Posts by: Shaunda Brainard

The Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife; Your Guide to Birth Professionals

 | August 11, 2016 | Posted by:

The natural birth world can be a place of wonder and excitement. It can also be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the words that are thrown around.

Two popular terms are “doula” and “midwife”. It’s easy to be unsure of the role they each play in a natural birth, but you’ll hear them a lot in conversation.

Here are some basic descriptions of both roles and why they are important to your birth experience.


A doula literally means “female servant”. When it comes to birth, a doula is sometimes also called a labor assistant or a labor coach. Doula certifications and skills vary. Some doulas are certified through a professional doula organization while some simply have experience and enjoy serving mothers and their families.

Many women (and their partners!) hire a doula for support and help throughout the labor. A doula should be skilled in numerous comfort measures and techniques, and can lend a helping hand and some occasional rest for a tired dad.

Home birthing couples can benefit from the services offered by a doula because she often does some prenatal visits that can help educate mom, may arrive earlier at the birth than the midwife if summoned, and do one or two postpartum visits. All of these visits and the relationship that they encourage can help the new family adjust to life with a newborn.

While many couples plan on having the father or partner take a main role during the labor, a doula can help dad to help mom. Her greater experience with birth can help remind dad of things he may have forgotten. Her knowledge of what is common may help her realize when mom needs to call the midwife. And having an extra pair of hands is ALWAYS useful in labor.

In short, a doula provides emotional and physical support for labor but is not a medical professional. She can be a comforting pair of hands but will not offer medical advice or procedures.

If you are interested in hiring a doula, let us know and we can give you a list of some of our favorite local doulas.


A midwife, on the other hand, is a professional with skills for comforting and guiding your journey and also with medical skills that are occasionally needed at the time of birth. The term midwife just means, “with woman” and she will be with you during your pregnancy at prenatal appointments, during your birth, and at postpartum appointments after your baby is born.


While she can offer education, guidance, wisdom, comfort and a listening ear, your midwife is also trained in CPR, neonatal resuscitation, starting an IV, administering certain drugs, suturing, and the warning signs of things that can happen in labor. She is both a medical professional and a companion for your labor.

At Edenway Birth Center our midwives are Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) and Licensed Midwives (LM) through the state of Texas. They have extensive training and are continuously working on their skills.


Many woman desire both a midwife and a doula and we happily encourage this. Pregnancy, labor, and birth are all sacred and sensitive times for a woman and her family. Choosing a strong support team will make it that much more special.

If you are interested in the midwifery model of care we encourage you to contact us at -817-552-2229. We are happy to meet with the whole family so that all involved can ask questions and feel more at ease.


Allergy Prevention Starts Early: Breastfeeding

Although there are many benefits to breastfeeding, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the breastfeeding’s role in allergy prevention.

At birth, the cells lining the newborn’s small intestines are porous.  This is often referred to as “leaky gut”.  This does not usually pose a problem in the breast feeding infant, however; in infants receiving cow’s milk – based formulas, this can often lead to the development of food allergies. Because the lining of the small intestine is porous, undigested food particles and proteins (which are larger) may pass through this lining into the blood stream.

Photo credit: OhKyleL via / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: OhKyleL via / CC BY-NC-ND

Because of their size, these proteins are easily seen and targeted by the body’s immune system as foreign invaders. A “war” breaks out and antibodies are produced against the food protein to destroy it.  Inflammation results from this confrontation, which can further damage healthy tissue.  Each time the cow’s milk based formula is introduced, the milk proteins have an opportunity to slip through the porous lining and initiate an immune response producing more antibodies and inflammation.  According to La Leche League, there are more than 20 substances in cow’s milk that have been shown to be human allergens. They also state that the following symptoms can alert parents that their baby may be suffering from  milk –based allergies …spitting up, diarrhea, cramping, constipation, gas,  colitis and respiratory problems.. Mom may eventually say, “I think my baby is allergic to this formula”.

Breastmilk has the advantage of containing components that help prevent an allergic response from occurring.  Human milk contains Epidermal Growth Factor which strengthens, protects, and repairs the mucosal lining of the small intestine. There is a lack of EGF in cow’s milk based infant formula.  Human milk also contains secretory IgA.  This is an antibody that “paints” the lining of the porous gastro-intestional tract and prevents proteins (either food based or microbial) from entering the blood stream and stimulating an allergic response from the immune system.  According to Jan Riordan, EdD, RN, IBCLC, FAAN, colostrum, the first milk, is especially rich in antibodies, including sigA. She states, “Because the infants own IgA is deficient and slowly increases during the first several months, sigA in human milk provides important protection to the entire digestive tract of the newborn. Mature milk continues to provide this protection, from the inside, to help the baby remain healthy and allergy –free.”

