Our clients have told us time and time again that the internet can be an overwhelming place for pregnant people. One huge benefit of hiring a doula - especially earlier in pregnancy - is that you have a home base where you can turn to ask questions... instead of falling down online rabbit holes.
When our clients reach out to us for support or information on a particular subject, we usually draw from a pool of our favorite resources. We have a collection of favorite resources that are:
from reputable sources
validating of people's experiences (as non-judgmental as we can find)
helpful in real life (aka not too long or too jargon-y for real parents with real lives to read and absorb)
We thought we'd create an online collection of some of our favorite resources so other parents can benefit, not just our Orange County and Long Beach doula clients here in beautiful southern California! (Some of these are area-specific referrals, but if you don't live near us ask some doulas in your community for resources.)
This week we're featuring resources for pregnancy and preparation for birth. Next week, we'll share our favorites for postpartum, breastfeeding, and more... stay tuned!
Spinning Babies (not as extreme as it sounds!) is one of our go-to resources when parents are looking for things they can actively do in pregnancy to 1) feel more comfortable, and 2) help their body prepare for birth. These "daily essentials" include a lot of stretches and quick exercises that can be done at home. If you're looking for a little stretching routine that is good for you and baby, look no further!
Prenatal yoga classes: Unfold Yoga in Brea
For parents in north Orange County, Unfold Yoga in Brea has one of the larges menus around for prenatal yoga offerings.
Prenatal yoga classes: Ma Yoga (various Orange County locations)
Ma Yoga is one of our favorite options for prenatal yoga in Orange County. They have classes in various locations so you can find one close to you.
Videos: Ma Yoga Living (Online Prenatal Yoga)
Ma Yoga also offers an online platform for less than $20/month. Online yoga videos range from 5 minute to 50 minute sessions with options for intensity of the practice. This is a great resources for parents who want access to quality prenatal yoga on their own schedule.
This resource from Spinning Babies helps parents learn smart ways to relax their bodies while still maintaining good posture. People tend to spend a lot of time resting in pregnancy (growing a human is a lot of work!) so making good use of that time to help position your body optimally helps to keep everything in alignment.
Referral: Sarton Physical Therapy (Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy)
The pelvic floor is responsible for holding us up, and withstands a lot of extra pressure during pregnancy. Sometimes muscle groups in the pelvic floor can go into spasm prior to birth, causing pain and discomfort (and even difficulty during labor). Pelvic floor physical therapy work in pregnancy can help expecting parents learn how to relax or strengthen these muscle groups as needed to bring more comfort and preparation for labor. The therapists at Sarton Physical Therapy have years and years of experience, and our clients have reported especially great experiences with Julie Sarton and Sherine Aubert.
Referrals: Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy
If you decide to seek chiropractic care in pregnancy (which we recommend for easing discomfort and preparing your body for birth), there are some wonderful options in Orange County. Make sure that whoever you work with is a Webster Certified chiropractor, meaning they have completed extensive training in working with pregnant bodies.
Coastline Chiropractic in Huntington Beach (Dr. Julia also offers house calls in Orange County at no additional cost)
Light Within Chiropractic (Dr. Annie offers house calls in south Orange County)
Dr. Heather Carmona in Irvine
Dr. Valerie Farino in Irvine
Lander Chiropractic in Brea
Dr. Brittney Cicon in Lake Forest
Dr. Amy Forrest-Readdy in Long Beach
Preparing for Birth
This is a beautiful book by Pam England, author of Birthing From Within. It isn't a sequel per se, but it follows similar threads and incorporates 20+ years of Pam's insights and techniques that have helped countless parents prepare for birth. Her strategies for coping with intensity (including labor pain) have been extremely helpful for many doula clients, and we especially love the emphasis on birth as a hero's journey, ways of gathering information and intuition to make decisions, and navigating "Laborland."
Book: The Birth Partner
This book by Penny Simkin is on most doulas' recommended reading list for parents, and we agree. It offers straightforward explanations of the process of labor, and includes the perspective of not only someone giving birth, but those supporting someone in birth (including parents, doulas, or other support people who may be present). There is information about labor positions, pain relief options, medical procedures, and the emotions that can be present during birth. Note: There is some outdated sexist language in this book.
We wrote this post to help parents understand why decision-making plays such a big role during labor and beyond. It's not commonly talked about, and it's something new parents are often blindsided by. We feel it's so important that we even developed a class just to help parents get some context and skills in this area!
This includes one of our favorite decision-making tools for birth and parenthood. There are so many, many decisions to be made and it's easy to feel overwhelmed with information. This can help you focus on what you need to know, and reminds you to check in with your intuition too.
Blog post: Think You Know How to Interview a Doula?
If you're looking for a doula, first of all YAY. Secondly, this blog post will help you prepare for interviews with doulas to help you find the right fit for you and your family.
Birth affirmations are all over Pinterest these days, but there are some things you should know first before collecting and printing a bunch of them. We've gotten several comments like, "I wish I had read this when I was pregnant," so put this in the things-no-one-will-tell-you category.
Pinterest Board: Affirmations for Labor and Birth
If you're looking for some birth affirmations to have around before or during your labor, check out this Pinterest board we put together.
Informational resource: Eating & Drinking in Labor
Evidence Based Birth put together a great article about the history of fasting during labor and what the evidence shows about the risks and benefits of eating during birth. This is especially helpful for those birthing in a hospital setting who want additional information on this topic.
If you're considering having additional family members or friends present at your labor, we highly recommend this post. It includes some questions to think about when deciding whether to have extra people in the room with you, as well as offering some strategies for helping visitors contribute to labor in a positive way.
For parents birthing in a hospital setting, it can be tough to find ways to help the environment feel more warm, comfortable, and, well, human. We made a list of our 10 top recommendations for settling into your hospital room and claiming it as your own for labor.
Blog post: Doing WHAT with your placenta after birth??
For anyone considering having their placenta encapsulated after birth, this is an insightful interview with a placenta specialist. She describes the process of encapsulation, explains the risks and benefits of eating your placenta, and describes the different preparation methods available.
Nearing the End of Pregnancy
This is an article we often send to our clients as they near the end of their pregnancy, especially if their estimated due date has come and gone. Time moves so differently and it can be so uncomfortable to *still* be pregnant, but this article can bring a breath of fresh air sometimes when it's needed.
Informational resources: Evidence on Due Dates
If you've ever wondered how due dates are calculated or how accurate they are, read this. Our favorite statistic from this piece: about half of first-time parents will give birth by 40 weeks and 5 days (that's 5 days after their 40 week "due date"), and about half of those who have given birth before will give birth by 40 weeks and 3 days.
If you and your baby are safe and healthy and an elective induction is suggested because your due date is approaching or has passed, talk with your care provider about your Bishop score. This is a way of rating your body's current readiness for labor based on 5 aspects of your cervix and baby's position. The rubric has a scale of 0-13. Scores of 8 or greater mean that there is a good chance an induction will be successful and lead to a vaginal birth. Scores of 6 or less are said to be "unfavorable" for induction, meaning that the medications or procedures that may take place during an induction don't have much chance for success. Many care providers don't take the Bishop score into account before recommending an elective induction for going past your due date (if everyone is healthy), so this is a good resource to have on hand if that happens.
Informational resources: Evidence Based Birth's Natural Labor Induction Series
Evidence Based Birth is an amazing resource that synthesizes scientific research on various topics relating to pregnancy, birth, and newborn care into bite-sized pieces that are easy to read. When our clients ask us if there is anything they can do to get labor going around their due date, often they've already been given one or more of these suggestions by well-meaning friends and family. Here are some great articles about whether and how the following techniques can bring on labor: