What a year it has been! One that has been filled with unexpected twists and turns, yet still making the best of it!
We welcomed our baby girl, Diana Lee, on May 4th 2020 amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. I was so thankful to have had an amazing support team; my husband, doula, midwife and nurse at our birth center. I was disappointed and heartbroken that our son was no longer able to attend as we had planned. However, I was very grateful for the beautiful experience we had. She has been such a blessing and is full of Joy! Diana made her debut at 21.5" and 10LB, 10OZ.
During these months, I have supported families virtually (previously planned due to baby Nesspor, not Rona) and in person. Now more than ever I have seen an increase in the need of having additional support for families. Not because you cannot do it on your own, not at all. You are powerful and made for this! However, things have changed quickly, too quickly, and having a doula on your side can be a game changer throughout pregnancy when your prenatal visits have been shortened and made less personal, when staff at hospitals are limited and more hands off, and during a very unique postpartum journey. You are never alone, not should you be unless you desire to be.
I am excited to continue to support families in 2021 and see their strength shine through!
I was so thankful to be invited to speak at an info night at McCormick Chiropractic Center in Pottstown this past month. It was a wonderful time to connect with expectant parents, future parents, and expectant grandparents!
We were able to do a mini session of breaking down fears that can greatly impact birth and postpartum as well as discussing the ways a doula can transform ones' pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. So how can I support you and transform yours and your partner's journey?
Prenatally, I help you learn all of your options for your birth and how to utilize your BRAIN (benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, and doing nothing) to make your decisions. During this time my goal is for you to become empowered through education. I am your trusted go-to resource for informative and emotional support. We learn, plan, and practice your birth. Just like a marathon, you need to know the course and practice to be best prepared. We also do postpartum planning to best prepare you for your fourth trimester. Our prenatal meetings are often a customized blend of private childbirth education, breastfeeding education, and postpartum planning.
During your labor and birth, I watch the clock so you don't get caught up on what time it is or how long it's been. I'm here to remind you of your plans and offer suggestions throughout your labor. I am your coach and support to your other support persons. I have resources available to ease your labor. I encourage you, ground you, and help you refocus. I help you maintain the environment you want for your birth and get you whatever you need so you can focus on you.and stay in your labor world.
After your blessing(s) is born and the world's attention shifts from you to them, my focus stays on you. I offer you feeding support and resources. I bring you a meal and hold you and baby. We discuss the variations of normal while discussing how you're settling into this new role (even as a mother of many). We prepare for the days, weeks, and months ahead. But it doesn't just drop off and end. I am only ever a phone call or text away. I continue to follow up with you to see how you're *really* doing and continue to offer resources that you need along your journey.
2019 has been amazing and I am so thankful for the families that have allowed me to support them and care for them. You are truly amazing. It's incredible to see such strong women labor, birth, and become mothers while their husbands have love, supported, and been by their side as they themselves become fathers.
We are expecting our third baby, a little girl, in the spring of 2020! We are so excited and it is amazing to me how differently I have gone about my journey this time around. When you know more, you do more. As for planning and preparation... I immediately called local midwives and my local birth center to check availability and weigh our options. Next I contacted a good friend and doula to book her services. Though I am a doula and this is my third birth, I know pregnancy and birth is unpredictable and I cannot be my own doula in that moment- I need to be mom and be in my birth zone. I'm so excited to do my prenatal with her, my husband, and our 6 y.o. son who wants to be present and involved. I am much more conscious of my lifestyle choices (more protein and less carbs!), my posture, and mindset this time around as well. I am mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually preparing for this birth each and every day- this is incredibly powerful! A beautiful thing as a doula this time around is how many more options I am aware of that are available to me prenatally, throughout labor and birth, and postpartum. This is something I love teaching my clients prenatally- know ALL of your options and make informed choices that are best for you and your family. Choose a place of birth and care team that is going to respect and care for you based on what you want and need, one that will hear what you say. When you do this, you don't have to fight for what you want.
As for my business, I am excepting clients up through the end of February and will be taking a break until at least August. In the meantime, I have wonderful doulas near Boyertown that I can point you to! I'm excited to figure out where I will be going with my business after our little one makes their debut. In the next few weeks/months, I'll get a better idea of how I will continue my labor support as a doula and where I will be expanding on offering childbirth and breastfeeding education (group/private classes).
Until next time!
Birth plans. To create one or not to create one. That is the question.
