Dear Doula: I Am Afraid...
It is a quite unfortunate fact that fear is very much tied to the pregnancy and labor process. We, as humans, fear the unknown. And even for the 2nd and 3rd time birthing person there is still a level of fear with each birth experience. This fear comes from many factors. Some being the media, some from those we encounter during our pregnancy. Sometimes, fear can be incidentally placed by care providers. Fear is natural. But too much fear, or fear without acknowledgement, assessment, work and resolution can potentially cause problems during your birthing experience.
We may have hopes of a natural birth but fear that we may not be "strong enough". We may have seen a few labor videos and cannot imagine being in that amount of pain. We may be open to an epidural but have heard horrible tales of paralysis and forever back pain. We may be terrified of the surgery that is a cesarean delivery. Or upset and scared that we have to deliver in a hospital at all as you had always dreamed of a home birth but for whatever reason, it is no longer possible. We may even fear how our spouses will take to the entire process of birth and how our other support person will fit into the grand scheme of things. All of these fears can cloud our minds and therefore our bodies and deter us from the magnificent beauty that is childbirth.
Although uncommon, fear and birth do not favor each other. When we fear things, adrenaline is heightened in our systems. This can trigger the all effective "fight or flight" response. This can shut down the progress of labor which could lead to some of the things we were fearing to begin with. Like interventions and modifications to the original birth plan. Instead, mentally overcoming your fears can help you relax and focus through the contractions and take in the world around you. In this case, there is a higher presence of oxytocin, the hormone of love. Oxytocin is what brings on contractions and it is important to maintain high levels of oxytocin so as to maintain the progress of your labor. High levels of oxytocin bring about high levels of endorphins as well. So not only can you be relaxed, you will feel good about what you are doing. Adrenaline and Oxytocin do not mix. Adrenaline lowers the production of oxytocin and therefore can slow down or halt your labor altogether.
So, while we all know that fear is natural. We must also remember that overcoming our fears is considered healthy and progressive toward productivity. So, shoo away the naysayers when they put doubt and fear on your plate. Get out of your own head by acknowledging what it is you are fearing. Attend a childbirth education Class to become more knowledgeable about what to expect in your near future. Speak with your care provider and doula about it. They will help educate you and let you know the processes to alleviate whatever it is that you fear. In this arena, the saying can ring very true, "When you Know Better, You Do Better".
Remember, remaining calm, focused, tranquil, Informed, and overall pleased is the key to feeling satisfied with your childbirth experience, no matter what that might entail.
Music is one of the world's most powerful tools. It has the power to spark intense memories. It can make you laugh, make you cry. It can ignite revolution, and can bring about change. And coming from a long line of both musical and performance artists, music is life to me.
Growing up my mother had a song for each of her 4 children. She ensured we knew the song and her reasoning for choosing it. Even now as adults hearing "our song" on the radio almost always leads to a call to mom, who is always tearfully happy to hear us sing them to her. Seeing how powerful that connection was has lead myself and my siblings to assign songs to our children.
My eldest daughter's song came to me as I listened to the radio during a very emotional day during my second trimester. As the words flowed through me and I rubbed my growing bump tears came to my eyes..."Baby since the day you came into my life You made me realize that we were born to fly...". My baby turned and kicked as I sang...Magic was experienced in that moment.
With my 2nd and last daughter (fingers crossed people) I was very much caught up in the land of "uncomfortable, pregnant, and with toddler" and didn't have the chance to experience such magic. And unfortunately, postpartum depression and anxiety took away much of the magic in the first couple of months (yes, doulas experience these things too). So my little one's song came to me early one morning as I breastfed her while my toddler and husband provided beautiful snoring background music. She gazed up at me lovingly as babies tend to do as they feed, and the words just flowed..."the sweetest thing i've ever known was like a kiss on the collar bone. The soft caress of happiness, the way you walk your style of dress..." She smiled at me and started humming as if singing the song back at me. After crying my entire face off, it was sealed.
Both of my girls know their songs when they hear them. My oldest goes "MOMMY! That's MY song!!!" #tears
So if you haven't chosen a song for your little ones yet, maybe consider it. It can be yet another life long bond that you share with them. It does not have to happen at conception, or even in the first year. It doesn't have t be a popular song. You can make it even more special if you are, like my local Doula colleague Amy and her husband, artists and write an original song for your children.
Like all things,
it doesn't really matter how or when...
What matters is that you don't miss out on the
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
Whether you are in your 1st Trimester or are counting down the final weeks until you embrace your little one, you are sure to be excited (and maybe a bit anxious). With pregnancy, for a lot of persons, comes new caution and awareness of one's surrounding. This heightened awareness can sometimes lead to keeping oneself sheltered, and let's face it, in New Orleans, that is a tough task. And unless your doctor has you on limited or full bed rest, or you have another medical or physical condition at play, missing out on things you loved previous to becoming pregnant can be a beginning step to losing yourself. (With of course the exception being drinking tequila shots at Superior Grill on Cinco de Mayo. That's understandable.)
There is a way to remain true to your love of NOLA Festival Season while keeping yourself and your baby safe.
So from Freret Street Festival to French Quarter Fest, Jazzfest all the way to Satchmo SummerFest these Top 5 Tips should be a good starting guide to enjoying the people, the weather, and well, most of all, THE FOOD!
#1. STAY HYDRATED
So, we all know what most people at the festivals are drinking...but with your new bundle of joy on the way you are rightfully planning on using different methods of hydration this year. It is great to remember that Water is always greater than juices while standing in line waiting to make your selection. And during pregnancy, it is recommended that you consume at least 8-10 glass of water per day. If it is especially hot that day, it may be greatly beneficial to squeeze in a sports drink or two to replace electrolytes lost while sweating.
#2. SHADE...PORTABLE SHADE
Speaking of New Orleans Heat, being able to hide from it is key to not overheating...and thus not becoming dehydrated. (See #1) Bringing an easy to carry umbrella that you can pop under when the sun gets too hot and shelter isn't readily accessible may be extremely helpful. Plus, um, this is New Orleans...it literally can rain at any minute! #doubleduty
#3. APPROACH FOOD WITH CAUTION
One of the best things about this great city is, of course, THE FOOD! It is what keeps NOLA so famous. It is my belief that our plethora of food is what keeps us so happy and charming to visitors. (debatable, obviously. lol) One of the main types of food that is ever present at Festivals...SEAFOOD. Followed very closely by...SPICY FOOD! Both of these <delicious> categories should be approached with caution. The FDA suggests not consuming any raw fish or shellfish throughout pregnancy due to the possible presence of bacteria. During pregnancy, your immune system is weakened so it may be harder to fight off infection. So maybe stay away from those "oysters on the halfshell". But alas, Oysters Bienville may still be at play! (This is because they are be cooked well pass the required 145 degrees before serving. This would kill off any bacteria or pathogens that could have existed.) Spicy Food? We all know the old wives tale of spicy food causing heartburn during pregnancy? Well, it is true for some women and who can truly enjoy the funk of The Rebirth Brass Band or the depth of Tank and the Bangas with a chest full of fire? Click here for a full list of foods to avoid while pregnant.
#4. IT PAYS TO PARK
Ok so here's the thing, this is New Orleans. Any time you enter the city limits to do virtually anything *Finding a Parking Spot* is a major agenda point. This is always intensified by major events such as festivals. And since you will likely be doing a ton of walking within the festival grounds, you may not wish to walk much further after a long day of dancing, mingling, shopping and doing all.the.things. It would not be ideal to have a bought of round ligament pain while walking 2 miles to your car. So you may want to scope out the areas, check the event sites, and think about investing in parking that will suit you.
