Is Homebirth the Right Option for Me?

Is Homebirth the Right Option for Me?

As a midwife providing home birth services, I hear this question frequently. It is my goal to provide families with the information they need in order to make the right decision for them-home birth is not for everyone, just like hospital birth is not for everyone! Ultimately, the choice of where to give birth and which care provider to use is the responsibility of the parents seeking such services, and it’s my desire to assist you by providing accurate information that can assist you in making this decision.

Since this question is one of the foundations of whether or not to pursue working with a midwife and planning towards a home birth, I thought it might be helpful to provide links and resources that may help you in determining the answer to this question. As always, I am happy to sit down and talk with anyone who wants to ask specific questions and discuss their options in person, but I know that many of you would like to gather some more detailed information before a formal meeting. Thanks to the availability of information via the internet, great books, educational videos and more, there are many resources that you can access to learn about the potential risks and potential benefits of midwifery care, and specifically the home birth option.

FILMS & DOCUMENTARIES:

  • Why Not Home? The Surprising Birth Choices of Doctors and Nurses: This is THE current film on home birth and why some families make this choice…and this film in now available to watch online and/or be purchased for home viewing! From the description on the website: Why would doctors who attend birth in hospitals choose to have their own babies at home? What do they know about birth that others don’t? Join Jessicca Moore, filmmaker and nurse practitioner, on a compelling journey through maternity care in the United States. Told through the lens of doctors, nurses, and midwives, Why Not Home? examines the latest evidence on risks and rewards of different birth settings. The film presents a balanced and accessible view on the latest research, along with moving personal stories of medical practitioners faced with big decisions for their own growing families. Viewers are challenged to move beyond preconceived ideas, and to envision a fresh future for maternity care in America. Watch it here.
  • The Business of Being Born: This film has been out for a number of years now, but it still contains some great information on birth choices, interventions, birth locations and more. You can watch it free on youtube here.
  • Natural Born Babies: short video of several moms and dads describing what influenced them to make the choice to deliver at home. Watch here

ARTICLES:

BOOKS:

  • Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience by Rikki Lake & Abby Epstien.  An easy-to-read overview of options available to moms, this book covers all the possibilities (hospital, home, OB/GYN, midwifery care, etc.) and why different options may work best for different situations and individuals.
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. Ina May began her career as a midwife back in the hippie movement of the 1970’s. Since then she has delivered thousands of babies, and has done extensive research in the field of natural birth, and she shares her wisdom in this book. She highlights the need to make a choice of birth location in which the mom feels totally comfortable, be that home, birth center or hospital. Great information about routine procedures, tests, and how to have a healthy pregnancy and wonderful birth experience.
  • Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block. While not a very positive or light-reading style book, this one can really help you understand how medicalized maternity care has become in our country, and enables you to think through some of the routine policies and procedures that are in place in our countries hospitals. Very eye-opening and thought-provoking.

WHAT MIGHT IT LOOK LIKE?

And finally, some couples wonder about what a home birth might look like. What about “the mess”? How can it work at home, if we’ve only experienced the hospital setting? How do midwives adapt to different settings, positions and environments? How does the medical side of midwifery care happen in a home setting? These videos, pictures and personal stories can give you a glimpse of what home birth with a midwife looks like for some families:

I’d love to hear from you-what helped you to determine whether home, birth center or hospital was the right location for your birth? What resources would you recommend to help other families make their decisions? Feel free to comment below, or send me an email with your suggestions. I love hearing from my readers!

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Preparing for birth-some excellent resources!

Preparing for birth-some excellent resources!

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I love collecting birth resources-be it books, DVD’s, magazines, articles-you name it! The only problem is, with the limited amount of “extra” time I have (or don’t have!), I don’t always get a chance to preview and read the resources I collect right away. And I find myself hesitant to pass along information to clients and friends that I haven’t read or previewed myself.

