Hi, I’m Abbie!
It wasn’t until after the gentle birth of my daughter in 2009 that I found two passions I didn’t know existed; giving laboring women loving and practial birth support and hands on breastfeeding help.
I reside in Pleasant Hill with my husband of over a decade and two daughters. Being so close to Walnut Creek has its advantages! I am less than four miles from John Muir and Kaiser Walnut Creek hospitals. I do of course serve hospitals in the greater Bay Area as well as birth centers or home births.
I believe every birth is unique with its own rhythm. Its been my experience that moms truly find themselves in these laboring moments more capable and stronger than they ever imagined they could be.
My journey began when I joined Contra Costa Regional Medical Center’s volunteer doula program in 2010. In 2011 I became a Certified Birth Doula through DONA international. In 2015 I completed an intensive breastfeeding course through the University of San Diego and am a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor as well.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM ME:
Through our prenatal meetings you will learn things like how breathing through a contraction can help to manage the intensity of labor and how different body positions can facilitate descent of baby and help mom be more comfortable. You will also learn what to expect during each phase of labor, how to know if you are in labor, how breastfeeding works, and what you can expect postpartum. I understand first hand the challenges of breastfeeding and so provide a breastfeeding support session after the birth in your home as it is my desire that every mom who wants to breastfeed is given the support and tools to be successful.
While I cannot promise a pain free or complication free delivery, I will be there to encourage and support you. No matter your birth choice, epidural/analgesic or no epidural, natural or cesarean, I support all births.
The birth of your baby is an amazing and unforgettable journey and I would be honored to share in it with you.
When people hear the term doula, they either have never heard the term before or the term conjures up an image of a sterotype… think hippy. Some think all doulas are against pain medications, doctors, hospitals, and vaccines. But most of us are just women who feel passionate about helping woman and their partners’ unforgettable journey into parenthood.
So, what is a doula anyway, why do you care and why would you want one? Do they actually make women have faster labors, fewer medical interventions and increase breastfeeding rates? Yes!
*Education: Prenatal meetings – talk about your birth preferences, teach you labor coping techniques, what to expect in labor, birth, pain management options, common labor interventions, postpartum, breastfeeding (Simkin, 2008) (Kennell 2002).
*Non-medical: not a doctor or a nurse, do no do cervical checks or interpret fetal heart monitors, we give no medical advice.
*Protector of the laboring space: We recognize birth as an experience that you will remember the rest of your life, a defining moment; and as such seek to provide you with as much comfort as possible. Low lights, soft voices, just right temperature, encouragement, and guidance. We do all this by remaining calm so you don’t have to. By doing this the doula helps keep mamas’ natural pain relieving hormone high. Endorphins are released throughout labor and get higher as labor discomfort increases (Anonymous C, 2015).
*Advocacy: – Our job is to ensure you have a voice by mom and dad have a voice by encouraging you to ask questions so you can make an informed choice. We do not directly interfere with medical staff on your behalf. Most of all, we supports your choice. Your birth, your choice! We are however well versed in the typical medical interventions and can explain them to the parents (Kennel, 2002).
* Takes fear out of the birth room by reminding mom and partner that throwing up, shaking, hot/cold, and all that intense pressure is normal. Penny Simkin compares the hundreds of births she has witnessed and notices that three characteristics are all commonly shared by the mom who copes well; relaxation, rhythm and ritual (Simkin, 2008). Adrenaline plays a huge part in labor. This flight or fight hormone can inhibit a mom in labor if she is scared or frightened by slowing down her contractions, make it feel more painful and can stop it completely (Anonymous D, Unknown).
*Enhances role of partner: Dad and doula work together to help mom labor. Dad’s can be fearful of having to know everything and with a doula present dad is more relaxed and emotionally available for mom (Klaus, 2002). We of course take care of dad too by giving them breaks, taking over when they are tired and being there emotionally for them.
*Keeps labor progressing: keep mom focused and working with her contractions not against them. Reminds her to pee, drink, listen to her body, do what feels good and change positions. Movement in labor is very important to keep labor progressing. Swaying, walking, lunging, squatting, hand and knees (Kennell, 2002). When a women is in upright positions it encourages the release of more oxytocin as the baby’s head puts pressure against the cervix releasing more oxytocin which stimulates longer, stronger, closer together contractions (Anonymous C, 2011).
*Remains after the birth: Usually we stay one to two hours to give continued emotional support especially if separated from baby. Help with breastfeeding latch on. Take picture or video if desired.
THE EVIDENCE FOR DOULAS
Doula group results
Fewer vacuum/forceps deliveries
Shorter labors – 7.8hrs
Fewer C-sections 3.2% (4 of 126 moms)
Epidural group results
Ave labor 9.9 hrs.
C-section rate 16.8%
Narcotics group results
Ave labor 9.5 hrs.
C-section rate 11.6%
written by Abbie Alvey