Birth of Baby L | Kaiser Oakland Birth Doula

Way back in the beginning of April, “A” contacted me as she was looking for a doula and birth photographer to attend the birth of her first child at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. We talked over Skype and later met for a prenatal at their home in the East Bay area. We discussed their hopes for their birth over a cup of strong coffee. They shared what they were learning from their Hypnobirthing class and that they desired an unmedicated and natural childbirth, and I walked them through some childbirth information. This couple was so sweet and so supportive of each other and I left very excited to be a part of their birth team.

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I received a text from “A” on a beautiful Sunday morning saying she was having contractions 10-15 minutes apart. Kaiser Oakland said to wait till her contractions were 3 to 4 minutes apart to come to the hospital, so they started getting ready to go to the her husband’s parent’s house and I prepared to meet them there. They never made it to their parents house, cause an hour and a half later she was 2 minutes apart, already 5 cm dilated, and being admitted to labor and delivery!

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I arrived to see “A” beautifully relaxing and working through each contraction. She was calm and focused, and her husband so lovingly supported her.

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“A” walked down the hall aways to encourage labor and help the baby into a more favorable position, and labor quickly intensified so she returned to her room.

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The labor and delivery nurses she had during her time at Kaiser Oakland were incredibly supportive of “A’s” natural birth, and quick to offer ice water, birthing and peanut balls, and washcloths. One of them had even worked as a homebirth midwife for years prior to this job.

Soon after resting back in her quiet room, “A” quickly entered the transition phase. I helped the dad apply counter pressure to relieve back pain and a grounding head press to help mom work through the overwhelming feeling that usually comes with transition. The desire to push and bear down soon arrived as well. Dad and I both worked together to keep mom cool with wet washcloths, fan her, and remind her of breathing patterns. Little baby “L” decided to pass meconium, but the nurses were calm and didn’t interfere as it wasn’t medically necessary. “A” was focused and as soon as she was able to see the baby’s head in the mirror, she became evermore confident, strong, and dedicated to push baby “L” out.

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Mom was able to keep baby “L” on her chest, who was alert and ready to breastfeed. They were able to bond and breastfed for over 40 minutes.

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Baby “L” weighed around 6lbs and had a perfect little body with soft skin and sweet facial expressions. Dad had some time with his firstborn son, while mom cleaned up. Such precious moments soaking in the arrival of the baby they had waited so long to hold!

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The grandparents were eagerly waiting in the lobby to see their first grandchild. I just love the expression of the grandpa in the next photo. What a treasured moment!

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What an incredible peaceful Sunday; a perfect day to welcome this baby. We had arrived at the hospital mid-morning and baby came in time for dinner (which was take-out that the new parents enjoyed from a local vegetarian restaurant). Congrats “A” and “D”. You are an incredible couple and will equally make wonderful and loving parents!

Midwifery Assistant in the East Bay

I’m excited to now offer services as a Trained Birth Assistant in the East Bay Area!

What does a Birth Assistant (or Midwife Assistant) do? My main role is to assist the primary midwife and make her job easier so she can take better care of you, her client! I help set up for the birth, whether that is preparing supplies and the birth kit or setting the birthing pool.

Many times I’ll enter into a doula role and provide support to the mom and dad.

One of my main responsibilities is to help the midwife with charting throughout the labor and delivery. This includes what time the water breaks or when the head is crowning, what the APGAR scores are at 1-minute and 5-minutes, fetal heart tones, when the mom changes positions or eats or drinks. I also chart if the mom has any bleeding or receives medication.

Along with charting, my job as a Midwife Assistant also includes checking the mom and baby’s vital signs.

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During the recovery period after the baby is delivered, I can help mom with breastfeeding, assist the midwife with delivering the placenta or massaging the uterus, take down the birth pool, change the sheets and start a load of laundry, continue taking vital signs, and more.

I’m so excited to officially begin this role, and would love to be a part of your birth team!

