Go Natural with ‘Leila & Co.’ – Review of Antenatal Class by Doula Leila
Update 11 Jul 2020: Lemamasita has been re-branded to ‘Leila & Co.‘.
“Leila will be there!”, “Leila will be speaking at the event.” My Feb mummies WhatsApp group made me curious about this Leila. Knowing Leila is a doula made me doubly keen to hear from her during the mummy’s event. I have briefly read about doula and thought it’s an intriguing concept. I like to know more but it’s not commonly talked about in Singapore as doula is more popular overseas than in Singapore.
What is a Doula?
Doula is a birth companion for the woman going into labour – before, during and after birth. Other than providing information of birthing in Singapore and breastfeeding, she also offers emotional and physical support, for both the mother AND the husband/partner. She helps them to be calm and positive throughout the whole process. Doula has a non-clinical role and generally provides a continuity of care.
Leila is a DONA certified doula trained in Portland, Oregon USA, and the founder of Lemamasita, now re-branded as ‘Leila & Co.‘ (“Leila&Co”). Leila&Co offers doula packages and also antenatal classes to better equip parents for all aspects of labour. Leila is the only US Certified LAMAZE Birth Educator in Singapore.
Leila&Co’s virtual doula packages starts from S$89 for pre/post-natal sessions to S$1,499 for full spectrum coverage. Typical doula services comprises of:
- Before birth, the doula will meet up with the couple to discuss expectations, answer queries and offer suggestions. She helps the couple make informed decisions and not simply accept what is commonly practiced in Singapore’s hospitals, such as episiotomy.
- During the birth, non-medical techniques for labour and birth might be used, such as relaxation, massage, spinning babies, and other comfort measures. Also, the doula will give reassurance and perspective to the client, and make suggestions to help labour progress.
- After birth, the doula will continue to provide emotional support, including help with newborn care and breastfeeding.
About Leila&Co (Lemamasita)
Leila realized many pregnant women are misinformed, or completely unprepared for situations or complications that might arise during birth. Hence, Leila aims, through Leila&Co, to educate and thus empower expectant parents. She believes most couples need to be better informed to know:
- how to assert their rights,
- ask appropriate questions of their healthcare provider, and
- educate themselves about their choices.
With the knowledge, awareness and resources, parents can then make the best decisions for themselves and their children throughout pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood.
Leila&Co doesn’t believe in prescribing a philosophy onto parents, but rather empowering parents to make their own choices. Natural birth, epidural, caesarean? Breastfeeding or formula? There is no right answer – each couple must make their own decisions.
Why Attend Antenatal Class?
Why did we attend as second time parents?
“Why did you come for the class?” I was asked this a few times after the other parents knew we are second time parents.
My short answer, “It’s a refresher. I still have queries about labour. After all, every birth is different, and so what I learned from my last birth might not apply now.”
Long answer, “Having heard Leila share during the mummy’s event, I found her birthing philosophy in lined with mine — as natural as possible. For my first, I communicated my wish for natural birth to my gynaecologist. But it was only during labour that I found out she comes in only at the last few minutes. Usually, the monitoring during labour is done by nurses, midwife, and other junior doctors. So a birth plan is important to communicate what you want to the team.
On hindsight, the midwife was not in sync with my natural urges to push, and hence I found the pushing to be particularly hard and draining. Also, there were certain medical procedures that were unexpected during the labour. I felt they were invasive and jarring to the natural birth process. I just went along with whatever was administered to me – the process was almost a haze. So many things poked into me, and the especially uncomfortable urine catheter. Could I have not put those in? Could I have opted out of episiotomy? Could the whole labour process be more natural? You can read about my birth story at NUH.
So now, I want to find out what went “wrong”. What could I have requested to make the whole process more enjoyable? And how do I go with the flow of natural birth process?
I believe God is a wonderful maker and He has made the whole birth process logical and natural without needing much human intervention. Of course, in the fallen world, things can go wrong and interventions might be necessary. But sometimes, hospital do more than necessary. Or should I say, more so for the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department.”
Why should first time parents attend?
With birth experience, we better understand the contents that Leila shared. My hubby commented, “Leila knows what she is talking about. She knows her stuff. Knowledgeable indeed.”
Both of us agreed that this class is definitely useful for first time parents. Good for second time parents too if you are knowledge hungry like me. Lol. We went to NUH’s antenatal class for our first baby. NUH is generally more pro-natural and hence our choice of hospital. However, it’s still a hospital class and thus I feel the content is still inclined to medical procedures.
On the other hand, Leila gives a different perspective to these standard hospital procedures/protocols. She empowers you to ask the right questions in different situations to see if the procedures are necessary. In this way, you will know when it’s okay to say no to intrusive/disruptive procedures which are unnecessary.
