We recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Ann Myhre, a mother of three and DONA trained birth doula located in Dallas, Texas. In our Q&A below, she shares her extensive knowledge on birth and postpartum doulas, the benefits of having one, how to make pregnant life easier and more! She even had an at home session with our Founder & Owner, Lindsay Bell, where she taught Lindsay comfort and labor techniques. There’s so much great information here – read on!
Q: What are some of the services women can expect from a birth and postpartum doula and why are they beneficial?
A: I think it is important to first define what a birth doula is and her role within the realm of pregnancy and birth. I believe that there is a misconception that a doula is only used for someone who wants an unmedicated birth. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. A doula, by definition, is a person who provides emotional and physical support to the birthing person during pregnancy and childbirth regardless of the way they choose to plan their birth. At North Dallas Doula Associates we support all types of birth and all types of birthing families. We create a safe and encouraging environment for the laboring mother through getting to know each other during the pregnancy, focusing on specific goals and fears and lastly by providing continual labor support for the family so they can achieve their optimal birth experience. The great thing about a birth doula is that they can help you learn how to advocate for yourself through evidenced based research so you feel prepared when it is time to have to make certain decisions. Having a doula by your side can also help the birthing person and their partner feel more connected by helping provide comfort measures and allowing the partner to focus on supporting their partner. I have used the same doula for all three of my births and I could not imagine giving birth without her by my side. We were a team (myself, my husband and my doula). It is also statistically proven that having a doula reduces the risk of a cesarean, increases the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth, and increases the overall satisfaction of the birth.
A postpartum doula’s role is to support the birthing person in a variety of ways after birth. Like a birth doula, they get to know each other during the pregnancy and their role begins as soon as they leave the hospital or as needed. A postpartum doula can assist with overnight care for mother and baby, basic breastfeeding and baby care, help with siblings and serve as a mentor for the mother. If I knew I had this option after my first child I think my postpartum experience would have been vastly different. I underestimated the shift that would take place in my life after becoming a mother and how finding time to even take a shower or go to the store with a newborn could be a struggle. Research shows that the entire family has an easier time with this transition if a good postpartum support team is in place. I think it is important to also differentiate the difference in a postpartum doula versus having childcare in place. While both are important, a postpartum doula has been trained on what I mentioned above and their primary role is to support the mother while a child care provider’s support focuses on the child.
Q: What are some of the latest tools and techniques that help make the lives of pregnant women easier?
A: I wish that there was a magic wand that could be waved to make the lives of pregnant women easier. It really takes a village not only to raise a child, but also to support a pregnant person and the biggest takeaway from this conversation is that women do not need to go through this journey alone. Taking a childbirth class, getting regular massages, chiropractic care, having a birth plan and feeling empowered and prepared prior to birth are the biggest ways I see of making their lives easier. I am also a huge advocate of maternal mental health and allowing oneself the ability to work through any emotions or trauma that might affect one’s birth experience. Every birth is different and it is so important to try and process experiences and enter into this journey with a fresh mindset and that can sometimes be difficult to do. We often refer to a great local therapist that specializes in maternal mental health named Kim Kertsburg with Dallas Postpartum Support.
Q: BFC’s Founder & Owner and her donut pillow have been best friends during her pregnancy. What are the benefits of a donut pillow and when would you recommend expecting moms to grab one?
A: As I mentioned before, every pregnancy and birth is different and the body can respond differently. Lindsay had been telling me about her tailbone pain and I just happened to have a beloved donut pillow and yoga ball at my house. This piggybacks a little bit on the previous question regarding the latest tools and techniques that help make the lives of pregnant women easier. Not all expectant moms may be having lower back or tailbone pain and might not need tools such as a donut pillow. Or they may find that during the postpartum period they could benefit from one for a variety of reasons. I am a huge advocate of chiropractic care during and after pregnancy. There is a wonderful practice here in Dallas called Cafe of Life Chiropractic. They specialize in prenatal chiropractic care and their goal is to get you comfortable through regular adjustments and to get your pelvis in an optimal position for birth. They will also help you by suggesting comfort measures you can take to help alleviate some of the discomfort that comes with growing a baby.
For more information on Ann and North Dallas Doula Associates, click here.
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