Dysfunctional Labor Maneuvers with Marya Eddaifi: Podcast Episode #211
Kristin Revere chats with Marya Eddaifi of Marya Eddaifi Coaching on the latest episode of Ask the Doulas. The discussion is centered around dysfunctional labor maneuvers and her work as a coach.
Hello, this is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I am excited to chat with Marya Eddaifi today. Welcome, Marya!
Hi! How are you?
Doing great! So you and I have connected a couple of different times, and we saw each other recently at DoulaCon, where you were presenting, and I was, as well. I’d love to have you start with a bit of your background. I know you have a nursing background, as well as military. So to get to this point of working in the pregnancy and postnatal space, I’d love to hear how you journeyed and chose labor and delivery as your specialty.
Oh, yes. It was a long journey. I started in the Air Force as a medic, and then halfway through, I was commissioned because I went to nursing school. So that’s how that happened, and you have a choice. You could do med surge, or OB. And I originally was going to do med surge because I have an emergency room background, actually. But it had been over a decade of me doing that, so I decided for something different, and I opted for OB. And I had my very first labor and delivery assignment in England. That, I think, was one of the pivotal things about the way I turned out to be because I didn’t start labor and delivery because I had this passion for it. I started it because I just wanted to change from emergency medicine.
And they train us, and during that training, I’m a pretty big perfectionist, I guess you could say. And I felt like they weren’t giving me enough training to help women with their pain, whether or not it was a natural unmedicated or just somebody dealing with an induction . If it wasn’t IV medication or pills, I wasn’t really getting any training. So I actually – within the first of me being a nurse – I was also older, too. I had a 15-year-old, and I was almost 40, I think. Around 37, 38 years old. So I started researching how to help women, and I came across doulas and what they are and do. And I’d never really heard of them. And I just saw all this comfort measures. So I was like, well, they’re not teaching me how to do these comfort measures, and I remembered in my birth, nobody helped me. I had a pretty – like, it wasn’t a good birth experience. Let’s just say that. So I remembered nobody helping me, and when I saw that that could have been an option, I said, well, I’m going to know how to do this. I remembered just being left alone and not even a suggestion, like not even here’s a birth ball; nothing. Stay in the bed. It was in ’95. I had my son in ’95.
And so when I looked up doulas, I was in Virginia because that’s where the training was. So I was stationed in England, but doing my training in Virginia. And I happened to find a lady named Kathy Stewart who is a DONA doula trainer in Richmond, which was about 60 miles from me. So I called her up, and I said, hey, can I come to one of your workshops? And she said, yeah, sure. I really didn’t know what I was getting into. But what she was teaching, they don’t teach nurses, and I thought, wow. This is important. They need to teach nurses this. And so I kind of thought, oh, this is the answer to everything.
I went back to England, and of course, they threw every natural labor they could at me.
Because you had the training. It’s like, okay, Marya’s got it.
She loves it.
Yeah, that’s how it goes with nurses in my area who are Spinning Babies trained. They end up working with me more often than not.
Yeah. So what happened, thought, it wasn’t always working, all these natural comfort measures, right? We were still getting stuck at 8 centimeters. We were still sometimes – she would opt for the epidural out of exhaustion, or it would end up in a C-section. And I was still kind of frustrated. And that’s how I found Spinning Babies. That was back in, I don’t know, 2011 or something like that. Long time. And I took my first workshop, and I said, oh, this is a big missing piece of the puzzle. That was the first time I’d ever heard the term myofascia. I didn’t know what myofascia was. And there wasn’t a lot of information. There was Facebook, but it wasn’t the social media platform it is today. There was no TikTok. There was barely YouTube. YouTube had a few things on there. So I was very intrigued with myofascia. And what I found for myself – like I said, I’m a perfectionist. So when I really am connecting with something, I just got to know how to do it. I’ve got to be the best at it, basically. But I was also a new labor and delivery nurse. I was also a new nurse. I was also, with the doula background, that’s not common for nurses, especially in 2010, 2011. And then I go to a Spinning Babies workshop. So then it was like, what is that? And I’m like, I don’t know how to explain it.
