The Resource Doula

Empowered Birth Planning Tips: Expert Insights with Hays The Doula

December 19, 2023 Natalie Headdings Episode 40
The Resource Doula
Empowered Birth Planning Tips: Expert Insights with Hays The Doula
Show Notes Transcript

Show Notes

On this episode of The Resource Doula, I chat with Hays about their work as a doula, photographer, and advocate for informed choice. And how they help clients feel more empowered and informed so they can have the birth and postpartum experience that leaves them feeling capable and proud. Hays also talks about how to prepare for birth rather than planning your way out of it and what life might look like if we actually honored people's choices when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

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On today's podcast, I chat with Hayes about their work as a doula, photographer, and advocate for informed choice. And how they help clients feel more empowered and informed so they can have the birth and postpartum experience that leaves them feeling capable and proud. Hayes also talks about how to prepare for birth rather than planning your way out of it and what life might look like if we actually honored people's choices when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Welcome to the Resource Doula Podcast. I'm Natalie, your host, and my goal is to equip you with the tools and information you need to make informed healthcare decisions while having some fun along the way. Through engaging interviews with experts, personal stories, and insightful commentary, I'll save you the time and effort of Sifting through countless sources on the internet. Consider me your personal resource dealer, because if I don't know the answer, I can connect you with someone who probably does. So whether you're a seasoned health guru or just starting your journey, I hope this show inspires and encourages you every step of the way. Hayes is a full spectrum doula and photographer who's been providing support and services to South Central Alaskan families since 2019. they're a lifelong Alaskan based in Anchorage where they live with their three kids and little dog. Hayes is non-binary and uses they them pronouns and they're proud of how their unique perspective helps break stereotypes and dynamics that don't serve birthing people. hayes's education and experience is in a variety of areas, including pregnancy, birth, and postpartum doula support, perinatal mental wellness. trauma informed care, lactation and breastfeeding education, the physiology of birth, and professional photography. They also volunteer on the board of the Alaska Birth Collective, a non profit focused on support, education, and advocacy for pregnant and postpartum Alaskan families. Hayes is especially passionate about creating lasting change in birth dynamics that empower clients in birth and beyond. They believe that how we experience our birth makes a major difference in how we experience postpartum and parenthood, and it all starts with unconditional support.


Yeah, thanks for having me, Natalie. It's always good to see you. Yes, great question. So, uh, kind of a couple factors. Obviously, my own birth experiences definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things as far as like, What might not serve birthing people living in America in general. Um, but also just, I've, I've always been really curious about birth and babies, even when I was younger. I kind of thought that I might go into a nursing career, maybe doing something with babies and nursing. Um, So I became a certified medical assistant to begin with and I very quickly realized that I am definitely more drawn to the emotional support aspect of things rather than the medical care. I kind of got in, you know, in trouble quote unquote with my doctors a lot because I would spend a lot of time in patient rooms getting their vitals because I ended up just Talking to them and, um, it was hard for me to just be like, Okay, well, thanks for your vital. See you later. When they were having a very emotional experience with what they were dealing with medically. Um, so that was kind of like my first awakening. It's like, okay, maybe medical is not going to be my jam, but I still didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do. Um, and after my third baby was born, it was when it really hit me. Like I knew what a doula was. But I didn't truly understand what a doula did until after that birth, and I went, Oh, it would have made a huge difference to have somebody there with me that could have been giving me the guidance and suggestions. Because I'm, I'm the type of person who attacks everything with information and knowledge. Like, I just want to learn more about it to feel more prepared for it. Um, so by the third baby, like, I had taken every class and read every book out there to prepare for his birth, and it still ended up being just a really hard experience in a lot of ways. Um, but yeah, so after his birth, I also didn't have a job that I was going back to. It was the opportunity to start a new career or go down a new path. And so I thought I would give it a shot to be a doula. It sounded really intriguing to me. It was really the only thing I was excited about as far as what it was going to be. thinking I'd want to do. Um, but yeah, and then once I became a doula, it made a lot of sense because us doulas like to say, you're born a doula, you don't, you're not made into one later, you just are a doula from birth, you just might not know it. Um, but yeah, I'm a very compassionate, empathetic person and always have been, so it's really a natural fit for me. And I think I'm good at it, I don't know. Thanks. Aw, thanks. Thank you. Yeah, it definitely feel like it's my, my passion and my purpose in life for sure. Yes. Mhm. Mhm. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so to start, like what an empowered birth isn't. It is not where you're having your baby. It's not avoiding all interventions. It has nothing to do with the XYZ of exactly how it goes, per se. Um, it's a feeling. It's about feeling fully supported in every choice that you make. It's about being fully aware. Of everything that's happening to you and your body and giving consent about those things Um, and it's it's generally just like not feeling Judged it's not feeling like anybody's, you know, coercing you into certain decisions or guilting you into things It's it's not even about not feeling fearful because you're probably going to feel fearful and anxious when it's something that like you don't know What to expect But it's about feeling those things and knowing that you are capable of handling it and that you can get through it. Um, especially if you have a team around you that is supporting your ability to do that. Um, but yeah, so like empowered, empowered birth is definitely more of a feeling and it can be. It can look a variety of ways. Like I don't, for my clients, I don't care what interventions they want to have or don't want to have or where they want to have their baby. I just want them to feel good about those choices that they're making. So if they feel safest in a hospital with an OB provider, great, that's awesome. Like let's just make sure that we are prepared for that experience type of thing. Um, or, you know, vice versa, home birth. That's great too. Um, but if somebody is. Scared of having a home birth. That's probably not the best for them to have a baby and versus a hospital where they might feel safer. Um, but yeah, it's a, it's possible to have an empowered birth experience, regardless of where you're having your baby and what happens during that event. Um, and then photography on top of that. It's really cool to look back on your experience and get to be like, wow, like I did the damn thing and I did it with courage and, um, bravery. And I faced all of those things that came my way and seeing yourself handling that, like it's, it's a really powerful thing. Um, and we don't always get to. Look back and witness our birth from a different perspective and most of the time people have eyes closed You're very centered very like in your body during a birth so you don't know what's going on around you and And being able to see yourself like handling that and from another perspective is just really cool and really powerful. I think. Yeah, I would say, sorry, I would say that photography is like my creative outlet on the side of doula work. So, like, if I'm there, I might as well grab my camera and snap a couple pictures of you being a total badass in that moment. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I feel like there tends to be more first time parents, you know, when it's just something that you have no frame of reference for is what to expect that can be, um, popular to have a doula with you, but it's not the only clientele. Definitely there's second, third time parents that maybe they had a bad birth experience with their first and didn't have a doula and they want to do it differently this time. Or maybe they had a doula and loved that experience so much that they wanted a doula again. Um, but there's kind of a variety of who, you know, who's going to be hiring a doula and also where they're having their babies. I tend to do mostly hospital births, but there's also a lot of birth center births and home births in there, too. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So, um, like a birth center or family birthing center in a hospital, it's definitely still a hospital type environment. Like, they might be more set up to... cater to like your family experience. For example, Matsu Hospital is family birthing center. They just don't move you to a different room when you're postpartum. You stay in the same room. That tends to be the biggest difference that I've seen as far as what their family birthing center versus the other hospitals that have just labor and delivery. Um, and So you have like all the benefits of hospital support, but it's just a little more cozy and homey at a hospital birth center versus a birth center separate from a hospital, which is a lot more like home than it would be a hospital where you have just a queen size bed and you know, like all of the same Things that you would have at home or if you were like going to stay at an Airbnb, that's kind of what a birth center is, but they also have uh, equipment and supplies to handle whatever birth events might happen there. So it's like a good mix of Maybe you want to be cozy and at home, but