“Imagine what might happen if women emerged from their labor beds with a renewed sense of the strength and power of their bodies, and of their capacity for ecstasy through giving birth.”— Christiane Northrup
Bodhi Birth and Wellness is committed to supporting you in emotional and physical wellness, through pregnancy, birth and beyond, and in whatever way you choose. There are so many possibilities and options to wade through when delving into the medical world, and it is important that we educate ourselves and find proper support as we make these important decisions that will affect our entire lives. It is my passion to offer up-to-date, evidence-based information while supporting you through the beautiful labyrinth that is birth.
About Bodhi Birth and Wellness
I’M ASHLEY MAKAN, THE FOUNDER OF BODHI BIRTH AND WELLNESS…
Bodhi (pronounced “boh-dee”) is the Sanskrit word for “awaken” or “enlighten.” It is said that the Buddha meditated beneath the bodhi tree as he attained enlightenment. My belief is that when we experience birth, we awaken into a new consciousness — that of motherhood. Creating life is one of the most beautiful and difficult things we do. Our brains actually change during childbirth, and birth becomes a hinge moment in our lives, connecting who we are now to who we will become. With proper support and care, this can lead to a magnificent and empowering transformation. Birth is beautiful in all settings, and evidence shows that no matter the circumstances, a birthing person who is appropriately supported during labor has a more positive remembrance of their experience. My hope is that I can help you orchestrate your hinge moment and that I can serve you in your journey of surrender, in whichever way you choose.
More About Ashley…
With nearly a decade of experience in Human Resources, office and multi-unit spa management, Ashley Makan discovered the power of personal connection through early client relationships and knew her place was in the service industry. As she grew and managed larger businesses, she realized that she craved the one-on-one individualized care that she had previously experienced in her career.
After two polar opposite experiences of the medical industry during birth, she was able to see how beautiful birth could be, as well as the lasting psychological effects that each birth experience had over time. She had once, as many people do, followed the standardized procedures of the medical system with no knowledge that she had any options in the matter of her own birth. When she experienced the birth of her first baby earthside, she realized that with a little care, preparation, and a lot of support, any woman can have an empowering and magical birth experience in any setting.
Ashley is proudly trained through DONA International, Stillbirthday and the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, and is inspired daily to help support and equip families on their journey through birth and beyond.
What is a Doula?
“Giving birth can be the most empowering experience of a lifetime — an initiation into a new demension of mind-body awareness.”— Ina May Gaskin
What is a doula? I remember the first time I brought up the concept of doula to my husband, he responded by asking me if it was more of that crunchy hippie stuff I’m into. This is something that we laugh about now as we look back on our daughter’s birth and remember how he and my mother would have gladly welcomed two extra helping hands that night. It takes a village.
The term “doula” is derived from the Greek word, “δούλα”, meaning “a woman who serves.” According to DONA International, a birth doula is “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a [birthing parent] before, during and shortly after childbirth to help them achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.” DONA certifying or certified birth doulas work with [birthing parents] and their loved ones to support their needs and desires during this important time.
Below are some specific examples of what doulas do:
- Support for the partner and family — If the partner or other family members have any questions or concerns during the prenatal period, the doula can educate and offer materials that will help the partner feel more prepared to support the birthing parent. It truly takes a village to bring a baby into this world. The doula’s goal is to work together with the partner and any attending family as a team to support the birthing parent in labor.
- Physical and emotional support — this can include physical comfort measures, such as use of ice or hot packs, using counter pressure and massage or acupressure techniques to help you relax your body, helping you focus on your breath and stay calm with guided meditation, keeping your playlist going to maintain the mood as well as any other small details.
- Aiding in areas your care provider may be unable — your care provider’s primary focus is on your physical health and safety (as it should be). A doula’s role in the birthing room is to help you and your attending family with any emotional or physical needs that your care provider may not be able to offer you during this important time.
It is also important to understand what doulas do not do:
- Doulas do not perform clinical tasks (cervical exams, blood pressure monitoring, fetal heart monitoring, etc…).
- Doulas do not make decisions for you. I can assist you in gathering evidence-based information so you can make an informed decision that best supports your personal birth preferences.
- Doulas do not speak on your behalf. I will support your right to informed consent. My job is to help you find and use your voice, not speak for you.
In 2012, the University of Toronto published a paper in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. That report, which analyzed over 15,000 births, found that birthing parents with continuous labor support:
Have a decreased chance of a negative experience by 34% and higher satisfaction rates.
Have partners who participate in their births with higher confidence and levels of support.
Have a shorter length of labor by 25%.
Have a 31% decrease in the use of synthetic oxytocin.
Show a decrease in the request for medicated pain relief by 9%.
Show a decrease in the overall cesarean rate by 28%.
Show a decrease in the use of forceps by 40%.
Have increased success during the postpartum period (probably due to preparation and education in breastfeeding, healing measures, and recognizing the signs and symptoms of postpartum mood disorders).
Hodnett, E. D., Gates, S, Hofmeyr, G. J., & Sakala, C. (2013). Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 7. Art. No: CD003766. Pub 5.
Marshall Klaus M.D.; Phyllis Klaus, M. Ed; and John Kennell, M.D., The Doula Book and Other Studies.