    This winter I’ve found myself in the remote hills of Arkansas, with more time on my hands than usual, as my husband is teaching at a small winter Bible School for young people. Keeping the children occupied is my main job here, but with the absence of our usual activities and schedule AND having all our meals provided, I’ve enjoyed the chance to finally dig into some of the resources that have been sitting on my shelves at home waiting for me to get to them.
    So, with that introduction, I want to mention a few EXCELLENT resources that would be worth any of you expectant moms, or anyone wanting to learn more about birth, to take time to watch or read. I can’t believe I’ve had these around this long and didn’t realize what treasures they were!
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The first one I’ll mention is the Parent Class DVD by Spinning Babies teacher Gail Tulley. I’ll confess that this one I have recommended to clients as I’ve taken one of her classes in person myself, and know she has alot to offer. But I didn’t realize how many jewels were in this educational presentation! It was a great refresher to me as a midwife, as Gail does and excellent job of teaching you how to help “make room” for your baby in your pelvis, and help your entire body to function more efficiently with less discomfort. The only drawback with this DVD is that, while she is teaching this class to a participating group of expectant couples, she does get fairly technical with some of her explanations. But in the long run it is helpful, as I think it helps you to get a better idea of WHY some of her positional suggestions and exercises help to eliminate certain issues. Using a great variety of teaching aides, examples, charts and object lessons, Gail shows you how exactly the uterus, baby, brain and body all work together, and how you can help. This would be great DVD for an expectant couple to watch together, or for any midwife or doula to watch in order to give you some great ideas of how to help your clients through specific issues and achieve better positioning for babies. It is well worth the $ you would need to invest, in my opinion! You can find out more about Gail, and purchase this DVD here.
    Next in my pile of resources was a book by Ina May Gaskin. If you’ve been in the childbirth realm long, you’ll recognize this name as one of the most famous midwives in the USA. Ina May has been practicing since the 1970’s, and is probably most well known for her involvement with births on “The Farm” in rural TN. People have come from all over the world to have their babies in this community that has come to be known for it’s amazing work with natural childbirth. I’ll admit that while I’ve appreciated many of the things I’ve read or heard taught by Ina May, I was still a bit skeptical of her book “Guide to Childbirth”. I think I was expecting it to have a real “back to earth” or “hippie” type flare, which I know can turn off families who are looking for evidence-based and scientific information on preparing for birth. I was in for a big surprise! Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth has been amazing. Written in an easy-to-read manner, it is full of so much helpful information. Starting with birth stories to help women realize that birth is both natural and do-able, it then proceeds to teaching you about the things you really need to know about how your body works, how to care for yourself during pregnancy, how to understand tests and the “whys” behind them, helpful suggestions for choosing both caregivers and birth locations, ways to prepare for labor, and the list goes on. I love her honest, down-to-earth style of writing, yet all of her information is based on evidence, research, and studies, and she includes citations and information for further study. If you are wanting just one book to help you understand pregnancy and prepare for birth, this one is it. And it’s not just for moms planning to birth at home-there is information in this book that would help anyone to be better prepared and ready for the amazing experience of labor and delivery.
    The last resource I’ll mention here is a DVD that was given to me by one of my clients. She had purchased it during her last pregnancy, and wanted to pass it on to other moms when she was done with it. “Practicing for an Active Birth”  is basically a childbirth class presented by Instructor Neri Choma by Birth Coach Method. While Neri could probably be a bit more dynamic in her teaching style (I’d suggest watching 30 min. at a time-the DVD is about 2 hrs. and 15 min. long), she does a very good job of helping  you to understand the process of labor and the terms used to talk about each stage, and gives couples LOTS of great position and relaxation techniques. Using charts and models, she helps you to learn how to visualize what is happening during each stage of labor, and how you might be able to help facilitate comfort and relaxation during each stage, working together as couples. While I think that it is best for couples to take a live childbirth class whenever possible, this would be an excellent option for those who might not have that opportunity in their area.
    I personally feel like much of preparing for a great labor and birth involves understanding how your body works so you are not tensed with fear of the unknown. If you KNOW what is happening, understand WHY you are experiencing certain sensations, and have IDEAS for what to do and when, you and your partner will be able to relax and work together much better. Moms (and dads!) that are prepared tend to do much better emotionally and physically through the marathon of labor. I would strongly recommend you look into any or all of these resources as ways to prepare for a wonderful experience of bringing your baby into the world.
    I’d love to hear about what worked for you. Do you have any favorite resources you would care to share with others? Tell us about it in the comments! And consider sharing  this post with your pregnant friends to help them hear about ways they can prepare for labor and birth from the comfort of their own home.
2016 Highlights for Gentle Delivery

