What’s a doula?
A birth doula is a trained labor coach who assists you during labor and delivery. She provides you with continuous emotional support, as well as assistance with other non-medical aspects of your care.
Doulas charge several hundred to a thousand dollars for their services, which are seldom covered by health insurance. Some, however, are willing to work on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay. A few pioneering hospitals even provide doulas to laboring patients who want them.
You can also hire a postpartum doula to come to your home after the birth to help you settle in with your new baby.
What are the advantages of having a birth doula?
A doula helps you before labor and delivery by answering your questions about what to expect, easing your fears, helping you develop a birth plan, and generally getting you ready for the arrival of your baby.
During labor and delivery, a doula provides constant, knowledgeable support. She can make suggestions about positions during labor, help you with breathing through contractions, and provide massage. She can also answer questions you and your partner have about what’s happening.
It’s impossible to predict or control how birth and labor will go. Will you connect emotionally with your labor and delivery nurse, and will she have time for you? How will you react to the pain? Will you have a swift delivery or a long, drawn-out labor? How will your husband or partner hold up under the pressure?
Faced with these uncertainties, many women find enormous reassurance in having a doula by their side. Research has found that women who have continuous one-on-one support during labor tend to use pain medication less often, have slightly shorter labors, and are less likely to have a c-section or a forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery. In fact, if you’re serious about trying to give birth without pain medication, a doula may be your best ally.
Women who have continuous support are also more likely to report being satisfied with their birth experience. One theory is that mothers who have continuous support produce lower levels of stress hormones during labor than women left alone or attended by inexperienced coaches.
If you’re seeing a midwife in a low-volume hospital practice, or planning to give birth at a birth center or at home, you’re likely to have continuous one-on-one support from your midwife.
If you have your baby at a hospital, it’s likely to be a different story — and hiring a doula may be the only way to make sure an experienced coach will be with you throughout labor.
In a typical hospital setting, doctors and some midwives don’t stay in the room with you continuously during labor. Labor-and-delivery nurses often have to split their time between several patients, and they come and go according to their shifts.
What’s it like to have support from a doula during labor?
Everyone’s experience is different, of course, but here’s one woman’s story of a doula-assisted labor:
“Hiring a doula is like hiring somebody who’s there just for you. When I went into labor, our doula met us at the hospital. Eighteen babies were born in the hospital that day, so our labor and delivery nurse was quite happy to have someone else there to provide emotional support and help make me more comfortable.
“Having the doula gave me enormous confidence, plus it took the pressure off my husband. He was able to relax and enjoy the experience. The doula showed him some acupressure techniques he wanted to try.
“She locked eyes with me and helped me breathe through my contractions, making suggestions about moving around and trying different pain management techniques. She could read my body signals perfectly, and knew when I was in transition (when I got sick, a pan magically materialized). She helped me remember to drink fluids and communicate my needs to the nurses.
“When it was time to push, the doula put warm washcloths on my perineum and locked eyes with me again, which was absolutely critical.
“I couldn’t have done it without her. She made me fearless, and the lack of fear is what gets you through the pain without drugs. I had complete confidence in her. If I had been looking at my husband and saying, ‘Help me through this,’ it just wouldn’t have been the same.”
How do I find a doula?
If you’re looking for a doula, try these resources:
- Download IbiOp App – Contact admin for a free consultation and get matched with your ideal Doula!
- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ibiop/id1148938880?mt=8 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=hr.apps.n207112992&hl=en
- Doulas of North America (DONA). The organization has a referral locator on its website. DONA also gives referrals over the phone at (888) 788-3662 or by email
Yasmintheresa was a wonderful doula to me and my family. During what is a really intimate time and life changing event you need someone in your corner who understands the transition into motherhood as well as the hospital procedures that you may or may not be aware of and Yasmintheresa was on point in this regard. Her warmth and energy is what made me choose her from the others that I interviewed and she instantly had a good rapor with my family during our first meeting.
I initially decided on going with a doula due to being unfamiliar with the American health care system, having moved here from abroad. She was able to give me sound advice about the best ways to advocate for the type of birth suited to our needs and was then also on hand to facilitate our requests during labour when my focus was obviously elsewhere. This is no way interfered with my partner’s role allowing him to be as involved as he wanted whilst alleviating some of the anxiety that comes with bringing a new being into this world.
I can honestly say it felt like she was a member of the family or that best friend who holds your hand in times of need. She even showed up to the hospital with healthy snacks and drinks and just surprised us with her generosity and kindness. She also captured our moments on camera for us which ca easily be forgotten in those minutes after giving birth.
