BethanyHealth and Wellness
Muscular Therapy Specializing in Chronic Pain Relief ~ BE HEALTHY ~ A holistic approach to mind and body wellness

BethanyHealth DOULA Services

About Bethany
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I live in Plymouth MA with my husband our two daughters and son. Aside from my passion and interest in holistic healing, I first became interested in childbirth when I was pregnant with my oldest. I found that natural birth appealed to me, and I read all I could about it! My fascination with pregnancy and birth continued even after her birth, so I decided to put my passion and knowledge to use and become a birth doula. 

I believe birth can be a natural process and that women know their bodies and how to birth their babies. I believe that women who are well-educated and knowledgeable about birth will make informed decisions for themselves and their babies. I work with women who choose to have all-natural births as well as women who choose to use medical technology and pain relief during their births. Every woman's birth is her own, and she has the right to choose her care providers and the comfort measures she feels she needs.

I attend births at hospitals or at home, and I offer birth doula services for ALL births -- vaginal, planned cesarean and VBAC. My service area includes Boston and the South Shore and any location within a 45-minute drive of Kingston MA.

 

Is there any research on the benefits of having a doula?

YES! Evidence-based studies have shown truly positive outcomes across several different factors for women giving birth with the services of a doula. Women utilizing the services of a childbirth doula are often more likely to experience an easier or shorter birth, less likely to experience unwanted interventions, and more likely to express a positive view of their birth experience. Less research has been done on the efficacy of enlisting postpartum doula help - but anecdotal evidence suggests that extra support at this most vulnerable time can be invaluable in helping the mother (and family!) transition from laboring to caring for her child and her self.

Board Co-Chair of LifeCycles Center for women, Abigail Gold has provided a brief research summary of some recent findings on the benefits of doulas for low-income women - you can download a copy(in .pdf format) here.

Doula Review of a birth that I attended - 

"Having Bethany as my doula was one of the best decisions I made surrounding my pregnancy. I saw Bethany for prenatal massages from the start and I firmly believe she helped me to have a more comfortable and relaxed pregnancy. I think the massages even helped me avoid swelling! 

In preparation for the big day, we explored different pain relief techniques together and she had a lot of wonderful ideas based on what I had expressed I wanted. Bethany also worked with me and my husband to help us feel comfortable about the process and plan for the birth of our first child. We loved her warm and relaxed, but always enthusiastic approach. During my labor and delivery, Bethany was amazing.  She helped me stay comfortable in early labor using accupressure, massage, and essential oils. She also helped me to focus on breathing techniques I had practiced beforehand but would have forgotten on my own.

Bethany's expert touch as a massage therapist provided me with incredible relief. She found the exact place to apply counter-pressure during what would have been painful contractions. The doctors and nurses commented on what a relaxed experience we had and they were impressed with Bethany's knowledge and facility with the birth experience.
 
Having Bethany with us also allowed my husband to participate more fully in the birth experience. Because she was with us, we were both more relaxed and able to be present with each other. She suggested a number of ways for him to participate in my labor and delivery that we would not have thought of on our own. 
 
We're so grateful that we had Bethany with us at this special moment in our lives and we wouldn't change a thing about the experience!"
-Nicole,Chris and Baby Maddie Lanoue

Benefits

Women who use birth doulas are more satisfied with their birth experience, require fewer interventions during labor and delivery, and have higher rates of breastfeeding than women without doula support.*

Women who are continuously supported by a birth doula through labor are:

  • 41% less likely to give birth with vacuum extraction or forceps
  • 26% less likely to give birth by cesarean section
  • 28% less likely to use any pain medications (epidural/spinal anesthetic and narcotic analgesia)
  • 33% less likely to be dissatisfied with or negatively rate their birth experience

Additionally, women with doula support experience the following after the birth of their child:

  • lower rates of infections and fever in the mother
  • lower reported rates of postpartum depression and anxiety
  • higher rates of breastfeeding
  • a higher sensitivity to and awareness of her newborn

 

**Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr G J, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.

 

Dads & Doulas

dads and doulasDoulas work with dads, never replacing them or pushing them aside. The father has a special, intimate attachment to the mother and baby that the doula will never have. A father's presence alone is often a significant source of encouragement and support to the mother.

A doula works with the father, encouraging him to participate in the birth based on his and the mother's comfort levels. Some fathers prefer a high level of involvement; others simply wish to hold the mother's hand and offer verbal encouragement. The father is second in importance only to the mother, and often finds that he needs a bit of support and encouragement from the doula at times.

As your doula, I will adapt my support based on your wishes and the father's comfort level. I will work with the father, demonstrating comfort techniques and offering suggestions, to help him participate to the degree that he wishes.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is a doula?
The word doula comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "woman's servant." A doula accompanies a woman during childbirth to offer her physical, emotional and informational support during one of the most important events of her life.

