Is it Wise to Have a Birth Plan?

Is it Wise to have a Birth Plan?

fb image for what to include in your birth plan_preferences

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One question/concern that I frequently hear from my clients about birth plans is about the wisdom of having a plan for such an uncertain event as labor and childbirth.

Is it wise to have a birth plan when I know things might change?

Labor is unpredictable and my wishes in labor could change, so is it wise to get this idea in my head of how I want things to look when I know that there is a chance that it won’t end up that way?

Couldn’t a birth plan that didn’t go as planned make me feel like I failed at such a vulnerable time?

So, is it wise to have a birth plan?

My answer to the concern that a birth plan isn’t wise, is to always keep in mind that birth can be crazy and things happen that we weren’t expecting, but putting together a plan of how you are hoping things go helps point the birth team in the same direction. It keeps you, your care providers, spouse, and doula all on the same page.

If the verbiage of birth PLAN still bothers you, then considering it birth preference list may help. The options that you are outlining are how you are prefer that things happen in your labor, but if things don’t go as you hoped, the negative thoughts that you somehow failed are much less likely to be there.

What are some things that I should consider as I put together my birth plan?

Some areas that you should include in your birth plan information include:

  • Your care provider and birth team names
  • How you want to handle early labor
  • What you would prefer in the case of induction or cesarean
  • Positions and pain management techniques you want to try
  • If you would like medication offered to you or not
  • What kind of atmosphere you would like to see in the labor room
  • Do you want newborn eye ointment, vaccinations, circumcision, etc.
  • How you want the third stage of labor to be managed, if at all
  • If you are a survivor of sexual abuse or trauma
  • Who you want to announce the gender of your baby
  • Who speaks first when baby is born
  • Who is cutting the cord and if you want delayed cord clamping
  • Whatever other information your feel pertinent to your labor and the birth of your baby

If you are going to be delivering your baby at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial in Fremont, Michigan, you should receive a copy of their birth plan to fill out in one of your third trimester packets from the OB/GYN office. You could also print out this template and use it to create your own.

How long should my birth plan be?

As you can see above, there are many things that you could include on your birth plan. While you want to include all information that you feel is important to you, you also should try to remember that you want this to be easily read by your support team. One to two pages is adequate and should cover your preferences.

What to include in your birth plan/birth preferences list. Don't know where to start on your birth plan? This post will give you the basics as well as a printable to help guide you through the process of putting your labor and delivery choices on paper. #pregnancytips #naturalchildbirth #medicatedchildbirth #vbac #birthstory

What are the benefits of having a birth plan or birth preferences?

The biggest benefit of creating a birth plan or a list of birth preferences is that you will, most likely, learn more about the options that are at your place of birth and seek your own knowledge about the birth process and its stages.

How does a birth plan help my support team?

Besides keeping everyone on the same page, a birth plan or preference list helps your team to know that they are giving you the options that you were hoping for and expecting them to offer.

A birth plan is especially helpful for nervous or first-time birth partners. While some partners will be able to remember what you have said is important to you, some will have a hard time seeing you work through the contractions and may forget everything that you said. They may want to “help” you so much that they start offering things that you don’t want. Having a birth plan in the labor room for them to read through as needed can be very calming and helpful for them. {If you have a nervous partner, you will also likely greatly benefit from having a doula there to help them through the labor process as well.}

If you have a doula with you, she may offer things that weren’t on your preference list, but also aren’t going against the type of birth that you were hoping for. Hopefully you will have covered your birth plan in depth in your prenatals.

Your care provider should be excited that you have learned about your options in labor, delivery, and postpartum, and should be supportive of your choices. Showing your care provider your birth plan is a good way to make sure that they are supportive of your rights as a patient and that they will seek to validate those rights in the labor room.

Do you have any questions about creating a birth plan or birth preference list? Let me know below!!

Recommended Book List for Pregnancy

I recently got asked what books I would suggest that my clients read during pregnancy. I love reading, so it wasn’t hard to think of them, but I wasn’t sure if I should share the whole list or not. I sent over my top favorites, but today I want to share with you my recommended book list for pregnancy that includes all of the books I thought of. 🙂

fb image recommended reading list

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Now this list isn’t in any specific order, just as I thought of the book, I threw it on.

