Doulas of Iowa City members bring a wide variety of trainings, skills, and experiences to their work with families in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and surrounding communities. We're excited to highlight our member doulas through this series.
Today, meet Grace Swartzendruber of All Bodies All Births Doula Services.
As a birth worker, families ask me in many different ways - Why are childbith prep classes so important? Not to sound like a broken record for those who have already asked me, but here's why I feel so strongly about them.
Picture yourself planning a big vacation. You may pick a place to go immediately or take time to figure out the best option for your destination. Once you've picked your spot, you figure out travel plans to get there, where to stay, make dinner reservations or schedule tours, etc. You may leave some of your vacation more open so you can relax or decide what to do once you are there. Heck, some of you may take a spontaneous trip and book a flight two hours before it takes off! However, for many of us, flying by the seat of our pants may sound more stressful than exciting.
Thinking through all the small details you attend to when planning a vacation can help you understand why taking a full-day or 6-week childbirth education course before baby comes is so beneficial for you and your partner. You both will benefit immensely by taking the time to learn more about the journey you will be going on to meet your sweet babe. Also, because most of us didn't grow up around birth, it may make us uncomfortable or fearful of the unknown.
It wasn't always that way. Many years ago (and still in some cultures today), giving birth was very much a community effort. Women helping women, men supporting the community collectively and so on. Our society has gotten away from birth as a community and family effort. As a result, we don't talk much about labor and birth, and we have so many unknowns when it comes to childbirth.
A version of this blog previously appeared over on the Stacey Schmitt Birth & Photography blog.
10/1/2018 0 Comments
One of the best parts of bringing our member businesses together in Doulas of Iowa City is the chance to gather for continuing education from experts in our community as well as experienced member doulas. This month we had the opportunity to learn about massage before, during, and after birth from Kristin Bergman of Conscious Caring.
Here are just a few takeaways that illustrate what makes Kristin's "conscious caring" significant:
When we moved to her massage space, Kristin graciously allowed us the opportunity to hop on her table so we could feel her information as well as watch and learn. Here are a few specific suggestions she shared for massage before, during, and after birth:
Some key details to note about the fabulous services Kristin offers:
Want to learn more about Kristin and the fabulous services she offers? Head on over to Conscious Birth Iowa!
Thanks so much to Kristin from all of us at Doulas of Iowa City for this continuing education presentation and letting us share a bit on the blog, too!
What is a birth doula?
A birth doula is a trained professional for who offers informational, emotional and physical support throughout your pregnancy, labor, and birth. Doulas are not medically trained and do not perform any clinical tasks. As such, doulas are also not a replacement for a care provider such as a midwife or obstetrician. Doulas provide knowledge and resources as you explore your options for labor and birth and will assist you in creating a birth plan. Doulas can teach and provide you with comfort measures for pregnancy and labor, such as positioning, relaxation, visualization, and other pain coping techniques. Doulas provide a calm, caring presence and a familiar face during the uncertainties of birth, especially in cases where you do not know who will be on call when you give birth.
What services does a birth doula provide?
Everyone's birth package looks slightly different, so it's important to talk through the details with the doulas you interview and carefully read through their package description and contract. Typically once hired, birth doulas meet with the birthing person or couple several times throughout pregnancy to get to know them and their wishes for labor and birth. Your doula is available via phone, text and/or email when questions arise and is a great source of emotional and informational support throughout the many changes that take place during pregnancy.
Doulas are also a great referral source for local resources and typically have networked to create relationships with many providers in your area. Once your labor is established at home or the hospital, your doula will join you when you feel like you need additional support. The doula remains with the birthing person/couple throughout labor and birth, and typically until 1-2 hours after baby is born to help the family adjust to the immediate postpartum and assist with breastfeeding if that's one of the family's goals. Usually a birth doula will also have one postpartum follow-up visit in the client's home about 7-10 days after the birth to check in, make sure things are going well, assist with feeding if needed, and refer to any outside resources.
What are the benefits of a doula?
Doulas serve many purposes, but for me personally, the primary doula purpose is to have that constant support during labor and birth which can be full of unknowns. You typically won't know which nurse, resident, midwife, doctor, etc. will be on call when you give birth, and over the course of a longer labor and birth, these providers will change shifts so you may have multiple different nurses and midwives/doctors. I know, for me, I feel much safer and more secure knowing there will be at least one person beside me who knows me, my partner, and my wishes for birth.