2016 Highlights for Gentle Delivery

What a year 2016 turned out to be! I’m very thankful for the many clients I was privileged to work with, and for the many special memories that were made. When it comes to births, 2016 was extremely unpredictable, and I’ll be thankful if 2017 isn’t quite as adventurous. We had one very early baby, one very late baby, a set of twins, a baby that came so fast we didn’t make it in time (!), and about everything in between. 🙂

A few highlights and items of interest from the past year:

– Great birth team and back-up midwife:

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Rose Marie, Lynelle & Myself with twins!

I was grateful to have the ongoing help of my current student, Lynelle Martin, as well as the help, support and back-up services of Midwife Rose Marie Spicher. These ladies are great to work with! Since relocating to PA several years ago, I have really missed the network of midwives that I used to assist and work with, and Rose Marie has been such a blessing to fill this niche. I’m grateful to know that clients are in caring, capable hands during the times I need to be off-call or out of town.

 

– Opportunities to further my education: Attending one day of Midwifery Today’s International Conference in Harrisburg, PA was a great way to meet up with other

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Bridge Certificate 

midwives, listen to lectures on issues and complications during labor, and make new friends in the midwifery world. I also had the opportunity to attend the Midwives Alliance of PA Educational Retreat, where we spent two days learning about a variety of subjects such as congenital heart defect screening, perinatal mood disorders, atypical findings in newborn exams, and more. Updating my Neonatal Resuscitation Certification and CPR at the local Mt. Nittany hospital is always a great way to get better acquainted with the closest hospital in my area, and I enjoy the learning opportunities these occasions afford. Finally, towards the end of the year, I submitted the needed proof of 50 hours of continuing education credits in certain areas (pertaining specifically to emergency and complications during labor and immediate postpartum) and applied for and received my “Midwifery Bridge Certificate”. This ensures that my education and training as a Certified Professional Midwife are also up to the standards set forth by the International Confederation of Midwives to ensure competent and qualified care for women.

– Addition of CCHD screening at postpartum home visits: 

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Trying out the Pulse Oximeter

One new requirement for midwives providing out-of-hospital births in PA is that of submitting Critical Congenital Heart Disease screening result along with newborn blood screening test. This year Gentle Delivery added a Pulse Oximeter to our kit, and we’ve been successfully performing this test on all of our babies since this fall. We’re happy to be able to try to offer our moms and babies a full range of services-did you know that free hearing screenings are also now available for our clients?

 

– First Public Event: “Birth Expo 2016” & “Why Not Home?” Film Screening 

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Celebrating Birth Expo 2016

We are attempting to help educate the public on the full variety of choices they have locally when it comes to birth-this includes support (such as doulas), care providers (CNM’s, CPM’s and OBGYN’s), choice of birth location, and resources that help them to succeed in parenting (such as breastfeeding and babywearing). With these thoughts in mind, Gentle Delivery hosted the first “Birth Expo” for Centre County in July 2016. We were very excited about the support of over 30 businesses and birth professionals that came together for the day, and we’ve received alot of positive feedback from parents who found out about resources they didn’t know were available in this area. Viewing the new film “Why Not Home?” also provided a way for more families to hear about the option of home and midwife-attended birth. The big question now is whether to host something similar in 2017…if we did, would you be interested in helping to make it happen? Please contact me with your interest!

