A Midwife, Doula, and Postpartum Help for Healthier, Happier Mom, Dad & Baby
Who uses a doula, midwife, and postpartum help?
Barefoot hippies? Hollywood divas?
Yes, and millions of everyday, hardworking people around the world who have decided either through their cultural heritage or personal research that for them, a natural childbirth and postpartum care with the support of a midwife, doula, and other services makes for the healthiest, safest, and happiest ways to give birth to and care for the new spirit in their lives.
Natural childbirth in a hospital, homebirth, and postpartum care have become so uncommon in the U.S. (and increasingly in other countries) that they are now considered by many to be too difficult, unnecessary, or even frivolous.
But, just a glance at the number of women in the U.S. who fail to have a natural childbirth (when that’s what they intended), fail to breastfeed (even when they wanted to and tried), and who suffer from mild to severe postpartum depression offers a clear indication that the now standard, mechanical template of childbirth and postpartum care is gravely inadequate.
And it’s not that millions of women wouldn’t want a natural childbirth or magical postpartum time of healing and bonding.
It’s that a great majority have no idea what hospital protocol they’re up against when they enter Labor & Delivery, or what kind of postpartum care is considered standard and necessary in countries around the world (and that women experiencing loss—miscarriage or stillbirth—also have postpartum leave and care[i]).
Countless women go into labor having said for nine months, “I want a natural childbirth.” And they mean it. But then what happens?
Here’s a look at just a few of the standard procedures upon entering the hospital:
This is all assuming that you’re not put on additional drugs to speed labor (if in their estimation you’re taking too long). While 24 hours or longer is a common length of time for a mother to labor—especially with her first baby—many hospitals encourage drugs to speed the process if it passes 12 hours.
It is also assuming that nothing has happened to encourage the doctor to perform a cesarean section (now at 30-50% of deliveries in the States, varying by doctor and hospital).
The placenta will be taken to an incinerator.
Postpartum care? Women are sent home from the hospital with a few formula samples and a diaper bag.
That’s how we care for new families?
The most sacred rite of passage has become cold, mechanical and offensive.
Fortunately, the pendulum is swinging back.
Many new parents are discovering the mind/body/spirit benefits of hiring various support/services to help them on their journey either at home or in the hospital.
There are many (and increasing numbers of) people who serve new mothers in pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum, and I wrote about several—doulas, midwives, postpartum doulas, maids, cooks, and nannies—in my book New Mother. Since publication and through interaction with readers, I’ve discovered even more services.
For example, a service called Best Fed Babies offers breastfeeding support with a certified lactation consultant 24/7 via phone or Skype to mothers anywhere in the world. I would have loved to call them when I woke one morning at 3:00 AM with a plugged duct—and how many of us have similar questions or issues in the early days and wee hours of nursing!
Mother’s Concierge services are another wonderful and flexible source of help. One company called Pampered Mamas in Baltimore, Maryland offers in-home pre/post natal massage; nap Nannie; in-home baby proofing consultations and much more.
A company in Los Angeles, CA called MotherBees doesn’t just deliver any old regular meal to postpartum mothers, but combines traditional postpartum foods with locally sourced seasonal ingredients. Replenishing and restorative foods—at your door!
In our modern culture with nuclear families living in isolation, many new parents lack knowledge of what will happen during childbirth, what procedures they can accept or decline (in the hospital), what they’ll need postpartum, or what is available to support them. Just knowing the names and types of services will help mom and dads-to-be to research better and find exactly what they need to create their childbirth vision.
Ora na azu nwa, or It takes a village to raise a child, is a Nigerian Igbo proverb made popular by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book published in 1996. Birthing and raising healthy happy children does require support, but we don’t live in villages.
However, we can create our village—hopefully with the support of nuclear and extended family members and long-time friends, and also with the help of people trained, experienced, and specializing in mother and baby care. With so many different services available, everyone can find the perfect fit for their needs, budget and desire.
May you be surrounded by love and support, and may you experience abundant peace and joy on your blessed journey of motherhood!
*No affiliation or compensation associated with the services mentioned in this article.
Illustration, I See You, used with license from Healing Art, Jane Delaford Taylor
 Abridged excerpt from New Mother, by Allie Chee, Hestia Books & Media, 2012
 Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, Jennifer Block, Da Capo Press: A Member of the Perseus Books Group, 2007
[i] Read more on this subject— AFTER MISCARRIAGE: Postpartum Care for Mothers Experiencing Loss
You will want to have a room that will comfortably fit everyone and your birthing tub (if using). A warm cozy area where light levels can be adjusted as needed is also very beneficial. If you are using candles look into having some flameless candles, as candles can heat up a room very quickly. Most women labor best in a darkened quiet area. Make sure there are curtains or blinds on the windows so they can be closed to allow for additional privacy.
