stressed out, we release stress hormones (like adrenaline and cortisol) which can SLOW labor, make it longer, and will increase the need for medical interventions. Being stressed/anxious can even affect our breathing, which can decrease how much oxygen our baby gets!

So on top of learning what to expect, a good childbirth class should teach you basic relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, as well as a wide variety of other comfort measures to help you and your partner manage labor pain. You might practice things like massage, positions for labor, visualizations, or other techniques which significantly reduce your perception of pain!

Does less pain in labor sound ok?

I hope so! But regardless of where you are planning to birth your baby, and what your plans are for pain management, all expectant parents should also know what medical situations might come up unexpectedly, and how to make informed decisions about their care… for instance, induction and cesareans often catch people off guard. How do we make those decisions? What are the right questions to ask? Your childbirth instructor can help you learn to navigate those unexpected situations and help you feel more confident should a medical situation arise.

Less anxiety, less pain, more confident? All sounding good so far?

labor birth comfort measures doula childbirth class

A birthing person needs a lot of support and encouragement in labor!

What if you could learn options that might make your birth experience more positive? You can.

What if you could learn ways to reduce the risk of having a cesarean birth? You can.

What if you could learn about what happens after the baby is born, and how to cope with the first few weeks postpartum? You can.

Take a childbirth class.

Luckily, you have LOTS of options! Live virtual, online, in person, small or large groups, or even private! Pick one that fits your schedule, lifestyle and needs. I promise it will help you begin this amazing journey with more joy, awareness, and peace, and we all could use more of that.

Interested in my classes? I currently offer live virtual classes through Real Deal Birth and Parenting.

We are all dealing with adapting and figuring out how to live our lives during a pandemic… but the babies don’t stop! Here is an update for my local region (Austin TX) regarding BIRTH DOULAS and COVID-19 in our area hospitals.

Birth doulas are recognized as part of the healthcare team, therefore they are WELCOME in most of our area hospitals including all St Davids Healthcare and Seton/Ascension facilities. It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor/midwife in advance if you have hired a birth doula. They may be required to bring proof of their certification (or if they are in training, the organization they are training with) and a copy of the client/doula agreement or contract. It is recommended that doulas show up at the same time as the laboring client when possible to avoid any issues. Remember, ALL support people (including your partner and doula) will have to pass a Covid-19 screening before being allowed to enter a hospital.

Birth Centers and home birth midwives are having to decide what their policies are regarding Covid and their patients. Please have a conversation with your midwife about what would happen if you tested positive for Covid, or if you partner or doula has possible exposure or symptoms.

Most doulas are happy to mask while at work to protect your family!

What about Postpartum doulas? Currently doulas are NOT allowed to support families in the hospital, although we hope those restrictions may be lifted if case numbers decline. Only your chosen support person is allowed to be with you during your hospital stay. However Postpartum doulas of course are still in VERY high demand- more so than I’ve seen in my 25+ years in this field! My recommendation is to book your postpartum doula well in advance to make sure you have the care and support you need. When interviewing a potential postpartum doula during a pandemic, there are a few extra questions you may want to bring up, including:

  • Are you vaccinated against Covid? Have you had a recent infection (which would provide natural antibodies for 6 months or longer)
  • What precautions do you take to prevent the spread of illness to my family? (This could include flu and other viruses!)
  • What are your policies about illness (for both parties, doula and family members)
  • How do you handle your absence if ill? (Backup, reschedule etc)

These may feel like awkward questions, but we all needing to be learning how to have these open and honest conversations about our health, and lifestyle choices to make sure we are a good fit for each other!

 

Most expectant parents have heard about SIDS and the “safe sleep” guidelines which include your newborn sleeping on a flat surface in their own bed.  CDC Safe Sleep Guidelines  This is the safest place for your newborn. Many babies will happily sleep close to you but in their own bed….and many do not!!

What if they don’t sleep well there? What is every time you put them in their bassinet they cry? What if night after night you are up every hour, battling your newborn trying to get them to sleep in their own space? What is this goes on for weeks? Months?

An exhausted parent isn’t safe either. So what’s a new parent to do? Let’s talk about a taboo topic: Bed Sharing.

In many other cultures across the world, bed sharing is the norm. But there are many differences also in those cultures that may make bed sharing safer. For instance, people tend to sleep on the floor on mats (not squishy memory foam beds) and they do not consume alcohol or drugs. They do not smoke and are exclusively breastfeeding. So is it the bed sharing that increases SIDS risk, or perhaps are there other factors involved? Research has shown that the location alone is not necessarily what increases SIDS risk, and that bed sharing within certain parameters may be a safe alternative to the recommended safe sleep guidelines. La Leche League has an excellent article about the “Safe Sleep 7”.  https://www.llli.org/the-safe-sleep-seven/

Bottom line– every family will be making a decision about where their baby sleeps, based on their lifestyle, preferences, and their own babies. It’s important for families to have information about alternatives, so that they can make informed decisions about what is right for their own family!