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Valentine’s Day Giveaway! | Bay Area Doula

Valentine’s Day is coming up and some of you may be needing a doula nine months from now 😉

For those who are already expecting, this is a great time to sign up for my first Rafflecopter giveaway! Enter to win a $100 gift certificate towards my Birth Doula Package! What a deal! Since this is WordPress you have to click the link or photo below to enter the giveaway.

You can even enter the giveaway and give the gift certificate to a friend or family member if you win!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Terms:
1) The user must be delivering in the East Bay Area (exp. Berkeley, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Martinez, Concord, Antioch, etc.). 2) Gift certificate expires on September 31, 2015. 3) Use is subject to availability.

What should I do with my placenta?

The placenta is incredible. After studying the physiology of pregnancy, labor, and birth and learning all that the placenta does, I am truly amazed.

“The placenta is the organ that surrounds the fetus in the womb and allows for the exchange of nutrients, blood, and waste with the mother. It is expelled from the uterus after the birth of the child” (American Pregnancy).

The question many pregnant women often wonder is… “What should I do with my placenta once it’s birthed?”

There are many options to choose from. You can do nothing, or you can make a print of your placenta, bury it, plant it, donate it, make jewelry or keepsakes out of it, or you can consume it.

Placentophagy is the practice of ingesting the placenta: either eating it raw, cooked in a stew or stir fry, made into a tincture, or dehydrated and encapsulated into pill form. The later option is what we’ll talk about for the rest of the post.

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WHAT IS PLACENTA ENCAPSULATION?

This has been a traditional practice among Chinese for hundreds of years. The placenta is cleaned, steamed, cut up, dehydrated, ground into a powder, and put into capsules that women can swallow during their postpartum period.

ARE THERE BENEFITS?

There is little to no scientific evidence-based research that shows how placenta encapsulation benefits women, but many woman have shared of their incredible experiences of taking these capsules.

“Unfortunately there has been very little human research done into placentophagy. The Placenta Benefits website does have some related research information but no major studies have been done. However it does make sense at a time in your life when your hormones are under a major upheaval and you have lost a great deal of blood (leaving you prone to iron deficiency), that the placenta can provide these needs, to help avoid iron deficiency as well as its side effects (which include depression and low mood.” – BellyBelly.com

According to BellyBelly.com it is believed that consuming the placenta can:

  • Help to balance your hormones
  • Replenish depleted iron levels
  • Assist the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state
  • Reduce post-natal bleeding Increase milk production – this has been proven in a study
  • Make for a happier, more enjoyable post-natal period
  • Increase your energy levels

The Feminist Breeder also writes,

“How can placentophagia help curb postpartum mood problems? Research published in The Journal of Nutrition shows that postpartum iron-deficiency (anemia) can cause postpartum depression and anxiety, but let’s remember; the placenta contains a huge boost of easily-absorbable iron. Research published in The Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that fatigue is one of the major causes of postpartum depression, but mothers report that consuming the placenta can boost energy levels. Though few scientific studies have been spent on placentophagia itself, the combined existing research suggests that ingesting the iron-rich placenta may be a good first line of defense against postpartum mood problems. This is not to suggest that placentophagia is a cure or treatment for established mental health problems, nor should it replace any medically-prescribed treatment – it may only be one tool in helping to curb or limit postpartum depressive symptoms.”

ARE THERE RISKS?

There are few risks to placenta encapsulation. Things to consider would be how the placenta encapsulator prepares the capsules (is it in sanitary conditions?), if the mother was on any drugs that could have crossed into the placenta, and how the placenta is handled and stored after its birth.

“Placental encapsulation appears to carry no inherent risk if ingested solely by the mother. Some mothers have reported experiencing negative symptoms such as dizziness or jitteriness after taking the pills. Again, most of the information regarding this practice is amassed from anecdotes, and not from research. In addition, if taken by other family members or friends, one must be aware of the possibility of passing along blood-borne diseases. Also, if the placenta needs to be stored for any period of time, it must be kept refrigerated like any other meat product.” – American Pregnancy

Nancy Redd shares in her article, I Regret Eating My Placenta, that she had to stop taking her capsules as they caused her to feel “jittery and weird” and caused her to have a meltdown.

