Birth Op­tions

Per­sonal plans for preg­nancy and de­liv­ery

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Her Family - By Lorien E. Dahl

The prac­tices of mid­wifery and doula work can al­low women to per­son­al­ize their own sup­port sys­tem when ex­pect­ing a child, with ser­vices de­signed to ease and en­rich the preg­nancy and birth ex­pe­ri­ence for the mother, baby, part­ner and fam­ily.

Kayla Brad­bury, an em­ployee of Arkansas Fam­ily Doulas, of­fers com­pletely non­med­i­cal help through­out the process — from even be­fore con­cep­tion to post­par­tum care. She serves the Oua­chita River Val­ley Re­gion, which in­cludes Hot Springs, through the statewide com­pany.

Doulas are trained in hu­man anatomy and the en­tire phys­i­ol­ogy of birth, in­clud­ing po­ten­tial in­ter­ven­tions and how to as­sist in com­fort mea­sures. They also learn about child­birth ed­u­ca­tion, dif­fer­ent par­ent­ing tech­niques, lac­ta­tion, baby- wear­ing, and in­fant feed­ing.

She is able to at­tend births at ei­ther a hospital or home set­ting, pro­vid­ing a re­as­sur­ing voice for all in­volved.

Brad­bury said, “Preg­nancy and birth is a re­ally vul­ner­a­ble time, and can be over­whelm­ing,” adding that hav­ing a sup­port per­son from out­side a wo­man’s per­sonal sphere can make a big dif­fer­ence.

Doulas can even pro­vide ser­vices to fam­i­lies who are tak­ing part in a sur­ro­gate preg­nancy or adop­tion sit­u­a­tion.

In the post­par­tum pe­riod, doulas come in as “an­other layer of care,” help­ing with er­rands, hold­ing the baby to give mom a break or sit­ting with other chil­dren.

And with sib­ling doula ser­vices, help can be present for other chil­dren in the fam­ily to un­der­stand the process and not feel left out.

“Hav­ing a doula is just an ex­tra way to take care of your­self,” she said, since many new mothers put them­selves at the bot­tom of the pri­or­ity lad­der.

Brad­bury is ad­di­tion­ally cer­ti­fied as a be­reave­ment doula, help­ing dur­ing the loss of a child at any stage. Though this is the most dif­fi­cult part of her job, she said it’s also the most sa­cred space she holds for a fam­ily.

Doulas are on call at all times and work in pairs, so one of two peo­ple with whom the mother and fam­ily are al­ready fa­mil­iar will al­ways be avail­able.

An­other ser­vice Brad­bury pro­vides is pla­cen­tal en­cap­su­la­tion, which is a process by which the mother’s pla­centa is dried and pow­dered, then placed into cap­sules for in­ges­tion. This can help with hor­mone fluc­tu­a­tions, post­par­tum de­pres­sion, milk sup­ply and en­ergy lev­els.

Shea Childs, owner of Nat­u­ral State Mid­wife Ser­vices, is a cer­ti­fied pro­fes-

sional mid­wife, li­censed through the Arkansas Depart­ment of Health.

She be­came par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in mid­wifery when she uti­lized that ser­vice for the birth of her daugh­ters, now ages 16 and 13, af­ter learn­ing about the ad­van­tages of home birth at a lec­ture.

Through­out the process, the care is more per­sonal, be­cause Childs com­mu­ni­cates with a small num­ber of women at a time, and can be reached via email or text. In ad­di­tion, the av­enue of ques­tions and an­swers is wide open, as she’s able to de­vote more time to talk­ing dur­ing vis­its.

When the baby is ready to en­ter the world, la­bor can hap­pen in a place where a wo­man feels most safe and quiet, with more com­fort aids at hand. In ad­di­tion, the mother is able to tap into her deep in­tu­ition to aid in her baby’s de­liv­ery. Although mid­wives mon­i­tor with de­vices like Doppler, they’re mo­bile, so mothers aren’t con­nected to a hospital bed and rel­e­gated to a sin­gle room, which can ease the strain of the birthing process.

And birthing pools are brought into many homes, which can be used for de­liv­ery, or just as a method of re­lax- ation dur­ing la­bor. Childs refers to the pool as a “mid­wife epidu­ral,” since im­mer­sion in the warm water al­lows mus­cles to re­lax.

Post­par­tum care can be greatly ad­van­taged by hav­ing a mid­wife, too, be­cause the vis­its are more fre­quent with mom and the new baby.

Arkansas CPMs at­tend only low-risk preg­nancy and birth sit­u­a­tions, and though mid­wives are the care providers, mothers are re­quired to see a physi­cian twice dur­ing the preg­nancy, to safe­guard that the preg­nancy is in­deed low-risk.

As added sup­port, a sec­ond mid­wife at­tends each birth, which can be es­pe­cially help­ful dur­ing longer labors.

Childs said, “I love work­ing with the women. … It’s an honor to be at peo­ple’s births,” adding that the pro­fes­sion sat­is­fies her on many lev­els, in­clud­ing in- tel­lec­tu­ally, emo­tion­ally and spir­i­tu­ally.

Af­ter years in the prac­tice, she’s now had re­peat clients, de­liv­er­ing mul­ti­ple chil­dren for the same fam­ily.

She serves clients within a two-hour ra­dius of Hot Springs, of­fer­ing pre­na­tal vis­its in her home there, or from her Lit­tle Rock of­fice.

Both Childs and Brad­bury con­sider it a priv­i­lege to be in­volved with the mir­a­cle of birth, and each said the learn­ing process never ends, be­cause ev­ery client’s ex­pe­ri­ence is dif­fer­ent.

The staff of Arkansas Fam­ily Doulas can be reached at 501-492-6644, or by email to hello@arkansas­fam­i­ly­

More can be learned about the ser­vices Childs pro­vides by vis­it­ing http:// nat­u­ral­statemid­, or by calling her at 501-282-9057.

Kayla Brad­bury, of Arkansas Fam­ily Doulas, pro­vides ser­vices to the Oua­chita River Val­ley area, in­clud­ing Hot Springs.

Mid­wife Shea Childs pro­vides pre­na­tal and birth ser­vices in a two-hour ra­dius area from Hot Springs.

Mid­wife Shea Childs holds a baby just af­ter de­liv­ery.

Kayla Brad­bury, of Arkansas Fam­ily Doulas, pro­vides sup­port to the Oua­chita River Val­ley area, in­clud­ing Hot Springs. Here, she helps a preg­nant wo­man re­lax by us­ing a birthing ball.

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