you'd like a little more peace of mind to have more medical instruments on hand, for example, if something were to happen. Um, does that make sense? Yeah. Yeah. But even at a home birth, like the midwives and the assistants are taking care of majority of the cleanup, starting a load of laundry for you and everything before they leave. So, but yeah. Yeah, they really are. Yeah, so fear pressure, I know, there's a lot to it. So, um, so fear pressure is obviously a play on peer pressure where you're like pressured into doing something, right? But it's, um, it's when information is given to you in a way that sounds really scary. And so you are inclined to go with a certain decision based on that scary information, but you might not be getting the whole picture or getting to make an informed decision in that event. So for example, one thing that I hear a lot from clients or have heard stories about is my doctor said that I'm going to have a big baby. And if I'm having a big baby, that means that the risk of C section or shoulder dystocia goes up significantly. And Shoulder dystocia could leave permanent damage to my baby. Therefore, I should induce, right? But they're not getting the, the picture of like, okay, how accurate are these weight measurements, first of all? And then also, what are the risks of induction itself? And having the ability to make an informed decision with like, weighing the relative risks of each choice? That leads to feeling empowered in the decision versus fear pressure, which would just be like, I'm going to have a big baby, something's going to happen to them, unless I induce, and that's the best path for me. And that's just being fear pressured into induction, um, type of situation. And it really, it can show up in so many different ways and different scenarios and circumstances, even if it's, Like, maybe a doctor didn't say anything to you that sounded scary, but in your own head you are catastrophizing some event or some circumstance. Like, if I have to have a hospital birth, it means that I'm gonna be tied down and I'm not gonna be respected. Like, so you're gonna be fear pressured into having a home birth. Like, we gotta look at all sides of the pictures here, you know? And like, that's not inherently true that that's gonna happen to you in a hospital. And maybe looking at what, what does a home birth look like versus a hospital and really getting the facts of it. So you make that whole informed decision based on. You know, the whole picture, you're not just getting one side of the picture. Um, personally, that was always something where I feel like when in my birth experiences, I could tell when that was starting to happen and I attack it with information. I just want to learn more about it, but not everybody has the ability to go out and learn like every single different decision that they could make in that situation. And it's also really hard to access. Our thinking brain when we're in labor. So if those things come up when we're already in labor and you were feeling like, oh my God, I need to make this decision or something bad's going to happen to my baby. Like making decision under fear doesn't feel very empowered. It doesn't feel very good at all most of the time. Um, but right. Yeah, exactly. So I want people to feel good about the decisions they're making by getting the whole picture and not just having the scary part of it being fed to them. If that makes sense. Yeah. Mm hmm. Yeah. Or even just, yeah, no, just give, giving, like, one suggestion as far as, like, this is how we should navigate this, but, like, what, there's so many other choices that could That you could make in this situation and not just like induction is not the only option here type of thing. Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah I've even heard like, um when people do want to get epidurals they might be told in a hospital Well, you should get it now because the anesthesiologist is about to go off or they're about to go into something else And you might have to wait longer and that doesn't That doesn't feel accurate to me at all from what I, I have experienced personally. Um, and it's also just real crappy to do that to somebody to, to pressure them into making the decision sooner than they might've made it otherwise. Um, cause again, that's another version of fear pressure and it's like, okay, but what if we, you know, if you want the epidural, like let's that, let's do that. But if you're not sure about getting the epidural, what if we do something different for a half hour and then reassess and see how you feel then, or, you know, even just a change of positions and change of environment it can make a big difference in how you feel in 30 minutes. But sometimes doing nothing or doing something else is like a great. Segue into feeling good about the choice to get an intervention, rather than just going straight into the intervention. It's like, okay, we've tried every little thing that we can, so I feel good that we've exhausted our options. And now I feel empowered in making this decision to get this intervention. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Um, putting me on the spot on this one. Yeah, no, I feel like the first thing that comes to mind is when people want to avoid all interventions, but then they end up getting interventions later on. So, a common one is I don't want an epidural. Um, now, it depends on how set they are on that because some people are like. At all costs, I am not getting that epidural and other people are kind of more like, um, I want to see how far I can go. I'm not opposed to it if it's needed. Right. But the people who are very, very against it, it can be really hard if you are faced with something during your birth where now you do need to make a decision that veers off of your original plan. Um, and so, like, I've had a. This one in particular client, this doctor walks in, she didn't want any interventions, the doctor walks in and goes, so I hear that you want an epidural. And she was like, no, I don't want an epidural. And she goes, okay, well, We'll see, we'll see how it plays out. And it was like a very Invalidating, right off the bat, type experience with this provider. And I was just watching my client's face during this interaction because I normally like if if my client's talking to a provider or a nurse I'm not gonna be interrupting or be part of that conversation unless it's like something that I could be really helpful intervening with. So I was just watching her face and she was Like, no, I don't want an epidural and the provider was like, okay, yeah, well, we'll see and then kind of kept came back to it later and was like, so if this thing happens, then you're probably going to want an epidural and my client was like. No, thank you. So the second this doctor left, I looked at my client and was like, how do you feel after that conversation? And she just burst into tears, which I fully expected at that moment, because this provider had been very invalidating to her original plan. Um, but we talked it over and I was like, you know what? You don't have to have this provider if they make you feel gross. You can fire them, and so she did. She fired that provider and got somebody else. Uh, yeah, and that, that somebody else that came in was so validating for whatever she wanted. She didn't even question the epidural thing. But eventually it did get to the point of that client needed an epidural. She was, it was a long labor and she was exhausted. And so, um, you know, I asked a bunch of questions. We tried all, all the position changes. We got in the shower, we got out of the shower. Um, but she eventually hit a point where she was like, like, I don't want it. I don't want it. But what, but what happens if I do get it? But what about this, if I do get it? And to me, that was like, Okay, look, it sounds like I, like I know you didn't want this originally, but it sounds to me like you're kind of going in the direction of this might be a good idea for you in this moment because you're exhausted and nobody, like, I do not want anybody to suffer through the experience of meeting their baby. That's just not cool. So she eventually came to the conclusion of like, yeah, okay, I think I do want it. Like, I don't love that I want it, but I do want it because I think it'd be helpful right now. So it went from a very invalidating experience to a very empowered one, because she eventually got to make that decision for herself without any of that external pressure from the providers, from the nurses, from anybody. It was just a matter of when she was ready to make that decision. And it's a hard, like, that's sometimes the hardest part about labor and birth is making the decision that veers off of your original plan. Yeah. Yeah, totally. Um, I look for how in control they are during contractions, especially, um, and how grounded they seem. So, to me, that looks like, like, yes, this contraction might be really intense, really powerful contraction. But they are able to take big breaths through it. They're able to, you know, remain using low sounds. They're not just like screaming their head off through the entire contraction, right? But if it slowly starts to shift to where they are not able to keep their breath under control, or they're making very high pitched sounds every time, or As they start to feel contractions start, you can just physically see them just recoil and try to pull away and they start losing their ability to stay calm in that situation. Then to me, that's like, okay, we need to do something different here. Whether that is just like a pep talk or let's try a different position. Let's try a different, you know, maybe counter pressure this time, maybe getting in the bath. Um, or even just like one at a time kind of reassurance. But if they cannot find that the ground in that experience on it, to me, it looks like suffering and I don't want them to suffer through it. It's like, we have to do something differently for you to stay in control of what you're experiencing. And I mean, yeah, the control looks different, right? It doesn't I don't want you to be quiet. I don't want you to be still, but I don't want you to be screaming and white knuckling versus just being intentional about breathing and using movement. And yeah, that kind of a thing, if that makes sense. That's a good question. I know, like, um, curiosity tends to be a big one. Just being curious and asking good questions, um, that can help people come to their own