Evidence in Support of Coaching for Childbirth; Reporting from the Field

Everyone is talking about coaching for childbirth; join the discussion!

There is a buzz!!! “Coaching for childbirth is what everybody is talking about,” I was told a couple of weeks ago, when Betsy Schwartz invited me to co-host Birth Blab, and the Birth Lady,  Michal Klau-Stevens Joined us.  The intuitive concept of coaching for childbirth, which I began developing two years ago, has evolved into a powerful method with solid theory and a substantial variety of techniques and exercises practiced by more and more doulas. The more doulas join the new paradigm of coaching for childbirth, the more evidence is being accumulated in support of the tremendous benefits of this practice.

Does the evidence support the benefits of birth support coaching?

This evidence shouldn’t be neglected, especially in light of the growing frustration of birth activists and birth professionals from the constant increase in medical interventions, such as inductions and cesarean operations. The evidence comes from my own doula practice as well as from the practices of doulas who attended my workshop – The Art of Coaching for Childbirth.

A limiting belief was revealed and dismissed. Strategies for building healthy relationships in L&D were adopted, and a new positive concept of ‘loosing control’ became possible

In this post, I will present three case studies that demonstrate the high level of leadership doulas and childbirth educators can gain by integrating coaching principles and techniques into their work with expectant individuals. In the first case study, one strong search question led an expectant birth giver to go into labor spontaneously and fulfill her wish for a VBAC. In the second case,  a coaching question helped reveal a limiting belief about relationships between doulas and nurses in L&D, and in the last one, a coaching conversation had turned the idea of losing control from a scary experience to possibly a pleasurable one.

Case #1: a strong coaching question that gave way to spontaneous labor

Shelly, a member of my local community and an expectant mother in her 40th week, contacted me via Facebook messenger: “I posted my situation on our Facebook group, and everyone refers me to you, can you please help me?” Over a phone conversation, she shared that she is hoping for a VBAC, and must give birth by this coming Friday (in three days) or she will go through another cesarean. She had already seen an acupuncturist, and her contractions kept coming and going. For the last ten days, she said, her contractions felt like she was going into labor, but they kept disappearing after a few good hours. We decided to meet that evening in order to explore what can be in the way of Shelly’s healthy labor.

Then I curiously asked: ”What is going to happen when your baby is finally here?

I opened the meeting sharing that the situation can be explored from two angles:

  1. the physiology of childbirth; meaning the release of oxytocin or what is in the way of it.
  2. The anatomy of childbirth; meaning baby’s position and pelvis alignment.

About 40 minutes into the meeting, I felt it was the right moment to explore the physiological angel-  I first talked about different methods of ‘riding the wave’ of Shelly’s spontaneous contractions when they show up and helping to increase oxytocin levels. Then I curiously asked: ”What is going to happen when your baby is finally here? Is there any concern or worry that can hold you back from releasing this baby to the world?”

Silence. The couple was looking into each other eyes and Shelly was in tears. Then both shared that they are only kids in their families, and they believe they are hurting their toddler by bringing another baby to the world. They both have careers and they felt sorry for their toddler for having to share the little and precious time with them with another baby. Then the dad added, addressing Shelly: “Remember last night your contractions were strong and steady and they disappeared immediately after he cried.”

I was on my way to the airport when I received the following Facebook message: “At the hospital, fully dilated, baby, is in +2, THANK YOU!”

So I set the couple down to make a list of all the benefits of having a sibling; from developing social skills to having a family when the parents are gone, and all the way to organ donors! There was laughing and crying, and then I shared my perspective that they are amazing parents giving the best gift to their toddler. I asked Shelly to read and recite this list to herself before bedtime, first thing in the morning, and when she goes into labor again.

The morning after I was on my way to the airport when I received the following Facebook message: “At the hospital, fully dilated, baby, is in +2, THANK YOU!”

 Case #2: A coaching question leading to the annulment of old myths questions allow coaches

The following evidence was sent to me by doula Ellen LaVoie, from Redwood City, California: “ I asked my most talkative, well-researched client about what she was giving up in order to have an unmedicated birth, and she was speechless! We explored her birth from a new angle. It was great! She soon went back to her big fear of battling with hospital staff. She believes she is giving up a smooth interaction with them. Then we worked on strategies for resolving that, many inspired by your workshop.”

 

Case #3: Change of perspective that led to the freedom of fear

How many times did you hear expectant individuals sharing their fear of losing control during childbirth? There are so many different ways to explore this fear. You can ask “What do you mean by ‘Losing control’?  Or “What happens when you lose control? How does it look or feel like?
A dear client shared this fear during the prenatal session. I didn’t feel like exploring the fear will be beneficial for her, as I know her to be very prone to anxiety. Instead, I asked: “Is it possible that losing control over your body will be a pleasant and joyful experience? 
Silence in the room….and then “Yes, it happens in orgasm”. 
Me: Aha 

“Is it possible that losing control over your body will be a pleasant and joyful experience?
– “Yes, it happens in orgasm”.

Together we came up with this list of wonderful experiences of losing control

  • Falling in love
  • Freestyle dancing
  • Screaming on a roller coaster ride
  • Feeling tipsy
  • Orgasm
  • and Childbirth

A limiting belief was revealed and dismissed. Strategies for building healthy relationships in L&D were explored and adopted, and a new and positive concept of losing control became possible.  You can learn how to facilitate a change of perspective, help birth givers adopt a positive concept that serves them better, or help individuals to dismiss limiting beliefs by enrolling in my Birth Support Coaching Course. 

 

Neri Life-Choma

I am the founder of Birth Coach Method and am celebrating 20 years of leadership in the field of childbirth support. Throughout my career, I have been honored to provide doula support and teach childbirth ed. classes to hundreds of expectant couples, as well as to direct two birth resource centers. I am also a doula leader in my community in the South Bay area of Silicon Valley in California.
Neri Life-Choma

active birth, childbirth education, coaching, prenatal

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