– New Resources in the Library

The library in the prenatal office continues to grow, with more books and resources added in 2016. Some of my personal favorites include “Redeeming Childbirth” by Angie Tolpin and “Your Best Birth” by Rikki Lake. Check out the list of Recommended Reading  to see all of the titles available for clients to check out.

– Gift bag for Newly Expectant Moms 

Helping moms to connect with local support services and resources is something we are passionate about! Due to being located in a university town, many of the families we interact with don’t have any family or previous connections in the area. One way we have attempted to help with this is by giving each family who comes in for an initial interview a free bag full of samples from natural-minded companies, coupons, and lots of cards, brochures and information from many area birth professionals and mommy/baby-centered support groups and businesses. If you or your business would like to be included in this welcome bag, send us an email or message and let us know!

– Our own special gift to new babies… instagramcapture_ee2d01d4-3eb4-45ec-8440-8612375dcf01

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And while not necessarily “important” news, we’ve had fun giving our babies in 2016 special onesies to commemorate their big event! I have fun taking the time to make each of these little shirts for our babies, and clients in 2017 can also look forward to this little “thank you” gift that we pass on to our families.  img_0348

Thank you for allowing us to serve you all in 2016, and blessings to each of you as you head into the new year! Remember, too, to follow this blog for future updates, “like” us on Facebook to receive current info and informative articles (Gentle Delivery), and watch for our photos of new arrivals on Instagram @gentlemidwife . We’d love to keep in touch!

 

 

 

Celebrating Birth Expo 2016 Photo Report

Celebrating Birth Expo 2016 Photo Report

Thanks to each and everyone who helped to make the Celebrating Birth Expo a success! With over 30 different services, care providers and businesses sponsoring the event there was a great variety of information, goodies and prizes! If you attended and have helpful feedback for possible future events, I’d love to hear from you. Here’s a few photos to give you a glimpse into our day:

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Some of my fantastic helpers for the day…couldn’t have done it without Beth and Hannah!

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Getting everything set up and ready….

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Gift bags for each of the attendees to carry their goodies in

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My junior helper-she just HAD to attend the Birth Expo, too! 

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Gentle Delivery’s display and welcome table

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The cafe all ready to serve refreshments

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Heidi Loomis, CNM giving comments after the film screening

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In the auditorium getting ready for the screening of “Why Not Home?”

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The Calvary Harvest Fields location was a lovely place to host this event…

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Lots of fantastic displays and community interaction! 

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see many of “my” babies, and am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about what our community has to offer new and expectant families. In case you missed it, I’ll post a link to the event page where you can see a list of all the sponsors, along with their contact info and/or websites. If you’re interested in a future event like this, send me an email with your thoughts and comments. Thanks!

Celebrating Birth Expo & Why Not Home? Screening

An invitation to attend…

An invitation to attend…

Gentle Delivery Childbirth Services first Celebrating Birth Expo!

Ever since relocating to State College, I’ve wondered what could be done to help moms in this area become more aware of their birth options and support services available to them. Many of the families I work with have moved here in relation to work or studies at Penn State University,  they don’t have family or friends nearby, and aren’t sure how to connect with or find out about the resources that this area has to offer. It’s my hope that this event will enable these moms to be introduced to area doulas, childbirth educators, midwives, lactation consultants, massage therapists, chiropractors, and more…and help to raise awareness of the availability of midwifery care and homebirth through the screening of the new film “Why Not Home?”.

Collages2I would love to see you there! Please help us to spread the word by inviting your friends and family to attend. Perhaps you’re looking for a fun activity to do with your mommy friends…or perhaps you’d like to know more about working with midwives…or perhaps you’re interested in promoting birth options in this area…or perhaps your a new mom or expecting mom, and you want to learn more about what this area has to offer…whatever the case, this event should be a great experience-and there will be chances to win great prizes and sample products at the vendor displays! Come and spend the morning with us!

