Ever wonder what a birth doula does?
Doulas can serve many roles in the pregnancy, birth, and postnatal journey. This can include:
- Being a caretaker
- Serving as your advocate in a medical setting
- Keeping you company / being the antidote to isolation in pregnancy and childbirth
- Normalizing your experience
- Helping you feel supported every step of the way
It truly takes a village to support the pregnancy and birth process, as this week’s Trimester Bubble guest, Jennie Bingham, reminded us. She is a birth and postpartum doula and massage therapist based here in the “bubble” in Boulder, CO.
Birth doulas also help support a continuity of care, as you may or may not have the same medical team throughout your pregnancy and birth. They can adapt to your needs and play whatever role is needed, including being hands-on support during your delivery.
Bodywork is another crucial care practice for pregnancy. Between chiropractic care and massage, you can find relief from common pregnancy complaints like:
- Leg cramps
- Hip pain
- Anxiety and stress
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Mid and low back pain
Plus, receiving bodywork during pregnancy (by a qualified practitioner) can help you build body awareness for a more easeful pregnancy (posture, functional movement) and labor.
In this episode you’ll hear about:
- What a doula is
- What a doula does
- The benefit of having a doula
- Prenatal vs regular massage
- The benefits of bodywork during pregnancy
- What a certified prenatal bodyworker is
- Sidelying vs belly-down massage
- Jennie’s favorite benefit of massage
- How to create ease in pregnancy
- Massage doula training with Jennie
Full Episode Transcript
Dr. Elyssa Wright 0:00
Hey there. I’m Dr. Elyssa. Welcome back to the Trimester Bubble. I’m a chiropractor and Dynamic Body Balancing facilitator at Body & Balance Chiropractic. We support mamas, mamas to be and babies by helping them live their best lives. Here in the podcast, we’ll be bringing you educational content for your pregnancy journey from both us and our guest specialists.
Dr. Elyssa Wright 00:21
Whether you’re thinking about starting a family or you’re already pregnant or maybe with kiddos at home, each episode will help to lift you up. We want you to know that this is often a confusing and lonely time, and all of us here at the Trimester bubble want to support you on your journey. That is Mamahood and raising little ones.
Dr. Elyssa Wright 00:40
If you are local to the Boulder, Colorado area, I’d love to invite you to our free quarterly pain free pregnancy class that meets in-person at Community Roots Midwife Collective. Here we’re going to discuss why pain is common in pregnancy, but not normal. Also what you can do at home to have a pain free pregnancy. Plus, meet other moms and build your community.
Dr. Elyssa Wright 01:05:19
We meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. for about an hour with some time for Q&A. Our next meeting is October 10th. So for more information and to sign up, head to our website www.BodyandBalance chiropractic dot com and click on schedule online and select classes and support groups.
Dr. Elyssa Wright 01:30
If this episode resonates with you, please share it to your friends and family. You can share the link and it would mean so much to us. So today we have a special guest. Jennie Bingham is going to be joining us and make sure you stick till the end to learn how you can connect with her. Jennie has been a massage therapist for 23 years and a birth doula for 18.
Dr. Elyssa Wright 01:56
She brings a wide array of knowledge, wisdom and love to her families as they embark on one of the biggest journeys of their lives. You can learn more about working with Jennie at her website www.NourishingBodyWork.com. And let’s get chatting with Jennie!
Dr. Katherine Hammond 02:22
Thank you so much, Jennie, for joining us today on the trimester bubble. Do you mind just starting out talking a little bit about who you are, what you do, who you like to work with, All the fun stuff.
Jennie Bingham 02:35
Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor to be here. Who am I? First of all, I’m a mother to a rowdy three-year-old little boy. I’m also a massage therapist, so I’ve been doing body work for 23 years, and I am a birth doula and almost always on call for births. I’m also a postpartum doula and I support families in their journey with a newborn, and I sometimes offer even overnight care as well as care during the day.
And that fills up my time pretty well, gives me very busy.
Jennie Bingham 03:11
Who am I working on? I work on pretty much everybody. I specialize in pregnancy and postpartum, but I am from everything from teaching parents how to massage their newborn to working on children all the way up to elderly people.
Jennie Bingham 03:28
And I work on men and women. But I have found a niche the last 18 or so years of working, specializing with pregnancy and postpartum women. Just the level of appreciation that I get from working on these women who need it. So much. It’s such a huge change in the body in such a short amount of time, and I feel like they really need this kind of support.
