JMS Births Anchorage Doula Partnership

Q & A about JMS Births Anchorage Doula Partnership


I’m so excited to be transitioning my private birth doula practice into a partnership with my friends and long-time backup doulas, Jamie Scearcy and Morgan Turner.  We know this model is new to Alaska and our past and future clients and colleagues may have lots of questions about what collaborative doula care looks and feels like. 

As we explore the nuances of what will make our team approach feel fantastic for our clients, and help us to be sustainable in birth work long-term, I wanted to take some time to share more details about what this means for clients and the many benefits a partnership will provide.

JMS Births.  Who are we?

We are a team of birth workers committed to consistency in care.  Passionate about supported pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, our mission is to come alongside women and their families with education and support to guide them through their transition to parenthood, or parenting their newest child. 

 

JMS Births

  • J – Jamie
  • M – Morgan
  • S – Shanna

JMS Births


Jamie, Morgan, and I are not new to running a business together!  Several years ago we launched and continue to co-own our non-profit Alaska Birth Collective, working to connect Alaskan families with the providers of care, services, and products they need from pregnancy through raising a young family.  We share similar and complementary training, skills, and education, and we are close friends who support each other through our lives and our work.

 

Why join forces in our birth work?

 

Several reasons!

We want to provide birth support long-term.

We want to provide the best, most comprehensive care available.

We believe we are truly better together.

Did you know that the average “life-span” of a private doula is 2 years. 

2 years! 

This breaks my heart.  But I get it!  The doula life is an interesting one.  Consider this: Even with just one client, a private doula is on call, non-stop, for up to 4-5 weeks.  That means she must be willing and able to run to a birth at any time, and make arrangements in advance to be able to leave her life at a moment’s notice.  She has to have her phone at all times, and be within about an hour of her client’s birthing location. She has to commit to the possibility of missing important events in her life.  She knows that she will potentially be gone for an average of 12-24 hours or more when a client calls, supporting her continuously throughout her labor.  She has to have the stamina and the clarity of mind to support her client physically, emotionally, and informationally, no matter what direction her birth may take.

Burnout in the doula profession is very common. 

We refuse to burn out


Alaska Birth Services

By partnering our services, we can promote a healthy work/life balance for ourselves and our families.  We will support our clients with a call schedule, so that we can be fully present when we are on call and with our clients in labor, and also present for the important events in our personal lives.

Because we share call, and backup doula costs are worked into our service package, there is no hesitation in calling in one of our partners to take over during a long or difficult birth, so clients can feel comfortable and trust a seamless transfer of care to a fresh, well-rested doula that they already know.

Clients will have the opportunity to connect with the three of us regularly throughout their pregnancy and postpartum – through topical group prenatal visits and private in-home visits, we will help them determine their birth preferences, discuss and practice comfort measures and techniques, talk about postpartum plans and newborn care, and get to know each other well.  Our goal is that our clients will know all of their doulas and through our consistency and comprehensive care, clients can trust that whomever is on call when they go into labor will provide just the support they need.

Clients also benefit from our combined experience, training, education, and skills.  Our offerings include many classes and various educational opportunities for childbirth, postpartum, and newborns.  Besides birth doula support, we offer postpartum doula support, lactation support, birth and newborn photography, placenta care, and birth tub rental.  We also host free prenatal and postpartum groups and events.  We approach birth support holistically – supporting families from pre-pregnancy through raising their children in community.

We are thrilled to offer what we believe is the very best, most trusted and experienced care in doula and birth support services in South Central Alaska. 

If you’d like to learn more, please reach out! You can also check out our collaborative website at jmsbirths.com. We host free Meet the Doulas events monthly, and welcome any questions you might have.

XO,

Shanna

Have you ever witnessed *real* birth?

 

Not that Hollywood depiction of the water breaking in the restaurant, race to the hospital, “hee-hee-hoo”, some comical exchange between dad and the doctor, and then a baby born two minutes later.  Nope.  I’m talking about REAL birth.  Want to know how labor really looks, and see the unbelievable strength and power women gather as they bring their babies into the world?  The support they need, the safety and security of having their babies exactly as they wish, with providers and people around them that believe in them and tirelessly strive to protect their space and their desires?

Well.  Let me tell you about a place you can see just that – LIVE – from your own home!

I’ll get to that in just a second, but first I’m going to back up a bit — because it’s World Doula Month!