To find out more about the sponsors helping to make this event possible, check out the website page here. And to RSVP for your free spot, check out the Eventbrite page. Feel free to invite your friends using the Facebook event page.

Feel free to check out the trailer for “Why Not Home?” here.  Here’s a quote from the director of the film, which will give you some background on what the film is all about:

I grew up hearing the story of the doctor and the surgical procedure that saved my life and my mother’s (I was breech, delivered by cesarean section). I never considered that I might give birth outside of a hospital–until I got pregnant.

At that time I had been a nurse for five years and a nurse practitioner for three. Home birth wasn’t part of my culture and wasn’t something my training had directly addressed. Prompted by a colleague’s experience, I started researching, asking questions, and considering my options in and out of the hospital. It was based on that research that I decided I wanted to pursue a home birth. As a low risk mom, it seemed I had the best chance of a safe and uncomplicated natural birth in my own home surrounded by people I knew and trusted. Some of my family and colleagues disagreed.

The decision wasn’t easy to talk about. It’s such an emotionally charged topic. Everyone has an opinion and a story to tell.

Since then I’ve met more health care providers, doctors, nurses, and midwives, who chose to give birth at home. These are not the women most Americans picture when they imagine a home birth mom. These professionals have direct and sometimes daily experience with the risks inherent in birth. Like all women, they wanted a safe birth, yet unlike 99% of women in the US, they chose to give birth at home. This is their story.

Too often polarization occurs on the topic of home birth. By focusing on hospital birth providers who choose home birth, I hope to bring a voice of moderation to the discussion. Together, we can move toward real improvements to maternity care in hospitals and at home.

What if the choice of where to give birth wasn’t limited by cost or insurance coverage, fear or misinformation? What would change if families had access to the care provider of their choice in the setting that best fits their unique needs and values? It’s worth at least asking, “Why not home?” 

This looks like it will be an exciting day, and I hope to see you there!

 

News & Updates from Gentle Delivery!

News & Updates from Gentle Delivery!

There have been lots of things happening around here this spring, and I thought it would be good to give you all some updates on exciting new developments at Gentle Delivery Childbirth Services. Here’s a brief summary of assorted news items…take a minute to check out what is going on!

  • Addition of Pulse Oximetry Screenings for Critical Congenital Heart Defects (CCHD):

My new Pulse Oximeter just arrived in the mail last week, and I’m excited to be offering at-home CCHD screenings in keeping with PA legislation. These screenings have been mandatory in hospitals since Act 94 was passed in 2014, and this year midwives are being asked to join in reporting these screening results. This is a simple, non-invasive test that I will perform at the home postpartum visit within 24-48 hrs of your baby’s birth. To find out more about the testing, click here.

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Matthias helping me try out the new pulse oximeter!

  • New Apprentice for 2016!

As some of you know, I’ve been working on confirming a regular assistant/student, and I’m glad to be able to introduce you to Lynelle Martin. You can find out more about her by clicking on the “Current Assistants/Students” page, and those of you with babies due this year will be meeting her as she helps out with prenatals once a month and attends home visits.  She recently finished her Neonatal Resuscitation Certification, giving clients the added benefit of two CPR and NRP certified attendants at births.

  • Midwifery Today Conference:

I’m looking forward to writing up a more detailed report about some of the things I learned as I attended a day of the Midwifery Today Conference in Harrisburg, Pa. I enjoyed lively conversation with Lynelle and Rose Marie (another midwife I want to introduce you all to at a later time!) on the drive down, and was encouraged as I visited with many other midwives from all over the country-including Kathy, the midwife who delivered several of my siblings and was instrumental in getting me started in this field. Midwifery conferences tend to attract an extremely diverse group of midwives (ranging from Amish to Hippie and everything in-between!), and there are so many things to learn from each one. The added benefit is more CEU’s that I am required to get each year in order to keep my certification.