I’ve gravitated to that over the last 18 years and yeah, but I still work on everybody because everybody needs it. Everybody needs body work, in my opinion.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 04:03
Absolutely. That’s the population we see in our office for sure. Everybody. But we love our our moms and our babies for sure. For sure. You are here in Boulder, right?
Jennie Bingham 04:14
I am, yes. I am in Boulder, Colorado. My office is in Boulder. I am also a travel. I travel. So I do body work in your home, and some offer in-home visits. I also even travel for adult work. I have traveled cross-country for babies several times and then do the work in several different states and stuff as well.
Jennie Bingham 04:38
I got an opportunity over the last 18 years as a doula to see a wide array of experiences in different hospitals and birth centers and home birth settings too, which has been a really very eye opening experience to also. Well, thank you for letting me know about that. I would love to just dive into your dual work, if that’s okay.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 05:00
Absolutely. You mind just telling us what a Doula is?
Jennie Bingham 05:29
Yes, it is a Greek word that means to serve. In the sixties, a woman started using it towards a woman who serves women in childbirth. It started kind of going along with women who serve women in childbirth. In the eighties, it became really popular because there were so many medical interventions happening in the hospitals.
Jennie Bingham 05:29
Women realized that if they had their sisters or their friends or their mothers in the hospital room with them, they were able to advocate better for themselves. It really started to kind of catch on. It’s like women need support from other people outside of just their partner to support them in these situations because it’s a big experience.
Jennie Bingham 05:49
Having doctors come in and tell you all these things. So having somebody there to support you, support them through that experience and started noticing less lesser rates of medical intervention, less caesareans and so forth, so less need for induction. It started to gain in popularity and since doulas are pretty widespread as far as I’m concerned, I think, you know, we as providers to we doula our patients, it’s doing can happen anywhere, any time.
Jennie Bingham 06:19
I got an MRI and I had this woman hold my hand during it because I was like, I don’t like this. And I was like, You’re my MRI doula. It’s just anybody can really be there to support somebody in the moment. What are that person’s needs in the moment and how can I support them? I feel like a lot of us just have this ingrained in us as caretaker people.
Jennie Bingham 06:39
There is no regulatory system for a Doula actually. However, it’s great to have knowledge when supporting a woman to help advocate in a proper way, but it’s a much needed thing. This whole experience of birthing, I feel like in our society too, we women tend to isolate themselves.
Jennie Bingham 07:03
Having the support of a woman who can help or a man, even some male doulas as well, but having a supportive person to help guide you through the experience and to help normalize the situation so it doesn’t feel so big and scary. Having a doula to just hold your hand along the journey just helps you to feel supported.
Jennie Bingham 07:25
It’s that whole saying, you know, it takes a village because it does take a village and a Doula just becomes part of your family, Just supporting and nurturing you, does provide information, physical and emotional support. We aren’t doing anything medical, no blood pressure checks or cervical checks or anything like that. We are just solely for maybe massage, physically massage techniques, different positional support, breathing techniques, helping them to just stay in the moment and focus on what their needs are in the moment.
Jennie Bingham 08:03
Then information like helping to really decipher, you know, what is coming at them. When a provider is telling them X, Y, Z, helping them to ask questions, asking them for the risks, the benefits, maybe alternatives, and kind of going from there. Helping them to just become their own best advocate. In those types of environments where sometimes the medical system does get on the role of standard care, standardizing these interventions because this is just what they practice.
Jennie Bingham 08:33
Knowing that you have options, doulas help you to really become more aware that there are a lot of options and how you see your births and want to experience it. A Doula can really help to navigate that. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s, it’s so important and especially when, you know, women are in labor, they are focused on giving birth, they try to block out the outside world.
Jennie Bingham 08:57
It’s so helpful to have someone to guide them and support them when totally have these things. Interventions that may be needed and just having all the information. Absolutely it’s that continuity of care. I go to their home, I prepare them through pregnancy, but then I also am going to their home in early labor or early active labor and helping them to sleep because once birth gets going, it feels big and women are like, I’m going to go to the hospital and they get to the hospital too early.
Jennie Bingham 09:25
The longer the hospital, the more interventions and the possible interventions that are coming at you. So, the longer you can stay home and having a Doula help you to normalize it. Like, no, this is okay. That continuity of care in your home until it’s go time, until you’re having contractions at 5:11 or 5 minutes or every 5 minutes for one minute for one whole hour.
Jennie Bingham 09:45
We’re like, okay, now let’s transition, you know, and its big transitions. Having somebody to be there to have their hand on your back, say it’s okay, we’re going to breathe through this one at a time. It just makes all the difference to know that they’re supported in the moment. Then through that whole process of going to their birthing place and then transitioning to triage and then their hospital room and just having that person there.
