BALTIMORE — This city has opened a new front in its effort to give black newborns the same chances of surviving infancy as white ones: training doulas to assist expectant mothers during pregnancy, delivery and afterward.
Other cities may follow, according to Dale Kaplan of the MaternityWise Institute, which conducts doula training in Baltimore. Other cities, including Denver, San Antonio and San Francisco, have contacted his organization to inquire about starting programs.
“Doula” comes from a Greek term meaning “a woman who helps.” Although doulas are trained to assist expectant mothers through labor, delivery and beyond, they are not medical providers, as midwives are. Dona International, which calls itself the largest doula-certifying organization in the world, said doulas help mothers achieve “the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.”
A 2013 study found that doula-assisted mothers were less likely to deliver babies with low birth weights or with birth complications than were mothers who opted not to receive such support, and they were more likely to breast-feed their infants. Another study found that mothers attended by female caregivers during labor were less likely than others to have Caesarean births, require painkillers or deliver babies in poor health.
“Continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor,” according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which cites other benefits, such as shortened labor, less need for pain medication and fewer operative deliveries.
African American women have a long history with doulas, particularly during the Jim Crow era when hospitals denied access to black women, forcing many to deliver their children at home, said Andrea Williams-Salaam, a doula trainer in the Baltimore program. But as race-based legal barriers vanished and the medical profession strongly promoted hospital deliveries as the safest option, fewer women practiced as doulas.
While a few continued to work in Baltimore, she said, the city decided to start training doulas, following the example of New York, which started its doula program in 2010. So far, New York has trained 68 doulas who have attended 580 births.
Gabriela Ammann, director of the By My Side Birth Support Doula Program, which seeks to reduce infant mortality in Brooklyn, helped start the New York program. She had been a part-time doula while teaching infant education classes in the Brooklyn Healthy Start Program.
“I noticed when we talked about labor and birth support, participants often said they weren’t sure they’d have someone with them,” she said. “Sometimes they didn’t have someone to support them, or that person had to stay home to take care of the other kids.”
Like New York, Baltimore wants its doulas to work as independent contractors rather than as city employees. In addition to advising women about their pregnancies and baby care, Baltimore’s doulas will be trained to connect needy women to housing, transportation, nutrition and employment services.
“The doulas are there to assist, support and empower a woman in whatever way she needs assistance,” Williams-Salaam said. “That could be accompanying the woman to medical visits to help with the terminology used by the caregiver or helping her obtain proper nutrition, housing or employment.”
Too often, poor African American women are treated disrespectfully by the institutions they interact with, she said. She wants not only to advocate for her clients but also to “teach them how to advocate for themselves.”
“Like me, a lot of these moms have been subjected to violence and trauma,” she said. “That’s why I want to help them understand what their rights are, so they can move through that system without being re-traumatized.”
The cost of hiring a doula varies widely, from as little as $100 to as much as $5,000, according to Ammann. There is generally no insurance reimbursement for doula services. Unlike New York, Baltimore will not pay the doulas for their work, so any money they make will come from clients.
-A YtheDoula Story-
At 2:33am her labor intensified and she was now in Trans. The look on her face was psychedelic. It was as if all of her fears had whispered away as she began to surrender to her godliness. In that moment she began her transformation into this fearless warrior whose body was no longer hers but belonged to all the women who once walked in her footsteps, crouched down on their knees, and birthed nations across the oceans.
THE DIVINE INTERVENTION
I met Arlene and Charlie through divine intervention is what I like to believe. Just days before Arlene’s predicted due date, her original Birth Doula, my former classmate who trained as a Doula with me; had to leave for Africa to embark on her 6 week journey of nursing and midwifery studies. Like any responsible Doula does; Ashlie decided to contact me and refer me to the couple as their back up Doula just in case the baby came after Ashlie boarded her flight. Ashlie and I did our Birth Doula workshop together and she believed that my philosophies of birth were parallel to hers and I would be a great stand in for her if the unfortunate situation happened where she would miss the birth of the Baby. In the beginning of the week Ashlie had us get acquainted via Group chat and email. I was briefly educated on the journey that the soon to be mum and dad had been through with Ashlie. I began to feel as though I was called into this birth for a reason. My spirit guides told me that I should meet with the couple as soon as possible because I would soon be the chosen Doula for their birth.
On a Friday night after a long week, Arlene and Charlie arrived at my Harlem office with Poppa Charlie’s mother and loads of questions and apprehension up their sleeves. I was so excited to meet them but felt a weight of responsibility to be ready at any given moment to support this couple as a Doula with knowing little to nothing about who they were, how they loved, and what I could possibly pull out of their souls to provide them with the strength they needed to get through this miraculous experience. I literally had 24hrs to meet them; their souls, their spirit, and the spirit of their unborn baby through the love they expressed towards each other.
THE INITIAL CONSULTATION
I left that consultation feeling inspired by Arlene, after conversations with her and husband about her fears and joys, anticipations and expectations. I learned that there were so many warrior spirits that surrounded and raised Arlene to be the woman she is today. I wondered to myself how I would gather all this power to assist her through what I knew would be the biggest transformation in her life. With much privilege I took on the responsibility of being chosen to be her gate keeper of life and death as she welcomed the new life of her baby onto this earth and departed from herself as a woman who was not yet a mother. I gave Arlene and her husband Charlie a few days to consider hiring me as a Doula, because after all; my belief is that the baby chooses the birth Doula not the parents. They went home that night, meditated on it and emailed me way before the 24 hours to inform me that I should be ready because the baby had chosen me.
THE CASUAL YET NECESSARY CONVERSATION
My practice as a Doula is based on how I can be this woman’s keeper. My goal is to dive deep into her psyche and learn her in depth feelings about the journey she is on as a woman. I often find myself asking mum’s who are fearful of labor if, “They are ready to be a mother to this specific child.” Through my observations I have gathered that all births are different for mums and that often times when a momma is worried about her delivery it is based on a fear of what life would now be like after the baby becomes a little human right before their eyes. Therefore, I tap into my client’s emotions with genuine curiosity in search for guidance on what will be needed of me as a Doula toensure this woman is empowered by this experience. I remember asking Arlene if she was ready to be a mum. This was Arlene and Charlie’s first baby. After our in person consultation, I went home concerned by Arlene’s fear of not living long enough to see past the birth of her baby girl. She expressed that one of her fears was not being able to see far enough into her future to witness her baby grow up. I wondered if her mentality sprung from a societal repression of the Generation Y2k, whom see the world for the scary place that the media makes it out to be. I wondered what made this strong, vibrant, and joyful woman hinder her own ability to believe in the hope she had for a wonderful future with her new family. As a Libra myself, I decided there were so many layers apart from strength and perseverance that made up Arlene’s character. I learned she was a Libra who was in the process of working tirelessly to bring both sides of her family together in love and unison before the arrival of her baby. Arlene was joyful about meeting her baby but was anxious about welcoming her baby into a safe and loving environment. I assured her that nothing happens as a coincidence and that baby would be what would remind her, her family, and all who are a witness of what love, life, and adventure is truly about; the unexpected and the inevitable.
FROM CONCEPTION TO CONTEMPLATION
Around 9:00am Arlene began to update me with what her body was undergoing. Charlie was more excited with letting me know every new phase Arlene went through in the beginning of labor. I asked Charlie to keep me updated. But also to go about their day as normal as possible. The two of them began their Saturday morning with loving vibes, a stroll in the city, grocery shopping, and even having a good ole slice of pizza at a local pizza parlor. As a Doula, I was 40 minutes away with my phone attached to my hand going along with my day working my 9-5 with the readiness to come up with an excuse for my supervisor if at any given moment I had to leave for the birth of the baby. I asked Charlie to track Arlene’s labor moods, and contractions as the hours went on in order for me to know exactly when I would have to leave for Harlem from White Plains NY. It is always better to be near the laboring mum. Not necessarily with her all day, but nearby just in case the baby wants to rush into this world without notice. By 1:00pm I decided to take the train ride into the city and hang out at a local coffee shop since the text messages from Poppa Charlie were getting more dramatic by the hour. Just as new parents would react in a situation not knowing what to expect; I wanted to assure them that I would be near them for whenever they needed the in person support. By 6:00pm, Arlene’s contractions were going at every 5 minutes, 30-40 seconds long. At 7:30pm I arrived to their home. My favorite part of my Doula career is the reaction of the parents, especially the mum the moment I arrive at their door. Like most mums in their homes during labor, I walked in to Arlene cleaning. It is almost an innate reaction that a woman has while laboring at home to begin cleaning to get her mind off labor and keep distracted from the process. However from a birth worker’s perspective; I know too well that this kind of behavior is anxiety manifesting its form of cleansing out the old energies in preparation for the new energies and new life coming into the home. Then again Arlene is Colombian; historically many Hispanic and African cultures the woman always cleans when they have a lot on their mind. Can you blame us? It is extremely therapeutic. A clean space equals a clear mind.