Make sure your birthing supplies are easily accessible and everyone knows where they are. If having a waterbirth, make sure you have a stack of clean towels next to the tub. Also make sure there is water or an energy drink available to you at all times, along with snacks.
Set up your cd player/mp3 player and make sure your care provider or doula know how to use it, so they can start or stop it as needed. If you want photos or video makes sure your support people also know how to use them and what moments you want captured from the labour and birth.
Prepare the room for any religious beliefs or practices, including plans for the placenta. Some women find personal items that make them feel good important to have, whether this be a favorite photo or a focal point to concentrate on when labour gets tough. And last but not least, make sure you have items for baby like clothes, blankets, towels, hat and diapers.
Go back to: Step #9: Birth Support
Go ahead to: Step #11: Birthing Day
Go to: Birthing Methods Main Menu
Creating a Birth Plan is a great idea regardless of where you are birthing. This makes sure that you and your care provider are on the same page in terms of what you want for and from your birth. When you're in labour you will not want to spend a lot of time explaining your wishes. It's nice to have people just know their role and what's expected of them, this makes for no suprises with conflict in your wishes.
Some considerations of things to include:
To learn more about birth plans visit this site or any other resources you can find online.
This birth plan article may also provide you with additional things to consider in your birth plan.
Go back to: Step #5: Tests and Ultrasounds
Go ahead to: Step #7: Gathering Birthing Supplies
Go to: Birthing Methods Main Menu
The Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation
By Jereka Hunt
Owner of Wombmart.com & Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist
Placenta consumption, known as placentophagy, has been a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. It has been used to reduce anxiety and fatigue, replace diminished iron, hormones and nutrients in postpartum women and even as treatment for sexual dysfunction in men. It's very common among mammals to ingest their placentas. In fact, almost all mammals participate with few exceptions. Even known herbivores, like cows, will enthusiastically ingest their placentas, immediately postpartum. And though there are some ideas that try to explain placentophagy (like sudden food craving or the avoidance of potential predators), nothing explains the act as much as the Evolutionary Theory, which proposes that the placenta aids through preventing postpartum depression, enhancing lactation, reestablishing hormonal homeostasis as well as reintroducing lost minerals and nutrients.
In Western society, ingesting one’s placenta is often met with mixed opinions. Despite the known rewards, it can be very difficult to get beyond the “ew” factor of ingesting the organ. Because of this, many women are opting to have their placentas encapsulated, meaning the placenta is prepared into easy-to-take, dry pill form. This is done by a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (preferably a certified specialist). They come to your home (typically within 48 hours of the birth of your baby, while the hormone content of the placenta is still as its highest), clean the placenta, dehydrate it, grind it and then put into capsules for easy consumption. The average placenta yields 75-150 pills and the pills are taken over the course of two to three weeks postpartum. Dosages vary, as placentas (and postpartum women) are not created equally. Average dosages are in the range of one to four pills per time, up to four times per day. This will vary depending upon how the woman responds to the pills. While some do well with only one or two pills per dose (and are over stimulated with three and four pills per dose), others feel signs of the “baby blues” with only one and two pills per dose. Also, some people choose to have their pills “enhanced” or “stretched” with herbs and supplements. This too will change the required dosage.
The Benefits of Placenta Pills Include:
Placenta has been observed to boost and induce lactation. In an investigation, from the Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation Journal, over 200 postpartum women were observed. Final results indicate that their milk production was increased due to placenta therapy. On one occasion, a woman, whose milk had disappeared completely due to sickness, one month prior to treatment, was once more successfully lactating after placenta therapy. Mothers have claimed to experience elevated quantities of milk production within hours of taking placenta pills, especially in cases where they did not take placenta supplements in prior postpartum periods.
Natural Iron Supplementation:
Iron significantly builds in the placenta during pregnancy. In a study, by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women lost 3.5 to awhopping 18 percent (with an 8.5 percent average) of overall body iron upon birth. This may lead to iron-deficiency anemia andexcessive fatigue. Placenta capsules replace iron in the body. And with placenta supplements being a natural source of iron, your bodycan process the iron much quicker than it can process unnatural, supplemental sources of iron. Pregnancy leads to an increase in blood volume and an added need to increase iron in one’s body. Blood loss, occurring during childbirth, lowers iron concentration in the blood even further. Placenta pills have shown extraordinary results in raising postpartum iron levels, which helps to fight fatigue and to increase energy (a plus for a new mom).
On a personal note, I saw and felt this, firsthand. My hemoglobin levels went from 7.9 gm/dL (grams per deciliter) to 11.9 gm/dL in a matter of days. 12 gm/dL is considered normal for an adult woman. This is a significant increase which would normally take several weeks or months of supplementation and a proper diet to rectify. I felt increased energy levels within hours of taking my own placenta pills and this is a common testimonial from mothers who consume placenta pills; especially ones who were not able to obtain their pills within the first five days postpartum. These women were able to experience that drop in hormones and able to experience low iron levels for long enough to physically feel their bodies stabilizing upon taking their pills. My midwife was astounded at the increase in my hemoglobin levels, as she had never witnessed that sort of increase before. As a result of that experience, she recommends placenta encapsulation to all of her clients. (It is ideal to have your pills within five days postpartum, but if your situation does not allow for this, the placenta can be safely frozen for three to six months in a standard freezer and six to 12 months in a deep freezer, using a freezer bag and further wrapped in a paper bag for extra protection.)
Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy:
80% of women experience some form of mood instability following the birth of a baby. This is typically given the name of "Baby Blues",which makes it easy for doctors to write off, and leaving women to cope until it subsides. Doctors have linked these postpartum moodshifts with a well-known drop in hormone levels (specifically estrogen and progesterone) that all women naturally experience between three to five days postpartum. The hypothalamus is typically responsible for the regulation of estrogen and progesterone in the body. However, during the majority of pregnancy, the placenta produces these hormones. Once childbirth has taken place, and the placenta leaves the body, it takes two to three weeks for the hypothalamus to begin producing the hormones again. When comparing this to the timeline associated with postpartum blues, the “baby blues” typically begins at around five days postpartum and last until three weeks postpartum. This timeline is highly related with the decrease (on approximately day five postpartum) and subsequent reestablishment of estrogen and progesterone levels in the postpartum women. 20% of women will go on to suffer from Postpartum Depression and will be supplied unwanted and unnecessary anti-depressants, very often influencing their ability to nurse their newborn baby.
To steer clear of this, women are seeking other ways to stay healthy and happy for the duration of those critical initial weeks after having their babies. Placenta encapsulation is an excellent way of reintroducing hormones into the body. And not only are postpartum women benefitting from hormone replacement via placenta pills, women in menopause and women who suffer from monthly PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) are also reaping the benefits. If there are any placenta pills leftover after a few weeks of placenta therapy, extra pills can be kept in the freezer for long-term storage and used as needed the week before and during menstruation or even used during menopause. Women who are not able to encapsulate their own placentas, but who would still like to reap the benefits for PMS and menopause, are finding sheep placenta pills to be a viable alternative. Either way, anecdotal evidence shows that placenta pills aid in naturally replacing hormones in the body.
Increased Energy, Clarity and Calmness:
Those that have consumed placenta boast of elevated energy levels.They also experience increased cognition (frequently referring to this as “having clarity” or a “clear mind”, instead of “mommy brain”, a term typically used to express the well-known and widely accepted forgetfulness and confusion that women encounter within the earliest months following birth). Moms who have experienced multiple postpartum periods, with and without placenta, can readily express the differences in their postpartum recoveries. First time mothers taking placenta pills will often claim to feel “fine” and “normal”. This is usually a sign that placenta encapsulation is working for them, as over 80 percent of women encounter some amount of postpartum blues. Anxiety is one of the main signs of the “Baby Blues” and postpartum depression. Placenta is commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to relax and calm individuals by combating anxiety. With the use of placenta pills, women claim they feel steady, relaxed and “normal”, able to naturally take pleasure in the important first few weeks, connecting with their newborn babies.
One can avoid postpartum depression and the baby blues through the use of placenta encapsulation. Placenta capsules are particularly good for women with histories of depressive disorders, PMS or mood swings. To make use of placenta treatment, it is best to search for a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, one that is additionally trained in food safety and sanitation and one who will come to your home to offer this service. Currently, because there is no monitoring of this practice, having a person prepare the placenta at home is an added safety measure. This way, you can be positive that you are getting your own placenta, that the placenta has been handled correctly by a knowledgeable professional, and that your placenta is being prepared in a clean environment. The cost for placenta encapsulation ranges from $175 to $350, depending upon geographical location. To find a specialist, visit us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Wombmart) and we will be happy to direct you towards a recommended specialist in your area. PlacentaBenefits.info is the foremost leader in placenta healing in the United States and they also have an excellent directory of Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialists.
Due to the sensitive biological nature of the placenta, the client is almost always responsible for obtaining the organ. For birthing center and home births, this is as simple as requesting the placenta. For hospital births, there may be more to the process of releasing the placenta, as this is currently not common practice in our society. You must have a birth plan that you have discussed with your healthcare provider prior to delivery and they must be aware of your desire to take your placenta home. The hospital should also be aware of your wishes, as there may be a policy regarding the release of the placenta as well as forms to sign prior to the birth. Many hospitals will release a placenta, with no questions asked, if it is “for religious reasons”. A professional Placenta Encapsulation Specialist should be able to assist you by offering further information and guidance. And many specialists will have a general hospital release form or a waiver that you can use.
For placenta encapsulation services in the Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina areas, please visit us on facebook (www.facebook.com/Wombmart) or at www.Wombmart.com. On our website, we also have more information, articles and research on the benefits of placenta pills.
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