Welcome to the blog of Doula Angelita!

Bring your brain to be refreshed and inspired!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quick Survey: I, Redundant?

I recently spoke with some pregnant women from the community. Extolling the virtues of being a doula, and waxing ecstatic about how wonderful it is to provide one-to-one help, I did notice that some members of the birth circle were less than thrilled. Breaking out of my cocoon of happiness, I stopped my presentation and enquired as to what was wrong.

May I say that I was blown out of my shoes when one individual spoke out loudly and said, "You can save your breath. I ain't getting no doula. My mom didn't have one and her mom didn't have one, I am going right to the hospital, they can give me an epidural cocktail, I won't feel nothing!" There was general laughing and agreement, with some members volunteering that they didn't know that women needed help during labour, other women who are "weaker" needed doulas to hold their hands, the nurses and doctors would take care of everything for them.

Faced with this outpouring of sentiment, I asked them for a few moments of quiet. I thanked them for sharing their views with me. I then asked them to do a visualization with me: imagine that you have to carry a heavy box, up a steep hill full of potholes, and over slippery slopes. It is 95 degrees. There is no shade. It is humid, the goal is far and getting farther. You thirst, there is no water. You must go on; your feet are blistered, every bone aches.

Now, imagine the same scenario: a heavy box, a steep hill. Halfway up the hill, you meet a stranger, who wipes your face and hands with a cool cloth, and pours out a tall glass of iced lemonade. The stranger smiles at you, and holds the box while you stretch and refresh yourself. There is even a green tree to sit under; you plop, thankfully underneath the verdant shade and lean against a root and close your eyes. After a time, the stranger bids you to rise, and continue your journey. To your surprise, the stranger takes the box and walks with you. When you stop again, you are surprised to see how far you have come...

I concluded the imagery by saying that doulas have been around since after Eve, that slaves in Egypt and in America both used experienced older women to give birth(see the story of Moses), that every culture on earth uses woman-centered care, that it is the exception for "women to give birth alone in the rice fields and keep on going". I then reminded them, the child that they carried along in their wombs, needed them, needed them to be strong, and that the strong and the clever are always the first to ask for help.

I will not boast of success or of failure; the important thing is that those women had a new perspective to contemplate.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If I were an octopus....

Unless you are an octopus……..

you need a doula!

Doulas are a helping hand when you need them!

Resurgam Birthingwell Support Services Ltd is a multi-service doula agency dedicated to the care, support, and assistance of women in the community during the childbearing years.

Doula Angelita provides wraparound care before-during-after birth wherever you want: home-hospital-birth centre.

Doula Angelita
resurgam birthingwell support services ltd
p.o.box 240506* boston ma 02124*doula4hire@gmail.com

A tragedy in San Antonio

Otty Sanchez woke up Sunday morning, looked at her three and a half week old baby boy, took two swords and a steak knife, dismembered and ate parts of her child.

Is this the plot to a horror movie? Yes, a horror movie that a good percentage of postpartum women endure. Otty Sanchez is a troubled young woman who fell through the cracks of the medical system.

The stories are now emerging and are heartbreaking: she was on meds, she wasn't. She was hospitalized, she left without her medications. No one seemed concerned about her mental outlook-or the safety of her newborn. Her family seems to have known something was amiss, but stayed quiet out of guilt and shame. Her partner, himself a schizophrenic, says that she was allright since she was breastfeeding.

There was at least one incident with the police. Something was wrong, but no one thought that leaving an unstable mother in a house decorated with samarai kitana was not a good idea. When the horrific deed occurred, there were two people asleep in the next room, yet she was screaming and swearing and covered with blood.

Whatever the truth, the absolute fact is that NO ONE, not the maternity care team, the pediatrician, the family, the partner, the police, seems to have realized that Otty Sanchez had gone to a dark place of madness, where her psychoses multiplied and her baby was the target of insanity.

People knew what was going on, and simply shrugged, hoping for the best. Others were too busy to delve below the surface. Still others were not ready to accept what was in front of their faces.

As a mother, as a doula, I am truly horrified, horrified that once again a mother was allowed to be alone with a defenseless infant. Tears come to my eyes. The statistics state that there are some 14%-20% of women who experience some sort of postpartum reaction, from baby blues to a whole spectrum of postpartum disorders.

The partner of Otty Sanchez blames her, as the mother, says she should be executed. When in the grips of an altered mental state, people do not know, and/or do not care what they do, or say. This is why an outside observer is necessary to spot the signs that inadequate care and bonding are occuring. The mother may not notice, may think she is being rationale, or is beyond the beyond and cannot care.

As a doula, I screen every woman in my care for postpartum reactions-especially if there has been a history of depression or other altered mental state, including from drug/alcohol use. This is to the mother's benefit, as early and vigilant interventions can save both her and her child(ren) from grief and heartache.

Working together with the mother and the mother's care providers, as well as the pediatrician, and other support providers, the doula is a part of that care team who all have the goal of optimum mental health for the mother in mind.

Mothers suffering in this vulnerable state are not left alone, where guilt, shame and loathing compound the situation. All care providers are there to help, not compound the issues.
There was a tragedy in Texas, and the baby was only one victim, the smallest, the most vulnerable, the one who should have been uppermost in the minds of all.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

6 care practices that I believe in!

Six Care Practices from Lamaze I believe in
Q. What types of care should I expect when I go to the hospital? Are there any specific things I should look for in terms of the care practices?
A. In my estimation, the guidelines put forth by Lamaze International are sound. Of course, each individual mother needs to follow the recommendations of her care provider, and the situation varies from hospital to hospital, and of course from hospital to birth centre.That said, here is my take on how birth, uncomplicated by medical concerns, should proceed if conditions augur:
1. Labour should begin on its own.
2. Labouring women should have the freedom to move about during their labour without restraint.
3. Labouring women should have continuous support during labour(woo-hoo for doulas!)
4. No routine interventions, or as I like to say, interventions only when and if necessary for optimum maternal-foetal health.
5.Women should not give birth on their backs. Again, my provision is unless there was an unavoidable Caesarean.
6. A. Mothers and babies should not be separated at birth.

B. Unlimited opportunities for breastfeeding should be given. Again, my provision is if the mother wants to breastfeed, then that is fine. I most certainly am NOT going to force the mother to breastfeed if she wants to use the bottle.
So, my take on number 6 is that mothers and babies should have the time and space to get to know one another through the feeding process.That was a great question, and I encourage more questions! Ask away!