Einsten Medical Center Montgomery VBAC Webinar

I was just reading a news article about the new Einstein Medical Center Montgomery and fell upon an invitation to a webinar they are conducting in just two weeks, Trial of Labor after Cesarean Section: What you need to know, August 7th from 12:30-1:30.  I signed up and look forward to hearing what Dr. Elizabeth Zadzielski has to say about vaginal births after cesarean sections!

Join the free webinar here: http://www.einsteinwebinars.com/

Birth Freedom Ina May Gaskin Huffington Post

I just read a great article on Huffington Post from Ina May Gaskin with important information we all need to hear. As a doula, I am so happy to be able to help educate families so that they can make the choice that is best for them.

Penny Simkin(doula and founder of DONA International) study about moms memories of their birth experiences suggested to us that when a woman feels that she is autonomous and able to make her own decisions without force, she is most pleased with her birth experience. Penny is also the author of a study that tells us that a mothers birth experience is not just about getting the baby out. It is a momentous day that matters for the rest of her life, whether positive or negative.

So yes, birth choices matter.

Check out the article here:


Wayne, PA Lactation Consultant Guest Writer

I am excited to post a guest article today, written by my good friend: a mom to two beautiful children from Wayne/Radnor area, wife to amazing chiropractor Paul Sinnott at the Chiropractic Spine Center, a highly skilled lactation consultant at Paoli hospital, and my doula for the birth of both of my babies, Donna Sinnott, IBCLC (aka Boob Donna)

To Sleep or Not to Sleep: That is the Question 
by Donna Sinnott, originally appeared in Nursing Mothers News, a publication of Nursing Mothers Alliance

The birth of a baby is truly a wonderful mystery of life.  The birthing process hasn't changed much over the last 5000+ years.  In the beginning, before there were clocks and schedules, babies were always breastfed by mom, on demand, day and night.  Only in the last 200 years, cultures began adding on more rooms, and only in the last 10 years or so, have we seen the rise of "sleep training" methods.

In a survey of 172 societies, all infants in all cultures do some co-sleeping at night, even of only for a few hours.  The U.S. consistently stands out as the only society in which babies are routinely placed in their own beds and in their own rooms.  But, for many breastfed babies, night waking is normal and necessary.  Night waking is as normal as co-sleeping with your child in almost every culture, except the United States.

In some Western cultures, such as the United States, artificial feeding is a norm and the expectations are different.  Babies are expected to sleep for long stretches alone, often in a separate room, by the time they are three or four month old.  This is an arrangement that has grown over the last 200 years because of cultural reasons, not out of biological appropriateness.  In almost all cultures around the globe, mothers and babies sleep close to each other at night for many reasons, mainly so that the baby can be nursed with less disruption of sleep.  Parents in these cultures expect babies to wake frequently to nurse at night until they have matured enough to naturally outgrow this behavior, a process that may take years.  A wakeful baby - even a wakeful older baby or toddler - is not considered unusual or a problem in these cultures.

Besides the practical reasons of co-sleeping, science is now learning that sleeping with mom is a biological need.  Infants don't develop the ability to easily navigate types of breathing until they are at least three or four months old.  James McKenna, Professor of Anthropology, has published many studies that provide evidence that when mother and baby sleep together, the mother's breathing and movement affect the baby's breathing and arousal patterns. Babies get more practice at the transitions from one kind of breathing to another.  Also, mothers and their breastfed babies can then develop the same sleep cycles which encourages less disruption to sleep for all.  Breastfeeding moms can't get any deep sleep anyway: Lactation women are hormonally programmed not to have the fourth and deepest sleep cycle, possibly to be able to tune in to the waking cycles of our babies.

So, how could we Americans cope with such a change in our cultural norm? A working mom or a stay-at-home mom may be asking, "I need my sleep. How will I function well?"  Well, there are many alternatives to the usual sleeping arrangements that can make night nursing a lot easier.

  • The baby's crib (or bedside co-sleeper) can be attached to the parents' bed in a "side car" arrangement (with one side open).

  • A mattress could be put on the floor in the baby's room or in the parents' room so mom can lie down and sleep while nursing the baby back to sleep.

  • A bed rail can be used (on that floor mattress) or on the parents' bed even if baby simply sleeps in their bed part of the night.