Every year in May, Doulas celebrate our mission and the work we are passionate about: touching lives, encouraging and supporting mothers and their families, and impacting birth around the world.  This May, I am DELIGHTED to have been chosen as Doula of the Month fromBirthTUBE

BIrthTUBE is a fantastic, quickly growing group on Facebook where women and their partners can share live video from their births, as they unfold.  Their website is coming soon, but for now you can follow them on FB and Insta!  What better time than #worlddoulamonth to share about #realbirth from the place where it can be witnessed, live, as it is happening, unhindered and uninterrupted!?  Join the group and share!

Thanks, BirthTUBE for the awesome work you are doing normalizing birth and showing the world that mothers are fierce, strong, capable, and wise.  As their bio on Facebook states, “When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change.”

(…and thank you again and again for choosing me as your Doula of the Month!  What an honor!)  #doulasbenefiteveryone

XO,

Shanna

Anchorage Doula Shanna Alaska Birth Services

 

Anchorage Doula Shanna Switzer Birth Services

Pain relieving techniques for an easier birth

As a birth witness, supporter, and educator, I’m often asked about the most helpful tools for laboring women – which comfort techniques are best?  What about breathing?  Positions? 

I was graciously given some photos from a couple of births I supported as a doula recently, and thought I would compile those along with some others into one blog post, and a photo “series” on comfort measures on instagram and facebook.

Follow along for details about the labor support tools and comfort measures for labor that I use most often in my doula work, and model and suggest to workshop and class attendees:

 

Birth Location

You might not consider this a comfort “technique”, per se, but think about it for a minute and you’ll see what I mean.  Birthing women desire privacy, safety, and support.  When she thinks about where she wants to give birth, what option makes her feel most safe?  Most American women choose hospital birth, but does she know she has options?  Home Birth and Birth Centers offer a more cozy, relaxed atmosphere, and smaller, more intimate staff experience.  When we think about comfort, choosing a birth space is an important – if not the most important -component of birth planning.

I would love to discuss the options available to you in southcentral Alaska.  Contact me any time if you’re curious and would like to chat!

 

Freedom to move

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna Switzer

Laboring strongly and peacefully in a queen sized bed at a birth center, her partner close, me applying counter pressure and verbal reassurance.

  • Dim, soft lighting
  • Known by her midwife
  • She is in control
  • Her music was playing softly throughout her labor

 

birth ball/Peanut Ball

anchorage doula shanna switzer alaska birth doula

Rocking and swaying her hips, gently bouncing between contractions. Partner close, me applying counter pressure, hip squeezes and verbal affirmation.

  • Movement helps baby descend
  • Sitting on a birth ball can ease back labor
  • Being upright puts laboring mama in a position of power
  • See peanut ball being used below – peanut balls can also be used in a variety of ways to ease discomfort

 

Warm Water

Anchorage Birth Services Doula Classes Placenta

anchorage doula shanna switzer alaska birth services

Often referred to as “nature’s epidural”, the tub or shower is a wonderful place to labor.  In the top photo, mama is listening to music and laboring with her husband while sitting in a labor tub.  In the bottom photo, I am spraying warm water on laboring mama’s back while she sways on her hands and knees in the shower.

  • Water is soothing and naturally relaxes the body
  • Being in the shower can help labor progress more quickly
  • Sinking into a tub can give a laboring mama a reprieve and ease contraction intensity

 

Body Balancing

anchorage doula shanna switzer alaska birth services

Spinning Babies Body Balancing Techniques like the side lying release shown above can help relax laboring mama, and make space in her body for the baby to get in a good position for birth.

  • Many body balancing techniques feel relaxing and soothing to laboring women.
  • We don’t move the baby, we make space for the baby to move.
  • Work with someone trained in body balancing techniques for best results

 

Hip Squeeze

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna Switzer

Hip squeezes – a hallmark doula “move”! 

  • Feel SO good
  • Make room for the baby to move through the pelvis
  • Help “ground” laboring mama with touch
  • Ease back labor and hip pain during and between contractions

 

Rebozo

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna Switzer

Rebozo Sifting (how many sweet bellies and babies has my rebozo sifted? Dozens.) 