So in order to try to get it taken seriously, I studied myofascia because I felt like there was something in that, and I could maybe explain that to these doctors and nurses to make sense of it.
In a more medical way than just positions for labor? Yes.
Yeah, because it was like, how do I get them to understand that this is not a comfort measure? How do I get them to understand that it’s more scientific than they think? They’d never heard of it. The people I worked with in England had never heard of it. And I was still trying to figure it out.
So a few years went by, and I had a couple of bases. What happened would be, finally, they would start to kind of listen to me. I mean, I even brought my own peanut ball. That’s how long ago this was. We didn’t have peanut balls.
So nice to have all those tools in the hospital.
Yeah. So I went from England, then I actually went and got stationed at Langley. And I ended up – because Carol Phillips is so close to Langley, I started taking her workshops for her Dynamic Body Balancing. So I just really dove into the world of body work and fascia. I mean, around 2015, I was with Gail and the Spinning Babies trainers when she first started that, and so for a couple of years, I was able to teach Spinning Babies. But then I got stationed in Italy. When I got to Italy, everything changed. Everything was different. My access to communities was cut off, so to speak, because of being in Italy.
Time zone changes. There’s so much. I mean, even virtually, your work would be limited.
Well, there was no virtual then. There was no virtual, and then I’m in a country where they don’t speak English.
Right, so coaching is more established now than back then.
Oh, yeah. What I ended up doing was, instead of staying with Spinning Babies, I started to study Anatomy Trains by Tom Myers. And so while I was in Italy – so in 2016, I was in Italy. And I was studying Anatomy Trains and blowing my mind. Tom Myers just is so smart. And his book, Anatomy Trains, opened me up to this new understanding of fascia. Like, such a profound understanding of fascia.
Now, can you explain fascia for our listeners who don’t fully understand? I’ve had fascia work so I get it, but yeah, if you can explain that.
Yeah. So originally, like I said, when I was on that journey of myofascia – myofascia this and myofascia that – when I first started with Spinning Babies, I started to learn it was a connective tissue. That’s all I could really get. So I was – like, it’s a connective tissue. It weaves through the other fibers of your body, like your muscles and your tendons and your ligaments. And it kind of holds them. It’s the scaffolding. And it’s what keeps them together. And so that was the limited knowledge I had, and if the fascia was dry or dehydrated or unhealthy, maybe from overuse, underuse, injury – it sort of traps your muscles from functioning the way they were meant to function, which was lengthen and shorten. So during that time, I actually became a certified personal trainer, certified corrective exercise specialist, and started learning more about fascia and how it would create limited range of motion, or if you’re an athlete, you might not be able to – say you’re a marathon runner. You won’t be able to run as well if your fascia starts to get overworked because then the body starts to lose the integration of being structurally aligned. It starts getting pulled, and the bones start to follow that, and then you start getting pain in your hip, pain in your foot, pain in your shoulder. And what I found while learning with fascia is when you do fascia work, the fascia is from head to toe. It is weaved through every centimeter of your body. So when you have a fascia restriction – say in your ankle – you may feel that in your shoulder.
That’s what blew me away. Listening to people complain about their pain and how we always kept focusing – it’s in my back, so that’s where we focus, in the back, and now I’m just not getting better – then I started to learn through Anatomy Trains that it’s the whole system. So moving a bit, fast forward through 2016 through 2018, I started to take training classes with Tom Myers and going to Anatomy Trains workshops. And I became a body worker. And I originally thought I would use it for athletes because of me taking the certified personal training and stuff. But as I was practicing – well, I’m a labor and delivery nurse, right? So I’m practicing on my patients.
Right? Might as well!
