Archive for the ‘Shelley’s Blog’ Category

Families who are doula shopping, now can get more information about doulas as well as have a chance to meet local Austin birth and postpartum doulas! Every 4th Sunday 5-6pm in Austin is “Keep Austin Doula’d” Day– We will show a short film about doulas, then go through FAQ’s and answer questions from the group. Then there will be a casual “mix and mingle” opportunity for couples who want to chat and meet individual doulas.  Most sessions will be held at St Davids Medical Center (32nd street location) in the Plaza Room 405. Only the October location will be different, in pairing with the larger and better “Doula Share” event that same day.

Sept 22  St Davids Medical Center 5-6pm

Oct 27 Any Baby Can (7th street Austin) 3-6pm Doula Share, 5-6pm Meet the Doula

Nov 24 St Davids Medical Center 5-6pm

Dec 22 St Davids Medical Center


Doula Share is a FREE event where doulas share information with new and expectant families. Please join us on Sunday April 28th from 2-5pm to learn about breastfeeding, babywearing, infant massage, comfort measures for labor, infant CPR, optimal fetal positioning for easier birth! Expectant parents can also meet with local doulas and get information on other resources for parents!

Thank you Any Baby Can for allowing us to use your space (1121 E. 7th Street in Austin) RSVP to to register for prizes!

Doula Share Flyer 2013


There has been a lot of attention on what most are calling “Delayed Cord Cutting”… I am hearing it more in my childbirth classes as well as on blogs and from my birth clients. The evidence is building… what we “thought” we were doing right now for about 100 years (clamping and cutting the cord immediately after the baby is born) may actually be doing babies HARM.

Briefly, the evidence is suggesting that by allowing the cord to continue to pulse (for approximately 90 seconds or so after the birth), the baby receives an additional 1/3 of their blood volume. Key ingredients in this additional blood include iron, and red and white blood cells. What do we see as an outcome of “delayed” cord cutting? Babies at 3-4 months don’t have the same problems with iron deficiency that we see in babies who had their cords cut immediately. Red blood cells carry iron, and white blood cells fight infection. Those all seem like critical things to a newborn’s health.

In addition, that “extra” 90 seconds or so continues to provide oxygen to your new baby, just like it has for the last 9 months of pregnancy. Many babies need a little time to transition from womb to  world- and that includes “figuring out how to breathe”. Many babies would not be oxygen deprived if we simply allowed the cord to keep doing it’s job.

So what’s the argument FOR immediate cord cutting? I am still hearing OB’s locally tell parents “it’s not safe”, “the baby will get too much blood”, or even “I can do that but I’ll have to hold the baby even with the placenta” (ie I cannot put the baby onto you Skin To Skin, another topic). Unfortunately, non of these common responses are evidence based. Parents have a right and responsibility to seek out accurate information and to communicate with their care providers about what they want for their newborns– and to find care providers who will support their wishes.

So shall we call it “Delayed”… or shall we call it “Optimal”? You decide.


On Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, an amazing gathering of birth related professionals joined to celebrate those who provide outstanding care to families during the perinatal period. I felt honored to be a part of such an incredible group of passionate, dedicated men and women who have centered their lives around helping women prenatally, during birth, and postpartum. Congratulations to all who were nominated, all finalists, and of course all winners. Want to see who won?

I can’t take credit for this, but can pass it along. The only thing I’ll add is that this is not only good “advice” for a new mama, but also reminders for 2nd, 3rd time mamas– sometimes we forget… Good for us to be reminded of what is really important, in the early months, and beyond!

In my classes, expectant parents usually are surprised when we start talking about positions for childbirth. “Don’t we have to be in bed?” Well, some moms may have medical reasons to stay in bed, like high blood pressure. But the majority of low risk laboring moms should be able to get out of bed and use a variety of positions to help reduce pain and promote progress in labor. Less pain and a shorter labor? Who wouldn’t want it!?

The basics:

1. Upright positions enlist gravity, which helps the baby move down. Walk, slow dance with your partner, lean over the bed, take a shower.

2. Leaning over positions help rotate the baby into the ideal position for birth- facing your back. Lean over the bed, do hands and knees, or sit on a ball leaning forward. These positions are also wonderful at reducing back pain in labor.

3. Open up your pelvis to make room for the baby. Sit on a ball, or the toilet where you can “open” your legs comfortably. Squat, do the Lunge, or tailor sit in bed. All these positions can help reduce pain, make room for the baby to move down and around, and help speed along your labor.

