Do I Need a Doula?

What have been some of your greatest accomplishments?  If you mentioned that you’ve earned a degree, overcome a bad habit, or volunteer your time regularly, I’d be very impressed!  This is because all of these things are HARD to do, which is what makes them WONDERFUL.  You’ve chosen to improve your mind and character through a series of actions which GREW you!  

Life is mysterious:  Some of us are given advantages at birth that others will never have a chance to compensate for.  They are just one-time opportunities, unlike taking up running or hosting a charity event.  It’s easy to see that these are some of the most vital factors which contribute to our lives, because they set us up for every other decision we will ever make.

There are no do-overs when it comes to how we entered the world, and it impacts us for LIFE.

How were you born?  Ask your mom or grandmothers how their births went, and you may be surprised.  

We may imagine a softly lit room, our ancestor laboring with only her closest friends around, and a definite hush as all present anticipate the wondrous moments which they’ve been invited to witness.  It is an honor and privilege to attend a birth!  This should be a time of calm and support.  But all too many of our ancestors (mainly within the past century) have not had such births.  Rather, they experience a plethora of unnecessary interventions and disappointments as their wishes are not honored.  One intervention leads to another, and soon, the birth is indistinguishable from the one they had hoped for.

The simple fact that we have the option to choose WHO will attend our births often makes all the difference in the world!  A hand ready with a cool cloth for your brow, someone to answer the door and quietly usher in your mom, or a reassuring touch when you feel distraught all do much more than words ever could for the laboring mother.

This is why doulas exist!  We serve alongside midwives and doctors as a comforting presence and advocate for your family’s wishes.  Some of a doula’s roles include:

  • Comfort measures for labor
  • Helping the family implement what they learned in childbirth classes
  • Interpreting the signs of labor progress
  • Assisting the father as he supports his wife in labor
  • Staying with the mother so dad can take a nap or eat
  • Cooking and cleaning (so mother is never left alone)
  • Monitoring room and bath temperatures for the mother
  • Reassuring and encouraging the mother
  • Suggesting positions for labor
  • Enforcing the mother’s wishes and communicating this to the birth team and guests
  • Controlling the environment’s volume and light, according to the family’s preferences
  • Serving as volunteer photographer/videographer for your birth 

When it comes to your baby’s story, it will begin with his birth.  This one event affects his emotional stability, comfort preferences, feeding habits, neurological health, skin health, digestive system, and bonding with you and your family for LIFE.  Birth ought to be treated as a big deal, and doulas help foster an environment of peace and joy which aid many mothers in achieving their goals when it comes to labor and birth.  If breastfeeding is important to you, your doula will stay with you for as long as it takes.  If you need time with your husband and baby after the birth, your doula is there to make sure that you are uninterrupted!

Why did I make the decision to work as a doula?

I began attending births at the age of 17 as part of my midwifery schooling.  It was quickly apparent to me that moms who had the proper support achieved better outcomes, and I love the role that a doula gets to play in this!  My natural ability to say more with my actions than my words makes me a great fit for this job, as most mothers want peace and quiet rather than questions during labor.  Uninhibited labor leads to uninhibited descent of the baby, which makes birth much more optimal for the mother.  By minimizing such interruptions, I seek to protect your labor time and allow you to progress as naturally as possible.  

I love that my job allows me the joy of seeing children born, and it is an honor to be invited by parents to these beautiful events!  I believe that birth can happen without anyone assisting and turn out perfectly, but for those who would like a servant and support person to emerge from the shadows now and then, a doula is an amazing tool!

It is my hope that you will consider a doula’s services for your next birth!  For more information, I recommend The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.  (Good for dads, too!)

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Freezer Meals Follow-Up

Hello there!  This post is to complement my recent class on freezer meals.  (For class times and my schedule for Las Vegas parents, please contact me anytime!)

We covered the basics in just 45 minutes…  Scheduling, writing a meal plan, finding your most freezer-friendly meals, packaging different foods correctly for freezing, and working with the foods which are in season while you cook!  Who doesn’t love having a clean kitchen but PLENTY of food when guests are over?!  Freezer meals have kept our family on budget and have enabled us to spend more time together.  That said, here are some specifics which will enhance your cooking and freezing now that you’re home!

Make a Helpful List

This is a simple task, but a very important one.  (Read:  It is worth the extra effort to write a designated list and NOT on the back of an old receipt!)  🙂  I use graph paper and check boxes just so I won’t miss anything.  If I am going to be cooking several weeks’ worth of meals all at once, the last thing I want to do is pause to make another trip to the store!  REMEMBER:  Garnish is just that.  Rather than purchase the feta cheese and cilantro for that soup you’re planning today, purchase it then.  Herbs and dairy in general do not freeze as well as other things, plus the presentation will be vastly improved.  You will be glad you purchased your garnish fresh, as it lends more flavor and nutrition!  Account for these time differences in your list.

My grocery list

Graph paper simplifies shopping!

 

Choose Disposable or Reusable Containers

Breads and most baked goods are very well-preserved in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, but a lasagna or pie will require a different means of storage and reheating.  Think about this before you begin cooking…  Is it worth purchasing some small metal pans for the meatloaf?  Some families use the aluminum containers from the dollar store (stock up during Fourth of July and Thanksgiving sales!) to simplify things, and this is especially practical if you usually deliver meals to friends.  For now, use whichever method that encourages you to keep up your momentum.

Freeze Soups, Sauces, and Fillings

Few things make me as happy as a bunch of pot pie filling lined neatly in the freezer, ready to be reheated and added to a crust!  (Find my hands-down favorite crust here.)  We make our soups, sauces and fillings in large quantities, as these are some of the easiest meals to reheat with little notice.  Your favorite Alfredo, pea, and Swedish sauces can be ready in the time it takes for you to boil pasta!  Soups and stews may be frozen as components or a whole, depending on the meal.  I look forward to sharing more on this in the future!

Revive Old Bones

The larger chunks of bone (and even chicken feet) from your most recent meals are worth saving!  These contain collagen and elastin among many other wonderful nutrients which are beneficial to the entire body.

According to Jennifer McGruther in her book Broth & Stock:  “While stocks simmer for many hours until richly flavored, bone broths cook for considerably longer, often for half a day or up to two full days.  At completion, the bones will have simmered so long that they typically crumble when pinched between the thumb and forefinger.  This extended cooking time produces extremely flavorful results and extracts as much gelatin as possible as well as some minerals from the bones and connective tissue.

What an invaluable source of nutrition to have on hand for your family!  I often save bones from one stew for the next…  Leeching minerals from them twice still proves effective and imparts flavor.

 

I hope these tips have whetted your appetite for our next class on cooking and advanced preparation!

Be watching for my next post on last-minute meals and meals for unannounced guests!

Life With Your Newborn

The first few hours and days with your newborn have been identified by many professionals as both precious and as a crucial time of laying the foundation for the rest of your relationship.  Late nights, soiled diapers, and unforeseen joys may dominate this season of your lives, but managing (and even enjoying!) your time rather than simply surviving is an aspect which many parents may miss.  Here are some tips for making your transition into life with your new child ideal:


  • Take Charge of Your Birth

That’s right:  Your birth plans ought to be respected and enforced.  Because many parts of the birth process will affect your baby for the postpartum period (and even for life), consider weighing your options and making a birth plan.  This is especially essential in the hospital setting, as such routine practices as prophylactic eye ointment and the vitamin K shot may inhibit your bonding.  Read up on the Golden Hour following birth in Dr. Michel Odent’s article.  Hiring a doula not only increases your comfort, but allows you the ease of consulting someone who has your best interests at heart at any point during labor.

  • Protect your bonding time

This may seem simple, but simply holding your baby while reading a book or sleeping in a family bed makes for an amount of security which your baby would certainly not have experienced otherwise!  Think about it:  This is the apex of your giving and baby’s taking.  Eventually, contributions will become 50/50 as your child does their share in the home and blesses you with their many talents, and in your old age, you will be the one “taking” as they care for you (and rightly so).  Why not enjoy the moments in which you are the absolute center of your child’s attention?  You may be the one preparing them for the world, but for now, you are their world!

Finally, enlist friends or a postpartum doula to help with chores and meals to avoid becoming overwhelmed and to maximize time with your spouse, baby, and family.

  • Consider Attachment Parenting

I would encourage ALL parents to at least try attachment parenting, as both father and mother share equal responsibility and, therefore, reap equal rewards!  This is absolutely related to the first point, but is more of a philosophy and lifestyle which ought to be embraced for life.  As Dr. Sears states:  “The attachment-parented baby learns to trust, and trust fosters healthy independence.” [4] Read more about attachment parenting here.

  • Breastfeed

This is undoubtedly one of the best ways for optimizing bonding, health, comfort, sleep regularity, digestive health, increased immunity, and (eventually) discipline, among many other things! [3] Take advantage of this resource.

  • Over-stimulation:  Know Your Baby’s Alert States

Babies are taking in many things for the first time, and although listening to you speak and play is essential for development, down time is necessary, as well.  Over-stimulation simply results from babies’ immature nervous systems becoming overwhelmed by multiple stimuli. [1, 2]  Eventually, more sounds, sights, textures, and smells will be more manageable, and you will learn what each type of cry means for your baby.  Feeding, swaddling, and even baths may be the solution for over-stimulation in your newborn.

