Decision Making & Using Your BRAIN

You've taken the classes, you've read the books and you have created a birth plan complete with your personal preferences for your baby's birth. But as we all know, things don't always go as planned. And while we are big proponents of doing your research to establish some expectations, we also recognize that birth can be unpredictable. 

Because of this unpredictability, we believe in the importance of being aware of your options as well as your right to informed consent and refusal.

What is informed consent and refusal you ask?

There are a few components to informed decision making specifically with regards to health care and childbirth. 

First, your care provider must explain the following:

  • The proposed treatment
  • The condition for which this treatment is being proposed
  • The type of treatment this involves
  • Any risks associated with this treatment
  • Any benefits associated with this treatment
  • Any alternatives available to you

You should then be given the opportunity to ask questions and then give or refuse consent. Additionally, informed consent and refusal also includes your care provider ceasing a certain treatment if you withdraw consent in the future. 

Ok, now that the legal mumbo-jumbo is out of the way, how does this apply to your decision making process during labor and birth?

Let's say that you originally you wanted your bag of waters to break on their own and that you had expressed that preference to your care provider. At some point in your labor, things begin to slow down and your OB or Midwife recommends an amniotomy or breaking your bag of waters. He or she explains that they are proposing to artificially (meaning it doesn't happen naturally or on its own) rupture your membranes to get baby's head to apply more pressure to the cervix and that this treatment will include a vaginal exam and the use of an amnihook (similar to a crochet hook with a small barb on the end to puncture the membranes). You know from your childbirth class that this is a common augmentation technique but all of the information you learned about the risks & benefits are gone in the ethers. What do you do?

Use your B.R.A.I.N.

This acronym is an easy way to remember how to utilize the process of informed consent and refusal while you're in the throws of labor. Let's walk through what this acronym stands for:

B is for Benefits.
R is for Risks.
A is for Alternatives.
I is for Intuition.
N is for need time or Nothing. 

Once you've asked your questions questions relating to whatever the proposed treatment may be, if you need some time to make a decision it is entirely appropriate to ask for that. In some situations there may not be much time to explore your options in which case your care provider may indicate as such. However, if time is an option, you can request that your care provider leave the room and allow you and your partner and your doula to discuss your thoughts and make an informed decision. 

As doulas, we can provide you with additional resources but we will not give our personal opinion in these situations. We are not medical professionals and cannot provide you with a professional medical opinion. However, your doula can be a great sounding board and help you compile the information & answers you've received to assist you in making the best decision for your and your situation.

Giving yourself space to think and process through the changes in your birth plan allows you to make decisions with confidence. By receiving the information you need, you are able to make the choices that are right for you and your baby.

Enjoy the free printable below! Print it out and pack it in your hospital bag as a quick reminder of what questions are good to ask when navigating the unexpected! Don't forget that you are amazing and you're going to rock this!

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In The Spotlight: Lauren Deliberato

Hello again! We are excited to shine this month's spotlight on Lauren Deliberato, mama, therapist and all-around amazing human! We met Lauren in 2016 over coffee in an effort to network and learn more about the incredible therapeutic she provides. It was at that first coffee date that we knew we wanted her to be involved in our own efforts to push the boundaries of what unconditional postpartum support looked like for new parents. It is no secret that postpartum support in our society is lacking and it is our desire to provide our community with resources, hands-on guidance, and non-judgmental information & support throughout the postpartum years. For us, Lauren was the perfect person to partner with in these efforts. 

Lauren has an incredible capacity to make you feel safe and heard. Her understanding and compassion for the many challenges motherhood brings makes her an ideal therapist to lead our bi-monthly Postpartum Support Circle, Balance After Baby

In today's feature, we asked Lauren to give us a glimpse into her own life and her own journey as a mother, as well as share some of her passion for self-care and mental health. 

Photo by: Life Now Photography

Photo by: Life Now Photography


Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, and your work as a therapist. 