When finding a doula you want a person who you feel comfortable with in your space from the get go and Yasmintheresa was that person. In her post natal visit to check up on us her concern for not only our newborns well being but also mine was heart warming beacuse most visitors naturally are so excited to meet the newborn they forget about the new mother and how she might be coping. All was well but it was nice to be reminded that you did a good job. Looking back we are so grateful to have had her as part of this life changing experience. Good luck ladies! ~Dami Akinnusi
Many women including myself have swayed through life not understanding why we suffer from health disparities. We often face issues like PCOS: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PMS, Fibroids, experience miscarriages, and infertility for years without understanding why and usually are told to treat the pain and discomfort with drugs rather than being educated about the cause of the syndrome and encouraged to create a lifestyle suited for our personal predispositions.
An exam may be necessary
I was once lucky enough to have visited the most prestigious Emergency room I have ever been to. While living in Thomasville, NC when I started feeling lower abdominal pain in fear of it being cyst like I’ve had before, I was referred to an OB-GYN that was adequately trained. This OB was doing my follow up and wanted to thoroughly exam my pelvis to understand why I was having pain near my ovaries. After I mentioned having once suffered a horrific burst of an ovarian cyst that left me on bed rest for almost a month; She wanted to rule out all worst case scenarios. This doctor felt a sonogram was not sufficient therefore she went on to perform a vaginal sonogram on me. It was a bit nerve wrecking for me because I was not sexually active at the time but the information she provided me with during this exam made the whole examination worth it. My boyfriend at the time held my hand through the exam and made the experience less dreadful. This doctor proceeded to educate me about my uterus being retroverted.
A retroverted uterus (tilted uterus, tipped uterus) is auterus that is tilted posteriorly. This is in contrast to the slightly “anteverted” uterus that most women have, which is tipped forward toward the bladder, with the anterior end slightly concave.
Generally, a retroverted uterus does not cause any problems. If problems do occur, it will probably be because the woman has an associated disorder like endometriosis. A disorder like this could cause the following symptoms:
- Painful sexual intercourse
- The woman-on-top position during sex usually causes the most discomfort
- Period pain (particularly if the retroversion is associated with endometriosis).
- Natural variation – generally, the uterus moves into a forward tilt as the woman matures. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen and the uterus remains tipped backwards.
- Adhesions – an adhesion is a band of scar tissue that joins two (usually) separate anatomic surfaces together. Pelvic surgery can cause adhesions to form, which can then pull the uterus into a retroverted position.
- Endometriosis – the endometrium is the lining of the uterus. Endometriosis is the growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus. These cells can cause retroversion by ‘gluing’ the uterus to other pelvic structures.
- Fibroids – these small, non-cancerous lumps can make the uterus susceptible to tipping backwards.
- Pregnancy – the uterus is held in place by bands of connective tissue called ligaments. Pregnancy can overstretch these ligaments and allow the uterus to tip backwards. In most cases, the uterus returns to its normal forward position after childbirth, but sometimes it doesn’t.
In most cases of retroverted uterus, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are tipped backwards too. This means that all of these structures can be ‘butted’ by the head of the penis during intercourse. This is known as ‘collision dyspareunia’. The woman-on-top position usually causes the most pain. It is possible for vigorous sex in this position to injure or tear the ligaments surrounding the uterus.
In most cases, a retroverted uterus doesn’t interfere with pregnancy. After the first trimester, the expanding uterus lifts out of the pelvis and, for the remainder of the pregnancy, assumes the typical forward-tipped position.
In a small percentage of cases, the growing uterus is ‘snagged’ on pelvic bone (usually the sacrum). This condition is known as ‘incarcerated uterus’. The symptoms usually occur somewhere between weeks 12 and 14, and can include pain and difficulties passing urine.
- A retroverted uterus means the uterus is tipped backwards so that it aims towards the rectum instead of forward towards the belly.
- Some women may experience symptoms including painful sex.
- In most cases, a retroverted uterus won’t cause any problems during pregnancy.
- Treatment options include exercises, a pessary or surgery.
Since learning about being with a retroverted uterus I realized how my physiology differed from other women. 1 in 6 women are born with a retroverted uterus. Some may live their wholes lives not knowing unless they inquire to find out or they experience some of the disparities I was dealt. Some of the causes are, painful sex, yeast infections due to high levels of acid in your ph., and painful periods. Some women learn about having this, way into their pregnancy and if their lucky enough they will have a Doula, who will instruct them on how to minimize the nausea episodes and perhaps provide some insight on why it is detrimental to eat the right foods for a more comfortable and easy going pregnancy.
It is very important to understand that our body parts are not separated. We often lose sight of the truth being that everything is connected and in tuned especially when we are not in tuned with our own bodies. We often pop a pill an ignore aches and pains when it can very well be our body telling us to pay attention BEFORE something goes wrong. I was grateful to have learned about my beautifully unique uterus because I was able to change my diet and life style in order to prevent things like fibroids, endometriosis, PMS and more. I learned early that my diet effects my PH-balance and if my PH (hormones) are off then my body becomes a home for disease and ailments especially when I am already sensitive because of the way I was created.
Before we continue our lives not knowing how magical and intricate our bodies are I hope we can all become a bit more curious about our Uterus’ and how different they can all be. Perhaps now we can tend to our personal needs as women and not be shocked when sudden issues begin to effect our health during our child bearing years.
The good news is that in most cases it is possible to have a baby if you have one of these uterine abnormalities:
This is an uncommon abnormality where the uterus has two inner cavities. Each cavity may lead to its own cervix and vagina. This means there are two cervixes and two vaginas. It affects about one in 350 women.
A unicornuate uterus is half the size of a normal uterus and there is only one fallopian tube. Because of its shape, it is described as a uterus with one horn. It is a rare abnormality, affecting about one in 1,000 women. It develops in the earliest stages of life, when the tissue that forms the uterus does not grow properly. If you have a unicornuate uterus, you probably have two ovaries but only one will be connected to your uterus.
Instead of being pear-shaped, this type of uterus looks more like a heart, with a deep indentation at the top. It is called a uterus with two horns, because of its shape. It’s thought that fewer than one woman in 200 women has a bicornuate uterus.
This is where the inside of the uterus is divided by a muscular or fibrous wall, called the septum. About one woman in 45 women is affected. The septum may extend only part way into the uterus (partial septate uterus) or it may reach as far as the cervix (complete septate uterus). Partial or subseptates are more common than complete septates. A septate uterus may make it more difficult for you to conceive.
This looks more like a normal uterus, except it has a dip, or slight indentation at the top. It is a common abnormality, affecting about a quarter of women.
About one in six women have a uterus that tilts backwards toward the spine (retroverted uterus). This is not an abnormality. It won’t affect how your baby grows, although it may mean your bump starts to show later than for other women.
“We’re back took a little break for labor day hope you all enjoyed. Excited about the direction of the show and its only getting better! Today we had a chance to speak with Yasmintheresa Garcia she lets us know the origin of her work as a Doula. Describes her passion for help and informing our community about pregnancy and other health concerns. Excited to talk about the launch of her new App IbiOp where people can easily find information on Doulas and Midwives near them.”
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The 21st century lends itself to a shift in the role of women in society. Inspirational women have been around for centuries, with the 1990s giving birth to the next generation of creative and exceptional female activists.
At 24 years old, Yasmintheresa Garcia is one such outstanding individual. A Brooklyn native born to Afro-Dominican parents, she recognized her calling as a doula from a very young age. In addition to successfully managing her own doula practice, Ythedoula, Garcia is a midwife in training, community activist and vegan health coach. Doulas are not medically licensed.
Garcia gained interest in the vocation at the age of 12, when a number of fellow students became pregnant. “I started giving them advice and giving them emotional and educational support that they needed that they weren’t receiving from the community they lived in,” said Garcia in an interview.
Community uplift and female education is the reason Garcia has created a get together called Ythegirlshangout. A group for women of all ages and backgrounds come together in a sacred space to discuss everything from financial literacy to career goals and body images. “Things that we in our culture wouldn’t normally speak of in our household,” said Garcia.
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Each month, Let Your Voice Be Heard! Radio presents “The Dreamer and Doer Series,” which spotlights inspirational Millennials who are using their talents and influence to better their community and the world. In July 2016, we spoke to Yasmintheresa Garcia, the founder of YtheGirls “Hang out,” a Midwife in training, Prenatal & Postnatal Doula, Childbirth Educator, Vegan health coach and Acupressurist.
Being a birth Doula or Midwife consist of two different responsibilities. It is not a hobby or a job you do because it seems easy. It is not a job for the weak minded or selfish hearted.
Being a Doula is a metaphysical calling on your soul to want to be apart of ushering in new life knowing that you will do more Good than harm as a gatekeeper of the cycle of life. What both a Midwife & Doula do have in common is that both roles have a responsibility to educate & empower their clients in order to make evidence based decisions that are best for their family in respect to their culture. We are pretty much the gate keepers of the human life cycle we often witness death and birth at the same time. Perhaps in most cases death of an old life style and birth of a new life and new adventure of a whole family. How we practice in both roles has a major effect on how that family will transition into, and operate in their new life style.
Be passionate about your calling in life and live it to the fullest. ~YtheDoula