  • Can be used to help “jiggle” a baby into a better position for birth
  • Make room for the baby to move through the pelvis
  • Lifts the weight of the baby off of mama’s back, and can relieve pressure and back pain for laboring mama

 

Anchorage Alaska Doula Services

Rebozo tied on to provide lift and support for this second-time mama’s belly, peanut ball between her back and the wall so that she could move up and down with counter pressure on her back.  Husband supporting her in front.

 

Essential Oils/Aromatheraphy

Anchorage Alaska Doula Services

Aromatherapy.  Laboring mama was smelling her favorite essential oil, wanting it held close so that she could breathe it in deeply during contractions.

  • Many studies show aromatherapy is useful for pain and nausea relief
  • As a doula, I don’t generally apply or diffuse essential oils unless a client asks, but am happy to support their use for my clients who wish to use them.

 

Supporting Client/Partner connection

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna Switzer

Acupressure while mama and partner are close and connected

  • Neck, shoulder, back, hip, foot, and hand massage to relieve tension
  • Mama stays connected emotionally and physically to her partner
  • As a doula, I work to enhance laboring mama’s connection to her partner, never to take their place.
  • Modeling verbal and physical support boosts partners confidence 

 

Pushing Positions

Anchorage Birth Services Doula Classes Placenta

Using a Birthing Stool to push, partner supported

Anchorage Birth Services Doula Classes Placenta

Using a Squat Bar to push, partner supported

  • Assisting women to find the positions that they find most comfortable and effective for the pushing phase of labor
  • Offering a mirror or reminding laboring women that they can touch their body and baby to feel progress
  • Supporting women in bed, on a birthing stool, in a tub or shower, or using a rebozo or squat bar

 Pain Medications

Anchorage Birth Services Doula Classes Placenta

Comfort Measures for labor


Some of Doula Shanna’s favorite ways to comfort and support laboring women and their partners

 

 

“Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.”

Virginia Di Orio

 

 

anchorage doula shanna alaska birth services

Nitrous Oxide is an option in two local Anchorage-area hospitals and one birth center.  Ask me for more details

  • Narcotic, Epidural, and Nitrous Oxide
  • Widely used and generally regarded as safe
  • A tool that can be useful in certain situations
  • Narcotic and Epidural are not available in birth centers or at home

Pharmaceutical pain medication is an option in hospital births.  As a doula, I support all birthing choices, and trust you to know what you need for your best birth.  I work with my clients to use all of the comfort measures and tools available to her, and sometimes an epidural or narcotic pain medication is exactly what she and her baby need.  If a non-medicated birth is her goal, I will support her in using all of the other methods first, to be certain her change of plan is what she prefers.

 

In Summary

Every birth and every laboring woman is different.  Some comfort measures that I use often can’t be depicted in photos – like verbal affirmation, meditation,  visualization, music, and  prayer, and I didn’t touch on less-used methods that are useful in certain situations, like a TENS unit or sterile water injections… 

My philosophy as an educator and doula is that you have many, many tools and options available as you prepare for your baby’s birth.  Take a comprehensive childbirth class or private birth prep session to learn more about those tools and make sure you have them available when you need them.  Or, hire a doula and be supported by a birth expert who specializes in knowing and using just the right comfort technique at just the right time!

My best wishes for your best birth,

Shanna XO

alaska birth doula services shanna switzer

***Many thanks to Nurturing Birth Photography & Blueberry Hill Photography for some of the images in this post.

10 TIPS FOR Your Best Birth

Pregnancy and birth are so full of questions.  As a doula and childbirth educator, I love to help my clients find answers and determine what is best for them and their babies.  I enjoy helping them work through the pros and cons of any particular choice or circumstance, and go through what the evidence and research shows so that they can make fully informed decisions.

I often hear things like, “What do you think about Dr. So-and-so?”  “Which hospital is the best?” “Will I be allowed to eat/drink/shower/stay home/wear my own clothes?”

In my Gentle Birth workshops and childbirth classes I go over these 10 Tips for your best birth experience:

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

1. Focus on what can go right! 

We are inundated with scary stories about pregnancy and childbirth in the media, where birth is almost always depicted as an emergency.  Sometimes our friends or family members seem to think our pregnancies are a good time to tell us their horror stories, or that of their best friend’s cousin, or delight in sharing some scary thing they “heard.”  Pregnancy is such a mystery, growing this little person we may get a rare glimpse of via sonogram, or hear their little heartbeat on occasion, feel their kicks and bumps… but otherwise we must choose to trust that all is well and growing accordingly.

