Hello, friends!
 
It’s almost springtime!  The sun is shining, and it’s feeling a little like a promise of warm summer days to come! I’m looking forward to gardening and playing outdoors more, and wanted to share some of the things that are “blooming” with Alaska Birth Doula.

It has been a busy winter, with 16 adorable little doula babies born in the last few months.  I am beyond honored to have been included in these pregnancies and births!  Thank you so much for putting your trust in me as your doula!

I’m still accepting birth doula clients for summer due dates, but spots are limited, so contact me soon if you’re considering hiring a doula for your upcoming birth! March and April are booked, and I have very limited space left for June, July and October.  Postpartum services are still available for all summer months, with limited availability in April and May.

Do you follow me on Facebook? And Instagram?  I’d love to keep in touch!

GentleBirth Shanna Switzer Alaska Anchorage Childbirth Class

 

Did you know?

As Alaska’s first and only Certified GentleBirth Instructor, I am thrilled to bring this incredible and innovative childbirth education program to our community!  

The GentleBirth philosophy combines brain training techniques including Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Sports Psychology, and Medical Hypnosis, along with tools, information and techniques to prepare for the most positive birth possible.

Workshops are held one weekend a month, or you can always contact me for more information or to arrange a class around your schedule!  Register or find more information here.


Childbirth Class Anchorage Alaska Shanna Switzer Doula

 

In addition to monthly GentleBirth Workshops, I am also hosting weekly Childbirth Classes on a rotating schedule!

These informative, interactive, fun classes and meetups are held every Thursday evening at One Family Community Birth Center. Childbirth education to fit your budget and your life – only $25/class, your birth support person or partner is free! You can join these classes at any time, and take them in any order.   

Meetups are FREE and all are welcome!  Bring those bellies and babies!

Shanna Birth Doula Childbirth Educator Anchorage Alaska Birth Collective

Are you following the Alaska Birth Collective?

From preconception to postpartum and beyond, we’re making connections between caregivers and community. Recent events have included brunch, Pilates for pelvic floor health, Babywearing 101, and much more!

We love this community and we want to build it!  

You can follow Alaska Birth Collective on Facebook And Instagram


Placenta Encapsulation Anchorage Shanna Switzer Doula

 

Book any Placenta Encapsulationservice before the end of April and you’ll receive a $25 discount on your package price, no matter your due date!  

Reported benefits of placenta encapsulation include more energy, higher milk production, lower levels of anxiety, depression, and hormonal challenges after birth, and mood stabilization.  You only get one chance at preserving the benefits of your placenta, contact me for more information or to take advantage of this special deal!

Childbirth Prep Class Private Baby Shanna Doula

 

Have you ever wished you could just sit down with a knowledgeable friend and get the nitty gritty on all things birth?  Someone who will tell you all of the ins and outs of hospital procedures, or help you develop your birth plan or pack you birth bag?  

Maybe you can’t find time in your busy days to take a childbirth class with your partner? Or perhaps someone gifted you a baby wrap, but you have no clue what to do with that insanely long piece of fabric, and YouTube isn’t helping one bit?

Do you want to know how your body might really feel and look, and how to prepare for the physical and emotional challenges of new motherhood?

Private Birth and Baby Prep Sessions are designed with you in mind. A 3-hour visit with me, a professional, certified doula and childbirth instructor, to talk about you and your baby and all things pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum.  I offer a discounted rate of $99 if you’d like to visit in my cozy home office in Eagle River, or for $125 I’ll bring all of my supplies, educational materials, and comfort items for labor to you and your birth support or partner in the comfort of your home.  

These sessions include a full childbirth curriculum plus a workbook that is yours to keep, plus continuing support via phone, email and text during your pregnancy and for as long as you need after your baby arrives.  Let me know how I can support you for your best birth!

Warm wishes,

Shanna

Anchorage Doula Childbirth Class Educator Placenta Shanna Switzer

 


 

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 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?  

 

Anchorage Doula Alaska Birth Postpartum Childbirth Class Placenta Encapsulation

 

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.

  

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. 

 “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.
 

Do you know the doula?
Anchorage Doula Alaska Birth Postpartum Childbirth Class Placenta Encapsulation

Hi 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.  

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.