10 Questions with a Doula

1) What is a doula?
         A doula, also known as a birth companion, is a nonmedical person who is trained to assist women before, during, and/or after childbirth as well as her spouse and/or family, by   providing physical assistance and emotional support.
2) Why hire a doula?
        There have been numerous studies that show the benefits of hiring a doula include a decrease in the chance of C-section, decrease in the amount of time a woman spends in labor, decrease in the use of interventions like forceps and vacuum, decrease in the use of epidurals or need for pain medication, decrease the chance of postpartum depression, and increase the satisfaction a woman feels about her birth experience.
 
3) How does having a doula impact initiation of breastfeeding at birth?
        All doulas should be equipped to assist moms with the initiation of breastfeeding after birth. Often times in a hospital setting, nurses might have to leave to attend to another patient leaving the new mom to figure it out on her own. Some hospitals do not have on-site lactation consultants on call around the clock. Having a doula ensures that a knowledgeable person will be there to help if/when needed. 
4) What barriers to breastfeeding does a doula help reduce or eliminate?
    1. Educational barriers: misinformation about breastfeeding, milk production/supply
        2. Emotional barriers: lack of confidence in ability to breastfeed, embarrassment of feeding in public. A doula provides support if the mom is lacking support from family/friends.
        3. Physical barriers: learning how to prepare for breastfeeding, postioning mom and baby for comfortable and sufficient nursing/bonding time.
        4. Medical barriers: Breastfeeding while recovering from c-section, helping to identify potential medical issues such as tongue ties and lip ties and refer to specialists
5) Does a doula come in handy after birth?
        Yes. Doulas routinely remain in close proximity to moms immediately after the birth of their baby. This is to help facilitate the mother’s wishes for skin-to-skin care, breastfeeding initiation as soon as possible, and to answer any questions about newborn care and postpartum care. Many moms also benefit from the services of postpartum doulas. Postpartum doulas contract with the mother and her family for a specified amount of time (hours/weeks) once the family is settled at home after the birth. Postpartum doulas assist with baby care, sibling care, light household chores, and meal prep to help parents acclimate to having a new baby in the home. It can be a great help to have someone onsite those first days/weeks after birth to help with breastfeeding issues among other things, when needed.
6) What do you think are the 3 biggest factors in a birth that impact breastfeeding?
        1. Medications administered during labor and their effects on the mother and the newborn.
        2. Type of birth. If mom has interventions such as forceps, vacuum, or caesarean and baby has a medical issue due to this and they must be separated for an extended amount of time after birth.
        3. The length of the birth. A mom who has a lengthy labor may be extremely fatigued and unable to breastfeed right away.
7) How can moms find a doula friendly care provider?
        1. Moms can ask their care providers how they feel about having a doula in attendance at the birth. Most providers will have a definite opinion one way or the other.
        2. ICAN of Atlanta has a provider review section on their website. Anyone can join ICAN. You do not have to have experienced a c-section. The forums provide excellent information for all expectant moms.
        3. Word of mouth. Ask your friends,  who have used a doula, who their provider was and what the experience was like. If you have already hired a doula, most can tell you of the more popular doula-friendly practices in the area.
8) How can moms find a doula in their area?
        Resources for finding a doula in your area include www.doulamatch.net, www.gabirthnetwork.com, (or local birth networks) asking your provider if they have a list of doulas that they work with, websites of doula certifying organizations such as DONA, CAPPA, and ProDoula, and again referrals from friends/family/mom’s group members who have used a doula’s services before.
9) What skills does a doula have to help with long term breastfeeding success?
       Many doulas have taken breastfeeding classes to assist their clients in the early stages of breastfeeding. For long term breastfeeding success, doulas assist moms through emotional support and encouragement. Many moms give up just because they do not have the support needed to continue. Doulas provide practical information and solutions to assist with challenges associated with breastfeeding. We are knowledgeable about common problems like engorgement, symptoms of clogged milk ducts, mastitis and can refer you back to your care provider or a lactation consultant for added assistance.
10) Do moms need a doula for birth center or home births?
         I believe all moms could benefit from the support of a doula no matter where they choose to give birth. Birth is a very beautiful, but physically and emotionally draining experience. Having a person who has walked the journey before can make it easier by helping to reduce or eliminate the obstacles of fear, anxiety, lack of information, and more because they are a trusted, trained and experienced individual who is there just for the mom.
Bonus Question! 11) Share your favorite nursing moment?

My favorite nursing moment was probably the first time my daughter latched properly. I was unable to successfully breastfeed my older son due to lack of education and support. I became engorged and had painful, cracked, and bleeding nipples. After 3 days of crying (both of us) I gave up. After I had my daughter, I was able to get help from the buses at the hospital. They explained what a good latch looked like and should feel like. They gave me tips for sore nipples, too. So once at home, when she latched with little help from me and with no pain to me, I was very excited. I went on to breastfeed her for 14 months.

Elysia Douglas is a wife, mother of 4, and a professional, certified birth doula in the Metro Atlanta area. In her first 3 years as a doula, she has assisted over 50 families as they prepared for and welcomed their little ones into the world.  She offers attentive, nurturing, and compassionate support during pregnancy, labor, birth, and beyond. Elysia is passionate about equipping, encouraging, and empowering women to achieve their birth goals by providing unbiased, evidence-based information, emotional, and physical support throughout their pregnancy journey. She fully believes in your right to know your options and make decisions that are best for you and your baby. When Elysia is not at prenatal visits, facilitating a childbirth education class, or attending a birth, she enjoys sewing, painting, volunteering in children’s ministry at her church, and spending time with her family and friends.

www.mother2motherlaborsupport.com
http://doulamatch.net/profile/6020/elysia-douglas
www.facebook.com/mother2motherlss
www.instagram.com/mother2motherdoula

Placenta Encapsulation: A Traditional Galactagogue

Placentophagy is the mammalian act of the mother consuming the placenta after birth. While there are no clinical trials in humans to prove or disprove the effectiveness of this practice, science shows benefits of placentophagy in other mammals. Mammalian placentas contain high levels of prostaglandin which help the uterus shrink back after birth. Anecdotes suggest that mothers have less bleeding post partum when they consume their placentas. The amount of oxytocin in the placenta is also said to aid in lactation. Some also believe placentophagy  can stave off post partum depression.

If you are looking for a placenta preparing service in the Atlanta Metro Area, please scroll to the bottom for breastfeeding friendly providers.

The following instructions and images are for a raw preparation of the placenta.

Tools:

– cutting board
– large chef’s knife or boning/ fillet knife — at least an 8 inch blade to reduce tearing of the placenta
– encapsulation tray and tamper
00 veggie caps
– food processor, herb grinder, or coffee grinder for pulverizing dried placenta
– wax paper or parchment to cover dry work area and capture spills
– dehydrator that adjusts to temperature under 140 degrees F

This is a 4 Step process
1. slice placenta
2. dehydrate placenta
3. grind placenta
4. fill caps with dried placenta

Dehydrate the placenta to get all the water out, but do not cook it. Dry it under 140 degree F to keep the enzymes and bio-active components intact. This placenta pictured here was eventually dried for 24 hours at 100 degrees F.

This is the placenta “shiny side” up. The membranes are the wrinkly layer around the edges. They gather up on each other. The cord and major vessels here will be cut away. Some save the cord and membranes for homeopathic tinctures or to plant with a tree in the child’s honor.

The cord and membranes have been cut away. The placenta is still shiny side up. This is a 10 inch chef’s knife for size reference. The child who grew with this placenta measured 6lbs 10oz and 18 inches, gestation 39 weeks and 3 days.

This is the “dull side” or the side that was attached to the mother’s uterus. This is the “meat” that will be cut away. The dark red-purple spots are blood clots. Either rinse those away or dehydrate them. They will shrink down considerably.

Half of the “meat” has been filleted off  with the membrane left on the bottom. It is very “spider-webby” and spongy. It is possible to feel with the knife that the tissue is too tough to cut through very well.

The tray with the cut placenta before going into the dehydrator

After dehydration

Note how thin and crisp the pieces are after dehydration. All the water is out.

In the food processor bow is ALL of the dried placenta. Note that not much is left after drying. Next to it is red raspberry leaf that this mother chose to add. The addition of optional herbs is completely up to the mother.

This is the capping station. The pill pamper is at the top. The loader tray at the bottom. This is a baking sheet covered with waxed paper to hold spills. The tray brand is Cap M Quik

These are the loaded pills before getting the top of the cap added. They fluffiness of the red raspberry leaf or other dried herb may prevent of uniform filling.

Finished caps

This placenta with herbs yielded 150 caps total.

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Looking for a certified placenta encapsulator in the Atlanta Metro Area? Check out Melanie at Natural Afterbirth Placenta Services. She is a veteran breastfeeding mother and placenta preparer. Her services include pick up and delivery, in hospital or in home raw smoothie preparation, keepsake placenta printing, placenta chocolate truffles, and both TCM and raw encapsulation methods.

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The information contained here is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prevent any illness. Pregnant and lactating women should always consult with their health care provider before taking any supplements.

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