A guest blog by: Mariane Konstantaras (TheIndigoMama)
I am happy to have a friend and fellow mom on the blog this week. She is sharing her birth story and how much she benefited from having a doula. Read more about her story below.
All About Doulas and Why You Should Use One
After having both of my boys, I quickly came to realize the importance of a support system during birth and postpartum. Most people are quick to prepare for birth and preparing a nursery before they prepare for postpartum. My first pregnancy taught me to navigate the why’s behind having a birth doula and a postpartum plan.
I didn’t know what to expect from my first birth and postpartum experience but one thing I did do was prepare freezer meals with the help of my husband, and that was a game changer. Having easy access to nourishing foods after having a baby was one of the most important things I did for both myself and baby. We planned for 6 weeks of freezer meals and that allowed us to focus on our new baby instead of cooking meals. For my second birth we had a meal trained arranged by a family member, and that is something I HIGHLY recommend. We had two months of meals ready.
There are two different types of doulas: A birth doula (someone who supports a women through pregnancy and labor) and a postpartum doula (someone who supports the mother during the fourth trimester)
What is the definition of a doula?
The word doula is a Greek word meaning woman's servant. Doulas have been walking women through pregnancy and postpartum, assisting with labor and nourishing mothers for centuries. They usually were family members and close friends that supported the mother during this transition.
Why a birth doula and why not just your partner or a midwife?
Birth doula provide added support with hands on support for the mother and emotional support for the mother and partner. The doula bridges the gap between provider and mother when most times mothers are left with so many questions during their pregnancy.
Evidence Based Birth is a website I really enjoy and one which has a lot of good, up to date information on evidenced-based birth questions parents may have. According to the website researchers found that overall, people who have continuous support during childbirth experience a:
25% decrease in the risk of Cesarean; the largest effect was seen with a doula (39% decrease)*
8% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth; the largest effect was seen with a doula (15% increase)*
10% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief; the type of person providing continuous support did not make a difference
Shorter labors by 41 minutes on average; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference
38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference
31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience; mothers’ risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience was reduced with continuous support provided by a doula or someone in their social network (family or friend), but not hospital staff
Why a postpartum doula?
Now let’s go to the importance of a postpartum doula. Back in the old days, our ancestors had the support from the village in caring for the mother after birth. Our society and culture nowadays expects women to birth and pretty much transition to motherhood as if they had never birthed a baby. The expectations of “bouncing back” and doing all things became a praise in our society without honoring the fourth trimester. As Kimberly Johnson states in her book, The Fourth Trimester, “the fourth trimester is just as important if not more than the previous third trimesters.”
I personally have found this to be true. While I allowed myself to have a postpartum plan and team, I was able to rest, stay in bed, and better nourish my new baby and myself. This enabled me to also heal faster and bleed less.
A postpartum doula, especially one that is trained with the mother to mother care approach in mind, can provide skilled hands-on work such as steaming herbs for a yoni steam, healing belly massage, assistance in belly binding and sharing knowledge of nourishing herbs and foods. Having a postpartum doula trained in these areas can make a huge difference physically and emotionally.
A postpartum doula can help process your birth story and fill in the gaps from the time you were in labor, where some events may have been forgotten. Having support from birth until you see your provider has been extremely beneficial for me and most women I know. In my experience and opinion, having that continuous support after baby is invaluable. Especially as a first-time mom, when you feel the true isolation that motherhood can bring. Having support instills confidence and allows a new mom to bond with her child while feeling empowered and less stressed.
The following study supports the notion that having a postpartum doula and/or a strong support system after birth leads to overall happier women and healthier babies. Specifically, the study points out that mothers who had a postpartum doula were more likely to be more successful with breastfeeding than those who didn’t. The study can be found at the following link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048903/
The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Johnson
My favorite Postpartum Infusion Recipe:
Boil 4 -6 cups of water
Two tablespoons of nettles
Two tablespoons of oatstraw
Two tablespoons of red raspberry leaves
(let it steep for 12 hours and enjoy warm or cold)
All About Mariane Konstantaras:, mother of two boys, military wife, have been walking with women since the birth of her first son in 2017. Being pregnant and going through some of her own postpartum challenges gave her a calling to work with women during pregnancy and postpartum. During this period Mariane became a Vinyasa and Prenatal Yoga Instructor as well as Reiki Master. Given her own experience and background, Mariane wants to offer women a chance to feel supported and empowered during their postpartum period. She will soon be going through the postpartum doula training with Innate Postpartum Care Certification and will start accepting new clients mid-December 2019.
You can find her on Instagram @the.indigomama