Jennie Bingham 10:08
I appreciate that so much of being a doula, just kind of I’m their grounding presence there through that situation. it’s a very needed support and to just make it not feel so scary. Husbands and also partners, they get kind of nervous, of course they’re going to get nervous. Their loved one is feeling a lot of discomfort.
Jennie Bingham 10:30
They want to just take it away, but we can’t take it away. We have to just be there to hold space for it.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 10:39
Do you have a specific client that you seem to work with the most? I know I’ve talked with patients in the office, and they say, “Oh, I’m giving birth. It’s with a midwife and a midwife center, I don’t know if I need a doula.” Would you recommend doula work for everybody, even if they’re have a low-risk pregnancy?
Jennie Bingham 10:59
Yeah, absolutely, and for lots of different reasons. I think that continuity of care, having somebody just there consistently that you know that you can rely on and call if you have questions that come up during pregnancy and birth or when you’re there during the birth.
Jennie Bingham 11:34
Every situation needs a Doula in a different time period.
Sometimes hospitals might be short staffed, which means that the nurse isn’t really going to be available, and an OB typically is not going to be in the room until the baby is actually crowning. I had one client who for her first birth, she had a midwife and was expecting the midwife to be in the room with her the entire birth.
Jennie Bingham 12:04
When the midwife wasn’t there until she was actually pushing, it really set her in a in a different mental game, mental tailspin of kind of thinking her support was going to look differently. A doula really is that hands on support. Providers don’t really provide that support, and if you get lucky, you get a nurse who does provide that support.
Sometimes there’s not nurses that even know how to offer specific support and/or they just have too much going on to actually be in the room to support a woman. I think it’s hard to say one way or another because home births are really important to just having that support because there is no other hospital staff.
Jennie Bingham 12:46
You’re like full on. It looks different in every single situation and circumstance.
There are so many varieties of different roles from like very natural based to very medical hospital-based roles. It’s like a very, very broad spectrum.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 13:11
Absolutely. I would love to transition and talk a little bit about your massage work now.
Can you tell us the difference between someone who specializes and pre-natal massage versus just a regular massage therapist?
Jennie Bingham 13:28
Any kind of body work when you’re pregnant is wonderful. Like, just touch in general just provides the nervous system to just. It gives an opportunity for the nervous system to just relax and down regulate.
Jennie Bingham 13:41
All body work is great, but specifically, somebody who specializes in pregnancy and postpartum can offer specific techniques for certain situations that might come up. Leg cramps are a common thing that I see as well as hip and low back pain. I can specifically work into certain tissue doing some stretching and kind of movement based techniques that come with just more education, with specific techniques versus like a massage you might get at a store or something because general massage training and like massage school, there’s a couple of hours of training and pregnancy and postpartum.
Jennie Bingham 14:19
More often than not, it’s looked at as like, ooh, contraindicated. That’s we shouldn’t touch them. It’s scary. That’s a scary thing to get into, but it’s a totally irrelevant. It shouldn’t be that scary because our country is kind of sue-happy with those types of things and certain situations that might come up. But early pregnancy there is this first trimester, there is a consideration.
Jennie Bingham 14:46
One in eight pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. With that in consideration, you know, if you go and get a massage, then there might be a question of like, ooh, was it the massage? Who knows? You know, we really don’t know. And so more often than not, a lot of people prefer to not massage people in the first trimester.
Jennie Bingham 15:05
A person who is certified and trained knows how to safely work on you, which basically is just eliminating abdominal massage, deep abdominal massage. Somebody who is certified is able to do safe techniques and massage through pregnancy. But overall, general massage is also really wonderful. But just getting as the baby gets bigger and so starting in the second trimester, side-lying technique is really preferred.
Jennie Bingham 15:30
There are belly cushions that are made for belly down massage, but it’s not really recommended because it’s not a one size fits all belly hole. You don’t want to create that intrauterine pressure unnecessarily for long periods of time. And I know some women beg for it. Like I just want to be face down because I only do sideline work.
Jennie Bingham 15:51
That’s my specialty. I love it. I am able to get into areas much easier and I set women up with the proper pillows. Having that support is helpful. I’ve had a couple of clients like two specifically where I had to borrow a belly down cushion because they were like, please. So doing it safely.
Jennie Bingham 16:11
I followed specific guidelines and stuff. So yeah, there is a safety measure of somebody who is specifically trained in pregnancy and postpartum.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 16:23
You mentioned leg cramps. Are there any other type of conditions that you just see on a regular basis?