conclusions. If I'm just asking good questions to help them navigate that, um. Breath. I'm always listening to breath. If they are taking long, big, slow, deep breaths using low sounds, like that's ideal for sure. So I'm going to be constantly reminding them, okay, now take another deep breath and relax back down. Um, but I also have these little spiky, squeezy things that everybody loves. Um, so I don't know, most people might have heard of the comb trick where you squeeze a comb and that gives you sensory sensation into your hand. It draws your brain's attention away from the contraction sensation. Um, Ananda's super helpful, but combs are not made for that, obviously. So I have these little tools that are made for giving you sensory input by squeezing them. They have little, they're like little spikes, but they're not sharp spikes. So you're gonna have like dots all over your hand when you're done. And I've had to literally be like, okay, no. Give this, give this to me now! and like pry it out of their hand. I'm like, now catch your baby! You can't catch your baby with this in your hand! Because they're, they're very helpful. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And there's always such a joke in the doula world, like, new doulas have They're doula bags with, like, all of the tools and all of the, like, little gadgets and gizmos that they can think of that would help a birth, but, you know, doing this for four years, my birth bag consists of a change of clothes for me, a whole bunch of snacks for me, and then, and then, like, a tiny pouch of, like, those spiky things and some coconut oil, and that's kind of about it, like, you don't need much. I tend to just I'm good at adapting and using what we do have on hand and stuff like that. So, yeah, you're totally right. Mm hmm. Yeah. Okay, so the first thing that comes to mind is my favorite quote ever. It's by Peter Levine, who's a trauma expert. Um, and that trauma is not what happens to us, but what happens inside of us in the absence of an empathetic witness. And I think that just speaks volume as to, like, the most basic thing that a doula can provide is their presence. And knowing that, like, somebody is not alone in this experience. Somebody sees them. Like, I hear you. I see you. I'm here for you, specifically. That can make a huge difference in feeling traumatized by a birth versus not. Um, but really, it, like you just mentioned before, it's more about what happens inside of us throughout each moment of this experience. So somebody who has faced... trauma, whether that's birth trauma or otherwise, one of the biggest tools that's helpful to them is just constant communication. Like, I am talking through everything that's happening around them, to them, so they are completely informed and aware of what's going on. Also, what might happen next, and preparing them mentally, like, okay, this means that the next step is this. And that way, When the next step comes, they're not surprised by it. They feel like, okay, I was expecting this to happen. I mentally prepared for whatever's going to happen next. Um, but then for example, like when, when we can't predict certain things, um, a big one is like when babies need help. Getting started breathing after birth. That's terrifying if you don't know what's happening. Um, and it's terrifying if you don't know what normal newborns look like. Like babies come out very blue and purple, right? And so immediately people can be like, are they okay? And then you see that your baby needs extra help and then your mind goes to the worst case scenario. But if I'm right there next to you being like, Hey, your baby's alert, they're awake, they're just a little bit wet. They just need help clearing out that fluid from their lungs. So they're going to take them. And yes, I know that they're, they're rubbing your baby very vigorously, but that helps them get stimulated to breathing and like talking through every little bit of that so that they're not confused. And they're not like. Their mind doesn't have the opportunity to run away with all of the possibilities of, you know, worst case scenarios in that situation. Um, that makes a huge difference. It really does. I think that's kind of, yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And I tell people like you, you almost don't want them telling you what's happening in those moments because you want them to be taking care of your baby and doing all they can in those, the medical part of it, right? But like, if I'm not there talking you through it, Yeah, that becomes a very scary situation really quick, but if they're doing their job medically and I'm talking you through it, then it's like, okay, everything's fine. Everything's fine. Everything's okay. Instead of, oh, my God, what if, what if, what if, and going off on that? Yeah, that's huge. Yeah, it's like birth plans. Yeah, I think your birth plan is, it shouldn't be a plan. It's like your birth preferences, right? Because we cannot, we can't predict how a birth is going to go, no matter how many babies you've even had before that. It could be completely different every single time, um, because it's the first time you've had this baby. So yes, like you can plan a lot of different things, but you cannot