Abby Block, CD(DONA), CBC

Doula & Breastfeeding Support ~ Serving Brooklyn & NYC

doula

What A Doula Does

Abby BlockComment

I adore this blog post written by my dear doula colleague, Yiska Obadia. You can read an excerpt below, and the full article here.

"Doulas are there to serve their clients. You want to birth naturally? I will support you. You want an epidural? I will support you. You want an epidural and to avoid a c-section? I will do my best to help you achieve that. Doulas serve our clients in helping them to achieve the birth THEY want as well as supporting them wholeheartedly with the birth they get."

Ina May Gaskin Documentary

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Looking for a birth-related movie to watch? Here's one: a documentary on the famous Ina May Gaskin, author of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.

Birth Story Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives ( 2013 )

"Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives captures a spirited group of women who taught themselves how to deliver babies on a 1970s hippie commune. Today as nearly one third of all US babies are born via C-section, they fight to protect their knowledge and to promote respectful, safe maternity practices all over the globe. From the backs of their technicolor school buses, these pioneers rescued American midwifery from extinction, changed the way a generation approached pregnancy, and filmed nearly everything they did. With unprecedented access to the midwives' archival video collection, as well as modern day footage of life at the alternative intentional community where they live, this documentary shows childbirth the way most people have never seen it--unadorned, unabashed, and awe-inspiring."

How to Avoid an Episiotomy in Birth

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I have not yet met a woman who does not want to avoid an episiotomy in birth!! Read on below to get some tips on how to avoid this unwanted procedure, published by Choices in Childbirth.

ASK THE MIDWIFE: HOW CAN I AVOID AN EPISIOTOMY DURING BIRTH?
FEBRUARY 16, 2016

ChildbirthMidwiferyNutritionPregnancySexuality

“How can I avoid an episiotomy during birth?”

Today an episiotomy is no longer a routine procedure – thank goodness – but is performed for cause. Some reasons include a tight perineum which prevents the baby’s head from distending the perineum, prior scarring of the perineum, female circumcision, and/or the baby’s heart beat is low and delivery needs to be expedited. We can decrease the problems with the perineum but not some of the other causes.

The other question is how to prevent natural tears of the vagina and the perineum. It is important for women to know that there is a group of muscles in the vagina that support the vagina, bladder and rectum. These muscles need to be strengthened and toned prenatally to increase their elasticity to allow for relaxation of the vagina and perineum during birth. These same muscles need continued exercise for the remainder of our lives. Thank Dr. Kegel for giving us the Kegel exercise!!

Proper overall fitness is important so consider walking and squats for toning. Proper nutrition is also key. Make sure that you get adequate protein and other nutrients for your tissues to respond well to the stretching of birth.

Keeping the vagina healthy and reporting any signs of an infection to your provider promptly to maintain good vaginal tissue integrity is hugely important. Perineal massage is advocated by many to be helpful in preparing the vagina and the vaginal muscles for birth. This needs to be initiated at 34 weeks and done for approximately 5 minutes 3-4 times per week.

When it comes time to push, your position is important, as is the use of warm compresses on the perineum. The lateral position or squatting for birth is protective of the perineum.

Finally, a slow, controlled delivery of your baby’s head will definitely help to decrease tears. This is difficult when you have a very strong urge to push. I recommend practicing techniques learned in childbirth classes such as focused relaxation.

 

Susan Papera, CNM,MSN received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her Master’s degree and Midwifery from Columbia University. She joined the staff at NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx as a staff midwife shortly after the Obstetrical services were open in 1978 and she has been helping to care for the women and families in the Norwood section of the Bronx ever since. Presently, she is Director of Midwifery Services. Working with such a richly diverse group of women is extremely rewarding and also an on going learning process as she says. Ms Papera is particularly proud of the fact that she is an NCB “Grandmother”- babies she has helped into the world are returning and she has had the privilege of helping their babies into the world.

Spinning Babies!

