Doulas offer an invaluable service to mothers and their families by providing educational, physical and emotional support during labor. Doulas are trained professionals who will help a mother to advocate for her wishes during childbirth and beyond. Most doulas work on a sliding scale and some flexible spending accounts reimburse for their services.

My birth story reads like an advertisement for why doulas make all the difference during labor…

A few minutes after I was in the OB screening room I saw Whitney.  She walked up to me, held my hand, and rubbed my forehead with her thumb.  The instant I felt her thumb between my eyes I relaxed for the first time since 2:00 a.m.  Even though my contractions were getting stronger, they were a million times easier to handle with Whitney teaching me how to ride them like a wave and blow them away. 

Whitney immediately started advocating for me and our birth plan when the nurse in the screening room wasn’t very pleasant.

During labor, Whitney kept encouraging me to change positions.  I would sometimes respond with “no” or “after a few more contractions” because I was afraid of the pain, but she was always right and I always felt better after I followed her advice. 

Whitney kept pressure on my lower back and told me to listen to what my body was telling me to do.  It wasn’t like in the movies where someone tells you to push and then everyone counts to ten; I just completely let go mentally and gave my body control once more and it was magical.  My body knew exactly what to do. 

It truly was a magical and empowering experience! While I know my husband and mother were there to support me I can’t imagine how things would’ve gone without Whitney, my incredible doula, helping me through an unmedicated birth. Whitey believed in me and my body well before I did!

I get the apprehension many have about inviting a stranger into one of the most vulnerable (read: naked) and emotional experiences of their lives, however, the services doulas provide are invaluable. You can read more about what they are here – Do I Need A Doula? 

I started this list of size friendly doulas to help connect plus size women to experienced doulas. Doulas who have made it clear that they will support someone and not judge them because of their size! Click below to find a doula in your area or to join the list if you are a size friendly doula.

Below you’ll hear from one of those size friendly doulas regarding why they are passionate about their job. 

I began training as a doula in 1995 but then had 3 more kiddos and one has special needs so my doula-ing was put on the back burner. I was privileged to serve a few friends each year and that kept me in the loop and fueled my passion for helping mommas rock their births!

In 2011 we felt our family of seven could handle me starting a formal doula business. It turned out to be a very busy first year, with 21 births and half as many already scheduled for 2012!  I’ve been blessed to attend such a variety of births… from cesarean births, induced, medicated, non medicated, home birth, stillbirth, relinquishing mom, premature, high risk and birth center. Funny, I don’t feel the need to add “plus size” to the list, although I’ve supported many plus size mommas. Sure, some of my mommas have had higher weights than others, but I honestly haven’t considered it to be a defining criteria. Are there issues to address? Yes. But there are issues with all mommas to address. My 98 pound momma needed to have confidence built in her ability to birth a baby when her ob is saying her pelvis is too small. My 307 pound momma needed to boost her confidence in her strength to labor un-medicated when her epidural was unsuccessful. Both had unique needs, but both had the most important thing in common… they are amazing women becoming fantastic mommas!

I think groups like Plus Size Birth are great! Women in general like to feel connected and common. We don’t want to be “the only one” in anything.  Just like working moms will want friends who also work, or single moms want to connect with other single moms, I think it’s great that plus size moms have a community where they know they “aren’t the only one”.  Thank you for providing this community and helping these mommas realize that they not only need, but deserve to be respected!

I have seen remarkable courage and confidence in all my mommas. Some start out already armed with a lot of information, and others are just getting started. I love meeting them where they are at and being a part of their journey to the next level. For some, this means learning about healthy pregnancy nutrition, others about confidence in their body and others in overcoming fears or insecurities. Each momma has a special place in my heart and I love being granted the gift and honor of supporting them during such an intimate and once in a lifetime event. No matter how many babies a momma has, they only get to deliver each one, one time. Keep rockin’ your births mommas!

Shannon Santamaria, Labor of Love Doula Services

 

 

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