DO YOU RECOMMEND IT?

As a doula, my job is to provide information so that moms can make informed choices, and then support the mother in the decisions she makes. I am neither for or against placenta encapsulation as I believe it is an individual’s decision, so I won’t judge a woman for choosing to encapsulating her placenta, and I won’t judge a woman for choosing not encapsulate her placenta. I believe it’s all up to each woman to decide if it’s something they are interested in or comfortable with doing.

If my client was seeking to consume her placenta, I may be interested in asking her a few questions such as:

  1. Why do you want your placenta to be encapsulated?
  2. Would you say you are fearful of having postpartum depression? Are you concerned that you will develop depression? If so, what kind of support do you have after birth? Have you had mood disorders with previous births?
  3. Are you afraid you won’t have a sufficient milk supply? Have you talked with a lactation consultant about this?
  4. Are you doing this because it because your friends are doing it? Do you feel pressured by others?
  5. Do you believe that consuming your placenta would be a cure-all?
  6. Have you talked with your caregiver about placenta encapsulation?

In conclusion, there are many things you can do with your placenta! You don’t just have to toss it out after birth.


 

If you’re interested in having your placenta encapsulated, feel free to contact me as I can provide contact information of many placenta encapsulators (PEs) in the Bay Area.

Cruelty-Free Laundry Detergent for Babies

After hearing how most laundry detergent companies test their products on animals (Tide, Purex, etc.), it greatly influenced my shopping choices. I had made my own laundry detergent in the past, but found that I was still supporting animal testing through purchasing those ingredients… So I searched for products that were cruelty-free, baby-friendly, and safe for cloth diapers that I could use in making laundry detergent.

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Why make your own? (Similar to the reasons why to use cloth diaper wipes)

  • It’s safe for washing babies’ clothes and most cloth diapers.
  • None of the products in this recipe were tested on animals.
  • The price is comparable to or cheaper than most powdered laundry detergents.

Tide Free and Gentle is $0.37/load, All Free and Clear is $0.49/load, Dreft Baby is $0.64/load, and Seventh Generation Free and Clear (a cruelty-free company) is $0.17/load.

This recipe costs $0.20 per load with the cruelty-free ingredients in this post. For a cheaper homemade laundry detergent recipe see my mom’s recipe.

Cruelty-Free Laundry Detergent

What do you need?

Because Arm & Hammer tests their products on animals, I chose to buy baking soda through Mountain Rose Herbs ($0.18/oz). Bob’s Red Mill baking soda ($0.31/oz) is also a cruelty-free. I made my own washing soda by baking the baking soda.

Cruelty-Free Laundry Detergent

The common soap bar used in most homemade laundry detergent recipes is the tallow-based Fels Naptha soap bar. Fels Naptha is owned by Dial which is a company that tests on animals. Dr. Bronner’s soap bars are fair-trade certified and cruelty-free plus they smell amazing. I’ve tried Mrs. Meyer’s soap bars as well, but they had an overwhelming and unpleasant smell (like really bad candles).

It only costs around $8.00 for the ingredients above, which is good for 30-40 loads.

Why don’t I use Borax?

I chose not to use 20 Mule Team Borax because it is now owned by Dial (which does animal testing) and because it’s harsh on cloth diaper covers and babies’ bums. (Borax also has insecticidal properties and is toxic to dogs). If you wanted to add borax to your detergent, you can replace a cup of washing soda with borax from Mountain Rose Herbs.

How to make cruelty-free laundry detergent:

  • 1 bar of castile soap, shredded and crumbled. I used my mom’s salad shooter, but you can also use a food processor or good ol’ cheese grater. Then I used my hands to crumble the gratings.
  • 2 cups of homemade washing soda

Mix together and store in a glass container. When you’re ready to wash your laundry, throw in 1 Tbsp of the detergent into the washing machine.

