Pictured here are nine babies I use in my childbirth classes. I am cheap -- I mean, frugal. I could have purchased very expensive dolls from a company that specializes in education materials for this purpose. I could have eve gone to Toys R Us and bought them brand new. But being as I love saving money and find it a challenge to see how little of it I can spend and still have a useful item, I decided to scour my local thrift stores. It didn't happen in one day, it took time and persistence, but one by one I acquired these dolls.
See the one on the top shelf, middle position, with the tattoos on his head? He's my favorite, and I bring him out every week to show a baby's position in the womb, or how a baby's head appears when crowning, or how to breastfeed in a laid-back position. The other dolls only come out in the breastfeeding class.I also purchased newborn clothes from thrift stores so they wouldn't be cold and naked.
I bet I paid no more than $25 for the whole set. After the class when they are used, I clean their hard surfaces with a Clorox wipe and return them to their cupboard. Once every 6 months I wash their clothes. In "Coach's Notebook," by Linda J. Smith, she cautions about handling dolls as carefully as you would real babies, to model positive behavior for your participants. I have a habit of sitting my little model baby in my lap, facing outward, with his feet crossed at the ankles in a comfy, watching-TV-in-the-recliner position during class. It makes people smile, although a real baby wouldn't sit like that for long.
I have a fake uterus I use as well, also purchased at a thrift store -- but I will save that for another post (hint: it was repurposed from something else). There are some things you will just have to buy, like your favorite DVDs or copyrighted printed materials, so anything you can creatively recycle leaves you more in your budget for the things that just won't budge.
first labors are longer. There are ways to help shorten labor length, such as being active and upright. In next week's class we will get into the stages of labor and talk more about that."
And so it goes for every worry. If I don't have any information to offer off the top of my head (meaning it was more unusual), I take the break to dig something up. I offer my findings, and I make a promise to find additional sources of information in the coming weeks. My biggest caution is to never leave anyone feeling more worried when they leave than they were before they came. In fact, I ask that at the end of the first class, and I make sure we have about 7 minutes to debrief and digest.
How do I address worries that aren't found in a biology textbook? A worry that comes up almost every time is "money." While I don't have any segment of class dedicated to how a family can afford their baby, I do offer many tips on saving money in almost all my classes. Whether it's finding a doula on a budget (class 3), or skipping the expensive breastfeeding gear (class 5) or unnecessary baby supplies (class 6), I like to think (because I am a cheapskate!), if they are along for the ride, they will get some ideas about reducing their expenses a bit.
This Operation head is likely hard to come by. I don't know, check eBay. But I have seen two at thrift stores -- I bought one to give to my mentor doula and trainer, and I left the other one on the shelf, not realizing probably somewhere out there, it could be a valuable resource. If I ever see another one, I will buy it! In the meantime, I have seen at least two options that would work for creative minds:
I would cut a hole in the doll above's head, and probably carve out a hole in the wig forms's as well, and add a wig, of course! It's okay to be fun and silly -- it helps put people at ease and keeps them interested. If you have any questions or would like a more detailed outline of this activity, ask.
Happy silly, effective, creative teaching!
I plan to offer creative tips for educators once or twice a week; "like" me on Facebook to stay in the loop!
In honor of our men and women who have served in our military, today's post shares the story of one family's birth experience when Dad couldn't make it home from his Air Force assignment. Using technology, Dad was able to participate via Skype, and he still had his leave 2 weeks later so this new family did have time together before Dad had to return to service.
When Lloyd got his orders and was leaving for the middle east, I was newly, newly pregnant. We knew this might happen. We made the decision to start a family anyway. This was Lloyd's second tour to the middle east. He had good expectations of what to expect, and so did I.
I have been used to being home while he is away. We were engaged shortly before his basic training. As I said, he had been gone before. We had good ways of communicating. We would email and we tried to Skype once a week if not more than that. A friend on base suggested a doula. She said there was something military moms found helpful called Operation Special Delivery where trained women would help military families, especially if the father was away. I got a list of doulas from the Beale Pediatric Clinic and started calling around. I found my doula and she was about an hour from base, but it seemed like it would work. After all, my husband was due to have some R&R around my due date, and the plan was he would come home then. My doctor was open to inducing us so Lloyd could be there at the birthing.