  • Mom can wake and feed the baby every two to three hours in the day if she is constantly nursing at night.

  • Wake and feed your baby just before you go to sleep so you can get a longer sleep cycle before the baby wakes again.
Like many parenting decisions, there are pros and cons to developing a co-sleeping arrangement.  A family bed can help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it matches breathing, matches body temperature and makes mom more aware if something is wrong.  Co-sleeping creates less disruption to sleep and continues to give nourishment and comfort throughout the night hours.  A family bed can help make the necessary night nursings easier and reconnect a family after a long day.

Yes, there are cons to a family bed.  It can be harder for mom to settle in due to squirming and diapers crinkling.  It can create less privacy, making it harder to turn in later or get up earlier.  A family bed can also create ongoing doubts such as "Am I doing the right thing?"  or "When should it end?"

Just remember, no matter what the sleeping arrangements are in your home, where mom and baby sleep is a personal, parenting decision that should be made based upon what is best for your baby, you and your family.  Like the first of many parenting decisions, trust yourself when making whatever choice is best for you and your family.  Remember, night waking for nourishment and comfort is often a biological need and not a choice to the infant.  In the words of Dr. Sears, author of "Nighttime Parenting" and other books, "In the first few months, the infant's needs are the highest, but his ability to communicate those needs is the lowest."

"Nighttime Parenting" Sears
"Three in a Bed" Jackson
"The Breastfeeding Answer Book" Mohrbacher and Stock
"Mothering" magazine Nov/Dec 1998
Special thanks to Jo Matey  

Main Line Doulas thanks Donna Sinnott for allowing us to reprint her article.

Penny Simkin Quote on Benefits of Continuous Support

"Many studies show that continuous support benefits laboring women, especially when the support begins in early labor and is given by someone whose only role is to provide it. Benefits include the following: • Shorter labors, with less need for medication to speed up labor • More spontaneous vaginal births (that is, births that don’t require forceps, vacuum extraction, or cesarean delivery.) • Fewer requests for pain medications • Less dissatisfaction with birth experiences. "
Penny Simkin

Frequently Asked Questions: Is it better to tear or be cut?

Is it better to tear or be cut? 60Sec Doulas give some great responses to if it's better to tear or be cut. I like to use the analogy of tearing a piece of fabric. If you hold a piece of fabric in your hands, and choose to tear it by pulling it, it's very difficult. It can be done, but it's hard. How would you tear that fabric then? You would take scissors and snip a bit, then it would be easy to tear! Although your perineum isn't exactly fabric, the analogy works pretty well.

Hypnosis for childbirth

Although the word hypnosis sends images of stage hypnotists through your mind, real self-hypnosis is very very different. Self-hypnosis is simply a form of meditation and relaxation in which you tell yourself positive affirmations. By going into a state of deep relaxation, you can more easily accept these positive affirmations and suggestions.

There are a number of different programs teaching hypnosis for childbirth. I have the most experience with Hypnobabies. I studied hypnobabies for the birth of my daughter Ivy.

The Hypnobabies Home Study program is a full childbirth education course and you don't need to buy anything else. It comes with every thing an expectant mother needs and no additional courses are required.

My favorite part about hypnosis for child birth was the knowledge and power in knowing that birth didn't have to hurt, it could be a wonderful, joyous occasion that I could look forward to, and remember with glee. I hope to impart that knowledge to my clients, no matter the kind of birth preparations they choose.

In Hypnobabies, one of the aspects of the program is imagining your ideal, pain-free birth experience, just like a football player plans out his next game play.  During deep relaxation, I imagined the date, time of day, feelings, when I would leave my home, how I would feel during that time, how dilated I would be when I arrived at my birthing place, etc. When it came to my actual birthing time, I had an almost identical experience to the one I had imagined, including feeling, date and time frame and being comfortable and pain-free. 

When I meet with my clients as their doula, I practice relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises to help you learn how to relax and embrace each contraction during labor as it brings you closer to holding your baby!