Experienced doulas can also be very helpful since they are usually familiar with your birthing location's staff, procedures, and protocols and can help educate you in advance and also during birth when you have questions. Doulas work together with birth partners as a team to support the birthing person, and can tag in and out to offer continuous support while also taking care of personal needs such as eating, sleeping, and using the bathroom.
Doulas provide a key role of holding space for the birthing person, especially during a long and/or difficult labor and birth. They provide compassion, empathy, and unbiased support when difficult decisions have to be made and when things don't go according to plan. Doulas help remind you of your goals and priorities, but are completely nonjudgmental when things change.
You may see research or statistics that indicates the presence of a doula will lower your chance of having an epidural, cesarean, and/or other interventions, but I personally don't like to make that claim because sometimes those interventions are wanted and/or needed, and that's totally okay. It doesn't mean you have failed or your doula has failed - doulas are there to support you however your birth unfolds.
Your satisfaction with your birthing experience is usually more related to your involvement in the process and decision making than the outcome. To loosely quote January Harshe of Birth Without Fear, the goal of a doula is to make sure you know your options, that you feel supported, and are respected.
Looking for a birth doula? Join us for our next Meet the Doulas event or reach out to one of our member businesses directly to set up a consultation.
Check out all these awesome upcoming classes for expectant parents as well as free events where you can meet and chat with Doulas of Iowa City member businesses. We hope to see you soon!
October 5 - Dream on: the Art and Science of Infant Sleep
Nested Mama Prenatal & Postpartum Doula Support
A prenatal course designed to set up healthy expectations and habits surrounding infant sleep.
Taught by Johanna Tomlinson, PhD, MCPCD, MBE, MCE
November 3 - Meet the Doulas
Doulas of Iowa City
A free, open-house style event where you can chat with the member business of Doulas of Iowa City.
November 4 - Planning for Postpartum Workshop
Nested Mama Prenatal & Postpartum Doula Support
A prenatal workshop designed to strengthen your partnership and prepare for a better postpartum.
Taught by Johanna Tomlinson, PhD, MCPCD, MBE, MCE
**Save a combined $30 when you register for this and ICBS's November 10 childbirth education class**
November 10 - Birth: The Process, the Pain, and the Positions
Iowa City Birth Services
A one-day comprehensive childbirth education class - evidence-based and judgement free.
Taught by Hannah Sandler, CLD (CBI) and Emily Piette, CLD (CBI)
**Save a combined $30 when you register for this and Nested Mama’s November 4 postpartum planning course.**
Fall TBD - Breastfeeding from the Beginning
Beloved Bonds Birth & Bodywork
Breastfeeding your newborn from birth through the early months.
Taught by Kimberly Hendricks, LMT, CLC, CD
As always, don't hesitate to reach out to our member businesses directly with any questions. Private classes and consultations available. You'll find a full listing of our members and services here.
When we think of mothers and mental health, we most often think of Postpartum Depression. But, PPD is just one among many diagnoses that fall under the category of PMADs - Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.
This is significant because many women may be struggling but assume that since their experiences don't match up with what they typically think of as depression that there isn't support or understanding for what they may be experiencing.
We no longer live in tribes, extended families, or tight-knit communities, meaning that the challenges parents face as they negotiate childbirth, sleepless nights, and changing identities occur behind closed doors without the vital support networks they need. According to Shannon, doulas can provide a critical level of support and intervention for moms and families during this pivotal time of transition.
Many thanks to Shannon for sharing offering Doulas of Iowa City members continuing education on this important subject! If you are looking a mental health professional to support you in pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond, you can find information about Shannon and Murray, Wilson, and Rose Counseling here.
Looking for doula support? Join the Doulas of Iowa City for our next Meet the Doulas event.
One of my favorite things about summertime in the corridor is all of the colorful, delicious goodness I get to enjoy from our farm share with Local Harvest CSA out of Solon. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a way to buy local, seasonal, high quality food while supporting sustainability in our community. At the beginning of the season we invest in our share and then once a week, we pick up a generous haul of farm fresh produce and eggs at the North Liberty food pantry. We get a weekly email with updates from the farm and details and recipes to go with the share. After a fun conversation with the farmers each week at pickup, we normally come home with at least a dozen different types of produce. This week we are enjoying Napa cabbage, kohlrabi, zucchini and summer squash, green onions, and all sorts of delicious leafy greens. I love community supported agriculture and we are so lucky to have so many different farms that offer shares throughout the year!
