This year, Doulananda is thrilled to be joining forces with another partner in childbirth education and the health and wellness of babies, March of Dimes. For those unfamiliar with this organization, they do great work nationwide educating expectant parents about the causes and methods of preventing premature birth.
The March of Dimes mission goes hand in hand with what we do as doulas. Both our Jacksonville doulas and our St. Augustine doulas provide education to our clients -- not just on premature birth -- but on all ways to maintain a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. Of course, we support all that good education with the guidance of a doula. She helps answer questions and encourage couples to stay the course and allow baby to come in their own time.
So, welcome to our March of Dimes kick-off! Your help is needed to spread the word that babies are worth the wait to be born at 39 weeks or more. Doulananda invites you to join our March of Dimes campaign, "Take Baby Out to Dinner." Donate a minimum of $10 -- what you would have spent on tonight's dinner -- to support advocacy and research to improve newborn health. Walkers, sponsors, and donors are needed and all are welcome to participate!
Walkers and donors, please register here. Walkers raising $50 or more will receive one complimentary t-shirt. Our goal is to be a significant presence the day of the walk – with many visibly supporting Doulananda and the cause of a healthy birth. If you can’t walk, please consider donating.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call, (904) 701-2933. Thanks in advance for all that you do!
Does your old favorite smell now make you bee-line it to the bathroom to pay homage to the porcelain throne? Can't walk past a burger joint without stopping for a bite? We know all about it! That tiny little bun in your oven has taken over your body and is now making you feel like you are in the twilight zone.
This experience is probably bittersweet. Sweet because these new sensations means you have an increase in baby hormones that are making baby big and strong. Bitter because you have lost complete control of your body as you knew it. Ding-ding! Game over... baby-1; mom-0.
Here are some of the symptoms you are possibly experiencing --
Annoying, yes. Going to last forever, NO! The good news is that not all women experience all of these symptoms. Some lucky women only experience a few and then only mildly. If you are not one of those lucky women, take heart. This road is short and the second trimester usually brings brighter days.
You are growing a baby. Congratulations, friend! Now what? Now you get to wrangle the overwhelming amounts of pregnancy information into a pill that you can swallow. The easiest and most concise way of understanding what is about to happen and the choices you will be confronted with is a GOOD childbirth class.
Length of Course. Quick tip... don't wait until the last moment to decide what birth class you want to attend. While some very (very!) basic classes are only a day in length, those that are worth their salt last a little longer -- typically between 4 to 12 weeks -- so plan ahead.
Medicated versus Unmedicated Birth. No worries if you aren't exactly sure what type of birth you would like. That is covered in class. Do be aware however, that there are courses targeting both unmedicated births (discussed below) and planned interventions. If you are at all unsure, we recommend a course targeting unmedicated births.
Not all classes are old childbirth videos and funny breathing though. Natural childbirth classes teach about the birth environment the way the intervention classes do, but they also provide lots of good information on what is happening inside your body and how to manage each stage of those changes. Think of it as insurance... if you don't need it, great! If you do, aren't you glad it was there?
Hospital-Sponsored versus Independent Instructor. The thing to keep in mind about your class sponsor is that they may have limitations on what they can teach. In the case of a hospital, they provide their students information on their hospital's offerings and common procedures, but what if what you need is found elsewhere? Independent instructors don't have limitations. They have freedom to share the whole spectrum of the birth experience and point you in the directions of many different kinds of resources, regardless of "owner."
Yay, you! You have narrowed down your options. Now for your natural childbirth class options --
* The Bradley Method
Before getting frustrated, the good news is the classes sprouted from the same place. Obstetrician, Grantly Dick-Read, is known as the father of the natural birth movement in the United States, and his research is the primary basis for most classes currently offered. In essence, his findings were that childbirth is normal, and -- in the absence of fear -- can be relatively (if not completely) painless.
To quote the poor country mother he observed giving birth who changed the trajectory of his career --
So how do natural childbirth classes differ?
Remember, there is no right answer. Your body mechanics do not change depending on the class, so the topic of where babies come from overlaps to some degree in all courses. Beyond that, the door is open for you and your partner to pick your childbirth class based on the style that best jives with your personality.
I've known Vonda Barlett for 10 years. I recently gave birth to my second child via c-section. Vonda's patient and kind nature as a friend were so helpful to me. She was always there for me to talk to, and her openmindedness and encouragement kept me optimistic when I was feeling down. If anyone, is even so lucky to share a moment with Vonda as your doula, it's an opportunity of a lifetime.
~ Cara Shaw
There is something about the start of the year that makes us channel Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. "Let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start!" So let's take the guess work out of this whole baby business thing and talk about what is about to happen to you -- from the beginning.
For those that are newly pregnant, you and your body are about to undergo a very unique transformation. Having a baby is not scary -- not at all -- but it is different than anything else you will ever do and requires preparation.
Where is the best place to start? Those double lines on your pregnancy test confirm BIG changes are on the horizon. Hormones have already been hard at work preparing your uterus to become the wigwam for your bundle of joy. These internal changes will continue at their own perfect pace so in these early days, your primary tasks are to confirm the pregnancy with your care provider and take good care of yourself. Easy, right? Well...
The first steps of having a baby might be a little disorienting for some. Many women become pregnant and stick with the same trusty OB-GYN they had for years. They assume they will get the birth they want under that doctor's care.
This *might* work, but be sure to ask yourself this: will my GYNocologist -- whose primary job it is to look for medical abnormalities -- have a philosophy and bedside manner that will translate to an OB-tetrician that can be hands off? Will my provider allow my body to progress with minimal interference? Heads up, some providers can't make the switch.
This might not be obvious right off the bat, so we recommend you ask your provider some of these questions at your first appointment. Get a sense of how on board they are with your birth vision. If the answer is no, they are not onboard, than you have some work to do.
While you are interviewing your provider, another thing to consider is your birth environment. You have plenty of time to decide where you will have your baby, *but* if your heart is set on a home birth and your provider only delivers in a hospital with the highest cesarean section rate in town... the writing is on the wall. It doesn't take a crystal ball to tell you a provider switch is in your future.
Finally -- and this is the toughest part about gearing up for baby -- you get to take a good, hard look at how you are treating your body. From the first moment you become an incubator for another human being, everything you do to your body matters. Poor nutrition and exercise choices must go out the window and be replaced by the Dr. Oz Take-Good-Care-of-Yourself Training Manual.
So the good news is that the early days of pregnancy are pretty low-key... relax, grow your baby, pick your doctor, and find an adorable way to announce your bundle. Bigger fish to fry are on the way!
I met with several doulas before deciding on Vonda Barlett. This was my third pregnancy and I needed someone calm, strong and wise. Vonda was exactly that person. She was with me at nearly every prenatal appointment. She took the time to get to know me and my family.
With Vonda's support I was able to have the natural, drug-free birth I had wanted with my first two. Vonda was in fact so caring and supportive during my hospital stay that the doctor thought she was family. Vonda turned out to be the perfect doula for me. I was very lucky to have found her.
~ Madiha Beg
I can not say enough about my experience with Doulananda. From the first time I called and spoke with Zirah McGrath on the phone I knew that Doulananda truly cared about helping me have a birth experience that I could feel good about. We really enjoyed the Hypnobirthing course and Cloe Smith was an excellent teacher. Each week we walked out of the class feeling much more prepared for what was ahead than we did when we walked in.
Our experience with having Kelly as our doula was incredible. Honestly, words can not describe how grateful we are for all that she did for us throughout the pregnancy and birthing process. She was a continual source of strength, peace, and confidence from beginning to end. We truly can't imagine the experience without her there. We were impressed with her knowledge and skills and were humbled by her willing service. She will always hold a special place in our hearts.
This would have not been financially possible for us without the generous scholarship that we received. I still get emotional when I think about the fact that someone that we did not previously know would give us such a gift. Once again, I am humbled and incredibly grateful. As I wrote Kelly's thank you note and enclosed her tip, it all felt quite inadequate. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. I do not take this gift for granted and feel privileged to have received it.
Thank you again!
~ Jessica Campbell
There is something about the end of a year that makes us reflect on the little world around us -- our progress and our goals, what we have learned and what we wish we could take back. It's like spring cleaning for the brain.
This doula group had a pretty fruitful year. Our doulas were busy! With a record 104 births for the year, we spent quite a bit of time on the road. We zipped around Northeast Florida, supporting moms from South Georgia down to Palm Coast.
Classes were pretty hopping too! HypnoBirthing served 45 couples, and we added Bradley Method classes to our offerings late in the year. We are pretty excited about watching these classes grow and reach more couples that wish to truly be prepared for their births. Several other classes will begin this Spring to help support not just the mom wishing for an unmedicated birth but all moms, regardless of intervention plans.
What will we do next year?? Mostly, more of the same -- educate and support families as both birth and postpartum doulas as they begin their journey together. We will also focus on expanding our team with doulas that follow our philosophy and continue making partnerships with like-minded providers.
We rarely stop and consider the numbers behind the work that we do, so taking a moment to ponder this was pretty breathtaking. Can't wait to meet more of you in 2014!
Gift exchanges and awkward family get-togethers are not the end of the holiday season. On the contrary! December 25th begins the 12 days of Christmas, and your friendly, neighborhood doulas want to take this time to prepare you for that bun in your oven. If you and your partner were going to have a perfect birth experience, here is what you need.