Jennie Bingham 16:28
I mean, the biggest one is anxiety, you know, just stressed out there. A big change is about to happen.
Jennie Bingham 16:35
Just all the different changes that are happening in their body. Anxiety and just calming the nervous system is the main one. Leg cramps, definitely hip and low back pain, neck and shoulder, mid back pain are definitely some specific things that I see pretty regularly around. Ligament pain too. In the belly that happens early on. First is second trimester.
Jennie Bingham 16:59
They grow year-round. Ligaments go from three centimeters to 15 centimeters at full gestation. Crazy stuff that goes on in the body. Definitely working on some specific things during certain times through pregnancy.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 17:13
We definitely see a lot of those same conditions in our office. I try to stress to all of our patients that even if we get you out of pain after a couple of visits of chiropractic care and massage care is not…it can be a necessity, you know? It’s not just like, oh, you know, I’ll go out, do it if I have a free weekend, maybe once, once a pregnancy it can be. It’s not a luxury.
Jennie Bingham 17:44
Especially as the body’s changing so much that I mentioned before, like so much change in such a short amount of time.
Every hurdle, you kind of get over one week and you’re like, okay, I found this baseline now I found some balance and then the baby grows some more and then your body changes more and then it’s like, Oh, shift. Oh yeah, I need some more like adjustments and chiropractic work and massage. They are just such complementary care together and helping the body to stay mobile and also for this embodiment piece.
Jennie Bingham 18:13
My favorite thing about a massage is the body awareness that it gives somebody. More often than not, we are checked out of our body, and especially when we’re pregnant because it’s like, what is happening to my body? We disassociate from that body and really helping somebody to ground into their body is so huge. That’s my biggest goal through a session helping somebody to gain that control of embodiment, which helps them for a more useful pregnancy. It is also more a useful labor to really tap into what their body needs in the moment, what does their body need?
Dr. Katherine Hammond 18:54
I would say, if you have other kids around, they’ll see you taking care of yourself, like taking control of your body. You’re totally just taking time for yourself.
Jennie Bingham 19:06
The importance of self-care. Yes, So important. So important, especially being a parent.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 19:14
Staying on this pregnancy topic, do you have any big recommendations that you like to give and just how to get comfortable during pregnancy?
Jennie Bingham 19:25
Yeah. Again, kind of feeding on that embodiment piece, having my moms, I kind of sometimes have them stand up or bring when I notice that they’re holding themselves in a certain way. I like to bring attention to this posture or just giving them a little bit more posture awareness of standing up and having their toes facing forward versus like allowing the waddle that naturally wants to happen but bringing them bringing this into the mind.
Jennie Bingham 19:53
Planting seeds is what I call it. Planting seeds of like sitting, checking in, checking in with your body as often as you can to have this mind body connection so that you can create better alignment. The alignment piece helps again with this position. To stay calm and more comfortable during pregnancy so that we’re not keeping ourselves up. Leaning on the couch in one specific way or driving your car with one leg bent. Just really paying attention to these functional positions that we get into so regularly that are creating dysfunction in the pelvis or the body to make it so the baby is not going to have this nice fluid up and down kind of position that we want to create.
Instead, it might be kind of kinked cockeyed one way or the other, which creates a more difficult labor as well as being more uncomfortable during pregnancy. So I really like to kind of bring that into postural awareness to with my sessions. But so being aware of bringing posture into how moms can kind of take care of themselves through pregnancy is just paying attention, bringing awareness into how could I stand up a little bit straighter?
Jennie Bingham 21:04
How could I create sitting areas where you are regularly? Bring in pillows, bring in maybe an exercise ball to move around a little bit more, get a little bit more mobility through the day if you’re sitting. But thinking about all those so many things, right? So, our feet, keeping our knees at a 90 degree for sitting in bucket seats, sit on a sit on a cushion and having this ergonomic thing.
Jennie Bingham 21:37
We I’m sure so many people are familiar with this, how to sit at your desk. There’s been so much stuff about that, you know, kind of keeping everything at a 90 degree as much as possible, looking straight ahead so constantly checking in as often as we can. I tell people to like to leave little keynotes if they’re sitting at a desk or whatever the computer for so long, 20 minutes, like, get up, go get a drink of water, go take a bathroom break.
Jennie Bingham 22:02
But keeping kind of your body kind of consistently moving, but also checking in to make sure that you’re not going to be in a funky position for a long period of time. And if you are bringing awareness to it, bringing pillows in to help you to be more comfortable in that seat, since you’re going to be sitting there regularly since you do.
