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

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5 Things You Actually Need Before the Baby Comes

1. Water proof mattress pad
It’s not for the crib or bassinet. Get a mattress cover for your grown-up bed. During the first weeks postpartum, women lose a lot of fluid. Some experience night sweats, most of us leak milk, and everyone has an unpredictable flow of lochia. Let’s not forget the mess the baby makes. At some point, every new mom will hold and nurse her baby in her bed. Spit up, leaked milk, and explosive diapers happen in every room of your house. Keeping the mattress protected from liquids is a simple investment that will really improve your postpartum comfort.

nursingpillow2. A ring shaped nursing pillow
But it’s not for nursing! Most women have some degree of sensitivity when sitting the first several days postpartum. The ring shaped nursing pillow is a perfect sit-upon for mom as it cushions the tissue around the birth canal and allows the perineum to rest in the center, completely untouched. Truth: hemorrhoids happen in late pregnancy. You might be opening that ring pillow before the baby comes.
Most women don’t have enough torso length to fit both the ring pillow and the baby. Very rarely is the pillow helpful for newborn nursing. However, it can be a great help for positioning your baby for other things as they grow: Assisting with sitting up, cradling the baby while mom does a two-hands task, and offering low back support for mom after a long day of snuggling a heavy child.

chuxpads3. Chux pads or other disposable water proof pads
Motherhood is a wet condition. Your post birth body undergoes rapid changes in the first weeks as your organs realign and your uterus shrinks. Postpartum contractions speed the process but can also stimulate the bladder and flow of lochia. Sometimes, moms leak. Sitting on a chux pad when rocking in that new, expensive, pastel glider will really boost your confidence. Sit on one on the couch or in bed too.

sleepbra4. Nursing sleep bras
Your breasts will change rapidly in the first few weeks of nursing. Sleep bras are a better investment until you know what size you will be. They are sized small-xx large, taking a lot of guess work out.
These bras are not like bras at all. They hold breast pads to control leaking and do not cause pressure on the breasts. There are no plastic clips or wires to fiddle with. They are economical and make a good transitional bra option while nursing is just getting started.
Even if you don’t plan to breastfeed, you will make some milk and need something over the breasts to absorb leaking. Pressure is no longer recommended for mothers wishing to cease lactation.

5. A sling or wrap to hold the baby
At some point, you’ll need to do some two-handed tasks (like pulling back your new mommy ponytail). Babies are hard to put down. They like being held and moms like holding them. A sling or wrap can help you nurse hands-free as well. Evidence shows that babies are best able to regulate their breathing, heart rate, temperature, and metabolism when they are in close contact with an adult care giver. Skin-to-skin contact also promotes long term milk supply. Your local Baby Wearing International group may have a sling lending library.

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