Small Baby? Big Baby? Cord Round Neck?
For example, I was shocked to hear that most of the time, it’s okay to say no to induced labour or c-section birth for big baby, small baby, or even when the umbilical cord is around baby’s neck. I always thought it’s dangerous and baby must be out quick because the cord is strangling and suffocating the baby.
But she pointed out an obvious fact, the baby is not breathing through lungs in the womb, but surviving through the cord supply. Doctor intervene for fear that the cord will be tangled in a way that will restrict the supply to baby. But it’s also nothing to worry about. God had made the cord super thick, and so the chance of it being bent or break to restrict supply is very low. My hubby can attest to that, it’s not easy to cut the cord even with surgical sharp scissors. It’s not cutting ribbons at a ceremony, it’s trying hard to snip a few times before the cord is cut.
Moreover, Leila teaches us how to manage labour pain and quicken the labour process, both naturally. For example, epidural impedes the natural urges to push and so if you really want epidural, she would suggest turning down or off the dosage during the last stage/moments of labour. This will help you to push out the baby with your body instinct. And something she said struck me, “Natural birth transforms woman to mother. Overcoming a challenge inevitably leaves us feeling more capable.” Like a superwoman who can conquer all things.
Details of Leila&Co’s antenatal class
It’s a One Day Course: 2 Parts
After hearing feedback from time-strapped parents, Leila came up with a full day crash course instead of running it over a few weeks. She split the course into two parts, so you can decide if you want to sign up for the second part where she delves more into the “technical” aspect of labour, like how to minimise medical procedures such as induced labour and cesarean. It’s the second part that I was more interested in. But we have to go for part 1 before we can attend part 2.
Part 1, Foundation: 9:30am to 2:30pm
Part 2, Premium: 3:30pm to 6:30pm
On the day of our class, Leila’s client needed her that afternoon and so the 2nd part was postponed to the following weekend. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The first part overran by an hour and I was already brain fried by the end of it. I definitely wouldn’t have the concentration to absorb the second part’s technical content. And the second part also overran by an hour. That would have been ten hours of class in total!
Before the class, I was worried I would not be able to sit through the long hours, especially when I recieved the email about how intensive the class would be:
“This is not going to be a typical sit down classroom lecture style session. If anyone needs to munch and learn, go ahead to munch and learn. Because we have so much to cover and share with you in a day, we will not schedule the typical one hour break. We will definitely have short breaks throughout the session, but we find it too much to sacrifice an entire hour to look for food. Feel free to pack, or order Grab food.”
My worries were unfounded. Leila conducted the class in such fun and interactive way that hours seem to fly by before we realised the class was ending.
For the foundation portion, Leila covered signs and stages of labour, when to go to hospital, comfort measures, troubleshooting labour, breath-work, birth vocabulary, science of fear/pain, planning for tough situations, making informed decisions, breastfeeding and many more.
She gave us each a birth ball, which is technically a gym ball you can get from decathlon. The husbands pumped them up at the beginning of the class. Halfway through the lesson, she taught us labour positions and prenatal exercises/postures with the gym ball to prime baby’s position for a fast and smooth birth and avoid breech positions. Also, she taught the husbands how to massage the mothers while in praying position on birth ball.
For the premium portion, Leila covered situations where interventions are commonly proposed. And in such situations, how to ask the gynaecologists tough questions to determine if that intervention is really necessary. Also, when to request a delay in intervention and what to do during the delay to have chance for natural birthing to progress.
And her takeaway for post-birth, parents who do well, are those who have no system/expectations. And be prepared for the 100 days of darkness.
Continuity of Care
Like how a doula is to her client, Leila make sure there’s a continuity of care for her students. After the class, there’s a WhatsApp group and closed Facebook group to join for community and support. In addition, there’s an online portal of reading material and videos for attendees – from pregnancy to labour to 6 weeks post birth. Good refresher material to read at your own pace. In fact, if you need a refresher nearer to EDD and there’s a class running, you can join in again!
So if you don’t have the budget to engage a doula, the next best thing is to go for the antenatal class conducted by Leila of Leila&Co. Be sure the daddy can attend too. He has an important role during class and labour! 🙂
- S$129 for each online module
- S$497 for the crash course bundle
- Email: [email protected]
- Tel: +65 8200 8262
- Website: www.leilaandco.com
- Social Media: www.facebook.com/1leilaandco; www.instagram.com/leilaandc0
Disclosure: This is an editorial review. I was sponsored to attend the course but was not paid for publishing my experience with this service. All opinions are of my own and are genuine.