Real Food for Pregnancy– I just got this one recently and LOVE it. My favorite part is that the author uses studies to show the importance of diet before, during, and after pregnancy. A nutrient diet reduces your risks for almost every pregnancy complication and can change your families genes. Did you know the foods you eat can effect your grandchildren?

Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating or Two, and Baby’s First Foods– This one by Nina Planck is similar to the one above, but it also goes into feeding your baby solid foods and how to get your little one off the the best nutritional start you can.

Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care– An amazing resource! Like the first Nourishing Traditions book took you back to the traditional way of cooking and baking, this one takes you back to “traditional” pregnancy and baby care.

The Mama Natural Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth– I haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my list to get!

Ina May’s Guide  to Childbirth– Anything by Ina May is great! You will learn a lot from her years of serving pregnant women. Her books do contain graphic images, so just be warned if you have others around.

The Natural Pregnancy Book– This book is a reference book for the crunchy mom who wants to know the best natural ways to support her body in pregnancy and labor.

Natural Health After Birth– Aviva Jill Romm has a wealth of knowledge to share with new moms. I love that she shares natural remedies for common postpartum issues. 

Pregnancy the Natural Way– I love this one! Lots of pictures, and it walks you through each week of pregnancy.

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering– If you have someone in your life who wants studies and a doctor’s opinion about everything, this is the book you want them to read.

Spiritual Midwifery– Another Ina May book, this one goes more into detail about the process of birth and labor.

The First Six Weeks: Thriving Naturally on Your Postpartum Journey– This book covers recovery from vaginal and cesarean births, breastfeeding and bottlefeeding, self care for mom, remedies for common postpartum issues, getting back into a routine, adjusting to baby and more!

A doula's recommends her favorite books to help prepare you for a natural pregnancy, labor, and better postpartum experience. #pregnancytips #pregnancy #vbac #naturalchildbirth #childbirth #cesareansection #doula #birthwork #birthwithoutfear #motherhood #naturalmothering #mothering #crunchymom #empoweredbirth

Obviously there are a ton more books out there, but these are some of my favorite and the ones that I most frequently recommend to my clients. 🙂

Do you know someone who is looking for some good books to read during pregnancy? Share this list with them!

Exercise Options in Newaygo County for Pregnant Moms.


{I’m excited to be interviewing fitness instructor Rachel Doremus for this post. Rachel is expecting her first child in May but is still teaching classes and working out on her own. I will get to the interview after we look at why exercise is beneficial to pregnant mommas, and what kind of exercises that you can do while pregnant.}

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 Why should you exercise during pregnancy?

Exercising during pregnancy can help you to have a healthier pregnancy, weight gain will be easier to keep to healthy levels, your immune system will be stronger, labor may progress quicker, you may have an easier time pushing because of stronger muscles, and you may have an easier recovery after birth.


What kind of exercises are safe during pregnancy?

The general rule is that if you are doing something when you get pregnant, it is safe to do during the entire pregnancy, as long as you are listening to your body and slowing down when needed. There are some activities that should be avoided unless you have a doctor’s permission: downhill skiing, water skiing, and other exercises where you need to have balance and quick movements.

Fitness Options for Pregnant Moms in Newaygo County

Let’s check in with Rachel and see what she has to say. 🙂

Where do you work, what kind of classes do you teach, services do you offer, and where did you get your schooling and degrees?

I currently work at Family Fitness in Fremont, Mi. I teach two classes right now- a Senior’s Aerobics class and a Cardio Dance class. Both of these classes meet three times a week. I also have some personal training clients who I meet at the gym or in their own homes.

I received my Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science with specializations in health and physical sciences from Liberty University. I also have a Refit® certification and I am pursing a personal training certification, through the American College of Sports Medicine, and a yoga certification.

How has pregnancy effected your workout routine?

My workouts have changed from high-intensity workouts that includes lots of jumping, burpees, and weights, to moderate intensity cardio workouts. The change in my routine is mostly due to fatigue, but now that I am nearing the third trimester, and my abdominal muscles aren’t as strong with the extra weight, I’m not able to do the burpees and plank position exercises with proper form. I have stopped running for the most part, but that was mostly due to the lack of sunlight hours in the winter. I also added more yoga and stretching into my routine, as well as more back exercises to combat the low back pain I have been experiencing.

