As a mom to be you are getting a lot of advice from so many moms who have gone through this big journey. There is so much information coming at your from all the moms you know it is hard to know what to listen to. That’s why we wanted to go out of our way to ask different “birth related” professionals a few questions in the hopes to help some of you beautiful expecting mothers out there.
We caught up with the lovely Michelle Tyliakos; she is a birth and postpartum Doula. She works hard to help women locally and around the world plan for intervention free births so that they can transition into Motherhood powerfully with confidence and pride. We loved being able to catch up with her and we hope her perspective helps you prepare for birth.
1) As a Doula what do you love most about what you provide your clients?
Oh my gosh, where do I start! From prenatal visits and the inevitable ‘aha’ moments, to the part where I see families making empowered choices. From Fathers who just want a healthy baby and partner to seeing them so full of love and admiration for the mother of their baby. From Women who want to give up, to hearing them roar before they birth their baby. And after baby is born, parents not feeling confident in much to “we got this” When I get to share what I know, all these things align and I realize I just have the most amazing job!
2) When it comes to preparing for the “big day” what are your “must have” suggestions?
Must haves are not so much about things… but a mindset. Women must be clear on how they want to birth, yes things can change, but having the intention and a birth team that aligns with her desires will increase the chances of her experiencing the birth she wants. A birth team maybe just a Midwife. Or maybe it includes her partner, a Doula, an Acupuncturist, her Primary Care Provider and her sister. If she feels supported going into her birthing time she will spend less time doubting herself. If everyone is on the same page as the birthing woman BEFORE birth begins.
3) What do you wish pregnant moms would do more of during their pregnancy?
Improve her nutritional intake. All of us, no matter how healthy we are can make adjustments and improvements. Sometimes it can be more challenging with nausea, loss of appetite or cravings, but we can take small steps to improve our digestion and intake. This isn’t about weight gain or eating ‘bad’ foods’, but about increasing energy and one of the single most important changes we can make to improve birth outcomes!. Our blood volume also doubles during pregnancy and eating well will contribute to an overall feeling of wellness.
I also wish more women would become knowledgeable about Informed consent. Informed consent when we give permission to a procedure after we have been presented the purpose, benefits, risks and alternatives. Learn about screenings, tests, interventions and evidence based information. We are offered a variety of recommendations during pregnancy and birth and it up to us to decide if we want to accept the procedure. Some recommendations feel mandatory and when we know that we have choice, we can feel as though we are an active participant in our pregnancy and birth and empowered with our choices. We all have the right to decline any procedure that doesn’t feel right or good to us. We have the right to refuse or withdraw consent at any time. Mothers are the professionals of their babies and their bodies!
4) What is your advice for pregnant mothers about to face labour?
Your birthing time is a normal phase of a woman’s life cycle. Once women share the news of their pregnancy they start getting advice from everyone including friends, the accountant and grocery clerk. If you find that you are in the midst of someone sharing their ‘horror’ story, instead of trying not to listen, ask them what they learnt from the experience. When we find out what other women truly faced and how they overcame it, is where the lesson is for us. Then, surround yourself with women who birthed the way you are planning to birth. (think home, hospital, water-birth, medicated, non medicated, planned cesarean etc) Also, search for positive stories, blogs, images and videos to help acquaint yourself with what birth can look, sound, and feel like.
5) After baby is born, and from a Doula’s perspective, what are things all moms should do?
REST! Gloria Lemay shares that all women should plan a Babymoon or 24 hour cure. Mom and baby are skin to skin (Mom in her panties and baby is in diaper)and they lay in bed for a whole day. ‘Oh yea, that would be nice” you say?! This should be considered a basic and necessary need after achieving what a mother has accomplished! There are many cultures that allow mom to rest in the days and weeks after birth. Start building your village early so that this can be part of your after birth plan. What all this rest allows for is Mom and Baby to establish a good breastfeeding relationship , regulate baby’s temperature, and they get a beautiful chance to get to know each other. . It can also help with postpartum bleeding. This practice can be done at anytime there is illness, breastfeeding issues or if Mom is feeling run down. It’s her job to care for and feed her baby, it’s her partner’s job (if she has one) is to care for her.
Thank you so much again Michelle for giving us your pearls of wisdom!