My doula and I would meet so she could give me childbirth classes and help me with things I wanted to know. Once we even Skyped with Lloyd so it was almost like a a regular visit with mom and dad and doula, lol. I was feeling ready. I had things mostly ready at home. I was excited to have my baby and have Lloyd home!
Lloyd was schedule to come near my due date on June 17th. I woke up the morning of June 4th thinking I had wet the bed. I realized my water had broken. It was about 4:30 am and I wasn't sure what to do! This was not supposed to be! I got calm and quickly called my doula. She said sit tight, call your doctor, and I'm on my way. I did all that, and then I waited.
We got to the hospital at about 8:00. I wasn't really feeling contractions yet but my doctor wanted me to come in. I got an IV and they started a little bit of pitocin. I had trying to get in touch with Lloyd. I was sending him emails and I just hoped maybe he would check before he went to bed. With luck he did. He was able to Skype in and I had my laptop. We had set up the computer in the room so Lloyd could see me and I could see him.
Lloyd was about 11 hours ahead of us and he had a full day already. He was excited though. It took about 8 hours before I was feeling ready to have our baby. I was excited. But suddenly I was feeling something else. I was afraid and nervous. The doctor said I was ready to push, go ahead! But I felt frozen. I really felt I needed Lloyd right there with me. I felt like I was going to panic and I started to cry. My doula hugged me. She asked if I could have a few minutes alone to talk to Lloyd on the computer. It was a funny thing for her to do, but my doctor understood. My doula was going to leave the room, but I asked her to stay at the door while I talked to Lloyd. He just told me we were so close now! He said he was sorry it happened this way but he would be with us soon. He told me he loved me and was so proud of me. After I had a little crying spree, and my doula came back to hold my hand, the nurses and doctors returned. Lloyd was on my little table on the computer screen. My doula was next to me. I started to push.
We moved the table a bit so Lloyd could see our baby be born. My doula ended up behind me on the bed, supporting me as I sat up to push. Our baby came fast once I went through my emotional sadness and fear. We named her Evelyn and she weighed 7 pounds even. It was incredible, and even though my husband wasn't there physically, our doula helped us figure out how to manage things to still have great birth memories and experience. I am so grateful to Operation Special Delivery and to our doula and what they do for military families.
Lloyd, Marin, Evelyn and (new baby!) Jake currently reside in Idaho. Lloyd and Marin had a doula for their second baby, and Lloyd was there for the whole thing. Marin plans to train as a doula to help others in the future.
I have known Avira for almost a year now. I remember being struck by her professionalism, and entirely impressed by what she had built up, all while waiting and feeling frustrated at the lack of doula clients coming her way. She didn't sit around waiting for business, she went out and created awareness about doulas, and community for birth workers! I was amazed at what her passion and efforts had "birthed." Hopefully this is encouraging to anyone still feeling stuck in that waiting period between wanting to work as a doula, and actually working as a doula!
I had felt a tug since my own births, the first being over 12 years ago, that I wanted to be involved in other women’s births. But raising two little ones, dealing with special needs, and deciding to homeschool my children for a time, meant there was little time to give to this dream.
A new season in my life opened a way to my doula training at the end of 2011. It was intoxicating and surreal to be fully immersed in my favorite subject for a full weekend!
Afterwards I was left with the job to complete my certification steps and to blaze forward in this work, on my own accord, which seemed daunting, if not impossible. I was in an area that seemed to have NO birth community or even an awareness of what doula care is. There did seem to be a thriving little birth community about an hour away, but that didn’t seem very practical as a source to plug into, as our local moms would not be reaching that far either.
After a few months it occurred to me that I needed to start to round up some doulas to create a support circle. There were at least the ones I did the training with, and I had caught wind of a second nearby training that had taken place shortly after mine, so there MUST be enough of us to start a group! I sent out an email to everyone’s name I could gather, and the email got forwarded and forwarded, and soon we had rounded up a group of about 7 of us who were interested in meeting. We met at a local coffee shop and chatted up a storm. One of these amazing ladies, Coleen Salazar, was an experienced doula and IBCLC who had moved to our small area from San Diego several years ago, and was such a valuable resource for us! She welcomed us into her home for monthly meetings! From there we started our little Valley Doula Group, which ranged from 3-8 doulas a meeting. We would advance our education by digging into subjects and even have an occasional guest come and share with us. More than anything our purpose was to share and support each other on our various paths of birth work. This group was so inspirational and so needed for me. I would leave every night with my cup overflowing, by having others to share in my passion with me.