Cruelty-Free Laundry Detergent

 

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Enjoy your washing!


Do you make your own laundry detergent? Tell us about it below!

Comment below, or contact Lauren today for a Cloth Diaper Consultation.

Cruelty-Free Cloth Diaper Wipes

When I was pregnant I did my research and decided to use cloth diapers for my baby. After he was born and I got a hang of the cloth diaper regime, I wanted to take the next step… cloth diaper wipes. I figured I was already washing the pre-folds and diaper covers, so I might as well throw in wipes, too. I took some old flannel receiving blankets and cut them into squares, threw them in an empty wipes container, and poured in a wipe solution. It was really easy! I never surged the flannel scraps, so they ended up fraying, but they did their job.

I thought I’d share with you the system I currently use on my now 2-year-old son.

Cruelty-Free Cloth Diaper Wipes

Why do I recommend making your own wipes?

  • It’s cheap!

Huggies and Pampers wipes cost $0.02 a wipe, while Seventh Generation wipes cost $0.04 and The Honest Company costs up to $0.12 a wipe. If you use 10-20 wipes a day for babies and around 2-4 wipes a day for toddlers that adds up to 4,280 to 8,760 wipes during the first two years of one child’s life. That adds up to $85.60 to $1,051.20 spent on disposable wipes depending on what wipes brand you buy and how many wipes you use! Yikes! This doesn’t even include the times you use them for sticky hands or spit up!

Buying all the ingredients mentioned below to make your own cloth wipes will cost less than $83.50. That’s just a penny per wipe!

  • It’s better for the environment

Disposable cloth wipes sit in landfills, along with their packaging, as they are made up of polypropylene, polyethylene, and polyester. They are also chemical-laden and contain mild detergents mixed with moisturizing agents, fragrance, and preservatives.

  • You’re not supporting companies who do animal testing (if you use cruelty-free products)

Proctor and Gamble (parent company of Pampers) and Kimberly-Clark (owners of Huggies) both test their products on animals. In what ways? Here’s one: “Animals are forced to ingest the ingredients used in diapers along with having them tested against their skin to detect allergic reactions” (care2.com).

Cruelty-Free Cloth Diaper Wipes

What do you need?

Mix the liquids together and store in a small glass jar (mason jars or recycled jars work great for this). I keep around 6 wipes moistened in a travel wipes container for my 2-year-old, though if I had a newborn I’d probably store 20 moistened ones in a glass container.

What do I do when they’re dirty?

I store the dirty wipes in a wet bag and then throw them in the wash with the cloth diapers. I’ll soon be sharing my cruelty-free laundry detergent recipe!

What about if we travel somewhere?

If we take a day trip or overnight somewhere, I just take the wet bag along to toss them in. When traveling by plane or when my son is in the church nursery, then I like to use Seventh Generation wipes (a cruelty-free company)

Link Parties: Tip Me Tuesday, A Bowl Full of Lemons,


 

Do you use cloth wipes? Are you up for trying?

Comment below, or contact Lauren today for a Cloth Diaper Consultation.

Moss Beach | Bay Area Family Adventures

Our family just moved back to the Bay Area at the beginning of January. This is the first time we’ve lived in the area with a kid – a toddler in fact, so it’s been fun to plan out activities that we can do as a family. This past Saturday, the weather was so perfect that we decided to take a day trip to Moss Beach at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve to explore the tide pools at low tide.

We checked to see what time the tide was out, and were happy to see that low tide was at 2:47pm! So right before lunch time we got in the car, and our son napped as we drove over the Bay Bridge and through San Francisco to make our way to Moss Beach. (We stopped at Safeway in Pacifica to grab some lunch for a picnic).