It's not a rigid laundry list of items to cross off. No, not at all! Creating your birth plan is much more. It's about the preparation and the foreknowledge. This is a time to learn all of your option, research evidence-based information to help you make your decisions, and decide what is best for you and your family. This is a time to mentally walk through your labor, birth, and immediate postpartum and decide what you want it to look like. This is a starting point to prepare. After you decide, go back and re-decide, and maybe go back again after more research and thinking... Use your BRAIN (benefit, risk, alternatives, intuition, nothing) analysis. You get to start preparing and practicing. This is labor, birth, and beyond. You don't want to practice while you're running a 5K, you want to train and prepare. Now that you have your birth plan created, this is the time to work with your doula and learn what it's going to take, practice labor, and practice techniques with your doula and support person(s), should you have one.
What if I'm afraid that everything will go awry if I started planning my birth to be a certain way?
Isn't this setting me up to be disappointed if things don't go the way I plan?
These, and many other questions are very valid and have very real feelings and concerns behind them. Again, creating a birth plan is not a laundry list. This is the opportunity to become fully informed of all of your options. Meaning that if birth is taking a few turns you weren't anticipating, you are still ready for what is happening and able to make informed decisions that are best for you and baby. You are able to reassess your birth using your BRAIN (benefit, risk, analysis, intuition, and nothing) analysis and all of the information you've prepared with to make the next decision for your birth without feeling pressured and ill-informed and ill-prepared.
You are included. You have a voice. You are informed. You are empowered. You are supported.
Birth is a labyrinth and there are many paths to my baby. Being prepared with a birthplan helps you navigate your way through your birth labyrinth while being informed and empowered.
Birth excites me. Women feeling empowered about their maternal journey and decisions excites me. My hope as your doula is that you feel informed, empowered, and supported. I want you to feel and know this after you walk away from each meeting, every communication we have, throughout your labor and birth, and beyond in your 4th trimester and parenting. You deserve to be informed of all of your options that are available to you so that you can not just give informed consent, but so that you make an informed decision in all aspects of your journey. I want you to carry that information and be empowered from our meetings and conversations so that you can proudly advocate for yourself and your baby(ies) best maternal options and experiences. Lastly, I want you to be supported. I want you to know that I am in your corner cheering you on, meeting you where you're at, and listening to you. Physically, I am there for a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, hands-on birth support.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog section. I'm going to write a little bit about who I am so you can get to know me while you're on my site. My name is Hannah, I am the doula and founder behind Transcend Maternal Services! I love Jesus and that really drives my love and care for everyone around me and all that I do. I am a wife to an amazing husband, Bob. We've been married for 7 years now, together for almost 13 years which is crazy to think. I'm so thankful for him and proud to be his wife, we've truly grown together through so many things over the years. I am also a mother to two wonderful, crazy boys. My oldest is 5 and my youngest is 1.5, but that doesn't stop him from keeping up with his big brother. I'm a homeschooling Momma with a teaching background in elementary education. This has been a wonderful and challenging experience for myself and him, we both have grown so much. I am part of a women's ministry and that has been a huge blessing over the past few years. The ministry and the relationships that I have made from it have really helped build who I am as a woman and has helped me find my village which was (and is) amazing as a young mom. I wear many hats, but I will end with being a doula. I love supporting and informing women. The more I live in the "birth world" and learn, the more passionate I have become to inform women of all of their options, help them find the power they have within themselves to be empowered, and to support them through their journey through pregnancy, labor, birth, and beyond! There are so many intimate moments that I am blessed to be a part of and it is truly amazing.
Until next time...
It's crazy to me that there was a time when I did not know what a doula was. A doula in it's simplest and straight-to-the-point terms is informational, emotional, and physical support. But oh my! It is so much more. Pregnancy and birth are transformative. This is a journey, a beautiful one at that. It has many intimate moments that lay near and dear to your heart that are too tender to share and other parts that you want to shout from the roof top. Who you go through this journey with is so important. They take the roles of supporting you through everything- the good and the bad, the easy and the hard. As your doula, I am your go-to person who isn't going to think you're weird or crazy for having discomfort (or utter pain) in "that place" or having off the wall dreams. When you don't fully understand something, I'm here to give you evidence-based information to best make your decisions and so much more. During labor, I am there to support you in keeping in line with your birth goals as much as possible. I am able to provide you with the risks and benefits of different scenarios, provide suggestions for positional changes, and remind you of other information we've discussed prenatally so you have all of your options provided. I offer hands-on physical techniques for pain relief and an encouraging voice to coach you on and remind you of the power you have inside. I am here to well up with pride of how well you've done and gush over your perfect little one. I am here to support you with breastfeeding support, if this is what you choose, right after baby has arrived so you can treasure that golden hour. I am there to get you an amazing meal to nourish you body with after labor. I am there for you when you are settling in at home and your milk has come in and you need suggestions with breastfeeding after the first couple days and beyond (as it changes constantly). I am here to check in on you and your baby- to see how things are going (mentally, emotionally, and physically) the first few days, weeks, and months. I am here to support and love you through your unique, beautiful, and powerful journey.
Have you noticed that there is a great need when it comes to information and support surrounding fertility, pregnancy, and parenting? This is why we see all these blogs, groups, meet and greets for local parents, and so much more. What is a parent to do when they need support? They need evidence-based information, they need support- emotionally and physically. As humans, we are not meant to do this thing called "life" alone. We most definitely are not meant to do this thing called "parenting" alone. The need is support- informationally, emotionally, and physically. The need is a doula.
Here's a little background to my journey and passion...
Before I had gotten pregnant my first time, I knew that I really didn't know anything about pregnancy, birth, and parenting. I knew what was mainstream, but I wanted something different. So, my immersion into everything maternal began. I was blown away. I studied everything from fertility and the best ways to conceive, anything pregnancy related, vaccines, breastfeeding, baby wearing, parenting styles, and more.
With my first son, I had chosen to go with an all natural (no pain meds, vaginal) water birth at birth center with midwives. It was going to be great! Looking back, I was so naive. I had assumed that I could fully rely on my midwives because well, hey, they're midwives, of course they are going to inform a mother (first time especially) of all of their options. I expected them to walk me through my pregnancy and labor and support me to maintain my hopes and dreams for my labor. I was wrong. They were kind, helpful with basics, and all... But they did not teach me what I needed to know before labor. I had NO idea what labor looked like, how it would feel, how the stages progress. During labor, they were mostly absent besides necessary monitoring and I had no idea how to labor! My son was posterior (OP) and no one discussed how that could affect labor, what to do to turn him, or how to labor with an OP baby. My early labor was maybe 15 hours long. My active labor was a total of 22 hours! *My poor husband was a rockstar with constant physical support!* I had no idea that when I stopped progressing during active labor that it was called labor arrest and there were ways to kickstart progression again or suggestions to handle it. At my 16th hour of active labor, I made the decision to transfer to the hospital which is when the cascade effect ensued of an epidural, Pitocin, concerns with baby (likely from those interventions), an 3rd degree episiotomy, and forceps. Due to concerns, my baby was rushed to the NICU after briefly holding him. Thankfully, he had no issues, but he remained in the NICU for about 36 hours, away from us. This affected my birth experience, our bond, and breastfeeding. After I was able to hold him, it was already 2 hours later and I almost dropped him because I had passed out. Looking back, it was a rather traumatic series of events for me. But somehow, this was viewed as normal to some extent with those around me. This was a typical birth, whereas my planned birth was the abnormal one.
After this, I continued to immerse myself more into pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding. I became the go-to for friends and family when they had questions and concerns. I loved it.
With my second son, we found a new birth center that I truly cannot suggest more. They were INCREDIBLE. All the midwives were informative, they cared, and they were there for whatever I needed. Between everything I had prepared myself and my husband with alongside incredible support at my birth center, I had the empowering birth I had dreamed of. Labor was intense, as labor goes, but I felt secure, informed, aware, and prepared for anything. Immediately following labor, I had my second son on my chest, he began to nurse with twenty minutes, and we all bonded. I was home 12 hours later and began the new journey of a mom of two boys.
My love of pregnancy, birth, and parenting managed to continue more in-depth which was when I discovered what a doula was! How on Earth had I not known what a doula was and how they could have helped me?!
The need was for a doula. My passion was being a doula (I hadn't even known there was a thing!). So my journey began..
I stumbled (quite honestly, it was perfect place at the right time) upon an incredible training opportunity to become a certified Maternal Support Practitioner (MSP), Doula. My training prepared me to be a fertility, birth, and postpartum doula. I was blown away by all of the resources, information, and support that I received and that I could now provide. I threw myself in full force and could not be more thankful. My passion of helping parents through pregnancy, birth, and beyond was going to be used in a much greater way than I could have imagined. As I continue my journey, my next leg of education includes Breastfeeding Education, Childbirth Education, and Diverse Families. Here's to the journey- it may not always be what we expected, but it can truly be beautiful!
Founder of Transcend Maternal Services, Wife, Mommy, Homeschooling Momma, and Doula!