As months went by, as much as I tried to promote myself as a doula in the community, no births would come. I felt so frustrated. How am I going to be a doula if no one will choose me to be theirs! Even offers of minimal fees and sliding scale didn’t seem to work. Then it occurred to me… people are not going to hire a doula if they don’t know what one is!
Sadly, we live in an area where a very small percent of the population seemed to care about their childbirth experiences, very few even attend the low-cost or free childbirth education offered by the local hospitals. I knew that it had to start with education!
Where I had formerly lived, in San Luis Obispo, CA, there was a “Birth & Baby Network." I had browsed through one of their resource guides while sitting in the waiting room for an appointment with the CNM group who was providing my care. It was by browsing through that pamphlet, back in 2001, when I learned of the term doula, and became area of all my local pregnancy, birth, and parenting-related resources.
The idea hit me like a lightning bolt! We need a local birth network!! Ideas are funny how they hit you and they stick, and fester and grow. Well that’s precisely what happened. Soon I had the name chosen, the website purchased, began building it (thanks to my IT savvy husband!) and the beginnings of a birth network started to take structure. Now I just needed a team!
Surprisingly only one of the doulas from our doula group was as inspired as me: Denise Stricklind, a local doula, placenta encapsulation specialist, and birth photographer. Denise recognized the need in our area and was fully on board with my mission! Together we plugged away, like a full time job, how to establish a local birth network as a resource for support and education in our community.
Visalia Birth Network was founded in the late summer/early fall of 2012. Now, a year and half later, we have grown to 21 members, all various local professionals who support the Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative, which is the cornerstone of the Coalition to Improve Maternity Services and birth networks across the globe. The 10 steps in this Initiative propose a wellness model of maternity care that improves birth outcomes and substantially reduces costs. Every member must endorse this document upon joining.
VBN offers free monthly educational meetings for our community. We have had topics like: 10 Ways to Avoid a Primary Cesarean Birth, Cloth Diapering and Baby-wearing, the Midwifery Model of Care, Perinatal Mood Disorders, VBAC: Can it be Done, Breastfeeding Q & A, and so much more. We also make a monthly appearance at our local farmers market to help integrate, and we also host some amazing events throughout the year such as the BOLD Red Tent (our 1st one coming this Saturday!), the Big Latch On, and the Rally to Improve Birth. We are a local collective of moms and professionals who care about birth experiences and who strive to make grassroots change in our community (you can follow us on Facebook if you’d like to keep up with our activities!).
I love the way VBN seems to be impacting our community. We are starting to have loyal moms, who come out each month, not only for the information but for the support circle that VBN provides. It’s a group where moms are met with nurturing, supportive, and a “come as you are” attitude. I believe moms are grateful for our presence.
And the other good news is that I’m starting to get busier with doula work! Our education appears to be working too! Moms are learning the benefits of doula care and the undeniable help that doulas offer at every birth. My hope is that this birth community we’ve created continues to grow and take hold in our area for years to come, and that our area moms and families continue to benefit from the access and support of caring perinatal professionals.
Avira has an expansive list of accomplishments! I just want to share what I know about her. She is eager to learn and eager to help. She has passion and talent. Avira's ability to rearrange her goals in order to maintain her love for doula work is the sign of her endurance and her creative thinking -- both excellent qualities on someone who supports families through the birth process! It has been a joy to work with her, and I have appreciation for what she offers to area moms, babies, and birth workers! Find her through her website, her Facebook page, VBN's Facebook page, and if you are an area doula, check out the Valley Doula Group.
Deanna Dawson-Jesus is a force to be reckoned with! Not satisfied with how she found her environment as a new doula, she set out to do something about it. It is amazing the way she utilized her prior computer and tech skills to build up the doulas around her. Huge thanks to Deanna for sharing her encouraging story with us today!
In my pre-doula life, I was an IT Professional. I taught users how to use their software and their computers. I explained highly technical aspects of their business to the users in language that they could understand. I drew pictures, I made analogies, and I got “down” to their level. Fast forward twenty years, and I’m still training people…but this time, I’m doing it as a Doula, Childbirth and Lactation Educator and Doula Mentor. I have been a Birth Doula for about thirteen years. I have helped almost two-hundred families be born. I remember what it was like when I was a brand-new Baby Doula.