Upon Charlie opening the door, Arlene saw me and my bright cheesy smile that followed with a joke, “What are you doing? Cleaning? Why? Wheres the party? I asked. She smiled with joy. A spirit of peace came over her. It was such a privilege seeing her sweep the broom across the living room so calmly as if she had no care in the world because now her Doula was there. Little did she know she was going to be the one doing all the work; the cleaning included. It helps for a mum to be active during contractions and I wasn’t going to be the one to take that away from her. I made this very clear to her through many jokes. The night progressed smoothly as both mum and dad insisted in catering to me as if I was a guest of honor. I had to remind them that I did not need anything to drink or eat but that I was there to serve them and make sure they had everything they needed to be comfortable and Zen. During Arlene’s contractions, Charlie would tend to her like a Lion romancing his lioness, gallantly protecting and nurturing her yet secretly adoring her with all his gratitude as she labored their unborn baby.
THE EFFECTS OF AN UNEXPECTED GUEST
At around 9:40pm unbeknownst to me the unexpected happened. As a birth Doula and future midwife I have strong beliefs about who should be present at a woman’s birth. Most pregnant women don’t usually conceptualize how spiritual the birthing journey can be. Nor do they consider how powerful each individual presence involved during the labor can be. It is highly important for all of those who are in the presence of the laboring mum to be invited and to only be there to serve the situation with physical, spiritual, and emotional support. That being said, no one who is fearful of the processes of labor should ever be in the presence of a birthing woman. Energy is very real and while a woman is laboring she is literally in between two realms; the realm of life and of death and as she travels spiritually in and out of this dimension she gathers strength and purpose from all her ancestors and all her predecessors in order to birth her child.Therefore it is my duty as her Doula to protect the space for her to travel freely and peacefully.
Suddenly I heard a key turning in the door of the apartment and my heart dropped. I didn’t want to believe what I knew was already manifesting. After all, Charlie and Arlene made it very clear to me that Arlene’s mother in law; Charlie’s mother was not going to be in attendance during the laboring process of their baby. That she would only be allowed in the waiting room during the delivery as she expected her first grandchild. Arlene was doing so well during her contractions that we all found it so comical how she would be telling a story and sharing jokes but then in a split second she would close her eyes and disappear into a wave of energy that both Charlie and I could only imagine what kind of roller coaster ride it felt like. Like clockwork, Arlene was at a steady pace of 40 second contractions every 3 minutes by now but then the door opened.
It was Charlie’s mother. All of my attention was glued to Arlene when I noticed her shift in energy the moment she saw her mother in law come into the house. I quickly accessed the situation and realized that the couple was not expecting her arrival to the home before they went to the hospital. As I continued to look at my watch in monitoring Arlene’s contractions I became worried when I noticed that she was no longer contracting every three minutes. She had stopped contracting for 10 whole minutes now and I quickly decided she needed a change of environment away from her mother in law. I asked her to come with me to her bedroom and I brought it to her attention; how her energy became bothered and unsteady the moment her mother in law walked in. She shared with me how she loved her mother in law but that her cigarette smoke scent and the past week full of horrifying birth stories from her was what she feared having to experience at that moment.
FROM A WARRIORS BELIEF CAME BABY CHARLIE
It was in this defining moment that I realized how much value my work as a Doula truly has. As I paint this picture I wish for all to imagine for just a moment this beautiful yet chaotic energetic chain of events that led to the minutes that introduced baby girl Charley into this earth.
By 10:30pm mum had progressed in labor and the energies of the home felt a bit more peaceful. Mother in law was staying out the way by suddenly picking up the responsibility that every Afro-latina woman is graced with during any moment of anxiety and she began cleaning every inch of her son’s apartment. As I monitored Arlene, she began to not be able to voice her labor progression and the jokes were now one sided. It was then that I prepared mentally to schedule our next moves. My duty was to keep calm, and get poppa to order this Uber, make sure mom in law continued to scrub the floor somewhere in the back, and help Arlene feel safe every time she transitioned further and further away from her natural state of consciousness in order to bare the labor pains.
No surprise at all when I was approached with the duties of ensuring mum would stay mentally in the birthing zone. It almost became a game every time Arlene will have a 3 minute break between contractions and start asking everyone if they had everything they needed. She asked if we had her IDs, did we have the suitcase, did I have everything I needed. I was like, “Arlene, focus on birthing this baby and let us handle everything.”She even suggested we all take a selfie in the elevator on our way to meet the Uber. I couldn’t wait to tell the Uber driver about how important this ride was for him as much as it was for us. Shout out to that Handsome African Uber driver who was so impressed by Arlene’s powerful handle on the situation she was dealt. It made me so happy to be apart of a man from Africa witnessing an American woman labor so gracefully with no complaints. The whole ride to the hospital he kept affirming her ability to do it. We all became Doulas in that car ride!