Abby BlockComment

Ever since I became a doula, I've been fascinated with the concept of fetal positioning. With my background in dance and yoga, and my interest in alignment, optimal fetal positioning is right up my alley when it comes to birth! A baby that is positioned well can make for a smoother birth. How does a baby get positioned well? Some of it relates to the mother's physical structure, and some of it is related to lifestyle. The good news is that during pregnancy, there are daily and weekly exercises that women can practice to encourage balance. What if you are about to give birth and haven't practiced any of these exercises? You can rest assured that most babies do turn in labor, if they haven't rotated into the optimum position already. And some babies just make their entrance in whatever position they want to be in, regardless of how "optimal" it may be. 

Interested in learning more about Spinning Babies? This is something I cover with my clients during their prenatal sessions. In addition, you can also watch the parent class, available on DVD or as a download. Visit the site here to purchase: http://spinningbabies.com/shop/

 

 

Breastfeeding: Do Older Babies Need Night Feeding?

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I have the honor of witnessing my clients give birth as they become mothers in an instant, and then visiting them several days after their baby is born. I love being able to answer newborn questions, to process their birth with them, and to answer newborn care and breastfeeding questions. Many of my clients prefer to go as holistic or natural as possible with caring for their baby in the early days, and even beyond. By the time my clients have "older" babies, I'm long gone! I thought this article would be a great help for parents who are attempting to breastfeed in the most "natural" way possible. This article is by Nancy Mohrbacher, breastfeeding expert.

"Has somebody told you that your baby doesn’t need to breastfeed at night past a certain age?  This age often varies by advisor. However, science tells us that in many cases, this simply isn’t true.

Why? Babies and mothers are different and these differences affect baby’s need for night feedings. Some babies really do need to breastfeed at night, at six months, eight months, and beyond.  This is in part because if their mother has a small “breast storage capacity” and tries to sleep train her baby, her milk production will slow, along with her baby’s growth. To find out what this means and if this applies to you, you need to know the basics of how milk production works."

Read the rest of the article here.

Placenta: Essential Resuscitation Equipment

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When people hear "placenta" these days, they may tend towards thinking about placenta encapsulation. What about the placenta's role and potential as the baby is born? This is fascinating article on the placenta, delayed cord clamping, and newborn resuscitation. It's a little bit birth-nerdy, but if you are interested in cord clamping and your newborn's transition to breathing on her/his own, please have a read!

Read the full article here from Midwife Thinking.

 

Partners & Doulas: What you need to know

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You've chosen your doctor or your midwife; you've decided on the hospital, the birthing center, or giving birth at home; you've decided on a natural birth or that you'll use pain medication or maybe something in between; you have a list of baby names; you have the baby gear list... so what's missing? Your doula, of course! For some couples, whether or not to hire a doula is not an easy choice. One of the main concerns I hear from couples - especially those who are planning to have a natural birth with full support of their partner - is that they wonder if a doula is really necessary. Completely valid question. Below is an article that gives you some perspective on the Doula and the Dad - although  prefer to use the term " birth partner" as there's not always a dad in every birthing couple!

Excerpt:

"But doulas aren't there only for moms-to-be. They also play a key role in helping their partners, offering them invaluable emotional and practical support during the overwhelming experience of childbirth. "I see myself as having many roles, fitting in where I am needed, lifting up and supporting the partner in order for them to support the laboring mom," says Zoe Etkin, a birth and postpartum doula and women's sexual health coach in Los Angeles. "Looking back on the birth, I hope they will both remember how connected they were, and I will just fade into the background. Although I believe my role is important, it's ultimately about the birthing couple."

Even so, it's common for dads-to-be to worry that having a doula during delivery might push them out of the main labor support role. Doulas insist that couldn't be further from the truth. "I'm there to accentuate their involvement, not to take their place," explains Gena Kirby, a doula of 10 years, childbirth educator, and host of Progressive Parenting radio. "Partners have taught me so much over the years about different ways to approach different personalities and births."

Full article here.