When I started, I was older, had been in the Professional Business world for almost twenty years. I had experience about how to run a business…and I still struggled. Thank God/dess, The Universe and Little Fishies for my amazingly supportive husband. Starting your own business is scary, amazingly hard work! I needed to make money…get clients…build my network. I knew I needed to make connections, meet other doulas, and learn from more experienced doulas...that meant meeting them. But how? Twelve years ago the Internet wasn’t what it is now. There was no Facebook. AOL groups existed…but the concept of Social Media was a baby too. So, I started looking, reading, and talking. I GOT OUT THERE! If I met anyone in the Birth Community that was willing to talk, I asked for a coffee-date. Then one day, I don’t remember how, I saw a posting for a doula group at a local retail store. So, I went. It was me and two experienced doulas. That was it. And I sucked up everything I could from them. One of these fine ladies was Holly Wiersma, whom I still consider a dear friend and mentor, the other has since moved away.
Then I started doing what I do best. I organized. I socialized. I got active in the community…and started gathering Birthing Energy where-ever and when-ever I could find it. I created the Birthing Babies ~ Breakfast Club…a social networking group so other professionals could connect; OBs, Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, etc.…anyone that worked with women through Childbirth and Breastfeeding. I got involved at local retail stores, volunteered for local organizations…but I was doing this mostly all on my own…but I needed more. I continued to go to that local doula group…and volunteered/took over anything that I could do to help those doulas organize and participate even more in the community. Baby fairs? Yes. Meet The Doula Nights? Yes. Letter writing and mailing campaigns? Yes. Anything I could! Flash forward to 2014 and I am one of the Leaders of that same San Francisco East Bay doula group.
That group is the Mt. Diablo Doula Community (Facebook Page) and we currently have about 25 active members. The MDDC meets on the first Wednesday of every month. The members have a meeting at 5:30pm where we have a Guest Speaker or Peer Review…or we just sit and share. Then at 7pm the evening is open to anyone that wants to come and learn about Birth and Postpartum Doulas…and they get to meet the members. Part of being a good leader is sharing your experience. Helping others learn from your successes (and mistakes) so they don’t have to re-invent the wheel. I like to talk and share and I love to help. As time progressed, I had new doulas always asking, “Can I shadow you.” I remember asking to shadow experienced doulas when I was new as well; and never felt welcome. It’s hard to get that experience. I’m sure you can understand that asking a client “Can a stranger can come in and watch you birth?” isn’t really going to go over well…but what if it was a benefit?
Part of my Business Plan is to always have a “1-year,” “5-year,” and “10-year” plan. I had been thinking about what I wanted to do when I wasn’t physically able to participate in 24+ hour births. I’m fifty years old now; births are hard on a body. What can I do to continue to make my doula business successful, now and in the future? I knew that teaching was the answer. And then I got to thinking about mentoring and training new doulas. Helping Baby Doulas seemed to be the perfect fit. So now, I am one of the only doulas in my area that actually “sells” a Shadow Doula in my Doula Service Package. This Shadow Doula is a new doula that comes to all the client’s meetings, and would be present for the birth…and if I couldn’t be there, the client KNOWS this doula and has continuity of care with their back-up. The Baby Doula gets to watch and learn, gets experience with me, and we have debriefing meetings. At the debriefing meetings the Baby Doula can ask questions, discuss their business practice with me, get ideas and I also challenge them if they might be straying from their “Scope of Practice.” It’s kind-of like Life Coaching…but it is Doula Life.
This has lead me to have a Facebook Doula Mentoring Group. There is also a free online doula mentoring session once a month; on the fourth Thursday at 10am. I have an in-person Group Mentoring Session monthly as well; it's associated with the MDDC and free to MDDC Members, but anyone can attend for a minimal fee. I also do one-on-one mentoring sessions (online or in person) for a fee.
This is me using all my experience, talents and wisdom to help Baby Doulas be the best they can be. At the same time, I continue to build my Doula Business and am enjoying watching my passion morph in to the next phase. I love birthing Baby Doulas. I love seeing these doulas become strong and capable and trusting of their own Birth Wisdom. I love my work.
Deanna Dawson-Jesus has been practicing as a Birth Doula and Childbirth Educator for eighteen years and has helped over 160 families. She has been certified as a Birth Doula (by both DONA and CAPPA), is a Certified Lactation Educator, and has been a certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner. Deanna has additional extensive training in Assisted Reproductive Technologies, VBAC support and Perinatal Loss Support. Deanna’s birthing philosophy is simple; “Your Birth, Your Way.” Find her via her Facebook page or on Twitter.