Upon arriving to the hospital I had to mentally prepare myself for the worst. Being a birth Doula in hospitals can be very challenging when working to keep mum at peace in a very chaotic and stoic environment. Arlene was 4 centimeters when we arrived and the nurses suggested that she leave for two hours and come back when her labor had progressed. Imagine the disappointment when we hear this after thinking we did most of the work at home. It was game time for me.
My job was to make the best of the situation at hand which was the reality that Arlene and her husband would have to labor in this hallway waiting room with other expecting families staring. I quickly positioned her crouched over a big medicine ball, pulled out my headphones from my bag and activated her prepared playlist. She was officially gone. By 1am she had advance a few centimeters and her contractions were getting stronger. There were moments where I had to coach her like a sports player to get up off the floor or switch positions in order for her to keep her blood circulating and get the baby to move downward. I had to make sure she was comfortable and not cramping her legs by being on her knees for too long.
Charlie was so loving throughout the whole process and only wanted to ensure that she wasn’t in too much pain. Charlie kept Arlene comfortable the whole time and would kiss her and keep his hand on her to remind her that he will never leaver her side especially in their toughest moments. It was magical to bare witness to a poetic love story I was just beginning to read. Many moments occurred when I would look away from Arlene and see her mother in law right behind her rubbing her back the whole time, while we were on the floor, when we moved to the middle of the hallway against the wall. I realized that mother in law understood why I was there. Here was this 60 something year old lady whose had traumatizing births in the same city was now witnessing her daughter in law have an empowering experience with a dream team who was supporting her every time she moved, had to pee, or needed us to hold a cubby for her to throw up in while we stood in the middle of the hallway. It was in that moment that I knew my job was to be the Doula for this whole family who was learning the true beauty of natural labor.
By 2am Arlene’s moans made a roaring entrance into a very quiet scene. It was time. Charlie had Arlene come off the elevator after a walk alone together around the floor below us and as they stood in the elevator she had to step out because baby was coming. In the elevator hall way they stood and Arlene let out a roar like a warrior who had led all her people to the promise land but was tired as heck. Her body collapsed over the arms of her husband and her water broke. I stood watching everything from the glass doors confident that this was my place just making sure they knew I was close enough to assure them that all of what was happening was completely normal.
It took only 2 seconds after her roar for Mother in law to flee to the scene while asking me if she was okay. I explained that she was fine. Her water just broke and there is amniotic fluid on the floor and its time; but she’s doing great! Mother in law rushed to get through the door just like a momma bear wanting to protect and save all and anyone in distress. I almost had to box out mother in law from the energetic bubble the couple was in to make sure that her fears wouldn’t freak out Arlene or Charlie. I knew I had to watch out for mother in law the moment she rushed in asking if everything was okay which transmuted into Charlie taking all the napkins he had in his pocket and started cleaning the wet floor while trying to hold up his wife. I laughed. And quickly gave everyone a small speech in our hallway huddle, “Charlie leave that there, I am sure they are use to having women’s fluids everywhere around here. Mother in law, this is normal. She is now ready to deliver baby. Arlene, you did it! You are at the end of your marathon and your so close to meeting your baby.” Within minutes we get her admitted into her room and Arlene delivers a beautiful baby girl in which no one knew the sex of before meeting her.
They named her Charley in honor of her daddy. I never seen a love so quiet yet powerful between two people the way I have witnessed between Arlene and Charlie. That morning I had battled more negative spirits and transmuted negative energy into positive than I ever had in such a short period of almost 12 hours. I wrestled with mother in laws negative experiences and fears and watched her transform her birthing beliefs by watching how calm and graceful her daughter in law was during her whole labor. I then had to tame the energy in the room while comments of a prejudice P.A. insisted in telling us how well women of color delivery babies because “Our bodies were meant to reproduce.” I, as a Doula have been honored to be asked to create a sacred space for this family to welcome their baby girl no matter what was happening around them.
After two hours and smiling faces and a now topless Father Charlie, I knew my job that morning was done. After a twelve hour shift I was ready to go home, rest, and regroup. Baby was beautiful and healthy and grandma was overjoyed and impressed beyond belief of how well her daughter in law and son went through the journey of childbirth.
A week later I visited Arlene, Charlie, and Baby girl Charlie at home. Mother in law had gone back home to puerto rico and the home smelled like love and new born baby. The couple remembered everything except some of the funnier moments I would have to keep out of this story because I can easily make this into a novel. We shared pictures and drooled over how adorable baby Charley was. After making sure the couple was in high spirits and in love I was overjoyed especially when they confirmed their gratitude for my Doula services. To make a long story short, we are good friends now and I can’t wait to see Baby Charley the warrior princess grow into a Queen like her mum one day.
~ YtheGarcia Q1-2017
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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