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Upon arrival we were so surprised to see how many families with kids, babies and up, there were there. The rocks were safe for kids to walk on, there were also sandy beaches to play on, and a nice shaded area with picnic tables and restrooms. The best part was that is was free! No cost for parking (which was scarce) or to enter the reserve, though you can donate online.

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We put Leo, our 2-year-old, into a backpack so that he could safely view the tide pools, too. He enjoyed watching the waves and the kids playing around him.

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I was amazed at all the sea life we saw! Harbor seals, pelicans, sea urchins, sea anemones, thousands of hermit crabs, mussels, sea stars, kelp, and the longer you stared at a tide pool the more you saw! Here’s a field guide to the animals and plants that are found at Moss Beach.

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It took about an hour to get to Moss Beach from Oakland, due to traffic on the bridge, but it was well worth the trip! This is a great spot for couples with newborns, as you can safely carry your baby while you explore the pools, but it’s also great if you have older kids cause not only is it a fun place, but it is an educational place.

Have you ever been to Moss Beach? What cool sea creatures did you see? Are there other beaches in the Bay Area that you recommend? Comment below and share!

Birth of Baby M | Alta Bates Birth Photographer

“If a woman doesn’t look like a goddess during labor, then someone isn’t treating her right.” – Ina May Gaskin

I met H over coffee a few days after we moved back to the Bay Area. I fell in love with this family after talking with H and looking through one of their family albums with the birth of their first son. I was even more in love after hearing they were expecting a baby girl who also happened to have Down Syndrome, what a blessing it was to be invited to the birth of such a special baby and such positive parents! I was so thrilled to have (wonderful) clients so soon, and I went on call shortly after our meeting, as her due date was at the end of the month.

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Nine days later H sent me a text saying that she was having contractions 5 minutes apart. Thirty minutes later she said they were headed to the hospital. I grabbed my bag and off I headed to Alta Bates hospital in Berkeley, which thankfully was only 12 minutes away!

We checked in to Labor and Delivery around 12:50pm. Dad parked the car and came up, and immediately fell into his role as her birth partner, applying double hip-squeezes at each contraction. What a team! Their son, oh so cute, even jumped in to help his mom out!

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By the time we settled into the L&D room, H was having contractions 2-3 minutes apart, and was 5 cm dilated. R’s parents were still on their way to pick up their adorable son, but labor was progressing much more quicker than they expected. I gave their son a cookie which he munched on while he watched his beautiful momma in labor, eagerly awaiting the arrival of his baby sister.

Their midwife arrived and brought with her a confident and calm presence. They call her the “baby whisperer”. She has been involved in delivering babies for 70 years. Incredible!

At 1:43pm, the midwife broke her water. Within minutes H was fully dilated, and after pushing for only two contractions, their beautiful baby girl was born at 1:48pm.

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Seven minutes later, the grandparents arrived to pick up their grandson, and were surprised to meet their newest granddaughter!

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What an afternoon! We were all amazed at how quickly everything transpired. It was an incredible birth; an amazing momma, a supportive husband, a patient toddler, and a very cute newly born babe.

Dad, brother, grandma, and grandpa soaked in baby M while momma was getting fixed up. With soft skin, long fingernails and toenails, and beautiful bright eyes, this baby girl was taking all of her first moments in.

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Mom was eager to hold her sweet babe, and Baby M was eager to breastfeed and latched within seconds. It’s these sweet moments that make me love birth even more. Children are such gifts!

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After a long feeding, Baby M had her first bath. She was not pleased to be away from her warm momma, but she sure did enjoy having her hair washed!

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The happy family was transferred to a recovery room – the same recovery room they were in last time they gave birth at Alta Bates Summit. H was beaming and beautiful, and reminded me so much of Ina May Gaskin’s quote above. It was so cute to watch their son reach out his arms to hold his baby sister. He was so proud!

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Congrats H & R on the arrival of your daughter! Things couldn’t have gone better for you both, and I am so happy for the four of you!

10 Reasons to Hire a Doula

Are you still on the fence on whether or not you want to hire a doula for your birth?