I met Falen through Tongue Tie Babies Support Group. When she suggested this post for Mother's Day I was thrilled, and I cried through the whole thing! Have your tissues handy! And all I can say to Falen and Dona is, thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For sharing this gift with us.
Falen: My Mother, My Doula
I knew I wanted a doula even before I became pregnant. The support that comes from being surrounded by a community of supportive women is unparalleled. But just who would that person be? Could that person be the one woman who has been there my entire life?
I knew my mother has long aspired to become a doula, to support mothers in birth. Not long after I told her we were expecting I asked the big question, will you be my doula? I was nervous and excited. She was too. She signed up for training right away.
The day of my son’s arrival finally came. I called her in the wee hours of the morning to let her know that this was the day. She drove three hours from her home to mine to be there for me. She came prepared, ready to put her newfound knowledge to work. I had been laboring for hours through the night by myself, pacing back and forth. It was so nice to have a familiar hand to hold to keep me grounded.
When I was ready to go to my birthing suite, to get the relief of the big Jacuzzi tub, she helped me call my midwife and made sure all of my bags were ready. She packed up the cars along with my husband and followed behind us as he drove us to the hospital.
When we arrive in our room, she carefully and quietly surveys the room to make sure my birth plan wishes are being honored. She assists me in communicating with the nurses as the contractions already a couple minutes apart come and go. We begin to move around the room with a rhythm. She follows me wherever I go. Holds my hand, offers her body for support. She runs her fingers through my hair or just sits quietly as I rest when my body allows.
As the day wears on I know she must be exhausted, her body must be tiring. But she never shows it. She just keeps offering herself to me. She supports me as only a mother can.
The following are the words I wrote about our experience just days after my son’s birth:
“How can someone perform so many roles and perform them so well, so seamlessly? Every touch radiated love and care. Every look raised my confidence. When I thought I couldn't possibly go any further, her presence told me I could. She did it. I can do it. She is here to support me in every moment. She is here through every contraction. She is here through every second of pure exhaustion. She is nervous and anxious but she never shows it. She is strong. She is strong for me. She labors with me. She pushes me through. She shares in my joy. She shares in my love. Our bond only grows stronger. I now know how she feels, what being a mother really means. It can't be described, only felt, only lived.”
I can’t imagine my son’s birth without her. I can’t imagine becoming a mother without my own by my side. It didn’t stop there, though. She stayed with me through the toughest time of my life. She had planned to stay a few days while we settled in to our new routine. But something wasn’t right. My son wasn’t nursing and he was losing weight rapidly.
She urged me to see a lactation consultant and went with me. At the consult he was weighed and I was told I should see his doctor immediately. The lactation consultant made an appointment for us and we went straight there. After the visit with a doctor we ended up in the NICU. They had to transport him to another hospital when he became unstable. My mother, my doula, held me up as I walked down the hallway and out the doors of the hospital without my son.
This was the hardest moment of my life. I felt like my everything had been ripped from me. She drove me to the NICU hospital and held me as we waited to see my son again. She held me in the NICU room as I stood there staring at my son hooked up to machines. She held me and her grandson while I struggled to nurse him. She was there through it all.
They made her leave after hours. But as soon as those visiting hours started she was there. Even waiting outside the door for the clock to strike so she could come give me the support I so desperately waited for through the long nights.
After we returned home so did she. I was so sad to see her go. But I knew with her encouragement and love that she had given me over the last few days that I could do it. I could be the mother I needed to be. And of course I could call on her during those quiet moments of doubt when only she would understand what I was going through. For only she was there to feel it all with me.
Dona: Mother, Nana, Doula
When my daughter asked me to be her Doula, I was so honored and excited. Not only was I going to be able to finally be a doula, something I had only dreamt of, I was going to be there to assist my daughter. I better get to work, I thought. I had to learn all I could. I wanted to be at my best, after all, this was MY daughter and MY grandson. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. I did my best to listen to my trainers. I also read every book I could get my hands on. One of the most important things I think I did was to talk to other Doulas and Midwives about their experience.