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Lynelle, Myself and Rose Marie after a long day at the conference!

  • YourWaterBirth.com Account Set Up:

I now have an account with Your Water Birth, a business offering affordable waterbirth and homebirth supplies, and if you are a client you can contact me for a code that will give you a 10% discount on your order! While there is a very affordable option in State College for those wishing to rent a birth pool, this company offers a great deal for those wishing to purchase their own pool and supplies. Check them out!

  • Travel Dates for Winter 2017

Just giving you all a heads up that my family will be taking a 3 week trip to the Midwest from Jan-Feb 2017 in order for my husband to teach at a Bible School for young people. We’re excited about the opportunity, and I will be glad to give you referral information if you are looking for a midwife over that time. For those who like to plan ahead, here’s your chance! <smile>

  • Advertising Cards Available:

I recently printed up some post-card sized advertising cards that contain contact information, a testimonial and information about the CPM certification. These will be on display at the area kids’ consignment sale at the end of April, but if you would like some yourself to pass out to friends, family and/or local home-birth-supportive businesses, I’d be happy to provide you with a stack!

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  • New Babies:

And lastly, no update is complete without a few pictures of sweet spring babies! Blessings as you enjoy the lovely spring weather that is here at last!

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Nothing like a peaceful newborn!

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so sweet and tiny

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Ready to call it a night and tuck everyone into bed!

Do I Need a Doula if I’m Planning a Homebirth?

Do I Need a Doula if I’m Planning a Homebirth?

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So you’ve heard of the advantages of having a doula with you if you’re planning a hospital birth. The positive aspects include such things as: continuous support that doesn’t change shift, possibility of laboring in the comfort of home knowing someone will help you decide when it’s time to go in, someone who can help you and your spouse keep perspective and act as a liaison with the medical staff, a friendly person to call directly with questions during those last days before labor, and the list goes on. All of these things sound good, but if you’re planning a home birth, then you don’t need all this, right?!? You already know who your caregiver will be, you’re staying in your comfy home, your midwife will provide support and perspective, and you can call your midwife directly…which means that a doula is totally unnecessary, correct?!? Well, that’s a question I hear often, and I wanted to take some time to explore how a doula can actually be a great benefit at a homebirth, as well. If you’re trying to decide whether or not you want to add a doula to your birth team, hopefully this post will give you some help, and maybe even answer some of the questions you have.

To get some input on this subject, I contacted several different groups of midwives, doulas and birthworkers, and asked them to tell me from their experience how homebirths could benefit from doula support. Their responses were very helpful, and provided the bases of what I am going to share below.

When it comes down to it, a midwife and doula offer to distinctly different services. While both are attempting to provide women with personalized, professional care, they are coming at it from two different angles. A midwife’s job is to help ensure that mom and baby both maintain the low-risk status. She is concerned with providing a safe, professional and knowledgeable environment to women seeking out-of-hospital births. This means that she must put mom and baby’s safety first-which sometimes means that she will have to stop providing labor support in order to monitor heart tones, for instance.  There are also those times when the midwife will need to conserve energy in order to maintain the needed mental and physical alertness needed for the actual delivery, which may mean not being able to constantly apply back pressure for hours on end! For some mamas, especially those who appreciate privacy, a midwife and her assistant may be all that she needs in order to feel supported and cared for, but there are others where this may not feel like enough. As a midwife myself, I seek to provide labor support whenever I can, but I am also always acutely aware of what is going on medically. The role of a doula is that of providing consistent emotional support and physical support. Because she does not have to be responsible for the medical aspects of birth, she is free to focus on helping the couple work together, and helps mom to achieve the space and birth atmosphere that she desires, without distraction.