Below are ten reasons why you should hire a doula! Doulas aren’t only beneficial to the mother, but also to the birth partner and the baby as you’ll see below!

Having a doula at your birth…

1. Reduces intervention and C-section rates, which also reduces cost of birth!

“Studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60%” (American Pregnancy).

Women who have a doula present at birth have 80% lower odds of having a non-medically indicated C-section compared with women who had no doula.

On average, a Caesarean birth costs about $10,000 more than a vaginal birth. Not to mention the added costs of pharmaceutical induction (starting) and augmentation (speeding up) of labor as well as pharmaceutical pain medications for vaginal births. (An epidural alone can cost between $1000-$2000).

Hiring a labor doula can greatly reduce these costs through suggesting non-pharmaceutical ways to improve labor and relieve pain, or simply being a calm and confident presence in the birthing room.

2. Improves bonding between mother and baby.

Research has shown how “having a doula in the room greatly improves the bonding between mother and baby” (DONA). “Positive birth experiences also contribute to improved bonding between mother and child and that this in turn reduces the likelihood of future abuse and neglect of that child” (Isis Rising).

3. Provides care unique from doctors, nurses, and midwives.

Having a doula on your support team makes a difference!

“The best results occurred when woman had continuous labor support from a doula– someone who was NOT a staff member at the hospital and who was NOT part of the woman’s social network. When continuous labor support was provided by a doula, women experienced a:

  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
  • 28% decrease in the risk of C-section
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience” (Evidenced Based Birth)

10 Reasons to Hire a Doula

4. Allows fathers to care for mothers.

A doula does not replace the father during labor. A doula can run and get water or snacks for the mom to allow the father to stay in the room, or stay with the mom while the father runs to the restroom. The doula can show the father how to apply acupressure, and ensure the father that he’s doing a great job supporting the mom. “Also, most partners have limited knowledge about birth, medical procedures, or what goes on in a hospital. Doulas and partners can work together to make up a labor support team” (Evidence Based Birth).

5. Provides ways to alleviate pain.

Labor doulas receive training not only in the physiology of pain, but also in pain management. These various means of non-pharmaceutical options include acupressure, visualization, labor positions, counter pressure, breathing, relaxation, changing the environment, different positions, cold and heat, aromatherapy, massage, TENS machine, rebozo, birthing ball, etc

Doulas are also educated and familiar with many forms of medicated pain management, and can easily communicate to moms the benefits and risks of epidurals, narcotic analgesics, sterile water injections, homeopathy, acupuncture, and more.

6. Helps moms who are having scheduled c-sections or high-risk pregnancies.

Doulas aren’t only beneficial to moms desiring unmedicated vaginal births. They can provide continual support to moms with high-risk pregnancies, planned inductions, and scheduled Caesarean births. They can also help provide breastfeeding support and postpartum resources to moms as doulas are trained to recognize postpartum depressions and other mood disorders that are very normal to occur after birth, especially traumatic ones.

7. Babies with higher Apgar scores.

Women who had doulas at their birth had babies who were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth. Their babies also showed a “14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery” (Evidence Birth).

8. Helps moms remember what they learned in childbirth class or wrote in their birth plan.

Doulas can also be there to remind moms of their birth plan, and keep them aware to when there may be changes to that plan. They can also remind moms to keep their rhythm in breathing, show fathers different ways they can massage the mom, and also be a calm and confident presence at the birth.

9. Shortens labor.

Research shows that women who had doulas on their birthing team had a “significantly shorter length of labor” (NCBI).

10. Increases chance for successful breastfeeding.

Those who received care by a doula were “more likely to breastfeed their newborns and to delay first infant formula feed” (NCBI), “more than twice as likely to be breastfeeding at 6 weeks” (NCBI), and more likely to continue breastfeeding till 18 months.

Interested in having a doula at your birth? Contact Lauren today to set up a complimentary consultation!