And I was just like – I was blown away by the difference that it was making. There’s – like, I had so much better releases, just with labor, taking those – you know, the prodromal labor patterns or the dysfunctional labor pattern.
Yes, and for our listeners who don’t understand prodromal, can you define that?
Yeah. Well, prodromal is this appearance of labor. They’re very strong, and it’s confusing because when the cervix is examined, it’s maybe one or two centimeters. So by definition, an active labor cervix is five or more centimeters. So you have this mismatch going on. You only have a two centimeter cervix, but a woman really pounding out painful, strong contractions, sometimes back to back. They don’t get relief. Sometimes you get one, two, three in a row and then a pause. But they’re so strong that you’re just like, this has got to be labor. And a dysfunctional labor pattern is just when the contractions are either too far spaced apart that there’s no momentum, or they’re what we call coupling, where you’ve got two in a row back to back and then it’s a pause. And then maybe two or three, and then there’s a pause. So the body is just struggling to just kind of chug away. Like, a contraction, two or three minutes later another contraction; two or three minutes later, another contraction. That is the most optimal contraction pattern to keep it relatively equal between contractions because then the body is just driving smoothly, having that labor pattern that will create the dilation and the descent. And that’s what we’re looking for in the labor pattern.
Exactly, because it can be exhausting. I mean, it can be days of that at home before getting admitted.
I think it can be also heartbreaking or even traumatizing for some when they don’t understand what’s happening, and they show up at the hospital because that’s where they’re planning to birth, and they’re sent home with nothing.
And what do you do? And if you don’t have a doula, they’re home by themselves.
That was for me where – in my experience, we had all military, because I was a military nurse, and I was overseas for most of it. And they didn’t have doulas. There wasn’t a big doula community. You know, there’s language barriers and things, and information is not out there. They don’t have – I think doulas are a lot more popular now than they were ten years ago, and so these families were sent home to just be told, take Tylenol, Benadryl, or a bath. And honestly, you would see one of two things happening. They would come back frequently, and there would be some animosity building because they were told again, no, you’re not in labor, you’ve got to go back home.
They just want to stay, yeah.
Yeah. And then even some women who were like, I planned a natural birth, but I’ve been like this for a week. I can’t do this. I’m so tired. And I was like, this is so sad. And what I ended up doing was taking my training, the things I learned from Spinning Babies, the things I learned from Carol Phillips, my bodywork, and I started to do things in triage. And what I noticed was, I tell when it’s real labor. Like, you just see it enough. And I’m like, you know, this is probably kind of early labor for her, but I’m going to show them this – I call it my triage protocol or prodromal labor protocol. It’s a protocol for me. That might be my military stuff, but I have a certain – I do, like, five or six things, and they’ll either feel better, so they say, okay, I feel better. I’m not in so much pain. I’m going to go home, and we’ll come back later. I also am teaching their partner, you can do this at home, too. And then if they really were in labor, they would dilate. Sometimes we even had a baby in triage because prodromal labor, to me, is real labor.
It is. It’s effective. It’s taking longer, but it’s still doing work.