We all know nutrition is so important in all seasons of life and especially during pregnancy and postpartum. During pregnancy, I loved learning to prepare nourishing, satisfying, delicious meals. I loved sitting down to eat and thinking that my baby was enjoying my meal with me. During my pregnancy, I learned to truly love and respect my body and have never turned back. Body love and respect can be so simple- this week I practiced body respect by fixing up this delicious Chef Salad with a lot of the goodies from this week’s share. This salad is perfect during pregnancy- jam packed with veggies, proteins, and dressed with healthy fats. Also perfect for postpartum because, of course, those nutrients remain so important, but it is also such a breeze to throw together! And the balance of macronutrients provides good, sustainable energy.
I pulled out all of the lettuce from one of four bags of leafy greens and washed and chopped it up. We have been enjoying our CSA for three years now and I am still astounded by the amounts of produce we get each week!
For some more protein, I added some turkey and ham and chopped up some bacon. We like our animal proteins in our house but chickpeas or avocado would be delicious alternatives. I also added some Monterey jack and cheddar cheese and some seasoned croutons. (I wanted to make some homemade croutons but I was just loving the quickness and easiness of this recipe too much!)
When I make salads I love to line up all the toppings before mixing just to appreciate the colorful beauty. I made up a quick dressing too using ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar, and generous shakes of paprika and black pepper. Perfectly creamy and zesty.
So summery and satisfying.
Have you heard your pregnant friends or acquaintances mention visiting the chiropractor during pregnancy? Are you curious about what prenatal chiropractic looks like and why you may want to do it? Read on, my friends, because I’ve got the answers!
A few weeks ago we held our quarterly Meet the Doulas event in the beautiful studio space at Robinson Family Wellness in Coralville. Before the event, Dr. Jordan Long graciously gave a presentation on prenatal chiropractic care and answered all our questions.
Here are the highlights of that talk, just for you.
Why consider prenatal chiropractic care?
The pregnant body shifts in order to accommodate growth and hormones make muscles relax. All of that can make for significant discomfort for the birthing parent. And, if there is constraint in the pelvis, that can lead to less than optimal fetal positioning.
In other words, if you are feeling uncomfortable or baby isn’t in a ideal position, chiropractic can be a great, gentle option to consider. As we learned from Dr. Jordan, receiving early and consistent chiropractic care can promote optimal fetal position from the start as well as help curb sciatica and round ligament pain.
How often do you need an adjustment?
The number of adjustments you receive throughout your pregnancy will vary based on your goals (reducing discomfort, optimal fetal position, etc.) and your needs. Because pregnancy hormones relax muscles, frequent adjustments may be needed if your goal is to reduce discomfort as much as possible.
What is all the talk about prenatal yoga? Is it a workout fad? How will it benefit me in my pregnancy and labor? What if I have never done yoga before? Do I need my doctor/midwife approval first?
All valid questions. All I have been asked time and time again, so let's go through these questions and understand the importance of yoga during pregnancy and how it could influence your baby's birth.
1. Yoga is a mind, body, and spirit practice; however, in prenatal yoga we take it a step further and add baby into the mix.
2. Workouts trends tend to eb and flow; however, women will always be having babies and yoga is a wonderful exercise that prepares mamas both physically and mentally for labor. Many mamas find the poses introduced in prenatal yoga helpful in labor. Sometimes they even birth in a yoga pose, too!
3. Anyone can do yoga, so anyone can do prenatal yoga. I'm sure you know from first-hand experience or from a friend or family member that has gone through labor - it is a lot of work. Labor and delivery is one of the most rewarding, physically demanding, and emotionally draining experiences. You do need to prepare your body for what it is going to go through and help it heal post birth, too. Always consult your midwife or OB when doing any form of exercise, but know that breathing and meditation are two amazingly simple ways to prepare for baby.
Intros before prenatal yoga class
4. Community. When you come to prenatal yoga each week, you will meet other mamas on the same journey. It's like a club, and just by showing up, you are a member. Ask questions, share stories, laugh, and cry with one another. You will immediately know who to turn to once baby is in your arms because you met some amazing women in prenatal yoga. Bonus: you can meet all your fellow mamas’ babies in BYOBaby Yoga and continue together on this amazing journey of motherhood together.
5. Why not? Why not come to class and give it a try, you have nothing to lose!
Looking for Prenatal Yoga in the Corridor? Check out these fabulous options:
The Doulas of Iowa City blog contains guest posts by Doulas of Iowa City member businesses. We are excited to share with you about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and surrounding communities and to help you connect to fabulous local resources.