predict how they're going to go. So preparing in a way that you can navigate through the unexpected to the best of your ability, that's what makes the biggest difference. The hard stuff is going to come up. Birth is hard. It doesn't matter if you get an epidural at three centimeters and don't feel a thing, like it's still a hard process regardless of how it goes. Um, so yeah, it's like the hardest part sometimes is making decisions that veer off of your original plan. So if you're set on like, a certain way of things going, that can create a lot of trauma in itself, a lot of suffering in itself if it does veer off of that. So, preparing your way through it instead, instead of expecting it, if you plan this well enough, then nothing bad's gonna happen. That was kind of my third birth experience, too, by the way. It was like, I, yeah, it was like, I, I planned so many things, and I educated myself in so many ways, but ultimately, I the navigating through it is what made or break the experience. So yeah, like that's ultimately what will lead to an empowered experience is when you prepare your way through it versus planning your way out of it. Yeah, having a flexible mindset, I think is very key. Um, knowing that yes, we can plan for everything to go a certain way, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen that way. Um, I think that is one of the biggest things. And so, like, using affirmations and meditations regarding, like, yes, I can do hard things. I can face challenges and get through them type of thing versus, um, like, yes, you can do hard things, but you don't have to do hard things. If you don't want to or don't need to in that moment, like, like, I like with the epidural thing, right? I tell people, I know you can do it without any interventions or epidurals or whatever, but I don't think that you have to do it that way. Like, maybe that's not what's best for you right now. So having that mindset of like, what is the next right thing for me? Now, not what is the, if I make this choice, then it's going to lead to this and this and this later down the road, but what is the next right choice right in front of me right now? That I can make and just taking it one little decision at a time helps you be more flexible with your mindset as far as getting through the birth experience. Um, and then, yeah, I mean, your body, like, I think taking good care of your body in general is great, but if we focus too much on, like, if I do these, if I do prenatal yoga every day, that's going to set me up for a better birth. I don't, I don't hold fast to anything like that. Because I don't think that's inherently true. We have bodies that just do what they want to do. Your baby has a mind of their own, unfortunately. That's the hardest part of parenting right there, is that your baby has a mind of their own, and you don't get to make every decision because they have influence over that. So, um, yeah, I feel like, you know, do things that are healthy and make you feel good, but just not holding on to having one particular outcome if you do this thing, if that makes sense. And then having people around you that you trust and feel supported by, for sure, you don't, if your care provider makes you feel any type of way, if they make you feel guilty, or if they make you feel like belittled, or maybe, um, they act like you aren't aware of certain things, or, you know, talk down to you, like, that's That's a red flag, in my opinion, and you should just pay more attention to that. Like, lean into it, get curious of like, why does this thing make me feel this way? How could that play out when you're actually in the birth experience? Um, and this is like, almost, almost a side tangent, but also kind of the same thing. You, like, knowing your provider's rate of intervention, because that becomes your risk of intervention. So, if your provider has a 50 percent c section rate, It's important to be aware of that because then your risk of c section is 50%, like, inherently. So, setting yourself up with a team that you feel good about and that you trust, regardless of, you know, what happens. You want your care provider to be aligned with yourself and where you want to go with this experience. Yeah, right? Yeah, I could probably go on a little mini tangent about how we live in a patriarchy. Misogyny is real, and when you are a woman giving birth and maybe, I don't really know if it's a male OB or just an OB in general, but like, the authority figure in that situation can make us feel small as is without them saying things that add to that. So it's important to be aware of how our society can also be set up to disempower us in certain ways and how to navigate that part of it too. Like believing women when they say something like, if you tell me something, I believe, I know, right? It just makes me roll my eyes so hard. Cause it's like, Yeah, why wouldn't you believe somebody when they're sharing what their experience is or what their feelings are or whatever? Like, it's not up to me to be like, I think you're wrong. Like, how do I know? I'm not you. Um, well, we'd be under a matriarchy and not a patriarchy, but, um, that's a really hard question. I don't know. Like, my ideal? Um, yeah, it would be, for one, Respecting