We work with a lot of expecting couples that are embarking on this journey for the first time and they usually have a lot of questions. Answering those questions is one of the best parts of our job, because we love helping educate people and connecting them to resources that they need. Most people these days know what a Birth Doula does or at the very least have heard the term. But more often not there are a lot of misconceptions about Postpartum Doulas. Many people think that a Postpartum Doula is there to help those with postpartum depression. Others might have heard that a Postpartum Doula is similar to a nanny. And while we do work with clients with postpartum depression and some of our Doulas have been nannies in the past, those definitions barely scratch the surface of what we do as Postpartum Doulas.
In 2014 our doula agency was founded and with it came a regular gathering of new moms that we eventually named “New Mama Cafe”. This weekly meeting was a welcoming, safe space for moms to connect over coffee and conversation while their babies played in a safe environment. At its peak we had approximately 20 moms walking through our doors each week with their adorable babies in tow. What a joy it was to see familiar faces each Tuesday and get to great new moms and babies as well!
One of the common misconceptions about doulas is that we only support natural, unmedicated birth. And while we absolutely provide valuable physical support for natural births, we also have an incredible amount of expertise and support for those who plan on getting an epidural.
Have you ever thought about hiring a doula, but hesitated because getting an epidural was a part of your birth plan? Well, on today's blog we'll talk all about how doulas can assist and care for you during your unique (and pain-free!) birth.
If you're here, you probably already know what a doula does... at least in theory. A doula is a trained birth assistant that is present at your birth to support you and your partner. That is the very foundation of what a doula does: SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT. And in such a way that helps empower you and build your confidence. As your doulas, we trust that you are an adult and can make the right decisions for you and your baby - and if that includes pain medication in labor - then we are all for it!
Your doula meets with you prenatally to get to know you and learn more about your unique birth plan. It is during these meetings that you can explore your options for pain relief in childbirth and learn all about how your doula will be there for you throughout the entire process. If you have questions about the risks or benefits of epidurals as well as questions about the procedure itself, this is a great time to chat about all of that. We also highly recommend taking our Confident Birth childbirth class where we talk a lot about the various options for pain relief in labor: both natural and medicated.
One of the things we talk about in this class is the WHY... why people choose epidurals in labor.
It can be difficult to let go and surrender yourself to the physical changes happening in your body during labor. If your body is extremely tight or you aren't fully able to relax during contractions, it can potentially hinder cervical change making your labor longer and more intense. If this is the case an epidural can provide relief from the intensity, allowing your cervix and body to relax and open. For women with longer labors, an epidural can allow them time to rest and build up energy reserves as they approach the pushing stage. Some choose to have epidurals simply because they are fearful of the pain and have no desire to feel the contractions. The reasons are unique to each individual and there are many more than what we've listed here.
For those that choose to have epidural pain relief, we want you to know that this is a choice we fully support and encourage you to talk to your doula or care provider about the specifics at your place of birth. Every hospital is different. Some hospitals want to ensure you're in active labor before administering an epidural and some won't give it to you after you're dilation reaches a certain point. Some hospitals allow your doula during the procedure, while others request that only your partner remains in the room. Knowing what to fully expect during this process can help put you at ease and make sure you're mentally and emotionally prepared.
Once your epidural has been administered and you begin to feel the relief it provides, there are many ways your doula can continue to support you.
Because you now must remain in bed, your doula will assist you in shifting from side to side for comfort and help support your body with pillows so you remain relaxed and are able to rest. It’s important to change position frequently to aid continued relief throughout your labor as well as to assist the baby in navigating the changing diameters of the pelvis. Your doula can utilize a peanut ball to keep the pelvic outlet open for your baby's descent. If your hospital doesn't have peanut balls, we recommend purchasing one as they are one of the best tools to use to prevent cesareans.
Massage is another wonderful tool. Because your body and brain are no longer consumed with coping with the intensity of your contractions you can more easily move into a deeper state of relaxation. If you aren't sleeping your doula can massage your scalp, hands, hips and low back to keep you relaxed and help you stay present emotionally. She can also utilize other tools such as aromatherapy, guided meditation, and acupressure. We encourage as much rest as possible once you've received your epidural so you are fully energized when it comes time to push.
Each doula is unique in her approach to supporting you through your epidural and will be by your side to get you through it. For more information about birth doula services, we invite you to schedule a time to chat with us. We'd love to hear about you and match you with a wonderful epidural-friendly doula!
Up until now most of our focus on classes has been preparing expecting parents for birth, breastfeeding and baby care. And while we truly believe those things are important, we know there's so much more for parents to learn as they adjust and grow with their little ones.
That is why we're incredibly excited to be collaborating with the best Orange County educators to offer parenting classes and workshops at our education center in Irvine.
We hope to see you at one or more of these workshops soon! For any questions about these classes, please contact the individual instructors.
Montessori 101: Setting up the Home Environment - May 3rd, 4-5pm
Discuss how to incorporate Montessori at home with your baby, starting from birth. Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. We’ll explore how to set up your play space to promote learning and how to help your baby develop their concentration, perseverance and independence through play. You will leave with a better understanding of how to meet your child’s developmental needs throughout infancy.
Berenice Saint-Saens of Monti Kids received her International Montessori teacher certification and has helped guide children 0-3 years old and their families. She has now transitioned out of the classroom and is working for a wonderful company, Monti Kids, that empowers families to bring education to their homes starting at birth. Workshop is $15/person.
Parenting for a Peaceful Community: Introduction to Nonviolent Parenting, June 24th 10:15am-12:45pm
Peace begins at home. As parents, cultivating and maintaining authentic connection with our children throughout their childhoods will support the development of emotionally healthy and self-aware children, peaceful families, and ultimately a peaceful society. However maintaining this connection through the daily demands of family life in our fast past culture can be quite a challenge. Nonviolent Parenting shows us how to keep those doors of connection open no matter what, even through the challenges of setting limits and power struggles.
Setting limits & boundaries with your children while creating an environment of empathy and connection
Supporting your child's growing self-awareness and awareness of others
Ways to assist your child in expressing their own feelings and needs verbally as well as listening to the feelings and needs of others
Tools that encourage your child to make their own positive choices and develop solutions to problems where everyone’s needs matter
Developing self-empathy and releasing parental guilt and shame
How to cultivate emotional intelligence and problem solving in our children using the latest research in brain development
Leslie Arreola-Hillenbrand is a Chicana mother to two biracial girls. She holds a B.A. in Child Development & Family Studies, a B.A. in Family Life Education and is currently working towards her Masters in Social Work with an Emphasis in Community Mental Health at CSU Fullerton. She believes that strengths-based, community-based, culturally competent, & trauma-informed parent education and mothering networks rooted in Nonviolent Communication for Latino/a communities is a living social justice movement towards opportunity and equality for Latinx families.
The cost of this workshop is $30 per individual or $45 per couple.
New Parent's Workshop: Improving Partner Communication - June 30th, 10am-1pm
– Do you feel like your partner doesn’t listen to you?
– Do you find yourself nagging, or feel like you are being nagged more than you used to?
– Does it feel like there is more conflict since baby arrived?
– Do your partner’s words or actions sometimes make you feel unappreciated?
This workshop will address these issues and more.
Having a baby adds many stressors to a relationship, and poor communication can exacerbate the problem. Additionally, even the most connected couples may feel like their relationship is being neglected in the first months (or even years!) of parenthood.
Erin Harris of Healthy Communicator designed this seminar to help both prenatal and postpartum couples learn how to more effectively talk to each other by looking at each other’s personal communication styles. This seminar is $95/couple.