I grew up in Irvine before moving to Ohio for undergrad, and then eventually lived in Chicago while completing my Master’s program. Despite the fact that I swore I would never live in Orange County again, my husband, Nick and I moved back to Irvine 4 years ago. I love being back and I am so grateful for the community of neighbors and friends we get to be part of.

I work as a therapist for Cabrillo Counseling Center in Lake Forest two and a half days a week and get to spend the rest of my time at home with our 3-year-old son, Logan. Though I see a wide variety of clients, my work has focused on maternal mental health over the last few years. I’m also honored to facilitate a group for Doulas of Orange County called Balance After Baby.

Photo by: Life Now Photography

Photo by: Life Now Photography

What is the “why” behind your work as a therapist? Why do you do what you do? 

I want to help people live their healthiest, fullest lives. I love seeing clients adopting new ways of thinking or simply just feeling heard for the first time. So many people don’t have a container for whatever it is they are going through or the things they’ve endured in the past. My office gets to be that safe space. I truly consider it an honor to support my clients through their journey and to be a witness to their personal growth.

What do you find to be the biggest benefit of what you do?

I think the greatest benefit of therapy is the relationship formed between you and your therapist. Without it, none of the other “work” can be done. It creates an atmosphere of trust and safety where you can be vulnerable and open to growth. I always say everyone can benefit from seeing a therapist... having an unbiased support person in your life to help give you perspective and hear you without judgment is never a bad thing!

Can you share more about the “Balance After Baby” group you host in Irvine?

Balance After Baby is a postpartum group for mamas with kids 0-5. It’s a space to connect with other moms, process experiences and feelings and simply be heard and understood. Motherhood is certainly not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s so important that we talk about the hard stuff and know that we’re not alone. I’ve been blown away at the transparency we’ve seen in the group and how comforting and supportive the ladies are of one another.

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We meet the 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month at 11am-12:30pm at the Doulas of Orange County office in Irvine. Registration is $10 per meeting and is required at least 24 hours in advance. You can learn more on the Doulas of OC website. Babies in arms are welcome.

What is the most satisfying part of your job? What is the most challenging?

The most satisfying experience as a therapist is when client’s say, “I never talk about this” or perhaps they let themselves cry during a session. I do a silent cheer in my head during these moments because I’m so glad they feel safe enough to talk about and feel things that they usually keep inside.

The most challenging aspect for me is that seeing clients back to back is quite fatiguing. I have to be really engaged and listening actively for 50 minutes, which can be tiring.

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If you could tell an expectant mother one thing, what would it be?

Arm yourself with postpartum resources before baby arrives. Connect with other expectant mothers, find a postpartum support group and a lactation consultant. Hire a postpartum doula! We put a lot of emphasis on preparing for birth but often, that’s the “easy” part. Forming your postpartum support team is as important (if not more so) as your prenatal care visits.

What is a common misconception people have about your profession?

People often think therapists have all the answers and that we hold the secret to “fixing” whatever issue they’re dealing with. Clients are ultimately responsible for and have the power to change and my job is to help facilitate and support that effort. I often tell clients that if you only come to sessions and don’t do anything else, it’s only 30% of the work.

Who has been the most important person in your life? How has this person influenced you?

My dad has been the best example in my life. He is incredibly selfless, patient, has tremendous integrity, and has shown me nothing but unconditional love and support. He set the standard for what a father and husband should be, so I’ve always had high expectations for a partner. I know that his influence has greatly impacted who and where I am today.

What do you see as the biggest challenge of parenthood?

There are so many it’s hard to choose just one. I think not knowing "The Right Thing" is the most challenging for me. I’m a Virgo, we like control. It was hard having a newborn and scouring the internet for answers to my many questions. It’s hard now as we help our toddler learn how to be and act, always wondering if we’re using the right approach. Are we too “attachment parenty”? Not enough? Raising a good human feels like a lot of responsibility.

How about the biggest joy?

Watching our son grow and learn has been the most awe-inspiring experience. Logically you know that they’re going to do all the developmental things, learn how to walk and talk, become little people, but when it’s YOUR human doing these things, it’s really something special.