  •  Daytime & Nighttime Routines

Expect some adjustment time, as even you and your spouse are learning what it is like to sleep with a newborn.  Your baby may benefit from a tranquil environment during the day, which will promote peace during bedtime.  A newborn must be expected to have needs at all hours, as they grow hungry frequently and are still learning to self-soothe.  Luckily, attachment parenting extends into bedtime, and keeping your baby close to you throughout the day will teach them to trust that their needs will soon be met.  

Keeping a bedtime routine (perhaps a warm bath, followed by pajamas, then a song, and then mom reads while breastfeeding) will give your child cues as to what is coming next, adding an extra layer of comfort and reliability.  

Newborns do not necessarily sleep through the night, and it is suggested by many that light sleepers are safest when it comes to SIDS. [9]  Ensure that your baby drifts back to sleep quickly by offering breastmilk at the slightest stirring.  

“…mother–infant co-sleeping represents the most biologically appropriate sleeping arrangement for humans and is both ancient and ubiquitous simply because breast feeding is not possible, nor as easily managed, without it.  The increased sensory contact and proximity between the mother and infant induces potentially beneficial behavioural and physiological changes in the infants.”[5-8]

  • Bowel Movements

After the tar-like meconium, your baby’s stool will eventually progress in color and texture.  By the end of week 1, stools should be greenish brown.  After this, they will become yellowish brown and somewhat resemble mustard in texture.  Depending upon your choice of breastmilk or formula, your child’s frequency may range from only one or two to up to twenty stools per day.  Breastfed babies in particular should pass stool more frequently.  Dehydration is a possibility if this is not the case.  Read more about how to assess your baby’s stools here.

Remember that this precious time for discovery belongs to both you and your child.  As you get to know your baby’s needs and comforts, indulge them and enjoy the oneness which continues for many months after birth and which may, in many cases, extend into your adult relationship as a result of this foundation.


1.  Foundations of Maternal-Newborn and Women’s Health Nursing, pg. 467
2.  Roach, J. A. (2003), Newborn Stimulation. AWHONN Lifelines, 7: 530–535. doi:10.1177/1091592303261925
3.  The Baby Book, Sears & Sears, pg. 125
4.  The Baby Book, Sears & Sears, pg. 12
5.  Lozoff B, Brittenham G. Infant care: cache or carry. Journal of Pediatrics 1979; 95: 478–483. 13.
6.   McKenna JJ, Volpe LE. Sleeping with baby: an internet-based sampling of parental experiences, choices, perceptions, and interpretations in a Western industrialized context. Infant and Child Development (in press).
7.  McKenna JJ, Mosko S. Mother-infant cosleeping: toward a new scientific beginning. In: Byard R, Krous H, eds: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Problems, Puzzles, Possibilities. New York: Arnold Publishing, 2001. pp. 259–272. 1
8.  Ball HL. Breastfeeding, bedsharing, and infant sleep. Birth 2003; 30: 181–188.
9. McKenna, J. Experimental studies of infant-parent co-sleeping: mutual physiological and behavioral influences and their relevance to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Early Hum Dev. 1994 Sep 15; 38(3):187–201.

 

Resource: Special Needs

While beginning life with a special-needs child brings its own set of blessings and discoveries, healing from past loss typically requires a different type of support.  My prayer is that these resources serve you well.

 

Grief and loss:

 

Abortion-related trauma:

 

Prematurity:

 

Autism:

 

Down Syndrome:

 

If you have been helped by these or other resources which are not yet on my list, please feel free to comment with your experience.  Your contribution will help other families!

In Due Season’s Purpose

My name is Paulina Smith, and I am pursuing a ministry in the area of midwifery.  In this case, midwifery refers to supporting families in the process of giving birth naturally, and typically in the family’s own home.  I hope that this page serves as a platform from which to share interesting articles, spiritually uplifting writings, and the things I am currently learning regarding the processes (and joys) of birth and mothering!

My main goal is to exude Christ in all things.  I am a committed follower of Christ and recognize His handiwork in the human body and its processes, as well as the rest of creation.  While all articles will be founded upon scientific fact and findings, the Creator will be acknowledged regularly, because He is the Founder of science.

I assume that many other families are like mine:  We seek to know as much as we can about our options in any decision because we feel this is most responsible.  I admire families who take this same approach concerning birth, and thought it necessary to share all that I come across which might be valuable to my fellow researchers.  

Please keep in mind that these posts will be written from the perspective of a single young woman who is endeavoring to become a midwife.  (I don’t know all that motherhood and marriage may entail, but trust that the Lord has equipped me with enough understanding to see which practices are most honoring to Him.)  I am seeking to edify and encourage those who visit this site, and hope that you learn as much as I have about birth and how an informed choice is the very best.

May God bless you!

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”  Proverbs 15:23 KJV

(Emphasis mine)