 

 

In honor of World Doula Week I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to express– with over 25 experience as a birth and postpartum doula, what needed to be said that hasn’t already? What do families “need” to know? What do doulas “need” to hear? Then I listened to the Evidence Based Birth Podcast interview with Dr. Amber Warmsley (OBGYN) and had my “aha” moment… The interview doesn’t talk about doulas AT ALL. Not even 1 reference. But the interview is all about what doulas are all about, which is #1 supporting PEOPLE through pregnancy, birth and postpartum in all aspects of who they are- their body, mind and soul. And #2 that doulas encourage their clients to seek evidence based information, and make decisions that fit best with their family… which includes options that perhaps are not mainstream, like birth centers or home-births, or bed-sharing. Doulas recognize that there is no ONE answer that is right for everyone, and that “safety” is really a subjective word. If you haven’t already listened to this podcast, I highly encourage you to do so, even if you are far away from being pregnant or having babies. It will make you think! (And I’ll totally admit, I have a serious doula crush on this OB!) Happy World Doula Week to all my colleagues out there, and thank you to all the other professionals who support the work we do!
https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-based-ob-gyn-care-with-dr-amber-warmsley/
EBB 168 - Evidence-based OB-GYN care with Dr. Amber Warmsley - Evidence Based Birth®

After a long labor, we finally gave birth to a website! With the help/support of a good friend/doula colleague and web designer, we are proud to announce www.realdealbirth.com is live! Now families can find out more about our classes, look at a calendar and inquire about classes directly. Amanda and I offer LIVE virtual childbirth education in small groups that are personal, informative and fun!

4 Week Virtual Prepared Childbirth series – $175 per couple

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Jan 11, 18, 25, Feb 1FULL    TUES 6:30-8:30pm -Jan 5, 12, 19, 26 FULL

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Feb 8, 15, 22, Mar 1        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Feb 2, 9, 16, 23

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Mar 8, 15, 22, 29        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Mar 2, 9, 16, 23

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Apr 5, 12, 19, 26        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Mar 30, Apr 6, 13, 20

MON 6:30-8:30pm – May 3, 10, 17, 24        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Apr 27, May 4, 11, 18

 

Breastfeeding Basics & Newborn Care- 2.5 hour virtual class- $75/couple

Thursday 6:30-9pm – Jan 14              Thursday 6:30-9pm – Feb 11

Thursday 6:30-9pm – Mar 11                Thursday 6:30-9pm – Apr 8

Thursday 6:30-9pm – May 13

 

Preparing to VBAC – 2 hour virtual class – $60/couple

Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – Jan 21                Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – Mar 18

Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – May 20

 

Labor Skills Refresher Class – 2 hour virtual class -$60/couple

Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – Feb 18            Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – Apr 15

 

to inquire about availability please email Real Deal Birth directly at realdealbirth@gmail.com

4 week virtual Comprehensive Childbirth series — $150 per couple

 

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Jul 27 & Aug 3-17        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Aug 11-25 & Sep 1

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Aug 31 & Sep 14-28         TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Sep 8-29

MON 6:30-8:30pm – October 5-26            TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Oct 6-27

MON 6:30-8:30pm – November 2-23            TUES 6:30-8:30pm – November 3-24

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Nov 30 & Dec 7-21        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – December 1-22

 

Preparing to VBAC – One 2 hour session – $50/couple

Thursday- September 3  6:30-8:30pm        Thursday – November 5  6:30-8:30pm

 

Labor Skills (refresher class) – One 2 hour session – $50/couple

Thursday – September 17  6:30-8:30pm        Thursday – November 19  6:30pm-8:30pm

 

Breastfeeding Basics and Newborn Care- One 2.5 hour session $60/couple

Thursday – August 13  6:30-9:00pm            Thursday – September 10  6:30-9:00pm

Thursday – October 8  6:30-9:00pm            Thursday – November 12  6:30-9:00pm

Thursday – December 10  6:30-9:00pm

My friend and colleague, Amanda Wyszkowski and I have partnered together to provide comprehensive, quality Childbirth Preparation in a virtual classroom! Beginning April 14th we will offer a 4 week series designed to prepare couples for any birth- regardless of where you are planning to deliver, or what your ideal birth looks like… We’ll give you the honest, straight talk you want to hear. These classes are live with an instructor, not pre-recorded.

Together, we have nearly 40 years of experience in the birth field… have attended hundreds of births as doulas. Our goal is to answer your questions, offer techniques to help you manage labor pain, understand the potential for medical interventions, and learn how to make decisions that fit best for you, your birth, and your baby.

You can get more info about our classes and upcoming schedule here. The Real Deal Prep for Birth and Parenting.

My support group for expectant and new mamas has a new home! New Mama Happy Hour now meets in the classroom at OBGYN North 12221 Renfert Way ste 330 Austin Tx 78758 from 11am-12:30pm every Wednesday.

https://www.facebook.com/newmamahappyhour

This FREE group is “drop in” style and unstructured. We usually do some quick introductions first and then dive in. What do new moms want to talk about?

Sleep (or lack thereof), baby sleep patterns, sleep regressions, safe sleep, sleep training, sleep, sleep, sleep!

Challenges of new motherhood, stay at home moms, returning to work moms and all the feelings that go along with all that

Changes in our relationships, including partner, but also our extended family and friends

Breastfeeding, bottle feeding, formula feeding, pumping, milk storage,  introducing solids

Ways we can take care of ourselves (and why this is so important)

Ways we can help our partners be better parents/helpers/spouses

A safe place to share, vent, cry or just have some adult conversation. Bring your lunch or a snack. Don’t worry about putting on makeup or changing out of your yoga pants– you are welcome just the way you are!

 

 

Does a doula really make a difference?
Families report having a postpartum doula improved breastfeeding outcomes, increased their confidence as parents, helped them get better sleep, and improved their emotions, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.