Why should someone workout during pregnancy?

There are MANY reasons a woman should continue to workout, or start a workout routine while pregnant. In most low risk, normal pregnancies, exercise is recommended for 30-60 minutes a day, five days a week. The benefits for the pregnant woman are numerous, including an easier labor, a faster postpartum recovery, healthier weight gain during pregnancy, and increased energy. Exercise benefits not only the exercising mother, but the baby as well. And those benefits can last into the child’s early years. Studies show that children whose mothers exercised during pregnancy had a lower BMI at 5 years of age and older.

Can pregnant women participate in your classes?

Absolutely! As long as their OB has cleared them for exercise, they can absolutely come to my classes. As the pregnancy progresses, they may need to modify some of the movements. Any fitness instructor should be able to offer pregnant women modifications for the classes they teach.


Will you ever have classes specifically for pregnant and postpartum mommas?

This is something I never considered until I found out I was pregnant, but it is definitely something I am looking into. I would love to get a certification to teach specific classes geared towards pregnant and postpartum women. While there is no reason that a pregnant woman can’t attend MOST fitness classes, I feel that many of them would be more comfortable in a pregnancy-specific class.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of the gym?

Fitness-related things? I love to hike, I do miss living in central Virginia, simply because there were so many beautiful hiking opportunities. I also enjoy road and trail running, as well as road cycling. Non-fitness related: I love crafting, knitting, sewing and scrapbooking.  

Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy

If you are thinking about trying to get pregnant soon, have you thought about preparing your body for pregnancy? Before going on the journey of pregnancy and using your body to create new life there are some things that you should do to start your pregnancy off in the best health possible, and help your body to grow a healthy baby.

There are several things that you can do as you are preparing your body for pregnancy, but we will just cover a few of the most basic ones today.

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Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy

  1. Eliminate drugs, alcohol, and smoking. 

Recreational drugs, alcohol, and smoking can all harm your baby as he grows. Nicotine, drugs, and alchohol all cross to the baby through the placenta because the placenta cannot filter them out. These things can be very harmful for your baby in the first critical weeks of developement. Click here to see the effects of drugs upon an unborn baby’s brain.


2. Clean up your diet. 

Try to cut out the extra junk food that you are consuming. Increase vegetables, fruits, protein, and healthy carbs. By reducing your amount of processed foods your immune system will be able to work better and you will be in better shape health wise for pregnancy. By eating a cleaner diet your body will also receive more vitamins and minerals which can help build up your stores before pregnancy. During pregnancy the baby will take the vitamins and minerals it needs from your body, so anything you do to increase those stores will be helpful both for recovery after birth, and for the pregnancy itself.

Adding fruits, vegetables, and sources of protein may seem like it will increase your grocery budget, and it definitely may, but you can still eat real, nutrient dense foods on a budget. {I also like the thought of paying more for better food and less in doctor and hospital bills because we won’t be as sick when we eat a healthier diet.}

Here are some tips:

  • eat canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. Usually they will be cheaper than fresh and sometimes they contain more vitamins and minerals than the fresh because they are preserved at peak ripeness and not sitting in storage or a store for weeks.
  • look for meats that have the discount sticker on them, freeze or use promptly.
  • whole chickens, chicken legs and thighs, will be cheaper than chicken breast most of the time.
  • keep your meat bones to make bone broth or stock. Bone broth is very beneficial for most people, but if you have an autoimmune disease you may want to avoid it.
  • keep your carbohydrate choices simple- whole grain breads and tortillas, potatoes, rice and winter squashes are all great carbohydrate options, both for pregnancy and when you preparing your body for pregnancy.
  • build your meals around protein. During pregnancy it is recommended that you have between 80-100 grams of protein per day, so if you start building your meals around protein now, it will be easier to get in the recommended amounts later. Eggs, meats, rice, legumes, protein powders, dairy products, and greens, are all good sources of protein.


 3. Start taking a prenatal vitamin.

You are going to want to start taking a prenatal vitamin even before you see a positive pregnancy test. This will ensure that your body has the needed folic acid to help baby’s developement. It will also help to build your vitamin and mineral stores and prepare them for pregnancy. I personally used, and loved, the Garden of Life Raw Prenatal during my last two pregnancies. It has prebiotics and probiotics, along with ginger to help with morning sickness + all the needed vitamins. If you are local to Newaygo County you can find it at Health Smart in Fremont, or you can order it on Amazon.


4. Check your iron levels.

You don’t want to start your pregnancy being anemic. You will feel exhausted already from the hard work of growing a baby without having low iron on top of it. If your iron is low ask your provider about Floradix rather than a common over the counter or prescription iron. Floradix is made with herbs and greens, and because it is plant based and natural it is more easily absorbed into your body, and it shouldn’t make you constipated like synthetic irons.


5. Start exercising.

Women who exercise through pregnancy tend to have easier labors, and births, and are able to have a quicker recovery after birth than those who don’t. You don’t need to start running three miles tomorrow though, instead, if you haven’t been exercising, start with yoga and stretching, along with gentle walking. Then start adding in cardio work. Your body needs a strong heart to pump all the extra blood that comes with pregnancy, exercising and working out while preparing for pregnancy will help you to be able to handle the stresses of pregnancy.

If you want to start preparing your body for pregnancy these tips are the perfect place to start!

A Preemie Birth

{This is the birth story of my youngest son. It was originally shared here.shared here.}

I wasn’t ready to have a baby at 35 weeks, but my baby was ready to be here. My water had broken earlier that evening and my husband and I were on our way to the hospital. I was hoping that we would be on our way back home in a couple of hours since I wasn’t having contractions. But when we got there and were reminded that I hadn’t had my group B strep test yet and learned that most of the time when the water breaks so early it is because there is an infection of some sort or inflammation of the uterus we decided to stay over night and get a couple doses of antibiotics in. All night I hoped that labor would start on its own and worried that I might be sick or that the baby was sick.

Nothing happened. I had a few strong contractions but nothing consistent. My husband had to go back to work to finish up a job so I sent him off the next morning and then hoped that labor would hold off until he got back. I bounced on the birth ball trying to get baby to come down lower and get contractions going. I paced the hospital room. My doula came and we talked about my options and what I was going to do.

When my husband got back to the hospital we decided to go home, try and relax and try to get labor going using any natural ways we could. I hoped we would be back that night. I worried that we wouldn’t be back.  I tried essential oils, pumping/nipple stimulation, visualization, affirmations and more. Nothing was happening. I worried that we might need a c-section if things didn’t start going.

I emailed some family members and close friends and asked for prayer that labor would start naturally and that everything would be okay. My husband and I went to bed and hoped I would wake up with contractions.

Nothing happened. Again a few strong contractions but nothing timeable. My water would leak every once in a while. Sometimes there were bigger gushes than others. Usually after I was laying and stood or after baby moved a lot. All night I kept track of my temperature and using a dopplar did a twenty minute “strip” every four hours.

The next morning we went to Walmart to get a carseat and did a few errands before heading back to the hospital. While there my doctor recommended that we transfer to a larger hospital that had a NICU however my husband and I decided that we wanted to stay under the care of the doctor I had seen the entire pregnancy, we wanted to be somewhere we felt comfortable and that I felt safe. We also decided that since nothing was happening we would start a pitocin drip. I was something that I had always feared. Knowing that a labor augmented by pitocin has a greater chance of ending in a cesarean section it was not my first choice. However none of the natural options had worked, I was nearing 40 hours from when my water had broken and labor seemed a long way off.

I worried that the pitocin would stress my baby. I worried that I wouldn’t handle it well. I worried that the pitocin would make contractions way more intense than natural labor and that I would end up with another intervention. I worried that my baby would need the transfer we had refused. I worried that maybe something was wrong with baby and that was why he was coming early. I worried about almost everything. Having a preemie is worriesome.

The pitocin was started and it wasn’t too bad. Contractions within half and hour. They weren’t bad. They actually felt like normal labor contractions. Within a couple of hours I got ahold of my doula and let her know she could come whenever she wanted. When she arrived I was starting to labor very intently. My husband and doula offered encouragement and ideas. I wanted to be checked and was at a 7 and almost completely effaced. We turned off the pitocin and I got into the tub. I worried that my labor would slow in the tub or stop completely since we had turned the pitocin off. Thankfully it didn’t. It did slow for just a few minutes but soon transition started. By then I was completely in labor land. There was no time or worry. There was a contraction and there was a break, another contraction, another break. Then I felt something I hadn’t felt before.