4. Rest occasionally. Although being upright is great, moms do tire out easily in labor. Remember to alternate rest with activity. Good rest positions include side lying, sitting backwards in a chair, and child’s pose.

Keep in mind, if a mom chooses an epidural for pain relief, most of these options go out the window. Even if a mom “knows” she is planning for an epidural, I’ll encourage her to stay upright and active before she actually gets it, to encourage as much movement and progress before she settles into bed with an epidural.

Good resources for positioning for childbirth:

So if you’ve already decided “I’m pretty sure I want a doula”… now you have to figure out “How do I find the right doula for me?” It may seem like a daunting task… but here are some ideas to help make this journey easier and shorter.

First, ask for referrals from friends, sisters, co-workers, your doctor or midwife, childbirth educator, or anyone else you are seeing during your pregnancy, including massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, etc. You never know who may have heard about a great doula! Also, look for a Doula Association in your area. In many cities, doulas have formed professional doula associations to make it easier to find a doula. There may be a website where you can “shop” for doulas in your area. Local in Austin is the Central Texas Doula Association

Once you have at least a few names, email or call them to seek out their availability. Some doulas may book many months in advance while others may have more immediate availability. When is the best time to start looking for a doula? Whenever you’ve made the decision– it’s ok to start looking. When is it too late to hire a doula? Technically, it’s never “too late” although the search may get tougher the closer you get to your due date. But as a doula myself, I can honestly say I’ve been hired as late as a mom’s due date!

Talk to a few doulas who are available around your due date. Start getting a feel for their personality, style, and philosophy. Definitely ask their price, but that should not necessarily be the “first” thing you ask, unless finances would place a limitation on whom you could choose. Typically, there are doulas in all price ranges, and if you need to find a low cost doula, there should be plenty of “doulas in training” who are willing to attend births for a very reasonable fee. Some even let you “set your price”, offering a “pay what you can” sliding scale fee. Many doulas offer payment plans, sliding or fee ranges, or will work with you in some way.

There may be some doulas you hit it off with initially, others may just not be a good fit for you. Listen to your instincts. Just because your best friend loved a certain doula does not always mean she is the right one for you! This relationship will be a very intimate one, and it’s crucial to find a person who you feel very comfortable with! Once you’ve narrowed your search to 2-3 doulas, then meet them in person, either in your home, or in a coffeeshop or other neutral place. Notice how you feel around them, do they put you instantly at ease or on edge? Do you feel like you “click” personally? Is this a person you can trust?

Of course, there are certain key questions one should consider when hiring a doula – how many clients has she worked with, what are her backup doula arrangements, how many clients does she take within a time frame, etc. You may also want to consider asking if she has children of her own and her reasons for becoming a doula in the first place. You’ll really get to hear about who she is, and decide if she’s a good fit for you. Ultimately, that is much more significant than just hiring the doula who has the most years of experience– you may find a lesser experienced doula might be just the right person to help you through this most amazing journey!

I speak to expectant families pretty much on a daily basis– helping them get information about the journey of birth and postpartum. Most of the time it’s the expectant mama seeking out doula support, often with “doubting” or “questioning” husbands lingering– “I’ll be there for you honey, why would we want to have a STRANGER  at our birth or in our house during postpartum?”

My best “spokespeople” are actually my Dads who have been through the journey, start to finish. Once doubtful, now SOLD that a doula not only helped their wife/girlfriend have a better experience, but the Dads themselves had a better experience. Who knew!

Of course, I’m a doula, so I’m gonna say doulas are essential for both parents… so here is a link to a Daddy Blog who has spelled out what he thought of his doula, and his experience because of her help: (Part one) (The Sequel)

And if there’s any doubt of a doula’s role even during a planned c-section, check out “Ann’s Planned C-section” story in my birth stories. Should clear things up!

With the rise of routine inductions, we’ve also seen a significant increase in cesarean births. This Time Magazine article covers some interesting facts surrounding Cesareans, VBAC’s and inductions.,8816,2007754,00.html#

How does a doula really make a difference?
Results from different studies have all suggested that having a doula reduces the overall cesarean rate by 50%, Pitocin use by 40% and requests for epidurals by 60%. The use of a doula also showed a major reduction in the length of labor due to fewer stress hormones being produced in the laboring woman’s body.

The Doula Book © 2002; Klaus, Marshall, Klaus and Kennell.