As I was looking for more studies about the drastic increase in birthing mothers who get an epidural for childbirth, I found the following research, published by Stanford medicine, titled: Study shows women prefer less-intense pain at the cost of prolonged labor. Here is what the researchers did: ”For the study, Carvalho and his colleagues gave a seven-item questionnaire to expectant mothers who had arrived at the hospital to have labor induced but were not yet having painful contractions. The questionnaire pitted hypothetical pain level, on a scale of zero to 10, against hours of labor. The women took the survey a second time within 24 hours of giving birth. A sample question asked, “Would you rather have pain intensity at two out of 10 for nine hours or six out of 10 for three hours?” Both pre- and post-labor, women on average preferred less intense pain over a longer duration, according to results published in the British Journal of Anesthesia.”I find this study to be somewhat disturbing but revealing at the same time. It is even useful from a coaching perspective. The questions the researchers asked were misleading. Women were asked to weigh their options and choose between coping with labor pain or having a prolonged birth as a potential implication of getting an epidural. But – – are these the real options they weigh? Is prolonged labor the risk associated with taking an epidural in childbirth, or is it a side effect that might lead to many other potential risks?
For the past six years, I have practiced prenatal coaching with my birth clients. By incorporating between four to six prenatal coaching sessions into my doula practice I was able to identify six habits of thinking, or repeating themes, which could harm your clients’ birth experiences. Whether they are aware of these thinking habits or not, these themes run like an underground stream that will find any possible ‘crack’ to emerge and surface. This blog post is dedicated to these six habits of thinking and the coaching strategies you can apply to address them:
1. Perceiving childbirth as dangerous.
2. Confusing discomfort with pain and avoiding both these sensations.
3. Avoiding information that challenges her mentally and emotionally.
4. Adopting the cultural dichotomy of natural childbirth vs. medicated childbirth.
This year, World Doula Week has an additional substance for me as I celebrate my 20th year practicing as a birth professional.
Yes, of course, I still support birthing mothers individually, and I wonder if I’ll ever stop. During these 20 years, L&Ds and other birthplaces have been my synagogue; where I strengthened my faith in the universe, in nature, in people, and in my body. Witnessing my clients in their moments of triumph strengthened me from within and taught me that I am a powerful force. Supporting them through low moments of pain, despair or doubt reminded me I’m a vulnerable human being. Stepping aside allowing couples to have their moments of touch, love, care, and the deepest connection we experience during birth, made me realize how precious my marital relationship is to me. I am lucky to have found a supportive partner who is an amazing father to our three daughters.
It is my understanding that by being choosy about clients and committing to those who demonstrate the highest level of commitment to physiological and unmedicated childbirth, who are also most likely to choose a like-minded caregiver, doulas try to protect themselves- their souls and their hearts.
During the holiday season, I attended a local birth community gathering in San Jose. Our lovely host, a DONA trained and seasoned birth doula, invited us to introduce ourselves saying: “Tell us how you practice; what is unique about your practice, so we know which birth clients to refer to you.” The first doula to go shared that she is mainly practicing in one particular hospital, because everyone knows and respects her there, and she only supports birth clients who are strongly committed to a natural and unmedicated childbirth, and state that they are open to medical solutions if these are needed.
Curing the Dramatic Drop in Childbirth Education Attendance
Recent studies found a dramatic drop in childbirth education attendance. Taking that the new consumers of childbirth education are millennials, it is not surprising. Millennials were born into the era of online information, and they are consuming knowledge on Google, Facebook, and Youtube. Integrating coaching principles and strategies in your childbirth education classes will make you attractive and uniques. It will draw potential students that are looking for more than knowledge and information they already got online. It will magnet students who are ready for the next step of self-discovery – clarify their belief system about childbirth, their wishes, and their goals, and carve their desired birth experience. You will be able to lead them toward clarity and to elicit their accountability to their desired childbirth experience.
The advocacy dilemma in the field of childbirth support is a tough one to crack. The dilemma lies in the tension between certain components of birth support practice, such as serving and supporting, and other components such as being a change agent in our society and a birth activist. Relying on coaching principles and strategies will help you to make sure you practice within the scope of your practice, and to refrain from projecting or engaging any birth activism agenda in your relationships with your birth clients. Coaching is the pathway to client-centered relationships and care.
This New Method Will Make You Give-Up Your ‘Expert Position’ and Hand it to Your Birth Client.
Do you consider yourself an expert in ‘how to give birth’? If you are a childbirth educator, a birth doula, a midwife or a labor and delivery medical staff member, I’m almost certain that there is a confident voice inside your head saying, “Yes, I know all about giving birth, it’s my profession and what I do for a living”. However, I urge you to rethink your position: Can you be an expert about how any woman, other than yourself, is giving birth?
A couple of days ago I had a beautiful mentoring session with two local doulas; we will call them Iris and Lily. We were going over some challenging cases they experienced recently and exploring how the Birth Coach Method’s strategies and tools help. Pretty early in our discussion, I learned that their typical birth clients represent some degree of polarity: Iris works only with clients who are strongly committed to an unmedicated birth. She feels that potential clients who are “willing to try [birthing] with no epidural but leave themselves open to option of taking it” are not a good match for her. Lily said that her clients are hiring her in order to “Check the box” of doula services; meaning that they read the statistics showing doulas reduce cesarean rates and they are hiring her to avoid a cesarean.
The Art of Coaching for Childbirth
Integrating the Principles of Coaching into the Field of Birth Support
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The Art of Coaching for Childbirth is a practical guide inspiring and leading every professional in the field of birth support to integrate the coaching tools and strategies into their practice.
From one blog post to another and throughout my webinars, Birth Coach Method has become a paradigm shift in the field of childbirth support. It has drastically changed the conversation from teaching about childbirth to coaching the mother-to-be as an individual toward optimal performance in childbirth. Birth Coach Method inspired birth doulas to shift from telling clients what they think is the best childbirth experience for them to asking questions, listening and exploring their belief system about childbirth, about themselves and their bodies, their strength and more.
To listen to this webinar please buy it here, and we will send you the password.
In this webinar, we are revisiting some of the most accepted notions and expectations in regards to birth support, in order to suggest a client-centered coaching conversation of mothers’ support group for their birth. Common expectations, like partners present at the birth, or the fact that the nurse can’t be a part of the support group as a representative of the medical system, are being revisited from a coaching perspective. As always, we suggest the most effective coaching questions and strategies to clarify your client’s needs, expectations, challenges, or concerns about her birth support group, strategies you can use to open more options and allow flexibility, and a call for action which will allow your birth client to build her desired support group for her birth.