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What are you currently binge-watching?

We’re currently rotating House of Cards and Jane the Virgin on Netflix. However,  once Game of Thrones is back I’ll be living for Sunday nights again.

What is your favorite place to relax in Orange County?

The beach is always the place I go to get my head right and relax. Right now our beach of choice is Table Rock in Laguna.


In addition to leading our bi-monthly postpartum support group, Lauren also offers individual and couples counseling sessions in Lake Forest. You can reach Lauren via her website and connect with her on instagram at @mama.therapy. We also hope all you newly (or veteran) postpartum mamas can join us at Balance After Baby in Irvine on the 1st & 3rd Fridays of the month.

Next up on "In the Spotlight", meet one of our very own Postpartum Doulas, Ashley Mullen! 

Fall Family Fun in Orange County

It's October... and that means apple cider, Halloween costumes and pumpkin patches!

While the weather may not feel like it, Fall has arrived, and along with it some incredible family fun in Orange County. If you're looking for ways to get in the spirit of Fall while waiting for the heat to dissipate, we have a list of fun ideas for you and your family!

Fritter Fridays

If you haven't been to SideCar Donuts in Costa Mesa yet, NOW IS THE TIME TO GO! They have several seasonal treats available (all of which are scrumptious) but Fritter Fridays are the best! These delicious apple fritters are only served on Fridays and are made from scratch with Granny Smith apples and topped with a homemade apple cider glaze. Can you say YUMMM?!

Photo from @tawny via @sidecardoughnuts on Instagram

Photo from @tawny via @sidecardoughnuts on Instagram

Spooky Science Exhibit 

Educational fun is some of the best kind of fun! During the month of October the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana hosts Monster Academy, a spooky journey into science lessons that include creative play, making your own slime, and visiting Frankenstein's laboratory. 

Sooo Many Pumpkin Patches!

There is no shortage of interactive pumping patches here in Orange County! Tanaka Farms in Irvine, The Pumpkin Patch in Placentia, Enchanted Country in Brea, Johnson Brothers in Irvine, Pumpkin City in Laguna Hills and more. Pumpkin patches these days are more than just searching for the perfect pumpkin to carve, many of them have rides, petting zoos, costume contests, and other attractions sure to keep your little one busy! Most of the patches listed here are open daily but check their individual websites for dates and times. 

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Knott's Spooky Farm

While Knott's Scary Farm may be too frightening for your littles, the park has great lots of family fun available for younger ages. Knott's Spooky Farm in Buena Park takes place on the weekends in October. Activities include trick-or-treating, costume contests, Halloween themed rides & attractions, and live shows. 

Great Park Balloon 

You may have noticed a different look on the Great Park balloon... in celebration of Halloween, the iconic orange balloon is decorated as a jack-o-lantern. Head to the Great Park in Irvine to take pictures with the balloon or spend $10 to ride on the balloon itself (children under 18 ride free with a paid adult). Don't forget to take a ride on the carousel as well!

Oktoberfest

Halloween fun isn't just for the kiddos. Enjoy a date night out and celebrate the German tradition of Oktoberfest at Old World in Huntington Beach. Their 2-For Deal is a steal! 2 Beers, 2 Brats, & 2 admission tickets for only $40! This deal is available on their website for a limited time and applies to Friday admission only. Looking for a family friend option to celebrate Oktoberfest? Check out Kinderfest on Sundays! Kiddos under 5 are free!

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Boo at the Zoo

Advertised as a "merry not scary" and family friendly event. Scheduled for the last two weekend evenings in October, the Santa Ana zoo is being transformed into a Halloween wonderland. Enjoy trick-or-treating, storytelling, games, a costume parade, and entertainment. Advanced tickets are available or you can purchase admission at the door. 

Costume Party at Doulas of Orange County!