On the first day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: A DOULA. At the risk of stating the obvious here, Doulananda believes EVERY birth is made better by the addition of a smart, willing teammate whose only job is to serve you and your family.
Mothers pursuing a natural birth certainly benefit from the extra set of hands to keep the day running smoothly, but so do mothers planning medicated births. Women planning interventions benefit EVEN MORE from a friendly face that never leaves since 1) movement is limited and 2) medical staff does not remain in the room for the duration of the labor.
On the second day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: A PROVIDER WITH MY SAME PHILOSOPHY. The next step in having an amazing birth is making a connection with a medical provider that shares your vision. Your ideal provider will not only listen to your thoughts about your upcoming birth but also encourage you to make evidence-based choices that only enhance your special day. If you are not jiving with your current provider, consider interviewing others. Remember, there no do-overs in birth.
On the third day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: A GREAT CHILDBIRTH EDUCATION CLASS. Imagine you are building a house. Your foundation must be rock solid, right?? In birth, that means getting comfortable with ALL the choices you may be confronted with. Independent childbirth classes have no agenda but to teach you about your body and your birth.
Some classes such as HypnoBirthing and The Bradley Method are even targeted towards women intending natural births, so they cover topics sometimes not addressed in a hospital setting. Doulananda encourages all mothers -- even those planning interventions -- to consider this type of course since they go into so much detail about the physiological parts of labor and birth.
So you have laid the groundwork... you have a birth team that is on-board and excited about the type of birth you want to have. You have also learned about the choices you need to make leading up to Labor Day that will give you your best shot have having a low-risk, vaginal birth. What's next?
On the fourth day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: A THOUGHTFUL BIRTH PLAN. Using the tools you already have at your disposal -- your resourceful doula, your smart provider, and all of the information you gathered in your childbirth class -- consider what YOU would like. Birth is completely unpredictable. Do not go with the flow and then be disappointed when the plan gets out of hand. Educate yourself and be ready for anything.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: A BIRTH LOCATION TOUR. So you have prepared your birth plan and know exactly what you want. Now, see with your own eyes where the magic is going to happen. Consider which location is right for you: hospital, birth center, or your home. Then, schedule a tour, touch, feel, ask questions, and visualize yourself having a wonderful experience there.
It's best to find out what you can/cannot do and work out kinks at the birth location long before you are in the midst of labor. Omitting this step and then making spur of the moment decisions may make for a very stressful day. Remember, the name of the game is offense -- stay ahead of your plan, and if you are detoured, make sound decisions with all the information you have already gathered.
Arm yourself with items 1-5, and you are well on your way to a calm and peaceful birth. Next, do what you can to take care of yourself.
On the sixth day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: YOGA, PILATES, or some other routine fitness practice. Birth is a normal process, and your body wants to ease into the job and perform at its peak. Consistent fitness practice during your pregnancy will condition your mind and your body to easily get into a rhythm that will become second-nature at Go-Time.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: CHIROPRACTIC CARE. Let's get back to that house analogy for a minute. Your foundation is strong, but the added weight and altered posture during pregnancy could be described as "cracks in the walls." These cracks cause anything from simple discomfort to significant pain and should be addressed as they happen in order to preserve the integrity of your baby's home. Leaving this misalignment to fester, could cause a weak frame and make for an unpleasant birth.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: PRENATAL MASSAGE. No explanation needed... work hard, then play hard and relax. Massage feels good and improves circulation. It also supplements chiropractic in removing minor aches. Just be sure your massage therapist is certified in prenatal massage. Otherwise, you run the risk of aggravating pressure points that should not be stimulated in a pregnant woman.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: ACUPUNCTURE. In addition to relieving typical pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, fatigue, sinusitis, and more, this holistic care option is often used towards the end of pregnancy to turn breech babies. Keep this tidbit of info tucked in your back pocket should that issue arise for your family.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: A WELL-STOCKED HOSPITAL BAG. Once the clock starts ticking and baby's arrival is near, you will want to prepare your hospital bag. At a minimum, you will need:
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT. This is the part of having a baby that seems to intimidate soon-to-be mothers most. And once little baby arrives, breastfeeding is the task that will take up the majority of your time for the first few weeks. Take advantage of all community resources, and let your doula help. Remember, these women are at your service and want only to see your family have your best start.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my doula gave to me: A POSTPARTUM PLAN. You spend 40 weeks preparing for your little bundle, but how long do you spend preparing for life after baby is born? After months of receiving heaps of attention, unfortunately after birth, that attention often remains with baby.
Who will take care of your household? If you have other children, what changes will need to be made to childcare? When will you take a shower? Get a haircut? Sleep?
It will take a while to get into the groove of life with a new baby but these are some of the things to think about. Let your friends and family help! And if that circle of resources is not enough, consider hiring a postpartum doula.