The reason it’s taking longer – and this is my opinion. Now, I’m going to talk to you as the body worker. As soft tissue mobilization is – they are physically stuck. When the fascia is not allowing the rest of the body to function, then everything gets stuck. So when I’m doing my – like, you can release fascia through positioning, like those – like, a sidelying release is a fascia release. That’s why you hold it for so long. Fascia can be released through stretches if you give it at least three to five minutes. It’s a very long type of stretch. And yoga actually even tackles this through yin yoga. If you’ve ever done a yin yoga session, you will sit in those positions to stretch for at least three minutes. And so as it unwinds – so you’ve got some muscle unwinding; the fascia is letting it go, and now the body can open. And this is a body work thing. So you’re taking these nurses and these doctors and these midwives who do not understand this because it’s not what they were trained for. And I feel like there’s a lack of communication between the body working world and the birth world because this – I am learning things outside. I take fascia webinars. I go to fascia workshops. I do dissection labs. I learn everything about the body and different ways to release it. Positional releasing, muscle energy technique, craniosacral therapy. All of that plays into how well the body functions during labor. And so this is so important. Now, you don’t have to become this body worker, but I’ve taken enough that in my training, I actually have like a 90-minute training of advance fascia work for those who feel ready for that because some people are just getting into birth, so you’ve got to learn these basic things. I realized, like, I’m very advanced. So I also took over a decade to get to this point, so I remember being very new. Obviously, I remember not even knowing what myofascia was. So I try to bring it down to a very digestible way to intake this very, very important information so nobody feels as though they have to become a body worker as well as a birth worker. However, if you have the knowledge, then maybe you can refer people. It’s so important to know who’s in your community, know the type of work they do so you send your client or patient to the right person. We don’t have to do this alone. I do this across the country. I have looked for different types of soft tissue mobilization workers. So you’ve got structural integrators, rolfers, osteopaths, and there’s another one. I can’t think of the name of it. There’s different names for these similar modalities, but it really is fascia work, and I’m going to have to say – it’s not massage. Massages are nice. They’re relaxing, but they’re not fascia work. You really have to find fascia work. And since it’s not so mainstream, so many people do not understand how to do this. So, I know how to do it. I will Google. I’ve asked people I don’t even know. Maybe they’ve reached out to me on social media. I’m like, well, what city and state, or what city – I do my best because if you’re from a totally different country, I may not be able to find that person for you, but I can go onto Rolfing Institute or Structural Integration and find, like, they have find a therapist. And I’ll find the country you’re in, and I’ll see if there’s something around where you live. I’ve done this in Spain, and I’ve done this in the US. I’ve done this in Canda. It’s because I want people to get this work done so they have such an easier birth. I know people don’t really agree with the word “easier” and “birth” at the same time, not everybody, but I do.
Yeah, I mean, who doesn’t want a smoother or easier birth? Not necessarily faster, but yeah.
Just let the body do what it was designed to do. But the way you as an individual live your life, that makes the difference. If you are somebody who is too sedentary, the fascia network that is weaving through all your muscles and soft tissues, like your ligaments and stuff, actually gets very disorganized. And I don’t have, obviously, a visual aid right now, but the disorganization of fascia creates restriction and then the muscles cannot lengthen and shorten. And then think about how the muscles have to lengthen to allow the bones to move for the baby’s passage through the birth canal.
Of course, yes.
So if you’re not getting that, then it’s going to be tougher and longer.
Right. Yeah, that is beautiful. So you offer coaching. You offer training for birth workers. You have an app for birthing parents. So let’s start with the app and then cover a little bit of the other ways that our listeners can touch base with you.
The things that I do – I’m very multifaceted because what I’ve learned along the way as a labor nurse, as a body worker, and I also studied with Bob Proctor for mindset work. I believe there’s a holistic approach to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. And that’s something that found me, so it’s such a calling and feels like this is my purpose. This is why I’m here. So as I was learning, and now I get on social media and I’m talking; I’m trying to raise awareness about soft tissue body work. That’s what I’m calling it, because I don’t want to box in, the only work you can get is this, because say for example if I say the only work is rolfing – if it’s not available in your area, then you’re going to be stuck. So you’ve got to know, what is rolfing? Rolfing is soft tissue mobilization. So that’s how you would start opening the idea of like, okay, maybe we’ll start here. If we can’t start there, I’m going to look for a certain type of therapist for my body. And so I’m on social media, and TikTok is one of my bigger platforms, and I would get messages. Like, I’m in prodromal labor. I just started thinking, like, I’ve got to figure out a way to help these people faster, right?