people's choices about their body and how they want to experience something is a big one to me. Um, and from the get go, right, if somebody is not sure if they even want to have kids, it's, I think, important to explore why would you want to, why don't you want to? Because sometimes the reason for choosing children is like, this is what we do, and that's it. Like, we're just... It's taught from a young age that you get married and then you have babies and then you raise your babies, but like, that's not best for everybody, that's not what everybody wants for themselves. Um, so it starts there. It's like, you know, your reasons why. Um, and then from that point, it's like, for one, I think we're getting better about the belief that women are strong. In general, we can handle hard things, right? And like, birth is something that is hard and challenging, and we can handle it, if we want to, without any interventions. But also, if you do choose interventions, that's okay too. It's just a matter of what's best for that individual person. Um, you know, there's a lot of morality that can play into birth choices, like If people do get an epidural and then they're like, Oh my god, that means I failed or that I'm not strong. But like, that, that pisses me off, for lack of a better word there. Because it's just not true! Like, it's so not true. Take the morality out of those kind of choices. It means nothing about your strength or your ability to do hard things if you opt to use a tool that's available to you. Um, and then going into parenthood and postpartum too, it's like, it's not best for everybody to breastfeed. It's not best for everybody to be a stay at home parent. It's not best for everybody to parent a certain way because that's not what works for them, so. Letting people make those choices in a way that doesn't make them feel guilty about choosing one thing over another is really key. Um, like personally I did breastfeed my babies, but I also had a, like I didn't have complications with it, I had a pretty easy time getting started with it. If I had had complications, I was already in the mindset of like, formula is bad. Like, why? It's a tool that we can use to feed our babies if we need it, and there's no point in suffering through something because one way is better than the other. It's not better if you're suffering. Um, yeah. Yeah, which also leads into, like, stay at home parents. If you want to stay home with your babies, then that's great, but if you are staying home with your babies because you think that you should, and because it makes you okay, a bad parent, quote unquote, um, to go to work. Like, I don't love that. Personally, I'm not built to be a stay at home parent. I very much like the opportunity to go out into the world and be around other grown ups and, you know, do things that I love to do as an autonomous human being and not just a parent. Like, I'm more than just a parent, and so is everybody else that's having babies, if that makes sense. Okay, that would be my, my ideal. I think you're more than just that. I think eventually, I think we have a long way to go. There's a lot of systems in America that need some help and support, but I think that the trend is going that way for sure. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Mm hmm. Yeah. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. We, we just can't be it all, we can't do it all. We kind of have to, we have to pick and choose just to save our energy and protect our peace in a lot of ways. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And kind of like on that note, that makes me think of some situations where there's people who might want doula support, but their partner doesn't, for whatever reason. Like, maybe there's just a misconception about what a doula does, or maybe they just feel like it's not needed, or whatever. But I'm a firm believer that if one partner wants support, then you should get support. Like, if the other partner doesn't, okay, but you should get support if one person does. All the way through parenthood, right? Yeah. Yeah, I mean, partners tend to be, like, the biggest fans after a birth. It's like, oh my god, I can't believe, like, I can't imagine doing that without you here, type of thing. That's usually... Partners gush over that almost more than the birthing person sometimes. Yeah. Yeah, I kind of give like a mini lecture to partners during prenatal visits of like, if I tell you to go take a nap or go outside for some fresh air or go eat something, do it. Don't be like, I'm good. I'm fine. I'm okay. Like, you got to take care of your own needs so that you can take care of both of them. So same concept with having a doula with you to help take care of you so that you can then take care of your baby. Yes. Okay. So I had to think about this a little bit. Um, one of my favorite books that I've ever read is called transformed by birth. A subtitle is creating openness, resilience and strength for the life changing journey from pregnancy to parenthood. It's by Britta Bushnell, Bushnell. Um, and it, yeah, it's about navigating the whole journey and not just about. The end goal, per se. So, I love that book. Um, Evidence Based Birth website is great for finding evidence based information and resources there. Um, and a YouTube channel by Nancy Morbacher is one that I share with almost everybody. Uh, it's specifically a playlist called Natural Breastfeeding How To's. And just, like, the way that she explains breastfeeding and the basics of it, I think is just very, like, well said and to the point. So I love that one. Um, and then Kelly Mom is a good website for breastfeeding and early parent support, too. Those are, like, my top ones that I can think of. I know there's lots of great Really? Okay. Yeah, you should read it. Let me know what you think of it. I know there's lots of great social media accounts and stuff too, but honestly, I'm terrible about social media, so I just get on there, yeah, I just post about business stuff, that's like the only reason I get on there. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I guess the number one thing that I would give advice on is that, Like everybody's different in the sense of we've all had different experiences throughout our entire lives that have added up into who we are today. Um, so it's important that people meet you where you're at in birth and not expect certain things from you. Based on whatever, just knowing that, like, we're such individual people, um, and therefore two different people can experience the exact same event or circumstance and walk away with two very different feelings about what just happened. Um, so again, doesn't matter the X, Y, Z of how your birth goes. It just matters how you feel about how it's going, um, during the event, because, yeah, it's like, it doesn't mean anything about how strong you are, how resilient you are, or. or whatever, your ability to handle pain, it doesn't matter. It just matters of like, did you feel supported? Did you feel heard? Did you feel seen? Um, throughout this experience because we're just so individual as people. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think so. I think that that's very helpful in so many different situations and circumstances to remember that. So my favorite one to share with people too is, um, stretching like a baby when you wake up. Like, full on, arms up, arch your back, pull your knees up, like, the full, big baby stretch. It feels so good. I know, right? I don't know, like, generally we stop doing it at some point, but, working with babies and seeing them do it, just, it always reminds me of like, Oh, that feels so good. Yes, let's do that. You know? That's probably my favorite one. Um, but also, I am very intentional about protecting sleep and protecting my energy from things that drain it. So I encourage other people to do the same, whether that's like You know, saying no to certain things that maybe you feel pressured into doing, but doesn't really fulfill you or, um, setting really firm boundaries with certain people in your lives because you know that they tend to drain your energy more than fill it. Um, and protecting my sleep in the sense of like, yeah, it's really hard to just turn off a show sometimes and go to the frick to bed, but you just need to, because you feel so much better in the morning if you just turn it off, go to bed. So I try to be very intentional about that. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. When you, especially when you have babies, you kind of tend to realize certain things about how you could better care for yourself because you're doing these things for your baby, but you're not doing them for yourself. That doesn't make sense. And also, you're just better able to show up as a parent when you feel well taken care of. Absolutely. Um, so I have a website, www empower birth Pretty easy. You can find me. Also on Facebook and Instagram. It's at Empowered Birth Alaska everywhere. Um, and the services I offer, birth doula support is a big one. Birth photography is a big one. I do a combination, what I call doula tog, where I'm both. Um, and then I also do postpartum doula support and lifestyle photography. So that can be maternity and newborn. Just very like chill setting type photography. Um, yeah, and if you want to book with me or want to get in touch with me, there is a contact form on my website or linked in social media, I think. Yeah, fill out my contact form and I will be in touch very shortly to set up a consult where we can just chat and make sure that we're a good fit for each other and get to know each other a little bit that way. Perfect. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me, Natalie. It's always a pleasure to chat with you.


I loved my conversation with Hayes. Clearly you can see their passion and empathy when it comes to supporting moms and parents who want an empowered birthing experience. I have linked all their recommended resources as well as their sites and social pages in the show notes so you can find them easily. Please remember that what you hear on this podcast is not medical advice, but remember to always be an active participant in your care, and talk to your healthcare team before making important decisions. If you found this podcast helpful, please consider leaving a 5 star rating on Spotify or writing a positive review in Apple Podcasts, as this really helps other people find this show. Thank you so much for listening. I'll catch you next time.