Week by week we watch your little ones grow. We love being witness to milestones and sharing in your joy and what is more joyful than babies dressed in costumes?! Our weekly New Mama Cafe is hosting a costume party on Tuesday, October 31st. Join us 11am-1pm on Halloween for some healthy & sweet treats, fall flavored teas, and baby playtime! New Mama Cafe meets weekly to foster community & friendship for new moms and babies in Orange County. Registration for our Costume Party is available on our website. Moms & Babies are encouraged to dress up! 


With all of these events you are sure to get in the mood and evoke the spirit of Halloween and Fall. Hopefully the crisp, cool weather will soon follow! We love hearing about new & exciting events in Orange County, please share your own brand of Fall family fun with the hashtag #doulasoforangecounty on Instagram. 

3 Practical Mindfulness Techniques

Last week we shared about the incredible benefits of Mindfulness in Pregnancy and how it can contribute to a more positive and peaceful journey. It's one thing to read about it and know how it can benefit you and it's quite another to actually put these practices in place! That's why, today, we're sharing some practical tips on creating consistent space for mindfulness. 

Research suggests that it takes a minimum of 21 days to form good habits. We encourage you to keep this in mind when beginning any new practice so as to keep realistic expectations. We also encourage you to be gentle with yourself while creating consistentcy in this new practice. Any amount of mindfulness is good for you. Some days you may have 3 minutes, some days you may have 30. Focus on creating space, not the length of time and 3 minutes may feel like 30!


Yoga

Back pain, hip pain, swelling, round ligament stretching, headaches... oh the joys of pregnancy. Yoga has many benefits, especially in pregnancy, and those benefits aren't only physical. Regular yoga classes have been shown to improve flexibility in preparation for birth, ease pregnancy discomforts and support mental clarity and calm.

Don't have time for our weekly Prenatal Yoga class? Look into our in-home private yoga options. Or try group classes every other week and utilize the poses you learn at home. We also offer personalized prenatal yoga plans that are fully customizable for your body, activity level & commitment level. These plans can be practiced in the comfort of your own home as often as you like!

Whatever you choose, allow yourself to slow down & connect to your breath, your body, & your baby. The benefits are felt almost instantly and you will be so grateful you took the time out of your day for yoga!

Journaling

In the midst of the chaos going on in your world, researching choices for your birth, the "what-ifs" of what is to come and the fear of the unexpected it is easy to become overwhelmed and create anxiety by staying inside your head. Using a regular mindful activity such as journaling forces you to slow down and allows you to process your anxieties and gain perspective. Writing may also help you gain clarity on some of your birth choices and calm your mind in preparation for your birth.

We've pinned some ideas for a DIY pregnancy journal on Pinterest, but we also love Sacred Pregnancy: A Loving Guide & Journal for Expectant Moms, Kate Spade's Expect the Unexpected, and Expecting You: A Keepsake Pregnancy Journal.

A gratitude list is another great way to shift your perspective and help settle your mind during pregnancy. Set aside time each morning, make yourself a cup of tea and list everything that you are grateful for. Focusing on the positive in your life has the ability to reduce anxiety, instill a hopeful outlook & give you renewed energy for your day. 

Breathing

Whether you approach breathing techniques as a meditation practice or as preparation for birth, the great thing about them is that you can practice them almost anywhere! If you find your blood pressure rising during rush hour on the 405 or your toddler is testing your patience at the mall, it can only take a few moments to bring your awareness to your breath.  

One of our favorite techniques is a simple deep belly breath combined with silent or vocal counting. Inhale in through your nose as you count to three then exhale out of your nose as you count to three. Take a minute to continue this rhythmical breath and as you do, relax your jaw and shoulders, the muscles in your face, neck, hands & feet. With each breath allow your stomach muscles to relax and feel your belly rise and fall to the rhythm of 1-2-3, 1-2-3. 

Maintain this relaxed, rhythmical breath for as long as you need to begin to feel the benefits. Above all, don't overthink it. With each breath, focus on your baby and releasing tension in your body. 