A doula's services can include prenatal education sessions, alternative and complimentary physical comfort measures, and positive reassurance during your journey from pregnancy through delivery and into parenthood.

Doulas are trained and experienced in supporting women through childbirth. A doula’s presence is continuous and her sole responsibility and focus is to support the mother through the birth experience. Some women rely heavily on their doula's support; other women enjoy having their doula as part of a larger "support team." A doula is flexible and can adapt her support role during labor, based on the mother's and father’s wishes.


Why do women choose to use a doula?
First-time mothers, as well as women who have previously birthed children, find doulas to be helpful during the childbirth experience. Doulas are trained and experienced in helping women through childbirth. A doula's sole responsibility is to support her client: her presence is continuous and her focus is to support the mother through the birth experience. Some woman rely heavily on their doula's support; other women enjoy having their doula as part of a larger "support team." A doula is flexible and can adapt her role during labor, based on the mother's wishes and the father's desire to participate.


What are the benefits of having a doula?
Women who use doulas are generally more satisfied with their birth experience, require fewer interventions during birth and have higher rates of breastfeeding than women without doula support.* Women who use doulas are:

  • 41% less likely to give birth with vacuum extraction or forceps
  • 26% less likely to give birth by cesarean section
  • 28% less likely to use any pain medications (epidural/spinal anesthetic and narcotic analgesia)
  • 33% less likely to be dissatisfied with or negatively rate their birth experience

Additionally, women with doula support experience the following after the birth of their child:

  • lower rates of infections and fever in the mother
  • lower reported rates of postpartum depression and anxiety
  • higher rates of breastfeeding
  • a higher sensitivity to and awareness of her newborn


Does a doula replace the dad during childbirth?
Absolutely not! The father has a special, intimate attachment to the mother and baby that the doula will never have. A father's presence alone is often a significant source of encouragement and support to the mother. A doula will work with the father, encouraging him to participate in the birth based on his and the mother's comfort levels. Some fathers prefer a high level of involvement; others simply wish to hold the mother's hand and offer verbal encouragement. As your doula, I will adapt my support based on your wishes and the father's comfort level. I will work with the father, demonstrating comfort techniques and offering suggestions, to help him participate to the degree that he wishes.


My doctor says I don't need a doula because a labor and delivery nurse will be with me most of the time during my labor.
Many hospitals provide one-on-one nursing care during your labor; others staff nurses so that they are responsible for two or more patients at a time. While labor and delivery nurses may be available to provide some support for you during labor, they have multiple responsibilities, including doing medical exams, reporting to the charge nurse/obstetrician, filling out paperwork, and checking the equipment being used to monitor you and your baby. These important responsibilities can distract them from offering you their full attention and support.

As your doula, my sole responsibility is supporting you continuously; I have no obligations or responsibilities other than supporting you. Unfortunately, you don't know until you arrive at the hospital the type and level of physical and emotional support you will receive from the staff. Choosing and hiring a doula you know and trust before labor begins can be a great source of comfort, and you no longer need to worry whether the hospital staff will provide the physical and emotional support you need.

I will work with the hospital staff to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible and that your wishes for your birth are being acknowledged and followed. I will not interfere with your medical care or any medical procedures you choose to have done or that the hospital staff feel are necessary for the health of you and your baby. It is my hope for every birth I attend that I am able to work seamlessly with the hospital staff to provide you the best care and support possible!


Do you expect your clients to labor and deliver without pain medications?
Of course not! This is YOUR birth; only you can make the decisions that are best for you and your baby. If you wish, during our prenatal meetings I will explain the benefits and risks of the different methods of pain relief; you decide if and when you want to use them. One of my goals as your doula is to make sure you are knowledgeable about your options so that you can make a truly informed and confident decision with no regrets. If you do choose pharmacological pain relief, there are still many physical comfort techniques I can offer as well as continuous emotional support and encouragement. Many moms find that the comfort measures used by doulas make the pain bearable, and that they don't require pharmacological pain relief.


What about moms who need or choose Cesarean delivery?
Moms who need or choose Cesarean births also benefit from a doula’s support. In the case of surgical birth, a doula can report to mom what is going on behind the surgical screen, and help mom cope with the side effects of anesthesia, pain medications, IV therapy and catheters. With the surgeon’s permission, a doula may even be able to help your baby latch on and breastfeed while you are being sutured and closed. Additionally, some doctors allow the doula in the operating room when the spinal anesthetic is being administered so that mom has a support person during this uncomfortable time; dads are rarely allowed in the room until after the surgery has begun. Check with your doctor for his or her standard Cesarean procedures. If the baby needs to go the nursery or mom is experiencing complications, the doula can stay with the mother while dad accompanies the baby to the nursery or recovery room.

For my moms who give birth by Cesarean, I like to offer additional hands-on comfort techniques (hand, scalp, and foot massages) during the recovery period. Recovery from a Cesarean is painful, so I like to provide a little bonus to help offset the discomfort.