I needed to push. Right now.

My doctor checked me and I still had a small cervical lip left. So she held it back while I pushed baby through it. I pushed through another contraction and again felt somethind I hadn’t before- the ring of fire. I wanted to stop but I was worried so I pushed through one more contraction and he was here.

Healthy and safe. He was like most other newborns. He was breathing well on his own and he was nursing well. He just was ready to be born.

There was a true knot in his cord, so maybe that was why he came early but we’ll never really know for sure.

Having a preemie is not something that I ever thought would happen to me. It was scary. I’m so glad I had the support of my husband, doula and doctor.



Landon’s Birth Story

When I first met Diana she was in her second trimester of her second pregnancy and was hoping to have a vaginal birth after her cesarean with her daughter.

Diana has had many surgeries in her life and was hoping for a chance to experience a vaginal birth. Her previous birth experience was a long, slow progressing labor that ended in a c-section after a couple of hours of pushing and no progress.


During our prenatal visits Diana and I talked about her past experience and how that was shaping her ideas of the upcoming birth. We talked over her birth plan- both for herself and baby, we did some fear release exercises, massage, talked about the postpartum period and prepared for the possibility that a VBAC may not happen. Birth is an unpredictable thing and all the preparation in the world does not mean your birth will follow “the plan”.

One thing that I tried to find for Diana were positive and encouraging stories of vaginal birth from women who have Spina Bifida. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any, if you too, are looking for an encouraging birth story then you have come to the right place.

Diana’s biggest fear during her pregnancy was that her back was not shaped correctly and that was why she had needed the previous cesarean section. Because of how her back and how sensitive to pressure certain spots are she decided that her best game plan was to stay active and upright. Diana also planned on using Stadol as a pain relief option in the event that she felt she couldn’t handle the pain.

Diana’s birth team also include her husband Nate, her mother Joann and her friend Lisa besides having myself as her doula. A birth party had helped her cope with her long labor before and she was hoping for the same results but with the ending of a vaginal birth instead of a cesarean section.

When Diana reached 38 weeks in her pregnancy I was on call 24/7. I checked in with her every couple of days- encouraging her to stay positive, active and relaxed. On July 27 around 4:30 AM I finally got the call I had been waiting for.

Diana’s contractions started in the middle of the night. Many women experience this because at night and while sleeping because it is then they are most relaxed and their body can work unhindered.
They were rather frequent but not long, hard or consistent. Diana and I spoke and decided that she would call me later with an update.

Around 8:00AM Diana and I spoke and her contractions were getting harder but she didn’t feel that she needed me there yet. She decided to get into the bath and see if that would help her to relax and allow the contractions to work better.

At 9:30 Diana decided that I could come to their house so I dropped off my boys with their babysitter and headed fo Diana’s house. When I arrived her contractions were frequent and getting harder but not consistent. So we packed her car, finished some things around the house and got ready to head to Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Hospital.

We arrived around 11:30AM and Diana was definitely having to breathe through her contractions. When checked into triage she was dilated to 3 and 70% effaced. While on the initial monitoring strip Nate and I tried to distract Diana with conversation and using alternatives to movement like cold wash cloths. Eventually she was allowed to get out of bed while on the monitor.

Once we got to her room Diana had to wait for an IV to be inserted so that she could get the pain relief medication she wanted and move around like she was hoping. {Because Diana was attempting a VBAC the hospital required constant fetal monitoring, a contraction monitor and a Heplock.} While she was waiting for the IV to be inserted Diana labored in the bed. Lisa and I applied pressure to her back during contractions and tried to keep Diana’s spirits up with the encouragement that she could do this. Her body was doing it. She was dilating. She was coping with contractions well.

By the time her IV was inserted {it took a while because Diana has veins that like to move around} Diana was checked and found out that she was at 8 centimeters and almost completely effaced. Unfortunately for her it was too late to get the Stadol that she was hoping to use to take the edge off the pain. Since the IV was in we suggested that she get out of bed and start moving around as her contractions got more intense. Diana labored leaning over the bed, on the toilet and on the birth ball. We were all excited to see her progressing so quickly.