And then one day I kind of just woke up and I was like, an app. I’ve got to make an app. Everything’s on an app. Like, that’s the first question we start to ask now. Is there an app for that? Is there an app for that? I saw this make-your-own-app, but the reviews were like, oh, when it glitches, nobody’s there to help me. And I said, okay, we cannot have laboring mothers on a glitchy app. So I found a wonderful developer, and we started creating the DLM app, which stands for Dysfunctional Labor Maneuvers. And I also was thinking about the app because there’s limited access to getting some of the training, and I said, you know, sometimes you don’t need the training. You’ve just to do exactly as I say, and it will work, right? So I said, but I can do that on an app with videos. That’s how I learn all the time. If I have to learn how to do something, I get on YouTube, and I learn how to change a lightbulb in my car. I get on YouTube. So I was like, I’m going to make an app.
So originally, the app is meant to have a parent option and a professional option. Right now, the professional option is still in the mix. It’s almost done, though. But I wanted to get the parents side done. The parent side was a lot easier. But it’s specifically for these moments of uncertainty. If you’re feeling a prodromal labor pattern, or if you’re – early labor can be very confusing, too, because it’s irregular but you feel contractions. If you’ve just never felt this before, you don’t know what to do. So you go on the app and you basically are asked a few questions. It’s like what you would do when you go to triage. They would ask how long are your contractions; are they regular. And so it’s a systematic questionnaire that brings you to the solution. And very easy for parents; they don’t have to know anything except, I would say, maybe how to read. I don’t have a voiceover for the questionnaires. And it’s in English because as this app – it will grow, and I figure as the need starts, maybe there will be some translated versions of it. I don’t know. But it’s in English, and so you will have to know how to read English.
Beautiful. I mean, as doulas, we’re always referring different apps to our clients, whether it’s a contraction timer or a registry app or to count the kicks; whatever it might be.
This is for just women who are more than 38 weeks because this work is so effective. I do not want any woman who is not full term, at least 38 weeks, to be doing this. If you feel contractions and you’re not term yet, you really should be going to the doctor, not hopping on an app to see if you can make the contractions feel better.
Good point. Yes.
This app is for labor. It isn’t for prenatal anything. And it’s because there’s nothing to help these families who are in difficult, challenging labor, maybe turned away from the hospital because their cervix isn’t dilating, and they don’t have a doula, and they don’t have anybody who’s savvy with labor or birth. Then this app – it’s like having me in your pocket. And I tried to think of every scenario that I could, and it’s done by algorithm. So as you plug in your answers, the videos that will help you should pop up. That’s all you need to do. Once you finish watching the videos, it gives you what to expect next so that you know, okay, well, now that I did that, what do I do? And so that was my way of trying to be there for every family because that’s one of the things. We can’t be there for every family.
No. I mean, even if they could afford to hire you as a coach, you can only coach so many families at the same time. And you can’t really turn people away if they’re at 38 weeks and they need you now. So this is a great alternative.
And the professional side is much more complex. It is going to include triage scenarios. It’s going to include epidurals, and even once you do the – we’re calling them exercises, so we’re not being complicated, because sometimes I’ll say body work and people are like, what is that? So I’m just calling them exercises. And then after, then there’s how to – a good way to use the peanut ball very strategically. That’s in the professional side. And I made the professional side, even though I have – Dysfunctional Labor Maneuvers is the course that I teach to professionals on the work that I have done over the last decade, in combining my body work and all the other things that I’ve learned about positioning and movement. And I have that option online. So you can take an online Dysfunctional Labor Maneuvers workshop, and I do have some in person, but these in person workshops, not everybody can get to. Some people have to work or they have families, or they live too far. And I said, like, we’ve got to make this accessible to every birth professional. So I put mine online for anybody who can’t make an in-person workshop. I love in person workshops. There’s so many things that pop up that maybe wouldn’t have popped up in any other time.
Sure. Especially with hands-on work, it’s so beneficial. I couldn’t imagine doing Spinning Babies, the two day training I took, virtually.
This is something – but learning it online, I think a lot of things changed during COVID. A lot of online training came, and out of necessity. So I was like, you know what? Like, this might be second best to in person, but what if you didn’t get any of it?