The day finally came. The three-hour drive in the wee hours of the morning was the longest ride of my life. I was on the hands-free phone with her most of the time, checking contractions, praying that it was God’s will for me to be there when she needed me. As I arrived, we went over her home plans and realized she was in active stage and could get some relief from the big Jacuzzi in the birthing suite, so off we all went. On the way to the hospital I thought, am I doing this right, am I saying the right things? As we arrived I went over her birth plan. Was the room dark enough, was it quiet enough? Making sure every support staff had copy of her plan.
Her labor was long and at sometimes it seemed that way. In other ways it seemed to go by so quickly. She received relief from the Jacuzzi. Finally I was able to see my daughter (yes, she is my daughter and client all at once, but my heart said daughter at this moment) calm and relaxed. I remember running my fingers through her hair as I did when she was young, thinking my baby is having her own baby. Holding her hand as we had millions of times before, but this time was different.
The hours went by and I assisted her in about every laboring/pushing position you could think of (if you’re a doula you know what I mean). She was exhausted, I was exhausted, but she pushed through. And then finally her baby crowned, and she pushed through the head. Part of her birth plan was that she had wanted to be able to touch the head and that she wanted her baby to hear her voice first. Her midwife placed her hand on the baby’s head and with a finger to my lips I reminded everyone to be silent (what my daughter didn’t know is, that she had pushed the baby's head all the way out and the baby was looking at us with great wonderment). It seemed like hours as we all waited patiently in silence. Then when she was ready, the last push, and he was here!
I can’t explain the emotions I was going through. The love that I had for my daughter at that moment was like no other time before, the bond that I already felt for my grandson, and the pure physical exhaustion. I was a Mother, a Nana, and a Doula.
Falen currently teaches full time. She aspires to become a lactation consultant after her challenges breastfeeding her son. "Like" her blog to follow her and read her musings and experiences.
Dona currently teaches full time while working toward becoming a certified birth and postpartum doula through DONA. She plans to help teen moms who would otherwise be unable to afford a doula. She serves the greater Detroit area. Contact her via email.
Amber Dayney, BA, CD(DONA), is an amazing doula and a wonderful friend. She attended the first DONA doula training I helped facilitate in Chico, and since then, she and I have worked hard together to build the doula community in Chico, often being the only two doulas to show up at our doula support meetings! We eventually helped create the Chico Doula Circle. She is an asset to families with her caring, quiet, compassionate ways. She has expanded her services to also offer postpartum doula support and placenta encapsulation. She has trained with Ina May and worked as a midwife's assistant, and she hopes to be a midwife one day. I miss her dearly and hope someday we can partner up again for births!
So my boyfriend recently related a story to me in which he ran into an old friend of his from high school. She has two kids, and when he told her that his girlfriend is a doula, she had an interesting reaction. She said that doulas are all about natural childbirth, and she wasn't into that at all. For both of her births, she utilized medicinal pain relief.
Now, I have no idea what this woman's history or story is, but I wanted to take the opportunity to clear up this misconception. Over half of the women I have supported during labor and birth have decided either on the spot, or beforehand, to use a medical intervention to decrease the intensity of their contractions. I am proud to say that most of these women had already planned to use this option, and only one time, in a prolonged labor, did a client of mine, who was planning not to use any, end up with an epidural. When a woman gets any kind of medicinal pain relief, there is still a lot a doula can do to support her during her labor and birth.
Sometimes, when a woman no longer has to focus on the physical aspects of labor, her mind will start racing. It is not uncommon for a woman to start thinking things like "Is my baby ok?" "Is everything going all right?" or even "I feel like I can't breathe." A doula's role is then to support the mother emotionally and assure her when everything is going along normally. She can help point out when the mother is having contractions, and in this way, she can still connect the mother to the fact that she is in labor.
It is a good idea to have mothers move at least every 20 minutes, to help the baby become engaged in the birth canal, and move labor along. Sometimes this can be a challenge when the mother is numb and/or unable to move her legs. The doula knows specific positions to help the mother get in, which are appropriate in this scenario.
Sometimes, care providers will want to let the epidural or other drug wear off a little before the mom starts to push. This makes it easier for her to feel when and how to push her baby out. A doula will then jump right in with the physical comfort measures she has been professionally trained to provide.
And lastly, sometimes pain relief, for whatever reason, doesn't work out. Sometimes a woman may still have 'windows' of pain where the drug doesn't numb her. Or, if her labor is moving very quickly, she may not have time to utilize the pain medication she was planning on.
Doulas are not here to judge or impose on your birth story. We support women in whatever choices are right for you. Childbirth is intense and filled with a myriad of physical and emotional ups and downs. A doula will help navigate the waters of labor and birth for any mother who desires her support.
"I come to this field as a woman, and as a daughter. I am a teacher, and also a student. A former aspiring elementary school teacher, I was drawn to this work after hearing stories from my young mother friends who had less than ideal birth experiences. I truly know that a positive and empowered pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period is integral to creating a more compassionate species."
Find Amber online at her website or her Facebook page.
Our lived-in houses say so much about us -- from the paint colors, to the furniture, the pictures on the walls – even the wear of our carpets which reveal paths like game trails on a hillside. However lovely the décor or the price of the art within, a potential buyer has to be able to shape your home into her home and envision her life and experiences there.
I am pretty keen on watching HGTV. What happens time and time again is a person or couple's inability to see past the décor, dated furnishings, popcorn ceilings, and linoleum to make that space theirs. I am constantly shouting at my TV, like the enraged football fan yelling at the ref: "You can paint over that!" or "You can buy new appliances!" or "You aren't keeping their furniture!" It seems simple to me, so I take for granted it would be simple for them -- and once in a while, there is someone who sees the potential of a house so drenched in someone else's life and style, but that is not the norm.
Potential. How I love that word! What amazingness it comes with -- growing fat with ideas and hopes and hard work -- ready to push into shaped reality! But it can be hard to see potential...it hides inside, where there is no light.
Do we help our childbirth students, our doula clients, our friends and family we love, see their potential when it comes to birth? Many of us have our own stories -- our own incredible stories we wear like badges of honor or turtle shells. As we carry these parts of us, are we able to share them without offering them as a template to others?
Planning for birth is like buying someone's house. There are many tools needed to renovate and personalize the space so it feels right. There are many tools to offer moms -- amazing tools we have read about, learned about, practiced, and have extensive experience using. As doulas and educators, time and time again, the most important tool we have to offer is trust -- we can simply offer trust.
Time Saving Tips for Busy Moms
Do you ever feel like there is not enough time in the day? What I would give to not be tired or simply have 2 extra hours in the day? I remember the day my twins were born. I really didn’t know how I was going to do the basic things. At the time I had 5 children under the age of six. The twin babies would have been enough to keep track of, but to have a 6, 4, and 2 year old potty training, with the twin babies was beyond overwhelming. So, out if necessity I came up with a few tricks that helped me survive.
Most people laugh at the first time saving trick. At night, after my husband and I gave the children a bath, we would put our young ones in the clean clothes they would wear the next day. It saved on laundry, and the cost of pajamas. On Saturday night it was a special treat to sleep in pajamas, because we certainly did not want to put them in church clothes.
The next trick I learned came as my children were old enough to do their own laundry. Each room had their own dirty clothes hamper. When it was full, the entire content went into the washing machine, then into the dryer, then back up to the room where it originated. The children knew when they arrived home from school and their clothes were on the floor, that they were expected to put them away. Consequently, I no longer have to sort or fold the piles of clothes, except my own. This literally saves me hours each week. I may not have had the whitest whites in town, but I certainly have more free time.
My favorite way to cook is with the crock pot. I don’t know how people do without one. There are so many great recipes that can be converted to the crock pot. I love having dinner simmering and ready whenever I need it. If you are not a crock pot cooker, may I suggest you give it a try. It is perfect for those nights that you are busy and it allows you to spend more time with your children when they get home from school.
When I had my twins, I had no idea there was such a thing as a doula. Oh how I wish I had known. People often ask me what a postpartum doula does. My most simple answer is, “We are a Mom for the Mom”. Here is a more detailed list of what postpartum doulas do:
I have one regret: I did not learn infant massage when my children were young. There are huge benefits of infant massage. I will list just a few:
Melanie Henstrom is a DONA-certified postpartum doula, a Certified Infant Massage Instuctor (CIMI), and she also teaches mom & baby yoga classes in the Portland, OR area. Her experience as the mother of 6 children, including a set of twins, led her naturally toward helping women in the postpartum period adjust to life as new moms. Her mothering skills serve as the foundation of the care she offers families, and she strongly desires to show women the support she wishes has been available to her as an overwhelmed mother.
To learn more about Melanie and the support she offers, visit her website.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)