(Photo: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
Asahd Khaled, a literal baby, has drummed up quite a bit of acclaim since he exited the womb, due in part to the executive producing title he was given at the ripe old age of four months. Now that he's completed one 365-day rotation around the sun, having turned one year old just under a month ago, he's a full-fledged star. But let's back up — before he hosted LIV on Sunday, before he wore custom Gucci on the red carpet, and when he was merely in utero, Asahd's parents had long planned for his arrival, with the help of celebrity doula Latham Thomas.
Thomas worked with Nicole Tuck, DJ Khaled's fiancée and Asahd's mom, throughout her pregnancy and was in the delivery room throughout the birthing process. Recently, while attending the W.E.L.L. Summit in NYC, we caught up with Thomas to demystify the process of doulaing, find out the benefits of having a doula, and, but of course, what it was like to help bring 2017's arguably most influential baby into the world.
BET: What are the benefits of employing a doula during pregnancy as opposed to giving birth in a hospital?
Latham Thomas: A doula is a birth worker who provides education, emotional support, and advocates for the expectant mother and family. A birth doula helps mentally and emotionally prepare a mother for birth. She attends the birth and offers postpartum support. You can use a doula for whatever type of birth your desire, at home, in the hospital or at a birth center. Doulas can even support mothers who have planned C-sections. It’s really about supporting the birthing mother and creating an environment of safety for her so she can be as comfortable and confident as possible as she prepares for childbirth. Clinical trials have demonstrated that the presence of a labor coach or doula is associated with:
- A reduction of cesarean rates
- A reduction in use of forceps
- Less requests for epidurals
- Shorter labor
- A reduction in oxytocin augmentation
- Lower rates of newborn complications
- A reduction of maternal bleeding after birth
- Increased success with breastfeeding
- A reduction in postpartum depression
- Increased maternal satisfaction.
These are fantastic outcomes to aim for. I advise new parents especially to seek the support of a doula, and also families who did not have their desired outcome for their previous births to hire a doula.
BET: Can you give us an example of the activities a doula does for a birthing mother?
LT: A doula provides emotional support, education, inspiration and hands-on guidance for expectant mothers and couples as they approach and enter into the birth process. We hold your hand every step of the way. It’s essentially a path that allows you to "Mother the mother.” We are always in a supportive role of service. My client Rebecca Minkoff and her husband, Gavin Bellour, call me “a producer for your birth.” Labor support includes prenatal and postpartum meetings and 24-hour on call support starting at 36 weeks. Doulas can provide massage and counter pressure, positioning to help facilitate mother’s comfort, and to assist with fetal descent and rotation. Doulas also provide the following:
- A minimum of 2 Prenatal Visits
- Birth Preferences (known as a Birth Plan) Assistance
- Recommended Reading
- Telephone Support
- On-Call 24 Hours a Day beginning at 36 weeks of gestation
- Continuous Labor, Delivery, and Postpartum Support
- Initial Breastfeeding Assistance
- Postpartum Visits
- Back-up Coach/Doula Support
- Referrals for additional assistance, as needed
- Meal Planning & Nutritional Support, as needed
We service a wide range of clients and can accommodate various needs and budgets.
BET: I’m aware there are different environments that may be used for at-home birth, including water birth. What are the benefits of water birth, and is it right for everyone, or only on a case-by-case basis?
LT: Warm water is soothing, comforting, relaxing. Water promotes efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation, particularly in the pelvic region, resulting in increased oxygen going to the the uterine muscles. This leads to less sensation of pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby during the contractions. Water birth is a great option, but every birth is different and it depends on the wishes of the mother. We have a doula training at Mama Glow, and this is one of the options we explore for laboring mamas.
BET: What are the benefits of bringing in a doula into pregnancy and birthing? Why do so many celebrities have doulas?
LT: A doula can offer emotional support and a sense of safety and security. My clients are like family. I talk and text them frequently. I think celebrities like the sense of hands-on support and the trust. We build a trust with the women we serve and they become vulnerable with us. It’s a trust that is built upon frequent and consistent affirmative interaction. We work to help our mamas feel confident in spirit and in their bodies. We want them to feel capable and claim their maternal power. And that feeling is something we offer because we are sensitive to the unique emotional needs of women in this process.
We also have tried and true techniques that we use to help achieve results, whether that’s nipple stimulation to increase the intensity of contractions or the use of herbs to help move the labor along, or just laying next to her and stroking her hair and breathing and offering gentle encouragement, etc. Doulas visit families at home a few times prior to birth to establish the birth preferences or birth plan, then comfort measures and support techniques, provide education and resources. We provide lots of referrals whether for acupuncture, massage, etc. We really act as a counselor and support and when the baby is born, we watch for how the mother adjusts. I try to work with couples to get organized and get the right systems and support in place for them to thrive once the baby arrives. I even go babysit so the new parents can go out on their first date after birth.
BET: You have been the doula to many famous mommies and their babies. You were the doula for Asahd Khaled. How does it feel to have brought what is arguably 2017's most high-profile baby into the world?
LT: I am proud of every mama and their newborns! It was a pleasure and honor to support Nicole and Khaled, and its amazing to be on the other side and visit with Asahd, who just celebrated his first birthday. My son deejayed Asahd’s birthday party at club LIV in Miami. I love seeing Asahd on Instagram with his daddy; their relationship is the cutest thing ever.
BET: Were you aware at the time of birth that this baby would be as influential as he is?
LT: I have so many influential and celebrity clients as well as people who will never be in the public eye. I am not concerned with whether or not someone is famous or influential. Birth is an incredible equalizer. Every woman experiences similar feelings, even though the arc of the labor might completely different. Everyone wants to feel safety, security and a sense of being unobserved. Every mom wants a healthy baby, so that is my focus throughout the pregnancy and at the time of birth — a healthy outcome for mother and baby, whether or not the baby is influential. But I knew Khaled would document the process, so his journey into fatherhood would influence others.
BET: Were there any vibes with the pregnancy/delivery that would eventually foreshadow his impact?
LT: Nicole Tuck did prenatal yoga with me up until the very end of the pregnancy, and she was incredible in the delivery room. Khaled was on tour, so he would FaceTime us to check in on her during the yoga sessions. Khaled would always talk to the baby through Nicole’s belly. He would kiss her belly and say how proud he was and how much he loved the baby. I knew that Asahd was being born into a family that loved him deeply and that was prepared for his arrival. His mom is so chill and an avid yoga practitioner. Babies really pick up on the energy around them so I knew he would be a pretty relaxed baby.
BET: Can you give us more insight into what were the general vibes during delivery/birth?
LT: Khaled played the Islamic call to prayer in the room, and the lights were low. We had LED candles all over the room so the mood was comforting. We created a home-like environment. There was no sense of anxiety. It was all calm. I massaged Nicole’s feet and applied pressure points to help support the labor. I gave Khaled and Nicole some time to rest together before it was time to push. You can see the birth archived, since Khaled Snapchatted it.
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