Liza Maltz speaks about the importance of finding the right care provider and the power of questions for an empowered birth.
Daniela from Dreaming of Baby talks with Liza Maltz, mom and founder of www.birthyourownway.com. In her work as Birth and Post-partum Doula, as well as certified lactation counsellor in New York City, Liza has helped many moms-to-be experience the birth they want, in an informed and empowered way. Here she speaks with Dreaming of Baby on the importance of asking questions, educating yourself, as well as finding the right care provider and support team to accompany you at this most personal moment in life.
Daniela GS: Good morning Liza and welcome; it’s great that you could join us today!
Liza Maltz, DTI CLC: Hi Daniela, thanks for having me!
Daniela GS: We’re looking forward to getting to know more about you as well as the experience and insight you have gained through your work as a Doula. If you could share a little about yourself; what led you to pursue this work?
Liza Maltz, DTI CLC: After having my son, I realized how women do not realize they have autonomy. There are so many questions to ask and so many different ways to go about childbirth, and as a new mother. You have to be your own advocate in pregnancy birth and beyond. In every decision – and there’s a lot to make – you have choices. Many people don’t realize this!
Before I became a doula, I had my own concierge company and did PR. I was always the person parents came to for help and naturally fell into that role for other moms. People came to me for guidance. What should I do? I labored with friends, and helped moms breast feed. When my son was old enough I decided to take the plunge and do this work full time. I find it highly rewarding.
The power of an informed birth
Daniela GS: In your experience, are moms not being given the information that they need to be able to make informed decisions? Do you see a difference between moms who are well-prepared as to what happens during the birth process, as against those who are not?
Liza Maltz, DTI CLC: If you don’t ask you won’t receive. I think people, doctors included, are busy. Asking questions and educating yourself is key. I find that women who educate themselves, ask questions, and have great support are successful in reaching their goals. Life happens, birth can’t be planned (for the most part!). If you want an unmedicated birth, understanding what your body will go through will be helpful! If you want an epidural, educating yourself on when the best time to do so is also important. Finding a care provider you feel comfortable with is so important. If you feel silly or annoying asking questions, or are scared your Ob will not listen to you, find a new provider. You should be able to voice your wishes and work with your care provider to help them come to fruition (if possible)! If you are trying to avoid a c-section but are with a highly medical practice, then again, ask questions! You should be asking what the c-section rate is at your hospital, what is the c-section rate of your doctor, etc. In short, what I’m saying is that moms need to ask questions and act on answers.
Daniela GS: In your view then, questions – and gathering knowledge – are imperative for a positive outcome?
Liza Maltz, DTI CLC: I want moms to feel empowered to ask questions. And to act on them; to not be afraid to switch providers, to find a safe supportive team etc.
The partner’s role in childbirth
Daniela GS: If I understand well then, feeling safe leads to further empowerment. How important is a supporting team during the birth itself and what would the role of a partner be in this sense?
Liza Maltz, DTI CLC: A partner, if they have one, is in every sense a key part of the team. A doula does not take the place of the partner. A doula is there for the birthing person and partner. In my prenatal visit, I meet with the birthing person and their partner. (Let’s say it’s a mom and dad). Dad is usually super nervous. I walk them through what will/could happen and show them different ways to comfort their partner. I show them a hip squeeze, slow dance, different kinds of touch. I also tell them that all these different things she may be feeling are for the most part normal. She may be angry, not wanting to be touched. Quiet. They really want to know how they can help! Having someone there to understand what’s going on in a birthing room is also great. Often people will run in and say we want to do this or that and the partner sees mom feeling intense pressure through surges and forgets their partner’s wishes out of fear. I try to help keep everyone calm through breathing and help both parents cope with fear throughout pregnancy and into birth.
A partner, if they have one, is in every sense a key part of the team. A doula does not take the place of the partner. A doula is there for the birthing person and partner.
Communication in Childbirth
Daniela GS: What you’re saying then is that positivity and addressing fears beforehand also play a role in the birthing room. How important is it for the mom-to-be to communicate her wishes for the birth well-beforehand?
Liza Maltz, DTI CLC: Very. You need a clear line of communication with your care provider, partner, and doula. Ask questions! Just because someone is “the best” they may not be the best for you. If you feel intimidated speaking with your doctor in pregnancy, how do you think it will feel when they need to be there in a room with you during you most personal moment in life?
Daniela GS: As you say, feeling confident in the choices you make and in the support system you surround yourself with is important. What would be one piece of advice that you’d give moms-to-be who are awaiting the arrival of their baby?
Believe. Breathe. Birth
Liza Maltz, DTI CLC: Breathe. My mantra is Believe. Breathe. Birth. I ask moms to breathe nightly, alone or with their partner. Deep breathing can help you connect with your baby. You’ll see that after 5-10 min of deep breathing a night, baby will be so active and you will feel so calm. They love the oxygen you are giving them. Good posture, nourish yourself, and lots of rest! I could go on and on…
Daniela GS: Thank you Liza, your experience with birthing women and their families has given you priceless insight. I’m sure our readers will find the tips you imparted very helpful. Thanks again for your time today; it was a pleasure speaking with you!