Jennie Bingham 22:19
But how can you change it to make it a little bit more functionally appropriate for you while during pregnancy and useful for the birth and that goes into the birth to like and during birth? When I’m at a birth, I’m looking at alignment, I’m looking at alignment. And how is she like positioned on the bed and how can we create a better alignment for the baby to get into the pelvis?
Dr. Katherine Hammond 22:41
Those are all great recommendations. And even in the office. I know. You know, I’ll sit for a for a while, and then I’ll spend 4 hours on my feet. And it’s just like finding that balance of sitting, sitting, walking, exercising all that stuff. Some of my patients wear the apple watches and the garments, and there are reminders on there.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 23:03
You know, you’re sitting, they’ll remind you to get up and walk. Just turn those off. Just being a chiropractor. Yeah. I always look at the pelvis and sleeping positions. A lot of people, if they’re if they’re comfortable laying on their side, it’s just having a pillow between your knees all the way down your ankles.
Katherine Hammond 23:26
We’re keeping that pelvis aligned and hugging the pillow. It is just creating that nice pattern so baby can descend into the pelvis and just making sure that our muscles aren’t tight on either side. When we stay in that position for 8 hours, if you’re lucky at night, that can really affect your body when you get up the next day.
Jennie Bingham 23:50
The one another big thing that I see is mid back pain, broadline pain and about second trimester when moms aren’t hugging a pillow at night, or they just have the body pillow with just that thin little pillow. It’s not big enough. We need more cushion; we need more pillows. So having, like I always say, go to Ross or whatever and buy a couch cushion, like a little fluffy one that’s nice and big and thick to hug that pillow, giving those shoulders nice support.
Jennie Bingham 24:17
It takes that pressure off that middle back. I see that so often. And simple recommendation. And I always hear like, oh, it’s gone now. I mean, after a massage and a pillow, you never. You know, it’s so helpful. The pillow hugging. The pillow is also just as important as a the pelvis being squared with good cushions as well.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 24:41
Just in closing, is there anything else you want to touch on?
Jennie Bingham 24:46
Oh, my gosh, this is so fun. Not necessarily, no. Yeah, you know, it takes it takes a village. And I’m grateful to have you and Elyssa in my village also to refer to because I’m really grateful for any chiropractic.
Additional support for mamas is just so great. And I see it time and time again. Yeah, we the benefits of it.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 25:13
And then do you have any upcoming events or any news that you want to share?
Jennie Bingham 25:19
I have some upcoming massage doula training for massage therapists coming up on Neil Asher dot com and I am hoping to start potentially teaching some birth classes in our community in the very near future.
But that is to be announced. But yeah, planting seeds. Thank you for having me.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 25:40
Jennie is amazing and we definitely recommend her for all of our doula and massage therapy work. So it’s awesome. We love having you so close to our office desk. I know. Right on the hall.
Dr. Katherine Hammond 25:53
Well, yeah. Thank you again. And hopefully, maybe we will have you on again at some point.
Jennie Bingham 26:04
Yeah, I would come any time. I’d be happy to. Take care.
Dr. Elyssa Wright 26:12
Thank you so much for joining us at the trimester bubble.
We so appreciate your support. If you know another mama or mama to be who could use the information in this episode, please pass this link along to them. Once again, we want to thank Jennie for joining us this week. You can learn about her offerings at our web site. Www.nourishingbodywork.com which will also be linked in the show notes.
Dr. Elyssa Wright 26:36
Don’t forget, we love hearing from you, so please send us a message and let us know any thoughts or questions about the episode. I’m Dr. Elyssa with the Trimester bubble and we’ll see you soon!
Resources in this Episode:
- Pain-Free Pregnancy registration
- Body & Balance website
- Learn more about Dynamic Body Balancing
- DBB Website
- Nourishing Bodywork Website
- Episode 3: Pregnancy 101: Back to Basics
- Breastfeeding and Chiropractic
- Amazing Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Babies
- The Six Signs of Subluxation During Pregnancy
- Boulder Locals: Join our free, in-person Pain-Free Pregnancy community each quarter. Register here!
- Body & Balance: New patients start here
- About Dr Elyssa and Dr Katherine
- Connect with Body & Balance on Instagram
- Connect with Body & Balance on Facebook
- Enjoying the podcast? Be sure to subscribe and leave a review!
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers/listeners of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Elyssa Wright nor Body and Balance Chiropractic. LLC nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading, listening or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.