We do have some power over our thoughts – we can reframe them and focus on what is going right, right now, and what can go right in the future.  We can look to the evidence that the vast majority of babies are born healthy, to healthy mothers.

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

2. Choose your birth space carefully

You have a choice in where you give birth.  In Anchorage and Mat-Su, we have several hospitals,  multiple birth centers with midwives that offer birth center, home birth, and hospital delivery, and several home birth midwives.  You have options!  Your birth space and your caregiver is one of the most important choices you can make regarding your pregnancy and your birth.  Choose  wisely!

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

3. Move your body

Keeping your body moving is so beneficial for a healthy pregnancy and birth!  I love prenatal yoga, walking, and swimming.  For the most part, you can and should continue to do your usual activities and listen to your body for modifications as your baby grows and your balance changes.  I also suggest considering visiting a Chiropractor trained in the Webster Technique Trained to check for and maintain proper spinal and pelvic alignment.

4. Take an independent birth class

I know I’m biased, but I can’t stress the benefits of educating yourself about the childbirth process, comfort techniques and coping skills!  Just like choosing your birth space, finding the right class for you and your partner is important.  There are so many options!  Online, in person, private, group, Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, Lamaze, Bradley, GentleBirth!  Reach out to the instructor, ask questions, and determine what class seems like it would be most appropriate for you.

Or, take a couple of different classes, and benefit from the varying styles and bits of wisdom you’ll gather from several methods and philosophies.

5. Hire a doula

Again, biased!  But I have evidence to back me up! 

Doulas are proven to lower stress during pregnancy, shorten labor length, lower pharmaceutical pain medication use, decrease use of Pitocin and forceps, lower rates of cesarean birth, and increase women’s satisfaction with their birth experiences. (Journal of        Perinatal Education, Winter 2013. PMC3647727)

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

6. Avoid “Negative Nellies”

It’s perfectly okay to stop someone who has begun to relate a scary childbirth experience or story, or scorn your choice of caregiver or birth space.  I like to encourage my clients to say, “That doesn’t sound like something I want to hear right now. I’m focusing on the positive.” And simply change the subject.  Having a ready list of things to talk about instead can come in handy – like something you’ve picked out for the baby’s nursery, or a new restaurant you want to try, or the weather… anything! 

If you have someone in your life that simply won’t let up, it’s okay to avoid engaging them in conversation about your pregnancy or birth choices.  Just like a mama bear protects her cubs,  you can protect your mental and emotional health and protect your baby from negative influence in your mind and heart.

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

7. Prepare your partner

Does your partner feel ready?  Perhaps a class just for them would help?  Would they like to go  to consults for potential pediatricians?  Are there books or movies that might be reassuring? Can   your doula or childbirth educator offer tips on any of these, or support for breastfeeding, swaddling, baby wearing, diapering? 

 

 

8. Write your birth preferences

I like to give my clients planning a hospital birth a one-page bullet-point template for writing up their own birth preferences.  I find that the staff in labor and delivery are generally receptive to reading and honoring these.  Calling it birth preferences rather than a “plan” allows space for things to change if need be as labor progresses.

9. Labor in water

Water is nature’s pain relief! Use the warm, soothing spray of a shower on your back or belly, or submerge in a bathtub.  Contractions are sometimes called “waves”, and working through the waves of labor in water is a soothing and relaxing way to experience birth.

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

10. Build your labor toolkit

Recipe for filling your labor toolkit with the tools you’ll need for the hard work of labor:

  • Select the right caregiver and birth space.
  • Seek education for you and your partner.
  • Think and talk through your preferences for your birth.
  • Hire a caring, attentive support person to provide all of the physical, emotional, and informational support you might need during the big day.

Combine and mix well with your open heart and mind.

Now relax and prepare to experience your best, most positive birth!

XO,
Shanna

 

WORLD DOULA WEEK

 

It’s World Doula Week! Every year, from March 22nd-28th, doulas around the world celebrate the passion and privilege we have to serve women and their families during their pregnancies and postpartum, and the special, intimate experience it is to support and hold space for them as they bring their beautiful babies into the world.  Take some time this week to call, text, or meet up with and hug your favorite doula in person!

