How do you introduce yourself?
I am an American doula with two Israeli sisters. My sisters and I grew up separately (we have the same mom, but different fathers), so now we are getting closer as adults.
I co-wrote a book about doulas to be published in 2009 by Bantam Books, who publishes 'Ina May's Guide to Childbirth' and 'Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom.'
How did you become a Doula?
13 years ago, I started working for www.alace.org, the oldest doula organization in the U.S. At the time, the most important thing to me was to help women learn about their bodies, and be empowered by this.
I still feel this way, as you know from attending my lecture '12 Alternatives to a Vaginal Exam,' about ways that women and doulas can assess labor by observing the woman's body and emotions, with no vaginal exams.
If not too picky: What does your name mean and how did you get it?
Ananda is a Sanskrit (Indian) name that means 'bliss.' My parents were interested in yoga for 40 years, which is how they learned this name and gave it to me.
What is th birth dance?
My email address is email@example.com. I have been a dancer almost as long as a doula. My favorite dance is Salsa.
Some of the Israeli doulas wanted to talk with me further -- please email me. Or if you wish to know when my book comes out, please tell me your email address.
What is your agenda?
What kind of births did you have?
Most doulas have given birth -- but I never have.
My mother did not have support when she had babies, and this probably influenced me to become a doula. Although decades have passed since she gave birth, today's mothers still do not have enough support.
What kind of birth have you accompanied?
I have been to many kinds, but I am always learning. My current passion is allowing the woman to 'labor down the baby' at ten centimeters, which means to wait and not start pushing forcefully.
I attended a birth this year where the mother had a cesarean during second stage. The midwife recommended early pushing, but the doctor who did the cesarean said this caused the baby to become stuck in an occiput transverse position.
Research shows that when forceful 'early pushing' is avoided, there are less cesareans. Now I encourage my clients to ask for 2 hours of laboring down the baby in their birth plans.
What is you book main purpose?
The title of my book is The Doula Guide To Birth (though that is being finalized and may change).
It is a book for pregnant women to help them prepare for birth using approaches that doulas have been developing in recent years.
Your personal ambitions?
I hope to become a mother, either by birth, adoption, or being a stepmother. I hope to become closer to my Israeli sisters and other relatives.
What kind of future do you see to the doula profession?
I believe using more doulas is the most important step to improve maternity care. We need more midwives, too, but we can create doulas faster than midwives.
In the U.S., we are working on creating an 'insurance code' for doulas. This will probably be important to making it easier to pay for doulas, and making doulas more common.
If you could have changed 1/2/3 thinks in the public opinion about birth what would it be?
The cesarean rate is at an all-time high in many countries. In the U.S. it is 1 in 3 births. I wish all mothers would ask their doctor, midwife, or hospital what their cesarean rate is. I wish the general public would realize these routine cesareans are a public health problem that needs to be changed.
Same relating birth professionals?
Is there an other practical chapter You would like to share (such as the excellent 12 alternatives to vaginal exams?).
A New Look At Pushing
© Ananda Lowe 2008 – Do Not Reproduce
One of the best ways toprepare for pushing is to pay attention to the way your bowel movements work andfeel during pregnancy.
When you are lying down in bedand then get up, is that sometimes followed by the urge to have a bowelmovement? Gravity is one of the most basic forces involved in elimination, andnoticing the effect of your position may give you a preview of how gravity willwork in your favor during labor.
If it's typical for you toactively bear down during bowel movements, try using no added force whatsoever. Practice this every time you use the bathroom. Gravity works along withperistalsis (your body’s automaticmovement of matter through your digestive system), and with the nerves aroundyour vagina and rectum known as stretch receptors. The pressure of stool movingdown activates the stretch receptors to make you push automatically.
A similar action happens inlabor, known asFerguson’s reflex. The baby’s headmoves down naturally and triggers automatic pushing, without added force beingnecessary. Allowing this to happen on its own is referred to aslaboring down the baby; after the cervixhas fully opened, it can take minutes or hours before it actually begins. Thiswaiting time can be essential for successfully pushing out thebaby.
Although many caregiversinstruct women to start pushing even if they do not yet feel the urge, this willbe about as effective as if you try to push out a bowel movement that is toohigh up; your body is just not able to perform this yet. And according tostudies inNursing Researchand thejournalObstetrics and Gynecology, early pushing is more likely to drain the mother of energy, cause fetaldistress, and lead to the use of forceps or a cesareansection.
While practicing on thetoilet, if you feel you must strain or you will not be able to have a bowelmovement, take a break and wait until later in the day when the urge to pushfeels stronger. Because pregnancy can be a time of increased constipation, youmay have the perfect opportunity to try this out!
Also notice that the urge topush can be stronger or weaker at different times, within the course of the samebowel movement. During birth, your pushing urges will also vary in strength. Your body will direct you as to how much or how little effort is needed for eachpush.
Even though the intention ofaggressive pushing in labor is to speed up the process, studies show it may havetheoppositeeffect and take longer. Heavy straining may cause the front wall of the vagina to be pushed down aheadof the baby. In this situation, the vaginal tissues may become “bunched up” andactually block or slow the descent of the baby, as well as damage the area wherethe vagina attaches to the bladder.
Bearing down forcefully duringbowel movements, urination, and birth has been linked to problems such ashemorrhoids and bladder incontinence. In the case of childbirth, forcefulpushing has even been associated with eight times the chance ofprolapse; or the bladder, uterus orvagina coming out of the body. This may not become evident until later in life, but learning habits of gentle pushing now can help protect your organs fromweakening for years to come.