At a homebirth, a doula can:

  • Give valuable input and educational support during the prenatal period.
  • Provide early labor support, and help the couple decide when it’s time to call the midwife to come.
  • Free dad up to focus on mom by paying attention to other details (like keeping the tub water warm, setting up the bed, changing linens as needed, keeping birth atmosphere tidy, etc.).
  • Keep mom and dad fed and hydrated.
  • Help the birth team to remember mom’s preferences-whether it’s the desire for quiet and privacy, or a certain music playing at a certain time, she keeps everyone aware of what mom wants.
  • Help with comfort measures such as massage, positioning techniques, etc.
  • Provide positive encouragement about progress and what is happening.
  • Give mom support during pushing, especially for those families where daddy wants to catch, and mom still needs support by her head that is focused on HER.
  • Assist with childcare as needed, especially if children are present for the birth.
  • Help the mom to feel an extra measure of help and support, through extended availability before and after, and checking on mom’s emotional well-being during the initial postpartum period.
  • Protect and nourish the new family’s space as nursing and bonding are taking place.

A doula is especially beneficial when:

  • A mom is expecting her first baby or is planning a VBAC. The potential for prodromal labor and/or need for extra physical and emotional support make a doula an especially good choice for these moms! For the same reasons, moms who have a history of long labors may also find a doula an excellent addition to their birth team.
  • Mom is lacking other support systems. For single moms, or those who have no family or close friends nearby, a doula can be a tremendous asset in providing a consistent, dependable support person during the pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum periods.
  • When using a very busy midwife, or if your midwife has travel plans over the time you are due. If you know there is a good possibility that you may be using your midwife’s backup, then having a doula whom you have already connected with can help make that a smooth transition, as you won’t have to totally “start over” with your birth team.
  • If your chosen midwife usually practices solo (without an assistant). In these cases, it may be hard for her to provide consistent labor support, as she will have many responsibilities to stay on top of.
  • When mom knows that she needs extra hands and extra support. Some moms prefer quiet, privacy and extreme “hands-off” during labor, while other moms know that they would relax better when surrounded by encouragement, positive input, touch, massage, etc.
  • If you’re planning to have your children present at the birth, and don’t have a specific care-giver for them. This can allow dad to spend time with mom or with the other children, and know that no one is being neglected!

So, to tie all of these comments up, you can see that a doula can be a lovely complement to a planned home birth. The moms who have experienced doula care at a homebirth made comments such as “I wouldn’t do it any other way”, “it was the ultimate support group”, “I gained a trusted friend”, “My doula could be someone my midwives could never be (though my midwives were awesome and perfect for me)…All her energy and focus went to me, she had no other obligations”, “she provided a different perspective”, “the little things made a big difference…her doing things that allowed my partner to stay with me was key”. The midwives who have had doulas present at births say, “Doulas are worth their weight in gold, literally!”, “The women who have both feel SO supported”, “Having a doula…helps to share the load, and each individual has something different to bring to each unique situation”, “Doulas provide a different type of connection”,  “I think there are some births where there is plenty of work for many hands…and some where there isn’t”.

All that said, I do want to underline the fact that each mother and each birth is unique. While having a doula can make your birth experience even more special, I totally understand that it is not the choice for everyone. For some mamas a more private, intimate and quiet birth environment with as few people as possible is better.  And this is totally okay. It’s one of the beautiful things I appreciate about the option of birthing at home…the birth team can be personalized to suit the preferences of the individual mom. Each mom/couple has to figure out what is right for them, as this is what will enable them to relax and give birth in the best way. The goal of this article is not to make you feel like you HAVE to hire a doula! But for those who have wondered if a doula could be beneficial, my hope is that you now have a better picture of how a doula can fit in to your homebirth plans, and how this option can make a mama feel even more supported.

Did you use a doula for your homebirth? Or have you been a doula at a homebirth? I’d love to hear about it! And if you’re looking for a doula, be sure to check out www.doulamatch.net in order to find out about doulas offering services near you! For those living in central PA, I’d be glad to refer you to some excellent doulas who serve the surrounding areas.

doula pic