 

I thought #worlddoulaweek would be a great time to share a little more about my path to birth work, *and* encourage you to check out Moss and Myrrh Photography, owned by my sweet and talented friend, Ashton.  Need some feel-good vibes?  Just go skim through her blog, full of the beauty and love of birth, babies, and motherhood.  

IMG_6723

 

A few months ago, Ashton shared with me that she’d done a poll asking her local followers and friends to share their favorite caregivers for birth and baby related services.  I was humbled and shocked that she’d had my name mentioned more than once, and super touched when she asked if she could ask me some questions for a feature on her blog.  Much of my doula journey is there in the link, PLUS I’m in love with these pictures she caught of me and my youngest, Sebastian, click and go see!

Did you have an awesome doula that you want to tell the world about?  Shout it out in the comments, and let’s spread some doula love! #doulasbenefiteveryone

XO,

Shanna

Postpartum Prep: A PRACTICAL LIST OF ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR TENDER POST-BABY BODY

As you prepare for baby and carefully consider all that your new little one will need, don’t neglect to prepare for self-care! Consider gathering some of the following postpartum prep items to have on hand for your comfort and relief after your baby is born.

Vaginal Birth:

1. Peri Bottle

You will likely be given a peri bottle if you give birth in a hospital or with midwives in either a birth center or at home.  Filling this bottle with warm water and squirting it on your perineum while you urinate can help encourage urination and take the sting out of urine on sore tissues.  Once your bladder is empty, fill the bottle with warm water and squirt again to clean the area, and then gently pat dry.  Plan to have a peri bottle in each bathroom and bring one in your baby bag if you’ll be away from home in the early days after your baby is born.

peri-bottle

2. Sitz Bath

A sitz bath is a small plastic tub that fits into your toilet rim and you can use it as a mini bath for your bottom.  This also keeps the area clean, can encourage urination, and help with healing.  Many women find sitz baths offer much relief and comfort for sore tissues.  Your hospital may have one or you can find them at any pharmacy.  Dermaplast is an over the counter cooling, numbing spray that can ease the irritation and discomfort of a sore perineum or stitches.  Ask your caregiver for their recommendations if you still feel sore after trying these.

Vaginal or Cesarean Birth:

3. Witch Hazel or Tucks pads, Padsicles

Witch Hazel is an astringent, useful for helping to shrink hemorrhoids and soothe sore bottoms.  You can gently apply witch hazel on a cotton ball, or buy ready-made wipes or pads, like Tucks.  You can also apply witch hazel to maxi pads and freeze them to make icy cold “padsicles”.  Many women find these very soothing for swollen and sore parts.

tucks

4. Doughnut pillow

Some women experience tailbone (coccydynia) or pelvic floor pain after pregnancy and birth.  A doughnut shaped pillow can help to relieve this discomfort.  Most pharmacies have pillows, or you can try a DIY  with a pool noodle formed into a ring with duct tape.

5. Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is preferred by most caregivers for pain relief, afterbirth cramping, inflammation and soreness.  800 mg every 8 hours is the typical prescription, but check with your caregiver for their recommendation if it doesn’t seem to be working well enough for you.

6. Colace (stool softener)

To ease those first few postpartum bowel movements, you may want to consider a stool softener, no matter how you delivered your baby.  Pain medications can make your bowels more sluggish, and Colace can be taken as needed to help keep things gently moving.  It does not cause intestinal cramping, is generally well tolerated, and is available over the counter.

7. Maxi Pads 

You’ll want extra-long or overnight with wings.  Initial postpartum bleeding can be very heavy, at least for the first few days.  Bleeding, called Lochia, is normal for several weeks following the birth of your baby.  It will be very heavy and red at first, tapering off to brown and then more yellowish.  During this time, you’ll need to use pads rather than tampons or cups, and not introduce anything into the vagina until the bleeding has ended.

8. Mesh (granny) panties or Depends, a belly binder

If you give birth in the hospital, you will be given mesh panties after your baby is born.  They are snug and high waisted, which many women like because they tend to hold your loose belly in.  You can tuck a pad or ice pack inside.  Some women like to wear Depends disposable undergarments for the first few days of heavy bleeding, again with a maxi pad, ice pack, or padsicle tucked in.