This beautiful journey you and your family is on is amazing -- possibly the biggest thing you will ever do. Do your best to prepare yourself and then sit back and enjoy the ride!
Graphics provided by www.agirlandagluegun.com.
I started off Friday, 11/15 with the normal occasional crampy contractions. Thinking it was going to be a regular day, I went to get a pedicure with my doula. While there, I had several contractions in a row. We joked that the pedicure would start up my labor which I really hoped to be true. I was due for induction on 11/22 and was hoping to go into labor naturally before then.
We kept shopping. Contractions really picked up then. They were about 3 minutes apart, a minute long, and getting pretty strong. Once we got back in the car to leave, they slowed back down a bit. We got home from running errands, had dinner, I jumped in the shower, and did some birth ball. It was then that they got pretty regular again.
Around 10:30 pm, contractions were strong enough that I knew it was time to go. I situated my daughter and headed to the hospital with Doula Vonda. My husband met us there after he got off work. Once I was checked into Triage, they checked me and was told I was between 6 and 7 cm. We got settled into a room and hooked up to monitoring. Sadly, the hospital wouldn't let me get up to walk around.
By 2 am and 9 cm dilated, the contractions were so intense that I decided to get an epidural. After that I was able to relax some. At 4 am, I started losing my mucus plug so they checked me again and said I could push when I wanted. I decided to wait and let my baby rest some since her heart rate started staying regular through contractions after that.
At 4:30 am, my water broke with a pop! The nurse came in and I started pushing. My beautiful baby girl was born at 4:49 am, 11/16 weighing 7.6 pounds and 20 in. I got to have skin-to-skin time with her and nurse her for over an hour before she was taken for weighing and measuring.
I am so proud of my body and the strength I found to get through the labor and delivery. I am so thankful for my doula who stayed with me the whole day and helped me to find that strength!
~ Mary Randall
I really cannot say enough about Cloe. I've been singing her praises since the birth. She really stepped right in and knew just what to do, say and just observe when appropriate. I know my husband was a bit in shock when she arrived because labor was progressing so much faster than we expected. (I had some early signs of labor at 8:30ish Wednesday morning but nothing that I was sure was labor pain. By 10:30 I knew I was heading into labor but was very low key when I called Erik. I told him to just come home at lunch....well that changed in 30 minutes and by 11:00 I asked my mother to call him and tell him he needed to be home right away!)
When Cloe arrived I was having a very hard time with back labor and was not able to stay focused and relaxed- not to mention the fact that the contractions were on top of each other. She walked into the room and just fell right into the doula role...she didn't skip a beat and intuitively knew just what I needed. All I said to her was "it's in my back" and from there she knew just what to do. I was able to get back into a deeper relaxation mode...and my labor progressed quickly and wonderfully.
I really just feel like she has that gift that not only created the calm birth environment I was seeking, but also a calm my husband desperately needed. I want all women to know their birth dream really is possible and a doula is an invaluable component to a happy, natural birth.
~ Alissa Svenson
I knew that I had wanted a natural birth in a hospital setting and heard about Doulananda through a friend. We scheduled a personal appointment with Vonda after speaking with Zirah regarding which doula would be a best fit. We were a little late in the game as we met when I had just reached 37 weeks, but my husband and I decided that we really wanted a doula. We had a great meeting, and Vonda gave us tons of great ideas right off the bat.
Around 3 am that night, I started to have contractions. They were not subsiding, so I decided to call my doctor at 5 am. I called Vonda around 6 am, explaining that even though we had just met, we really liked her and wanted her to be there at our birth. I was headed to Labor & Delivery, and would bring the contract paperwork in hand to the hospital!
By this time, the contractions were steadily around 4 minutes apart. By the time we neared the hospital, they were 2 minutes apart! We arrived at the hospital around 7:45 am, and my water broke upon admission. They checked me, and I was already 7 cm dilated! They had to tell me not to push since the doctor was not there yet! I very quickly progressed to 9 cm, and Vonda arrived just in time before I began to push.
Our sweet daughter, Carolina Grace was born at 8:39 am on Sunday, September 8, weighing 5 lbs 2 oz, and 18 inches long. She was born 3 weeks early and surprised us all! I was able to achieve the natural birth I wanted. The hospital staff at Baptist Downtown was great. They didn’t even have a chance to look at my birth plan, but everything went smoothly and was better than I could have asked for.
The cord was actually around her neck, but the doctor was prepared for it, as she saw her heart rate drop during contractions, and was able to cut it without it posing any danger to the baby. I did have a second degree tear due to the cord being around her neck. The doctor was able to stitch me up while I attempted to breastfeed my daughter with skin to skin contact immediately after birth. Vonda also made a postpartum visit, in which she taught us how to bathe our baby properly which I was pretty nervous about as a first time parent! We are so happy with our birth and postpartum experience with Doulananda!
~ Eunice Song