Not too much longer Diana was almost complete but had a little bit of a lip left. At this point she was in the midst of transition and was questioning her ability to push her baby out. I looked her in the eye and told her she was doing it and that she needed to start telling herself that she was doing it and she could do it. {The connection between our thoughts and our body is critical during labor. If a mom starts to question her abilities than many times her body will stop progressing or labor can stop completely.} Her doctor decided to help Diana a little and held back the cervical lip while Diana pushed through it. One and a half hours later Landon made his appearance. He was born at 9:18PM weighing 8 pounds 8 ounces and was 18 1/2 inches long.

Diana’s labor was 18-20 hours long. She got the VBAC she was hoping and praying for. It wasn’t quite according to her plan since she needed to labor in the bed much longer than she wanted while waiting for her IV Heplock and since she didn’t get the pain relief she was hoping for from the Stadol but Diana late told me that she is now recommending unmedicated labors to all her pregnant friends.


I loved working with Diana and getting to know her and her family. I am always so blessed that the women of Newaygo County and beyond allow me to be with them at such a sacred time.

Review of Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s Early Pregnancy Class

A few weeks ago I attended Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s Early Pregnancy class and I highly recommend it.

A REview Of Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial's Early Pregnancy Class

I like the format and being able to talk about early pregnancy symptoms and solutions with other mothers-to-be who are facing the same things. The time spent on diet and exercise is beneficial to all who come, not just the expectant mommas. I also like the interactive book that is handed out, it has a lot of great information and covers the whole pregnancy beyond the early weeks and trimesters.

If you are going to attend this class here is a layout of what will happen:
*you check in at the OB office desk like you would for any appointment
*you will go back with a nurse to get your blood pressure taken, do a weight check and possibly give a urine sample
*then you will return to the waiting room
*a nurse or Samantha Kauffman, RN, CCE (class facilitator) will take you to the waiting room in the Family Birth Center where you will have the class
*Susan Wente, CNM will take patients out one at a time to get heart tones and to answer any questions you may have for her

This class and appointment last around two hours. I would recommend it for any of my clients, no matter how many babies they may have had, because they may be able to share solutions to early pregnancy discomforts with new, younger mommas who need suggestions. If you are a younger momma you might find others there due around the same time as you who you can add to your support circle or group of friends.

If your provider does not mention the class to you, make sure that you ask about it at the desk when you check out and are scheduling your next appointment.

What A Doula Does

I’m very excited to be sharing a post over a Childbirth World today. Childbirth World is a blog that has posts mainly authored by Samantha Kauffman- a childbirth educator at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial.

A doula is a professionally trained birthworker whose goal is to educate and empower woman about their choices during pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum.

There are many studies that show improvement in birth outcomes when a doula is present. An article by Evidence Based Birth gives a great overview of what a doula is, how a doula can help you in your labor and also provides some stats that should make every pregnant woman seriously consider having a doula at her upcoming birth.

Here are some of those stats from an updated Cochrane review published in 2012 by Hodnet et al. – this study shows that when a woman has continuous labor support(ie, a doula) there is a decrease by:
* 28% in risk of cesarean section
* 9% in the use of any pain medications
* 34% in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience

To read the whole article from Evidence Based Birth click here.

As a birth and postpartum doula I would like to give you a little more personal look into what your doula does.


* your doula wants to get to know the real you- this will help her know how to help you during labor
* your doula will want to know what bugs and bothers you so that she can avoid them during labor
* your doula loves your questions and will help you find answers if she doesn’t know it
* your doula waits impatiently with you for test results
* your doula will cry with you and hug you when you learn bad news
* your doula will be excited with you when you learn your baby’s gender

To learn more about what your doula will do during labor and how she can help during the postpartum period click here.

Preparing For An Unmedicated Birth


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Are you going to have an unmedicated birth? Are you thinking about it?

These days, many women “plan to try” to have an unmedicated birth. In our birthing culture it has become something to aim for, but many women don’t care if they miss their goal. And while it is true that, in the end, having medications during birth does not make you more or less a woman, there are documented risks to having meds during your labor, both for you and the new life you are bringing into this world.

Preparing For An Unmedicated Birth- Four Questions to Ask Yourself

Here are some questions that you should think about as you prepare for an unmedicated birth.

1. Do I have a supportive support team?
This question may sound silly, but sometimes the people who you choose to have around you aren’t completely supportive of your desire for a natural birth. If they are telling you they will “be there to support you but they don’t think you can do it”, or they keep reminding you of your low pain tolerance you may want to reconsider having them around you at your birth. Birth is a very mental thing and you can absorb your team’s feelings. Your birth team may have its doubts, but they need to be able to put them out of their minds and focus on helping you achieve the birth you desire.

2. Do I know all of my pain relief options? What does my hospital (or midwife) offer?
Some of the better known alternative pain relief options are:
*movement walking, swaying, dancing, birth ball and position changes
*tub or birth pool
*hot and cold packs
*massage and counter pressure

There are also lesser known options that can have great results for some women. These include:
*sterile water injections
*use of a rebozo
*essential oils
*homeopathic remedies

3. Will this negatively affect me if I do not get the unmedicated birth I am preparing for?
As mentioned at the beginning of this post many women plan to try to have an unmedicated birth, but many of those don’t care if this is something they can do or not. On the other hand there are women who want with all they are to be able to say they had a natural childbirth. For these women it can be a devastating blow if their perfect birth does not happen and meds or other interventions are used. It can lead to depression and bonding issues. Preparing for a natural birth is good, but please also remember that birth is unpredictable and a medical need could arise for interventions. That said, I believe that since birth is such a mental game as well as a physical one, if you truly desire a med free birth you should make up your mind that a natural birth is going to happen unless there is a real medical need otherwise.

4. Do I need a doula? Can I afford a doula?
Not every women desires a doula but many are helped immensely by having a professionally trained birth doula with them. A doula does not try to take the place of your spouse or significant other, she is there to provide extra encouragement and support, not only to you as momma, but also to your support team. Many times your support team will find the presence of a doula comforting- she has most likely attended several births and knows the stages of labor and birth process well.
Can you afford a doula? Most doulas are willing to work something out with you, whether it is a payment plan, or a trade of services or product. There are also
some doulas willing to volunteer if you truly can’t afford their services.

Preparing for an unmedicated birth takes time and research. Know your care providers and support team. Make sure they are willing to support your birth dream whether that dream includes pain medications or not.

Why I am a Doula


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Supporting and helping women through pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period is honestly not something I ever thought I would do. It has been a personal journey of healing as well as a journey of learning. It started in February of 2010 when I found out that my husband and I were expecting an unexpected blessing. The pregnancy went smoothly, I read a few books, my husband and I attended childbirth classes and I found a provider at Gerber Memorial Hospital in Fremont, Michigan who was supportive of our desire for a unmedicated, vaginal birth.

In September of 2010, on the date that my husband and I were planning to be the last before baby came, my water broke in Target, three weeks before my due date. We attempted to finish our date and attend the movie showing that we had already bought tickets for, but I was too afraid that I would leave a puddle in the seat for the next customer. We headed home, called our hospital and took their suggestion to come in. Once we got there we found out that baby had turned to a breech position. We talked about our options and asked about an external version, but because there was no water surrounding baby the doctor did not want to attempt it. I was headed for an unplanned cesarean section.

The recovery was hard, both physically and emotionally. It took a while for me to accept the fact that even though it wasn’t in my plans to have a cesarean section it was God’s. While in surgery it was discovered that I had a uterine septum, something that isn’t usually even looked for until one has miscarried several times. Eighteen months later in March of 2012, after visits with specialists and ultrasounds we decided to have the septum removed and surgery was performed.


In July of 2012 I found out that I was expecting again . This time I was not only planning for a unmedicated birth, I was planning for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). I read and researched more than I ever had before, I learned stats and new medical terms, I found a supportive provider, again at Gerber Memorial Hospital, now Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial and I hired a doula.

In March of 2013 I had a unmedicated VBAC with a great support team. My doula was truly a blessing and my husband and I don’t know if we could have done it without her. She was a great comfort and presence during my intense hours of labor.

My doula sparked interest in my heart about helping other women, it was subconscious at first. I read more books and encouraging stories. It wasn’t until February of 2014 that, while on a date with my husband, I vocally expressed interest in becoming a doula. He encouraged me to look into training and I was directed The Center for the Childbearing Year in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There I started my doula training and I am still currently working towards my certification.

It is my desire to help other women achieve the births that they desire. I want women to feel strong and empowered in their labor and delivery, not like someone in need of rescuing.