After your baby is born, it takes some time for your abdominal muscles to return to normal and your belly and back muscles will feel a bit loose.  Some women like the way an abdominal binder or Bengkung belly binding helps them to feel more held together as they regain core strength.

depends

9. Nursing pads –Disposable or reusable

When you nurse your baby, you will experience a release of milk from your breasts called a “let down.” Sometimes when you nurse from one side, the other breast will leak, and when you hear your baby cry, you may also leak milk.  Nursing pads tucked into your bra will catch the leakage and keep you from needing to change your shirt multiple times a day. (Though that will probably still happen, babies can be so messy!) You might also like to buy a couple of nursing tank tops.  These usually have a shelf bra and snap down sides for ease when nursing, they are comfortable and stretch for engorgement, and you can tuck nursing pads inside.   If you don’t plan to breastfeed, you will still need pads for a little while and you may want to buy a head of cabbage, as the leaves tucked into your bra will help with engorgement.

10. Nipple Cream

Sometimes your nursing baby will cause your nipples to become sore.  A cream like Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter, or a lanolin based ointment like Lansinoh can soothe and protect sore nipples.

em-041_1z

 

Finally, you’ll need support.  Have you made a list of friends or family you can call?  Have you connected with our local postpartum or baby groups?  Do you have your doula’s number in your phone?

Experienced parents, what would you add to the list?  

XO,

Shanna

 

Anchorage Alaska Doula Services

DOULAS AND PARTNERS, A WINNING COMBINATION

During my initial consultations with pregnant women, I always ask how their partner is feeling about the idea of including a doula on their birth team. Sometimes, partners are more than happy to welcome the support a doula can provide. But more often than not, I get a “welllll… they’re a little nervous about it…” or some form of “they just want to know how to help me, but seem worried about being replaced…”

Listen, guys. I get it. You might be feeling a little hurt if your wife or partner wants to hire a doula for your baby’s birth. What can a doula offer her that you can’t? Will she take your place or get in the way? What exactly does a doula do, anyway?

Let me reassure you that doulas can greatly benefit not only the woman you love, but YOU, as well.

A Doula is a person who is trained to assist a woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born. Doulas support laboring women and their partners emotionally, physically, and with any information they might need to make informed decisions as labor progresses. Doulas do not provide medical care. A Doula is generally independently contracted by and works directly for the laboring person and her partner, with the role and goal of supporting, encouraging, and remaining with the laboring person throughout her birth.

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna

1. Doulas understand the jargon and speak the language of birth. Dilation? Effacement? Station? Hep lock? Anterior, posterior, cervical lip? Um… What? Your doula knows, and she’s like a medical interpreter, clarifying the terminology from your providers and sharing it with you in a way that is easy to make sense of. She will make sure you understand what is happening, every step of the way. You don’t have to remember all those details from childbirth class, your doula will refresh your memory and clarify anything confusing.

2. She will spot you so that you can take a break. Labor can take time. Nurses and doctors come and go. Doulas don’t leave. She will be there so that you can go to the bathroom, take a short nap, have a real meal. She’ll be sure to send you for breaks so that you’ll be energetic and focused when your partner needs you most.

3. Doulas know the right questions to ask. They will remind you about your plan and encourage you to take time to consider your options. Your doula will provide information to help you make appropriate decisions and facilitate communication between your partner, her medical care providers, and you. She will reassure you to remember your voice. Doulas are skilled at offering different alternatives for any given situation. Labor is unpredictable, but she will always be ready with suggestions to try, pros and cons of any proposed change in plan, etc. Since doulas work for you, they are an unbiased source of knowledge and resource whose only goal is the well-being and healthy outcome of the birth. They are your advocate, friend, and a steady stream of emotional and informational support.

4. Doulas know how to comfort laboring women, and a doula will make you look GOOD. During her labor, you will likely see your partner in a way you’ve never seen her before. Doulas excel at giving dads the tools and tips they need to help comfort and soothe their partners. Your doula will model the calm, quiet, peaceful demeanor your laboring partner needs to see. When she forgets the breathing exercises you learned in childbirth class, your doula will remind you how to breathe with her. When her back or hips ache, your doula knows how to guide your hands to give her relief. When she says she can’t do it any more, your doula will be right there with you, reassuring you both and encouraging her that she IS doing it. Your tender touch and reassuring words will be the ones your partner always remembers. Your doula will be an ever-present encourager, supplying you both with suggestions and support.