The Importance of a Doula
“It takes a village to raise a child.”— African Proverb
It may take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to bring a child into our world. With my daughter’s birth, I chose not to hire a doula because I had done my research and had an amazing, supportive birth team. I remember thinking it would be a waste of money, and feeling like I didn’t want a stranger in the room that I was only allowing my mother and husband to enter during my baby’s birth. And then the universe taught me a lesson about doula support that ultimately led to me becoming one.
My labor with my daughter was long. All of the information I had compiled, as well as the support system I had, made me feel secure going into labor and I was anticipating the experience with reflective emotion. As soon as my early prodromal contractions began, most of that information went out the window. I was told to sleep while I could, but I was so excited to meet my sweet daughter that I couldn’t sleep. We went to the birth center at midnight and I was only one centimeter dilated. I was disappointed and embarrassed. We returned at 7 am. I was only three centimeters dilated and was informed that the baby had moved into occiput posterior position, which was causing one of my biggest fears: back labor. That was the first moment I allowed fear to creep into my birth, and the infamous cycle of fear-tension-pain began… I was discouraged and exhausted by my irregular contractions, and the midwife admitted me early, hoping that settling in would make me more comfortable.
My husband and mother worked together, tirelessly, from 7 AM to 1 PM, providing counter pressure to my lower back. All of our attempts at using a rebozo to turn the baby into a better position fell short, and all other methods I had been taught had been long forgotten. At 1 PM the midwife informed us that I had reached five centimeters and was officially in active labor. I was demoralized by this news. The knowledge that 1-5 takes longer than 5-10 was long gone from my mind. I had been up the entire night — I felt like I had already run a marathon just to be told I was only halfway there. That was the moment I believed that there was no way I could do this. My labor stalled. My husband and mother encouragingly reminded me of my birth wishes, that I could do this. But the fear cycle I had fallen into kept going round and round, and it began to spiral into panic. That was when my midwife stepped in.
“Remember, this isn’t happening to you, it is something you are doing.”
It was the most profound moment of my life. My family was doing their very best — and an amazing job — at supporting me, but because they were so close to me emotionally that I was not willing to receive their encouragement. It took a stranger looking me in the eye and reminding me that she believed in me, that she knew I could do this, and that it was all about how I chose to look at it.
My labor picked up again and at 9:05 PM my beautiful girl was in my arms. It was the most amazing moment of my life. I was shocked that my body had shown me that I could do this. I was in awe of the transformation, the beautiful lesson that came with the birth of my child. It was euphoric. It was empowerment in its greatest form. My life would never be the same.
Reflecting on my birth, I realized the benefits of a doula in my situation…
Could my husband and mother have used more support and guidance during the time that they were working to help me through my birth?
Absolutely. With the added support of a doula, they would have had someone to be sure they were getting the breaks they needed to stay hydrated, go to the restroom, and rest their bodies. They would also have had the guidance and encouragement necessary to feel secure in their efforts.
Could a trained doula have been able to use their extensive knowledge of the physiology of birth to help me be more comfortable during my labor?
Definitely. There is sooooo much that we learn as doulas to help you during your labor. So much so that an intensive (6+ week) childbirth education course is STILL unable to cover it all. As a doula, it took me multiple trainings and many births to learn and remember all of the comfort techniques I use. I am able to pull from this knowledge to give you the BEST support that is necessary for each moment of your birthing experience.
Could a trained doula, who was less emotionally involved in my labor than my family have helped me get out of my head in a better, faster way, leading to a more positive experience and faster delivery?
Most likely. I believe I would have benefited from a consistent, soothing voice of encouragement that was objective and separate from my family, who had a difficult time seeing me struggle. As a doula, I offer emotional support as well as physical support. I can help with breathing and meditation techniques, and I also remain mindful of your thought processes and can help pull you out of cyclical thinking patterns that can hinder your progress.
Would it have been beneficial to have someone who could enhance the mood in the room through managing a music playlist, controlling lighting for ambiance, and offering any support or encouragement necessary for me, as well as my family?
100% YES. There were so many small details (music, candles, visual affirmations, etc…) that were not implemented because my family was so busy supporting me. As a doula, I not only support you physically and emotionally, I also maintain your chosen environment to the best of my ability. Imagine the magic of things being exactly as you wish while you are laboring, without you even having to say a word to any hospital/birth center staff about your preferences!
I believe that although my family, in all of our hard work and preparation, was able to pull off an empowering and beautiful birthing experience for my daughter, our experience would have been greatly enhanced with the knowledge, encouragement, and support of a doula. It truly takes a village to bring a child into this world, and that village is much happier when a doula is present.
For Care Providers
“It takes a village.”— African Proverb
Bodhi Birth and Wellness was founded with the African proverb, “It takes a village,” as the golden rule of service. I believe that doula support is just one small part of the care environment and that community and teamwork are integral parts of what we do. Working in harmony with all providers is not only my hope but an imperative part of making positive change and integrating client-centered support into our local medical community. Through respectful dialogue and community engagement, Bodhi Birth and Wellness is committed to establishing relationships and improving maternity care in the Upstate, which ultimately supports the initial commitment of serving women and families in our community.
To receive more information about how to make Bodhi Birth and Wellness’ services available for your patients: