The Most Important Decisions You’ll Make: Careprovider

choosing and OB or midwife

It wasn’t until I became a doula ( after my third child) that I realized what were the two most important decisions I had made during my pregnancies.

 Who I chose as my care provider, and where I chose to give birth.

Your birth will affect you and your child for the rest of your lives. The way you give birth and most importantly the way you feel about it afterward will set you up for motherhood. The person who cares for you during pregnancy and delivery and the environment you give birth in will affect this, more so than anything else. The better the support, and the more comfortable you are in your environment means greater safety for you and your baby. (A Doula’s consistent support affects this as well, as evidenced by the studies in my prior post on Doula support.)

“Early in your pregnancy, it is important to make thoughtful decisions about who will be your caregiver and where you plan to give birth.” (

Childbirth Connection says these major decisions can influence the following:

  • the care that you receive and the effects of that care
  • the quality of your relationship with your main and other caregivers
  • the amount of information you receive
  • the choices and options you will have, particularly during your labor and birth
  • the degree to which you are involved with decisions about your care.

Ultimately it will also shape your entire experience in some of the following ways:

For the majority of low-risk women, you have options in and out of the hospital. There are many types of care providers: OB’s, Family Practice Doctors, Midwives, Nurse- Midwives.

It’s important to interview your care provider and see if you like their philosophy of birth, model of care , and style of practice. You may also have to take into consideration your insurance and financial situation.

Prep for Birth has an excellent article on choosing a care provider that has a list of questions to bring to an interview. She suggests taking a self-inventory after an interview; measure how the provider made you feel, how willing they were to answer your questions, and whether you and your partner liked the answers to those questions. If you don’t like the way you relate to someone during an interview or prenatal care, chances are you won’t like it during labor. Pay close attention to your intuition and honor it.

On that note, if you find late in the game that you don’t work well with your care provider, it’s never too late to hire a new one! You are your own advocate. Pursue the support you want and need.

Next month we’ll address Location! Location! Location!


More resources:

Preparing For Birth

Picking Your Care Provider – Interview Questions

Childbirth Connection

Choosing a Caregive: What you need to know.

Consider interviewing one of these experienced Grand rapids midwives:

Yolanda Visser CNM,CM

Birthsong Midwifery

Susan Wente CNM

Profile: Midwife Extrordinaire

Laura Slater, Midwife

MI Homebirth







What is a Doula?

what is a doula

Many in the natural parenting community may have stumbled upon this word at some point in their parenting journey. Modern day doulas are still a fairly new trend and I still get asked all the time, “What is a doula?”

The word doula comes from greek – it was used to refer to a woman’s close, personal servant.

Today the word doula refers to a professional labor support person. Doulas provide informational, emotional and physical support during pregnancy, the birth, and beyond. There are birth doulas that focus primarily on pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum. There are also Postpartum Doulas that specialize in supporting the newborn and family. Many doulas are trained for all of the above!

Doulas of North America defines a doula as the following:

A Birth Doula

  • Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
  • Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
  • Stays with the woman throughout the labor
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
  • Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience
  • Allows the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level

The support of a doula provides many benefits to the mother, and her support persons. Statistically women who have a doula experience the following during birth:

  • Shorter labors
  • Less interventions, including induction,augmentation and assisted deliveries
  • Lower Cesarean Section Rates
  • More successful breastfeeding experience
  • Less need for pain mediation
  • More positive feelings associated with their birth experience
  • Less risk of postpartum mental disorders
  • More confidence as a parent

Any woman can benefit from the support of a doula. Even if you plan to have an epidural A.S.A.P., have an elective cesarean scheduled, or if things don’t go as planned. There is a  terrific article on the International Cesarean Awareness Network blog about doula support during a planned cesarean.

If you would like to know more about doulas, or meet some in our community the West Michigan Doulas Co-op  holds a Materni-tea the first Saturday of the month at 1pm and the third Thursday of the month at 6pm at Hopscotch Childrens Store. You can even check the growing list of local doulas here on GRNL’s local doula directory.

More resources from the DONA website:

  • Lying in, Canadian Medical Association Journal, September 17, 2002


Blog photo credit Jennifer Holshoe Photography


Pregnancy “Survival” Tips

Maïla en quatre temps / Maïla in four steps

photo credit: khaledelhage

Pregnancy for many is a beautiful time of growing a brand new baby. As the belly extends to the perfect size for baby, mama ready for the birth, and the family’s excitement build to welcome the new arrival, sometimes mama also has to deal with some “uncomfortable-ness”.

Advice from friends and family, websites and magazines, even strangers on the street are never far away. Some welcomed, some not. We each have our own tips and tricks that get us through pregnancy feeling better more often than not, so I hope you’ll join in and leave your helpful tips in the comment!

My “Bag O’ Tips”

First Trimester:

  • Stay away from refined sugar and refined flours. Both deplete your body of much needed nutrients, especially the B vitamins!
  • Take extra B-complex vitamins. Helps with morning sickness as well as with energy.
  • Keep hydrated
  • Eat every couple of hours
  • Do your kegel’s
  • Exercise when you can, even if it’s just a walk
  • Sleep and rest when you can
  • Try to keep life as unstressful as possible

Second Trimester:

  • Sleep
  • Make sure you’re eating well to keep up strength
  • Do your kegel’s 😉
  • Continue exercising to support the growing belly – yoga is wonderful for pregnancy
  • Sleeping with a vaporizer on can help with congestion. That and an extra pillow to prop your head up if needed.

Third Trimester

  • More important to do you kegel’s a few times a day!
  • Start pelvic rocking (cat and cow position in yoga, or basically down on all fours and lift and lower your belly) This takes the weight of the uterus off your back (which feels soooo good), helps baby into a better position, and strengthens muscles for birthing
  • Drink a couple of glasses of red raspberry leaf tea a day. Tones the uterus!
  • Do squats. Helps strengthen and tone legs and back for birth. Personally I do these with an exercise ball against the wall, otherwise I fall over.
  • Sitting on an exercise ball also helps strengthen core muscles (don’t expect to see abs, it just helps a little!) and is sometimes more comfy than a chair.
  • Sleep with an extra pillow between the leg. Helps prop your knee up so as not to compress the pelvic area.
  • Try not to bend at the waist, use your knees and squat when you need to pick something up.
  • Don’t cross your legs. As unladylike as it seems, this can actually cause pain in you pelvis. Think about it, your hips and ligaments are now spreading to make room for baby, why would you want to try and pull it all back together?
  • Sit cross-legged (Indian Style) and lean forward slightly. This helps take the weight of your uterus off your back and allows it to freely fall forward. So much more comfortable than when you lean back on a couch!
  • Sleep when possible. Pregnancy is a great excuse for a nap.
  • Prepare for birth using your method of choice – I like the Bradley Method myself.
Have you found anything particular to help you relieve pregnancy aches and pains?

This post was originally published at Naturally Knocked Up on Feb 10, 2009

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Dealing With the Discomforts of Pregnancy

natural pregnancy

photo credit: meaganjean


For some lucky women pregnancy is a breeze and they wouldn’t even know they were pregnant if they didn’t have a cute little belly with a squirming baby kicking them from the inside. For most of us though, there are some discomforts along the way. Starting with fatigue and morning sickness and ending with heartburn and aching joints, the majority of women experience at least some uncomfortable times throughout pregnancy. Today we’ll talk about some of the more common discomforts and ways we can try to reduce or eliminate their effects on our bodies.

Morning Sickness

Feeling queasy is one of the first signs of pregnancy for many women. Hormones are surging at this point to sustain the pregnancy and those raging hormones send many women running for the toilet, especially in the morning, but lasting all day and night for others. This is generally a good sign of a healthy pregnancy, albeit not very fun to deal with. Many women find that keeping crackers or some other bland snack next their bed and eating a little bit before getting up can help settle a queasy stomach. Eating as much protein as you can handle can help to keep blood sugars balanced which can also help with nausea. It’s important to eat, so if something sounds good, go for it, even if it’s not the most healthy. The baby will take everything it needs from you, so as long as you were healthy before getting pregnant you should have ample stores of nutrients available for your growing baby. If you are experiencing extreme morning sickness be sure to consult your doctor, there are some prescription anti-nausea medications that are considered safe in pregnancy and are necessary in extreme cases.


Fatigue is another common early pregnancy symptom. Again, your body is going through a lot of changes to sustain the pregnancy this can take a toll on your stamina. Eating lots of protein and fresh fruits and veggies, along with taking a good prenatal vitamin can help combat some of the fatigue. However, sleeping or resting whenever you can is going to be your best choice.


As you move later into pregnancy, digestion slows, hormones continue to wreak havoc, and space in your abdomen becomes a premium. For many women this can lead to heart burn or acid reflux. There are a few things you can do to help prevent heartburn including:

  • Probiotics in the way of capsules, yogurt or kefir help some women with the pain of heartburn. Papaya enzyme is another effective heartburn remedy that is safe during pregnancy.
  • Papaya contains digestive enzymes and can be taken in a variety of ways – fresh, dried, canned, juiced, or even in tablet form. Eat a small amount of it after meals to aid digestion and discourage heartburn.
  • Drinking anise or fennel seed tea after meals will also aid digestion.
  • Eating small meals frequently instead of your normal three meals a day routine.
  • Chew lots and eat slowly.
  • Don’t drink while eating (though it is important to then drink plenty between meals).
  • Pay attention to which foods seem to produce heartburn and eliminate them from your diet. Common triggers include coffee, tea, spicy food, tomatoes, chocolate, etc.
  • Also give yourself time to digest your food after eating before lying down – take a walk or play with your older children for a bit.

If you’re like me, even all these preventative methods may fail. A couple more pregnancy heartburn remedies to try if you still find yourself suffering from heartburn include eating raw almonds, chewed slowly and finally slippery elm. You can mix slippery elm powder with honey or take it in the form of throat lozenges that can be found in most health food stores.  The slippery elm bark soothes the stomach, neutralizes stomach acids and helps absorb intestinal gas. Ultimately, at least for me, giving birth is the only thing that has been a long-term remedy for my heartburn, but hopefully one of these suggestions will help you!

Low Back Pain

As our bellies get bigger and your center of gravity shifts forward, pressure is put on the lower back causing pain and discomfort. Chiropractic adjustments are my first suggestion as they generally seem to be the most effective and provide longer term relief than anything else. Stretching is always beneficial, whether you are in pain or not. Getting on your hands and knees and rocking your pelvis back and forth can help to relax the joints and is also good for getting and keeping the baby in a good anterior position. Many women find relief from pre-natal yoga which can have more benefits than just pain relief for both mother and baby. Sleep with a pillow between your legs can help to keep your hips aligned and take pressure off of your aching back. If none of these techniques are giving you any type of relief you may need to find a pregnancy belt to give your body some extra support until after delivery.

Thankfully all of these discomforts should resolve shortly after birth and seeing that sweet baby will make everything you go through so worth it!

How do you deal with the discomforts of pregnancy?