Alaska Birth Services Doula Shanna Switzer

“Studies show that when doulas are present at birth, women have shorter labors, fewer medical interventions, fewer cesareans and healthier babies. Recent evidence also suggests that when a doula provides labor support, women are more satisfied with their experience and the mother-infant interaction is enhanced as long as two months after the birth. With doula support, fathers tend to stay more involved with their partner rather than pull away in times of stress. The father’s presence and loving support in childbirth is comforting and reassuring. The love he shares with the mother and his child, his needs to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner and a doula at birth a mother can have the best of both worlds: her partner’s loving care and attention and the doula’s expertise and guidance in childbirth.” –www.dona.org

Partners are often able to participate in labor and birth more fully with a doula present. Much of the fear and worry about the safety of his or her unborn child and partner are removed when a doula is present because she can provide informational support about the labor as it progresses, and her calming influence allows the partner to give the love and support needed, in a way that is most effective and comforting. The presence of a doula complements a partner’s role and strengthens it, allowing him or her to more fully experience the joy and wonder of welcoming their baby into the world.

Doulas and partners are a winning combination. Supported birthing person, empowered partner. Birth. Do it with a doula.

XO,

Shanna

Anchorage Alaska Birth Services

DO YOU KNOW THE DOULA?

Anchorage Birth Services Doula Classes PlacentaHi and welcome! 

I’m Shanna.  It rhymes with Hannah, not Donna… and nope, not Shannon.  My sweet mom saddled me with a name that’s a pain to explain. Anyway, enough of that.  I’m so glad you’re here!  Whether you’re pregnant and considering a birth doula, interested in postpartum doula support, or looking for information on becoming a doula yourself, I’d love to meet with you and encourage you on your journey. Let me tell you a little bit about me and why I’m a doula, and why I love being Alaska Birth Doula, and owner and operator of Anchorage Alaska Birth Services.  

First and foremost:

I absolutely love supporting women through pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum.  It is my passion; breath and life to me.  It makes my soul sing, and I still can’t believe I get paid to do this amazing work. 

It is an honor.  A privilege. A blessing.  

  1.  I was inspired to become a doula when I was pregnant with my second child, in 2006.   I had read the “birth bible”, Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and recognized through the beautiful stories that the support of someone who knows and is comfortable with the natural progression of labor during birth is priceless.  The soothing words they would speak, and the physical support through massage and touch were obviously so beneficial to the laboring women.  I knew I wanted to experience that.  
  2.  My first doula baby was born in 2009. I had dipped my toes into birth work, inquiring with a doula friend about her experience, and I was asked if I’d like to shadow another doula as she supported a laboring mother with her first birth.  While I had experienced 3 births of my own at that point, I’d never witnessed someone else giving birth in person, and to be truly with a woman, breathing with her, speaking words of encouragement and peace to her, bawling along with her when her wet and wailing baby girl was placed on her chest… I was never the same.  I had to do this work.  I was made to do this work!
  3.  My own four births shaped me as a woman and as a mother. Birth matters.  The way we are made to feel when we experience birth matters.  It is important that a laboring woman be given the information she needs to be in control of the many decisions to be made during her birth.  We may not remember every detail of each birth, but we will always remember the way we felt; whether we were supported, listened to, trusted, and empowered.  
  4. I believe in birth. ALL birth. Natural birth.  Medicated birth.  Vaginal birth.  Cesarean birth.  Hospital birth.  Birth Centers. Home birth.  I believe women are uniquely, intricately, wonderfully designed to give birth, and I also believe in a woman’s right to decide she wants to birth with augmentation or medication.  I will provide information; benefits, risks, advantages, and disadvantages. Ultimately, I believe in supporting women energetically, emotionally, physically, and with the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their babies.
  5. I love being woken up to attend a laboring woman.  Yep.  I’m on call most of the time.  That means no wine with dinner (or just a sip!) Having my cell phone on at all times and never being without it.  Making sure camping spots are within an hour’s drive of my client’s birth space, and that I have phone service! (Oh, Alaska…) Having my doula bag packed and with me.  I get a thrill every time I get a call that starts out “I think I might be in labor…”
  6.  Last but not least, I love coffee with lots of cream and sugar.  And chocolate, especially when it’s surrounding or coupled with peanut butter.  And wine — my favorite way to celebrate a birth, right before I take a nice long nap!

I am a doula.  It’s not just what I do.  It’s who I am, and exactly what I was made to be.

XO,

Shanna

Anchorage Doula Shanna Alaska Birth Services