"Hypnosis has proven to be one of the most effective means of bringing about the changes you desire in your life. While in hypnosis your conscious, or critical mind (the part that's analyzing this now), is temporarily turned down and you work directly with the hidden, feeling mind where real change takes place quickly. Hypnosis is a SAFE, natural response which allows you greater control over all aspects of your life. Your conscious mind is powerful. Your subconscious mind is infinitely more powerful! "

By Jack Sparks, Certified Hypnotherapist


Penny Simkin Quote from The Birth Partner

“While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman’s personality, likes, dislikes and needs. Moreover, he loves the woman more than anyone else there. The combination of partner and doula, along with a caring staff gives the woman the best chance of an optimal outcome.”
-Penny Simkin, author of The Birth Partner

Benefits of Continuous support for women during childbirth

Here is a link to a Cochrane  review called Continuous support for women during childbirth

This study found that women who have continuous support:

  • Are more likely to have a spontaneous birth(without cesarean, forceps or vacuum). 
  • The duration of their birth is shortened. 
  • Enhances a womans feelings of control and competence. 
  • Were less likely to use pain medications. 
  • Are more likely to be satisfied with their birth experience.

Link to the full PDF: http://childbirthconnection.org/pdfs/continuous_support.pdf

Pennsylvania Hospital: Hospitals we Serve

A More "natural" Cesarean Birth

This video shows a more "natural" Cesarean birth practice. I am excited to see that this hospital is showing us that cesarean births can be so much more gentle and thoughtful of the experience of both the baby and the birthing mom and partner. I hope that we continue to focus on reducing the unnecessary cesareans performed. But for the cesareans that are life saving, I hope they can be more like the birth depicted in this video.

The addition of a doula would have been very helpful in the operating room for a cesarean section birth. While everyone else in the room is busy attending to important details(nurses prepping for baby, surgeon performing surgery, anesthesiologist attending to mom's anesthesia) a doula will have built a relationship with mom during very personalized prenatal appointments, will be right by her side talking her through all the sensations, validating her feelings and able to be there just for her. While dad goes to be with baby, the doula can stay with mom so that mom has that continuous support that studies have shown to be so effective in improving the feelings mom carries with her about that important day. 

Doula! Film

I am looking forward to watching this film and hope Main Line Doulas will have an opportunity to host a screening some time this winter 2012-2013!
(Reprinted with permission from www.doulafilm.com)
22nd March 2012, Hove, UK – A filmmaking couple are trying to change the world’s view of birth by coordinating hundreds of screenings of their documentary as part of World Doula Week starting today, Thursday 22nd March.
The couples’ 50 minute documentary called “DOULA!” features three doula-supported births shown in intimate close-up detail. Doulas take their name from the Greek word for “woman-servant” and are hired birth companions. Although not medically trained, doulas provide practical and emotional support through pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.
The filmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, a real-life couple and parents to a four year old, have encouraged doulas around the world to set up their own local screenings. Anyone could host a screening anytime during the week at any location for no fee. The result is 165 screenings happening across the globe from Alaska to Panama City, from the Scottish Highlands to Israel, from Eastern Europe to South East Asia.
The film’s producer / director Toni Harman says “Around the world, when you ask parents-to-be what they imagine their birth will be like, most describe fear, pain, a dramatic dash to hospital and a highly medicalised delivery. Our “DOULA!” film proves birth doesn’t have to be like that, particularly if the parents are supported by a doula.”
“Whether a woman has a natural delivery or a c-section, the film proves that whatever the circumstances, birth can be extremely positive and even beautiful. If we can present a positive image of birth and show that it is achievable for every expectant parent, then we can start to shift negative perceptions. If this happens at every screening, then we can start to transform the image of birth on a global scale. That’s the dream.”
To coincide with World Doula Week, a new survey finds that mothers are less likely to require medical interventions during birth when supported by a doula and are more likely to attempt and continue breastfeeding.
The survey published by Doula UK gathered data from 105 doulas and their 1,106 clients. The survey found that only 12 per cent of doula-supported births required medical interventions, such as the use of forceps, ventouse or C-sections, compared to the latest UK national figures of 37.3 per cent.
When it comes to breastfeeding, the results are even more dramatic. For women who were supported by a doula, 93 per cent attempted breastfeeding and 70 per cent were still exclusively breastfeeding after six weeks. This compares to the latest figures from the UK’s Department of Health where 74.1 per cent of mothers attempt breastfeeding and just 46 per cent are still exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks.
Rebecca Schiller, a Doula UK Spokeswoman says, “Our recent survey of nearly 1200 births demonstrated the profound impact that a doula’s support can have on decreasing medical intervention rates and increasing breastfeeding rates. With this in mind it’s timely and important that World Doula Week is raising awareness of what our doulas can offer.”
Notes to the Editor
“DOULA!” is an independent documentary made by Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford through their production company Alto Films Ltd.
“DOULA!” features two home water-births and a third birth that progresses to a caesarean section where the parents are still shown to feel very positive about their birth experience.
To view the “DOULA!” trailer on youtube (watched over 280,000 times):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRc36qMxNak
The births were all filmed in the South East of England and midwives were present at all births. The film makes it clear that midwives also provide practical and emotional support to the parents and the film shows that it is the midwives who actually deliver the babies.
World Doula Week runs from 22-28 March. The week sees over 160 screenings of the“DOULA!” film and other “Meet the Doula” events around the world.
For a world map and details of “DOULA!” film screenings for World Doula Week:www.oneworldbirth.net/doula-week-screenings/doula-screenings/
For more information on “DOULA!” visit: www.doulafilm.com
World Doula Week coincides with the Spring Equinox, which in a number of cultures represents the return of fertility. For more information on World Doula Week visitwww.worlddoulaweek.com
Toni Harman’s and Alex Wakeford’s next project is ONE WORLD BIRTH; a documentary and free educational video resource featuring the world’s leading birth experts to help make parents-to-be an expert in their own births. Experts filmed include leading academics, midwives, authors, anthropologists, OB/GYNS, doulas, campaigners, educators and parents. For more information visit: www.oneworldbirth.net
To find out more about Doula UK and its network of doulas: www.doula.org.uk
For more information please contact Toni Harman at Alto Films Ltd on
+44 (0) 7770 794233 or email info@altofilms.com