Can you provide prenatal medical care?
No. Doulas are not medically trained. We are not allowed to make medical decisions for you or perform any medical procedures. Your midwife or obstetrician should provide your medical care during your pregnancy, labor and delivery. As your doula, I will meet with you prenatally to discuss your birth plans, and talk about the benefits and risks of common hospital procedures and interventions used during childbirth. I can provide references to medical studies and journals where this information is found, if you desire.


Where do you attend births?
I attend births wherever my clients choose to have their babies -- in the hospital, at a birth center or in the comfort of their own home. You choose the place, and I'll provide the support! I attend births within a 45-minute drive of Kingston. MA.


Do you teach childbirth education?
No, I am not certified to teach childbirth education at this time. I encourage my clients to prepare mentally and physically for their birth by attending a childbirth preparation class. Most hospitals offer childbirth courses, or you may prefer to find a private teacher who teaches a specific method. 

During our prenatal meetings, I will demonstrate simple exercises you can do to prepare and strengthen your body for birth. These exercises focus on the three important "B" muscle groups that you will use during birth: your Belly, your Bottom and your Back. Keeping these three areas of your body limber and strong is very important for any birth, but especially if you are planning a natural, unmedicated birth. I will also explain and demonstrate several relaxation techniques to help you relax your body and mind during contractions.


What kind of training do you have?
I have chosen to certify through LifeCycles (LifeCycles), a Buffalo, NY based doula organization. LifeCycles birth doula training involves required reading; education in childbirth, labor support techniques and breastfeeding; and a three-day workshop with hands-on training from an experienced and certified doula instructor. Certification requirements include practical experience attending births and receiving positive evaluations from doctors, nurses and clients.


What if you can't make it to my birth?
I make every effort to be available 24 hours a day during the two weeks before and after your due date. I don't plan vacations, day trips or other events that could take me more than an hour away from you during that time. Additionally, I always arrange a backup doula for each birth. If for some reason I am unable to be at your birth (an extremely rare occurrence) the backup doula will provide support. If you wish to meet the backup doula before your birth, I can arrange a meeting.

 

**Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr G J, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.

 

Services

  • A free initial consultation to discuss my birth doula services and determine if I am a "good fit" for you.
  • Two prenatal visits to discuss your birth plans, answer any questions you have concerning childbirth, discuss risks and benefits of common birth interventions, and practice some of the positions and techniques we’ll use during labor.
  • A substantial discount (20%) on prenatal massage services throughout you pregnancy and postnatal healing. $115 for a 75 min. pre/post natal session = $92 with 20% discount.
  • Availability by phone or e-mail during your pregnancy for support and information.
  • A community resource list of support organizations in the Boston, MA, area for women, moms, parents, families and children.
  • Continuous labor support. I will come to you when you want and stay with you through the birth of your baby and up to two hours afterward.
  • I will help with initial breastfeeding, and make sure you are comfortable before I leave to let you spend time with your new family member.
  • a follow-up home visit for lactation consulting and breastfeeding support and to talk about your birth experience and address any concerns you have with breastfeeding or your newborn. Additional visits $70 per.

Fees

My fee is $1000 and includes all of the services listed above. Please do not let cost be an issue. Contact me about payment plans and alternative methods of payment.

 

Good Places to Start

LifeCycles Center for Women

Lamaze International

DONA International

Coalition to Improve Maternity Services

Childbirth Connection (includes your rights as a childbearing woman)

Links to medical research on pregnancy, labor, birth, breastfeeding and more

 

Cesarean/VBAC Awareness and Support

International Cesarean Awareness Network

VBAC.com

Links to medical research studies on cesareans, VBAC, uterine rupture, etc.

 

Breastfeeding and Babywearing Information

Kellymom Breastfeeding and Parenting

Dr. Jack Newman breastfeeding page (videos, information and handouts)

La Leche League International

US Dept. of Health and Human Services Breastfeeding Page

Additional breastfeeding information (benefits, Internet resources, and more information)

 

The Baby Wearer

Wear Your Baby: the Mamatoto Project

Dr. Sears' Babywearing Page

Sleepy Wrap My personal favorite baby carrier. 

Birth and Baby -- extensive selection of nursing bras in all sizes and styles

 

My Lending Library

I expect items to be returned in the same condition as when they were loaned to you. If you damage or lose any of the resources below, I kindly ask that you replace it.

Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, and Ann Keppler

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer and Rhonda Wheeler

Gentle Birth Choices (with the Gentle Birth Choices DVD) by Barbara Harper and Suzanne Arms

The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Dr. Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman

The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins

The Baby Book by William Sears, Martha Sears, Robert Sears, and James Sears

The NDD Book (Nutrition Deficit Discorder) by William Sears

The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child by Robert Sears

The Baby Sleep Book by William Sears, Martha Sears, Robert Sears, and James Sears

The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and William Sears

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