Exactly. I mean, I taught my comfort measures for labor class virtually for two years. It still helped couples. It’s just different.
Yes, exactly. And then especially, I remember taking workshops, leaving, and going, I don’t remember anything. So having it online, it’s online; it’s self-paced. So if you can’t remember something, you can go back to your video lessons because you have access to the lessons. But I realized how complimentary the app now is for the professionals because if you took the online course and you do have the videos, you’re not going to have time to pull them up in a labor.
Not at all. An app is easy to look at quickly.
Yes. And so what I realized, and I remember this with the doula training. I said, being a nurse, taking doula training, I said there’s nothing for these doulas after they take their training. They have no preceptor. They’re going in by themselves. And I was like, this is – that must be so hard for a doula to go through, her first client, right? And so what I really felt like was like, it’s going to be a preceptor. The app for professionals. If you took any kind of training, even if it was a Spinning Babies training or even if it was my training, it doesn’t matter, right? You’ve got the idea, but you can’t remember when to use what, and you’re trying to quickly think on your feet because some hospitals, they’ve got a little time clock ticking for some people.
Right, and you’ve tried everything, and you’re exhausted, and it’s like, what do I do now? The nurse and I have strategized. We’ve tried everything. What’s next?
Yeah, and I’ve got these chat groups where people come in and say, I’ve got this, but, you know, not everybody’s on their phone or responsive to it. So I was like, you know what, if you’ve never done this before and you’ve just maybe took an in-person class or you just took my online class, and now you’re at your first birth, download the app. Use the app. Everything that I teach, it’s in the app. It’s just going to be – I don’t explain it. There’s no, like, let’s talk about it. It is like, what is your signs and symptoms? Here’s the videos. What do you got? Here’s what you do. This isn’t a place to learn theory. This is a place to do the action. And so that was what I felt like. I said, this is like a preceptor for them. That way when they finish up any kind of training, and they go in with their first client or even with nurses, you may be juggling two patients. You don’t have time to jump on your computer or jump on your phone to go look something up and dig through all these videos of training when you can just go into the app and be like, I have this, this, this, and this. What videos do I do? What do I do?
Why don’t you give me your different social handles, your website, all of the different contact info that our listeners, whether they are a birth professional or a pregnant couple, so they can find you?
Yes. My website is simple. On Facebook, I do have a group called Dysfunctional Labor Maneuvers. That is private for birth professionals. You’re welcome to join. And I do have a community chat, and that’s where some people get on to say, hey, I have this going on. I’ve done this. I’ve done this. Can somebody help me? So we come on, and we help each other out on that. I’m on TikTok a lot as @empoweredbirthpregnancy. Instagram, @empowered_birth_pregnancy. Empowered Birth and Pregnancy is my company name. And then my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
And Marya, if they’re searching to download your app, how do they find it in the app store?
In the app store, Android and iOS, DLM App. It’s rose gold with DLM written on it. It’s easy to see because of the icon being rose gold. My team did a very beautiful job. I said, make it beautiful. That’s what I told them.
Love it! Well, I can’t wait to check it out! Any last minute tips for our listeners?
My biggest tip, I’m going to say, to birth professionals is learn your community. Find your soft tissue body workers. Raise awareness to these families that this is – it is an investment in yourself, in your pregnancy, in your birth outcome to really take the soft tissue work as part of your prenatal care. And families, look for somebody in your area. You only have to go once or twice a month. It’s not a consistent thing where you’ve got to go every two or three days. But you know chiropractic is good work, too, but imagine how well your chiropractic can work if your soft tissues are beautifully aligned and allowing that adjustment that a chiropractor would make. I think that is such a synergistic way to take care of your body in pregnancy.
Love it. Thank you so much, Marya. We’ll have to have you on again. You have so much valuable information.
Thank you for having me on! I appreciate it.