SIX QUESTIONS FOR A CAPE COD DOULA:
Interview with Ruby Corrigan Anastasio
PP What are some common misconceptions about breast-feeding?
RA Common misconceptions are that if you choose to breastfeed you can’t go back to work and be a breastfeeding mother at the same time, breastfeeding makes your breasts saggy, and that it makes children clingy. On the contrary, it builds trust with them so when they are ready to face challenges in life more independently and with confidence. It builds a basis of trust.
PP What are some secrets to a happy pregnancy?
RA Trusting that your body knows how to grow a baby. Taking charge of your care.
Becoming informed on your choices to make decisions that are right for you. Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive of your way of doing things. Being your own advocate. Understanding that every pregnancy is different. Building a supportive “birth team”. It takes a team, it really does.
PP What can male partners do to best support women’s pregnancies?
RA Believe in their strength and ability. Believe in them. Believe in the process and believe in the woman. Rub their feet every night. Do more around the house is a big one. Make dinner, care for the other children, understand that she does need to take a nap. My cousin recently asked her husband if he’d mind watching the kids while she took a nap, he said, “Are you kidding me, you’re growing a person.” If every partner said that to us, how great it would be. Express appreciation for the job she is doing.
PP What can partners, friends and families do to support lactation?
RA Educate themselves on the benefits of breastfeeding and put their biases aside. Bring her a glass of water every time she sits down to nurse. Compliment her on how the baby is growing bigger and how well she is doing. Acknowledge the way she is nurturing the baby is the reason the baby is so healthy and growing so well. Don’t tell her negative stories. That goes for pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Avoid being discouraging, saying things like: You’re not making enough milk, that’s why he’s crying, or That’s a big baby, there’s no way you will give him enough milk. Once she has that mind frame of
‘I can’t’ it’s really a downward spiral. The first step is that the latch is corrected immediately, not supplementation with formula. The baby should go through 8-10 diapers a day, this might mean being on the breast more often. I advise my clients not to give up in the first couple of weeks. Know that it is going to get better and better.
PP How can doulas assist women in ways that family members sometimes can’t?
RA Doulas are trained in comfort measures, information and support techniques. They don’t have the same emotional attachment to the women. It can be hard to for the husband or wife to watch [the process a birthing mother goes through.] Doulas know that what she is going through is just a part of her process, it is normal, it was built to work that it is doing. We are skilled in areas that a family member would not have the same insight, experience or training. Doulas have knowledge of the birth process, skill in providing comfort measures, and an understanding of what she is feeling. A lot of women have children, but they haven’t experienced giving birth.”
PP What herbs should women be using post-partum and why?
RA I have made and used pads that are kept in the freezer, with a tea made from comfrey and calendula” so that post partum you put it on your sore perineum. So it’s not dripping, squeeze out the extra. A long time ago they would dip a leaf of comfrey in bowling water and put that directly. Minuca honey is used by midwives, for tears not long enough to stitch. That seams to work really well.