During my initial consultations with pregnant women, I always ask how their partner is feeling about the idea of including a doula on their birth team. Sometimes, partners are more than happy to welcome the support a doula can provide. But more often than not, I get a “welllll… they’re a little nervous about it…” or some form of “they just want to know how to help me, but seem worried about being replaced...”
Listen, guys. I get it. You might be feeling a little hurt if your wife or partner wants to hire a doula for your baby’s birth. What can a doula offer her that you can’t? Will she take your place or get in the way? What exactly does a doula do, anyway?
Let me reassure you that doulas can greatly benefit not only the woman you love, but YOU, as well.
A Doula is a person who is trained to assist a woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born. Doulas support laboring women and their partners emotionally, physically, and with any information they might need to make informed decisions as labor progresses. Doulas do not provide medical care. A Doula is generally independently contracted by and works directly for the laboring person and her partner, with the role and goal of supporting, encouraging, and remaining with the laboring person throughout her birth.
Shanna and a partner, working together to help a laboring mom find comfort and relief.
1. Doulas understand the jargon and speak the language of birth. Dilation? Effacement? Station? Hep lock? Anterior, posterior, cervical lip? Um… What? Your doula knows, and she’s like a medical interpreter, clarifying the terminology from your providers and sharing it with you in a way that is easy to make sense of. She will make sure you understand what is happening, every step of the way. You don't have to remember all those details from childbirth class, your doula will refresh your memory and clarify anything confusing.
2. She will spot you so that you can take a break. Labor can take time. Nurses and doctors come and go. Doulas don’t leave. She will be there so that you can go to the bathroom, take a short nap, have a real meal. She’ll be sure to send you for breaks so that you’ll be energetic and focused when your partner needs you most.
3. Doulas know the right questions to ask. They will remind you about your plan and encourage you to take time to consider your options. Your doula will provide information to help you make appropriate decisions and facilitate communication between your partner, her medical care providers, and you. She will reassure you to remember your voice. Doulas are skilled at offering different alternatives for any given situation. Labor is unpredictable, but she will always be ready with suggestions to try, pros and cons of any proposed change in plan, etc. Since doulas work for you, they are an unbiased source of knowledge and resource whose only goal is the well-being and healthy outcome of the birth. They are your advocate, friend, and a steady stream of emotional and informational support.
4. Doulas know how to comfort laboring women, and a doula will make you look GOOD. During her labor, you will likely see your partner in a way you’ve never seen her before. Doulas excel at giving partners the tools and tips they need to help comfort and soothe the person that they love during their birth. Your doula will model the calm, quiet, peaceful demeanor your laboring partner needs to see. When she forgets the breathing exercises you learned in childbirth class, your doula will remind you how to breathe with her. When her back or hips ache, your doula knows how to guide your hands to give her relief. When she says she can’t do it any more, your doula will be right there with you, reassuring you both and encouraging her that she IS doing it. Your tender touch and reassuring words will be the ones your partner always remembers. Your doula will be an ever-present encourager, supplying you both with suggestions and support.
“Studies show that when doulas are present at birth, women have shorter labors, fewer medical interventions, fewer cesareans and healthier babies. Recent evidence also suggests that when a doula provides labor support, women are more satisfied with their experience and the mother-infant interaction is enhanced as long as two months after the birth. With doula support, fathers tend to stay more involved with their partner rather than pull away in times of stress. The father's presence and loving support in childbirth is comforting and reassuring. The love he shares with the mother and his child, his needs to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner and a doula at birth a mother can have the best of both worlds: her partner’s loving care and attention and the doula's expertise and guidance in childbirth.” --www.dona.org
Partners are often able to participate in labor and birth more fully with a doula present. Much of the fear and worry about the safety of his or her unborn child and partner are removed when a doula is present because she can provide informational support about the labor as it progresses, and her calming influence allows the partner to give the love and support needed, in a way that is most effective and comforting. The presence of a doula complements a partner's role and strengthens it, allowing him or her to more fully experience the joy and wonder of welcoming their baby into the world.
Doulas and partners are a winning combination. Supported birthing person, empowered partner. Birth. Do it with a doula.
When people hear about placenta encapsulation, they tend to wonder what would make someone want to do something like that. From celebrities to average people like you and me, people all over the world are utilizing their placenta during their postpartum recovery, and it has many people wondering: “Is this for me?”
Let’s start with what it is. Placenta encapsulation is the process by which the placenta is examined, cleaned, dehydrated and then placed into capsules for the mother to take, as little or as often as she desires. Some people think this new and a “fad” because of its current popularity, but this practice has been around for centuries as a way to replenish much-needed nutrients, mainly iron and protein. After the birth of baby, humans, at least in the western world, are one of the few land mammals that do not consume their placentas.