Hospitals we Serve: Jefferson Hospital

Jefferson takes a family-centered approach to childbirth, encouraging partners to participate in the care of mom and baby.
There is a IBCLC available for moms who would like to consult about breastfeeding.

Reading materials are provided to teach about newborn care. There is a television channel called the Newborn Channel with programs being offered 24/7.

They also offer car seat safety courses and are certified as Child Passenger Safety Technicians. They offer a 2 hour car seat safety class 5 times per year.

Course offerings:

Free breastfeeding course
Breastfeeing and Pumping Mothers Group
Getting Ready for Baby
Grandparents Class
Infant/Child CPR
Prepared Childbirth(Lamaze)
Sibling Preparation


Hospitals we Serve: HUP

Hospitals we Serve: The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr

The Birth Center is located in Bryn Mawr, just across the street from the Bryn Mawr Hospital.
It has been serving the Philadelphia area for over 30 years, welcoming more than 8000 babies into the world!
The Birth Center is staffed by a great team of Certified Nurse Midwives and Registered Nurses, as well a great admintrative support staff, and wonderful child birth educators that teach there multiple classes.

Childbirth preparation courses offered at The Birth Center:
  • Preparation for Childbirth Class
  • 1 Day Preparation for Childbirth Class
  • Focus on Breastfeeding Class(included in Preparation for Childbirth Class)
  • Childbirth Refresher Class
  • Childbirth Preparation Supplement Class
  • Sibling Preparation Class Age 2-4
  • Sibling Preparation Class Age 5 and up

They also offer two wonderful Breastfeeding Support groups, one located in Rosemont, PA and the other located in West Philadelphia.

For more information on the classes The Birth Center offers, please go here: http://www.thebirthcenter.org/classes_des.html

Frequently Asked Questions: Is a doula a midwife?

Is a doula a midwife?

A doula versus a midwife: A doulas main purpose is simply to be there for mom and her partner during pregnancy and birth. A midwife is a trained medical professional, many times also a certified nurse. They prescribe medications and attend to the woman medically. The doula attends to any needs of the mother that are non-medical. A doula will often be available to the mom before a midwife would be in attendance, as doulas will often meet their clients in their homes to be with them in early labor before mom decides to go to their place of birth, or before their midwife meets them at home in the case of a home birth. Studies have shown that the continuous support aspect of a doula is one of the main aspects of a doula that improves outcomes of birth.