Part of being empowered as a parent-to-be involves knowing the answers to any questions you might have. Here are some answers to questions I'm most often asked.
- What is the philosophy behind your Lamaze classes?
I believe that birth is normal, natural and healthy. The point of coming to class is not to memorize or assimilate information, but to learn how to become an active participant in your birth. No one can tell you in advance what your birth will look like, how long it will be and what challenges you may face. To that end, the curriculum focuses on building parents' confidence in the birth process, the importance of becoming an informed healthcare consumer, and options for labor and birth. The class is appropriate for all parents, no matter what kind of birth they're planning. Every birth is different and special, and my Lamaze classes focus more on the journey to a healthy, empowered birth experience and less on specific outcomes. Beautiful births come in many different packages!
- Since you were a Bradley instructor, do you combine Bradley and Lamaze in your current class? Why did you stop teaching Bradley classes?
No. My Lamaze curriculum consists of some ideals that are universal to most childbirth class philosophies, including encouraging a low risk mother, avoiding unnecessary interventions and consumerism. I recognize and respect that some women will choose pain medications during labor and birth and my goal is to help families to reduce risks associated with their use while still benefiting from a reduction in pain.
Bradley classes focus on a specific outcome—natural childbirth. My Lamaze classes focus on the birth journey (the importance of knowing options, making informed choices, how to communicate with your OB or midwife). I enjoy working with all parents, not just those who are planning a natural childbirth. As an instructor and a doula, I realize that medical intervention can at times be necessary and useful during the birth process. As a Lamaze instructor, my goal is to provide my students with a "toolbox" of coping techniques to use during labor and birth, not a specific set of directions (a method) to follow. In class I often say, "It's the process, not the product" to remind students to consider the importance of the journey and not necessarily the destination.
- I'm planning to get an epidural. Should I still sign up for the class?
Yes! There is more to birth than pain medication. There is a myth in our society that women who choose epidurals don't need to go to childbirth classes because they won't feel any pain, or that they'll simply follow the lead of the nurse at the hospital. On the contrary, the vast majority of women will still experience the discomfort of labor before getting an epidural, so it's a good idea to learn some coping mechanisms to rely on until the epidural is administered, or in case a busy anesthesiologist or fast labor preclude it. While most epidurals work well in terms of pain reduction, approximately 23 percent of women do not receive adequate pain relief even with the epidural.
In class we will review how an epidural is administered and how parents can reduce the risk factors that unfortunately accompany them. A woman who receives an epidural may not feel pain, but she is still giving birth and deserves the same respect and comfort measures as a woman who is laboring without medication.
- You're a Certified Lamaze Childbirth Educator. Does this mean that your class focuses on breathing techniques?
No. Today's Lamaze classes look very different than the ones our parents may have had! Lamaze is a philosophy consisting of six Healthy Birth Practices and created with these healthy birth practices in mind.
The six Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices include letting labor begin on its own; walk, move and change positions during labor; have continuous support; avoid unnecessary interventions; get upright and follow your body's urges to push; and keep your baby with you after the birth. All of the recommendations in the Healthy Birth Practices are based in the latest evidence-based research on maternity care. It's as simple as that!
- I'm not sure that I want to hire a doula because I want our birth to be a private, intimate experience. How can I make sure that the father is involved and isn't overshadowed by a doula's presence?
This is a common concern for many parents. My mission is not to get "in your face" or be a "helicopter" doula, but to work on the sidelines and make respectful suggestions, such as a position change or a cool washcloth. There are times during labor when I step outside the room so the mother and father have a chance to reconnect and share their feelings about being in labor. In fact, I have found that the L&D staff tend to give us more privacy; most nurses understand the role of a doula and know that I am there to answer basic questions, provide comfort measures and help the parents to stay relaxed. Because of this, the nurses know their patients' basic needs are being met.
The presence of a doula can help boost fathers' confidence in their abilities to help the mother, while giving fathers' much-needed breaks. Most fathers have supported their partners through other physically and emotionally difficult times in the past, and they possess the skills needed to support a woman in labor. Patience, encouraging words, physical touch and closeness go a long way!
- As my doula, will you speak up for me at the hospital? I don't want my OB or midwife to suggest any unnecessary interventions.
As your doula, one of my goals is for you to have an empowered birth experience. Therefore, I do not speak for you, nor do I tell you what you should do in labor. My role is to help you gather the information you need to make decisions. If a medical provider makes a suggestion for a particular intervention, I can help you advocate for yourself by helping you make an informed choice. Sometimes this involves my asking the OB or midwife to explain the benefits, risks and alternatives associated with the particular intervention that is suggested and then providing the privacy you need to decide.
- I'm a first-time parent and I would like to sign up for Comfort Measures for Labor. What's the ideal timeline?
If your schedule will allow, I recommend taking the class after you have completed your hospital- or physician's office-administered childbirth classes. If your schedule won't allow that, feel free to join the class in conjunction with your regular childbirth series. It is recommended that parents take this class during the third trimester.
- How many birth doula clients do you take each month?
I aim to work with two families per month—three at the most. If I am approached by more than three women/families for a particular month, preference will be given to current or former students and repeat clients. I have back-up doulas readily available should two clients be in labor at the same time; clients are encouraged to meet their back up doula before the birth.
- What is the cost for birth doula services?
My fee is $550 for new clients, with a $50 discount for current Lamaze and former Bradley students, as well as for former birth doula clients. Services include an initial consultation; one or two prenatal visits; continual support during your labor and delivery; assistance with the initial breastfeeding session; help installing your baby's carseat; a written record of the birth; and a postpartum meeting four to six weeks after the birth to review your birth experience and answer any questions you might have.
If you are interested in doula services, please click here to contact me.