There are two main methods of preparing a placenta, each with its own benefits. To decide which method would benefit you the most, talk to your specialist, or try them both! This can easily be done if you specify beforehand that you would prefer to have this option.
The first method, the “Raw Method”, involves cleaning the placenta, removing the membranes and cord and then draining the excess blood. After draining blood, the placenta is cut into thin strips and dehydrated. Because this method leaves a little more blood behind, more than the TCM inspired method, the dehydration process takes a bit longer to complete. However, using the Raw Method creates a very nutrient and hormone dense capsule and a high yield. This method is generally not recommended for women with a history of anxiety, jitters, insomnia, or bipolar tendencies because it can result in an overwhelming feeling.
Next we have the Traditional Chinese Medicine Inspired Method (TCM). This process is exactly the same as the Raw Method except for one added step, gently steaming the placenta before processing. This preparation is thought to bring out the placenta’s healing and tonifying properties to the uterus. TCM Inspired capsules offer a more balanced, mellow flow of hormones back to the mother. This is a better option for those who already suffer from anxiety since the RAW method may contain concentrated hormones from the body and cause more emotional upset. Generally, this method yields a smaller amount of capsules, but not by much. Why “inspired” and not simply TCM? The true TCM process involves adding herbs like lemon, ginger and hot pepper to the steaming process. It is thought to bring more warmth to the placenta and provide additional benefits. However, I am not a trained herbalist and I do not know which particular herbs the mother’s body will require, or possibly have an adverse reaction to, so I choose to skip this step. I would hate for a new mom to have a negative reaction due to an herb, and then her capsules be rendered useless. However, I do offer the option for you to seek the opinion of a trained herbalist to advise you on the right herbs if you truly want it.
For those who don’t want to decide between the two methods I offer, you can choose the 50/50 route and have half your placenta prepared with the Raw Method, and the other half with the TCM inspired method. This gives you the option to experience both options and truly customize your dosage, maximizing all the benefits that both methods offer.
Now that we have talked about what it is, and the methods used, let’s talk about why, because the potential benefits are really where it’s at. So what would convince anyone want to do this? The amazing possible benefits. The placenta contains a large amount of crucial hormones and iron that normally leave our body with its delivery, and by encapsulating the placenta, you return these back into the body and help stabilize your system. Although results vary from woman to woman, some of the reported benefits are:
Although the vast majority of moms have nothing but positive things to say about their experience with placenta capsules, there are the rare negative side effects that some moms experience, such as:
The best part about all this? You can get all these benefits without having to ever touch or look at your own placenta! I am a trained specialist that can prepare your “happy” pills for you without inconveniencing you one bit. It can be done in your home, or in my designated prep area at my home, whichever you desire. The whole process takes about 2-3 days and will cost you around $150 in our local area of Anchorage, Alaska. I also serve Wasilla Eagle River, and Palmer for a small travel fee. Or, if you want to save some money and bring it to me and pick up the capsules once it is prepared, I offer a $20 discount for those who are willing. In another blog, I will be discussing hiring a placenta specialist vs. doing it yourself and trying to save some money.
Generally speaking, it is very safe to have your placenta encapsulated, but there are some small risks that need to be mentioned. They are similar to the risks involving food-borne illnesses, like:
So is placenta encapsulation for you? If the proper protocols are followed and there are no contraindications, then you are a perfect candidate for placenta encapsulation! Placenta encapsulation is an investment that could potentially be the difference between looking back on the postpartum months with fond memories, or remembering an overwhelming anxiety and unstable emotions. Very few women reported feeling no effect from their placenta pills, the vast majority of women report that placenta pills helped them in their postpartum recovery. So it’s worth a shot! What do you think?
Now through September 30th, all placenta encapsulation packages are 20% off! If you have been thinking about this to help with your postpartum recovery, now is the time.
Many ask if there are any studies proving the benefits of human consumption of their placenta following the birth of their child, and here at W.I.S.E., we believe in 100% transparency. We will tell you that no, there are currently no studies proving the benefits. Then where do all the acclaimed benefits come from? These are simply just the results that have been reported to us by our clients. The vast majority of our clients rave about all the benefits they experience when they take what they call "happy pills." From being able to pump more milk, sleep better at night, heal faster, and just feeling more emotionally stable, women are happy that they are making this investment in their postpartum recovery. Sometimes, we even get reports of partners being able to tell a difference between when the mom takes her capsules and when she forgets. Very rarely do we get someone who reports anything negative about utilizing their placenta in the postpartum period.
So what do you think? Check out our page on placenta encapsulation to learn more about the benefits and/or register for services. Take a look at our placenta FAQ page to read more about how it works.
Sarah is a work at home mom with three beautiful boys, two dogs, and a loving husband. She is a certified childbirth educator, placenta specialist, and creates custom, high quality keepsakes made from breastmilk, placenta powder, cremation ashes, and so much more.