While the focus on our blog today is mindfulness in pregnancy, know that these practices are beneficial in all stages of life. Whether you're trying to conceive, newly postpartum or are done having babies these practices have the potential to contribute to a more peaceful, enjoyable life! Give yourself a little compassion and understanding and allow yourself regular your moments throughout your day for soothing practices such as these. 

What is your favorite mindfulness technique and how do you incorporate it into your daily routine?

Mindfulness in Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be one of the most overwhelming seasons of life. Your attention is pulled in so many different directions with so many decisions to make: Where should I give birth? What do I want to include in my birth plan? Should I hire a doula? What color do I want to paint the nursery? Where should we register? 

That, plus the world around you doesn't stop just because you're growing a baby. There's still your job to think about, your family, and your social commitments. Trying to keep up with a busy schedule while coming to grips with the realities of being a parent can send anyone spinning. The constant demands of life can be a perfect storm for stress and anxiety. 

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Tell me you can relate.

If I just described your life, finding a way to introduce mindfulness & balance into your pregnancy is a MUST. Regular mindfulness practices will provide you with tools to keep a positive outlook and a level head through the challenges of pregnancy and parenting.

What is mindfulness you ask?

It may sound a bit "woo" to some of you and if you've never practiced mindfulness before, I can definitely understand why. It seems obscure or even subjective, which it absolutely is for some. Essentially, mindfulness is the practice of staying present in the current moment by paying attention to your thoughts without judgment and without "fixing" them. Mindfulness is a technique that helps you slow down your ever-racing mind rather than letting it wander to a myriad of scenarios and possibilities. 

Now that you know the definition, have you practiced mindfulness without even knowing? Most of you probably have!

Why Does Mindfulness Matter?

Pregnancy and birth is unpredictable. There are so many moving parts to this journey and each experience is so unique. Even with all of the books, articles, and different care providers sharing information, it is impossible to know exactly what to expect. This fear of the unknown can create intense anxiety and stress in many pregnant people and their partners. Additionally, there is so much societal pressure to do things "perfectly".

Planning a homebirth? You must be crazy.
Want a planned cesarean? You must be crazy. 
Don't want to circumcise your baby? You must be crazy.
Planning to sleep train? You must be crazy.

There is SO MUCH JUDGMENT OUT THERE and it just makes life harder.

Simply put, mindfulness matters because your mental and emotional state in pregnancy matter, not only in relation to your health but to the health of your baby as well. 

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What Can Mindfulness Do For You?

1. Reduces Stress & Anxiety
Bring those stress and anxiety levels down with regular mindfulness practices. Doing so keeps your blood pressure at healthy levels and can prevent pre-term birth. Not to mention low stress levels improve your quality of sleep and your overall enjoyment of life. 

2. Connects You With Your Body & Baby
Slowing down and tuning in helps bring your awareness to your changing body. Listening to your body's needs is incredibly important and will help foster intuition in birth and even once your baby arrives! Additionally, you can learn a lot about your baby's personality and activity levels by practicing mindfulness. This can come in handy when doing kick counts in your third trimester.  

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3. Mental & Emotional Preparation for the Birth
No matter what type of birth you're planning or hoping for, mental & emotional preparation are equally as important as the physical preparation. Being able to stay present and accepting that there are certain elements out of your control can help you "go with the flow" and address each new experience or decision with calm & clarity. 

4. Encourages Regular Self-Care
This particular element is one we stress time and again. Why? Because it's one that so many of us struggle with. Focusing on yourself and engaging in regular self-care activities promote balance and wellness and translate into a more positive outlook on life. Additionally, the judgments we mentioned above are likely to affect us mentally & emotionally. Creating space for self-awareness and compassion allows you to observe your feelings and process them on a regular basis, making it less likely for you to store negativity and stress. 

We'll share more about the various mindfulness practices next week, but for now, we encourage you to start exploring some simple breathing or meditative practices. Begin with 5 minutes a day and build from there. Take note of how you feel before and after as well as how it impacts your day or your week. We're confident you'll notice a difference and that mindfulness will provide benefits for you and your baby for months & years to come!