#5. SCOPE OUT ALL RESTROOMS
Wow, talk about saving one of the most crucial for last, huh? Well, so you are pregnant. With that, as I am sure you are aware, comes the constant need to know where the nearest clean restrooms are located when out and about. Certain festival grounds may only have the portable restroom option available. This is good to know if you are like many persons who just cannot get with that whole situation. Fortunately, this isn't the case for all festivals. French Quarter Fest and Freret Street Festival are celebrations centered around areas full of businesses. People with hearts. People who may be willing to allow a glowing pregnant woman to use their facilities. And should that fail, hotels are almost always accommodating. Of course, purchasing something may not be required, but it is a great way to show your appreciation. I would be remiss to not mention here that should you stumble upon a clean restroom but have no immediate urge to go, even though you haven't went in a few hours while remaining adequately hydrated, you may want to attempt at it anyhow. Sometimes, especially during warmer days, pregnant bodies try to retain the water being put in it. This can cause swelling and discomfort among other things. So attempting is always good!
**Honorable Mention - HAND SANITIZER
As mentioned earlier, your immune system during pregnancy is weakened a bit. This keeps your body from fighting off your baby. This means you must take necessary outward precautions. There will be people everywhere. And with the possible frequent restroom breaks, and hopefully eating and staying hydrated in between, having a nice bottle of hand sanitizer may be an extra aid in keeping you and baby well as you enjoy yourself.
So GET UP! Dress Up! And GO OUT! Enjoy yourself! Pregnancy does not automatically beget a sheltered woman! Be safe, be cautious, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!
"Mary, Did You Know?"
This time of year is filled with tons of emotions. So many are bouncing around with joy and excitement. For most of us, the memories are continuous. And nothing sparks memory and emotion like Music. And this season is full of amazing music! And whether you are a Cindy Lou Who or a true Grinch, there is a song out there for you this time of year!
One of my favorites to play on repeat this time of year is "Mary, Did You Know?" I first heard this song years ago early one morning, a full 9 months pregnant, in a car with my husband. As I listened to the words my eyes did this whole wet/rainy thing (that, at this point in the pregnancy I was completely over). And I couldn't help but think of what this song meant to me, a person carrying child.
Take a listen at the talented Pentatonix version below:
So, now, years later, I find myself surrounded by pregnancy daily. Hearing this song now, I still cry, but not just for the memories that I carry from my own pregnancies; I think about all of my past and present clients and every pregnant person ever who has laid there, one of those sleepless nights and thought "I wonder what kind of person this baby will grow to be? What wonders will he/she introduce to the world or the community around them? How can I foster this baby's amazing qualities?"
Every single mother I know or have come into contact with has these thoughts. It is one of the magical things of the pregnancy stage of motherhood. As we fall in love with this little, moving, stretching and bladder kicking being we daydream of the person they will become.
We become biochemist and dream of our unborn child having the perfect mixture of genes from their ancestors. "Our grandmother's smile, his grandfather's charming nature, my hair, his brilliance, my father's hustle, his mothers determination....and NOT my sister's temper! Lol"
It is the background music playing, sometimes ever so softly, in our day to day from the moment we are aware of the growing being within.
So as I sing this song: "Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know, that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you've delivered will soon deliver you." I can't help but think, while she might not have known the specifics, she absolutely knew he'd be great!
All Mothers Know!
The Doula Difference
So, here's the thing, this entry was supposed to be my introduction to you of this wonderful profession that I have chosen. That I have made a substantial part of my life and that, hopefully, will one day be a part of yours. It was to be filled with facts and funny anecdotes of persons helping women and their partners through the sometimes trying times of labor and delivery. It was quite good too....
To make it extra special, I scoured the internet and researched over and over for a definition of this profession that would be easily digested to the everyday person. You know what I found? I found an amazing article written by the American Pregnancy Association that said almost word for word what my precious entry said. Well...I'll...be.....
So, in a fear of being overly redundant, I decided to provide you with a link to THEIR ARTICLE. I am a person who knows when to bow out...this is one of those times.
I will, however, like to reiterate one main thing about doulas and VIP Doula Services that may be brushed over a bit in that article. It is the fact that a doula, this doula, can support you through ANY type of birth you choose to have. From natural un-medicated birth to scheduled cesarean and all the paths in between. A Doula, this Doula, will be right by your side through it all. None of your decisions are the doula's business. We are trained to support you in whatever decision you make and answer any questions you may have along the way. No judgement. No over-talking or attempts to undermine your medical team. No "well I think you should...". Absolutely none of that. It is your baby, your birth, your experience.
THAT is the real Doula Difference.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.