Babies may exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, and according to Jan Riordan, EdD, RN, IBCLC, FAAN, after 6 months, babies can eat whatever they like and in any order they want.

Rosemarie Anthony RN, IBCLC is passionate about assisting mothers in attaining their goal to breastfeed and empowering families to adopt healthier lifestyle choices that can promote healthy living and aid in the prevention of disease.

Day in the Life of an Edenway Birth Center Midwife : 12 Days of Edenway

 | December 15, 2015 | Posted by:
DITL_Edenway_Midwives_Home_Birth_Birth_Center_1 The phone rings, the clock says 2:00 AM.  I’m not surprised, as I have been expecting this call any moment.   My bags are ready, they always are.  You just never know when “the call” might come.  A lot of women will go into active labor late at night and birth in the early morning hours.  This mother sticks to that timing. It’s time to notify the assisting midwife and our students.  The birth team always consists of two fully licensed midwives to ensure safety for mom and baby.

DITL_Edenway_Midwives_Home_Birth_Birth_Center_2 I call to check on mom again.  I walk out the door knowing I have plenty of time, but it isn’t always like this.  Many times I am rushing out the door to race the clock.I make the drive to her house, she is fairly close to me but sometimes we have clients who are more than an hour away.  I build lifelong relationships with our families that surpass distance or moves.  The adrenaline builds throughout the drive and rises as we arrive at our destination.
DITL_Edenway_Midwives_Home_Birth_Birth_Center_3 The birth team and I walk in, assess the situation, and check mom and baby’s vitals.  The birth process is a small intimate affair this time.  The children were sleeping as mom and dad were laboring downstairs.  I make sure the mother has all the comfort measures she needs as the students prepare our supplies.  The mother is in control of her labor as we allow her to move around, eat and drink as she would like.  Dad and I take turns applying counter-pressure and hip squeezes as needed.  We will do anything to make mom comfortable as we allow her body to progress on it’s own while embracing the process of labor.
DITL_Edenway_Midwives_Home_Birth_Birth_Center_4 We continue to monitor contractions and vitals for both mom and baby while keeping detailed notes in mom’s chart. I allow dad to be the main support role for mom as they build a stronger bond to keep a lasting family dynamic.  He tells mom how amazing she is doing and keeps her confident.  Dad loves on her throughout the labor process and their bond is encompassing.
DITL_Edenway_Midwives_Home_Birth_Birth_Center_5 Once transition has happened and it’s time to meet the new little one, I help mom prepare to catch her miracle.  This is the moment when the adrenaline peaks; seeing the look of pure joy on the family’s faces is what I live for.  When mom sees her baby and oxytocin spills out across the room, everyone falls in love all over again.
DITL_Edenway_Midwives_Home_Birth_Birth_Center_7 The birth team and I make sure to get mom all settled and the siblings came to meet the new baby!  They also instantly fell in love with the new little one. We take a few more vital checks to ensure the health of mom and baby then make sure mom gets a full meal.  She has worked so hard up to now she needs nourishment to replenish her body.
DITL_Edenway_Midwives_Home_Birth_Birth_Center_8 The students have prepared an herbal bath at just the right temperature for mom and baby to escape and have an intimate bonding experience while also healing mom’s body.
DITL_Edenway_Midwives_Home_Birth_Birth_Center_6 We make sure the family is set up and prepared to start life with their new addition.  We tidy up the house, start the laundry, and get everything done so that mom can have a restful and bonding time with baby.As we pack up and prepare to leave, I pray over the family and new baby to ask safety and health for everyone.  We say our heartfelt good-bye’s and load my supplies into the car.  As I make the drive back home I recall the night’s events with a smile on my face.  Knowing I helped mom get past her fears and stay relaxed and comfortable throughout her birth brings me joy and happiness.
DITL_Edenway_Midwives_Home_Birth_Birth_Center_9 Heading home the birth team is starving!  We stop for breakfast and rehash the birth, our hearts are warm and full.  Then it’s time to get home to my bed, who knows when the next birth will happen!

Ten reasons to be thankful for midwives ~ Guest Post

 | November 2, 2015 | Posted by:


Photo credit: MTSOfan / / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: MTSOfan / / CC BY-NC-SA

As we dive head first into another holiday season, I am thankful for the birth professionals that I work with through the advocacy work we do at Texas Birth Networks, and those who have been a part of my own birth experiences.  

Here are ten of my favorite reasons to be thankful for midwives this November.

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Making a postpartum plan

 | October 19, 2015 | Posted by:

One thing that can make the transition from pregnancy to motherhood easier is having a plan for postpartum. So many of us focus so much on the pregnancy, the baby, and the birth that we forget (or never even know) how much recovery is involved in the first few weeks after the baby comes.

Here are a few tips that can make the motherhood transition easier with each baby.

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