Why wouldn't you hire a doula?

What is holding you back from hiring a doula? I’d claim bias in saying that everyone in Central Kentucky should hire a birth doula, but given the improved outcomes for mom and baby from having continuous labor support, I feel confident in saying that choosing to hire a doula is an evidence based way to better your chances for a positive birth experience. So in all seriousness, I’m asking, why wouldn’t you hire a doula?

One reason I sometimes hear is that a doula is not in the budget. I’d like to tackle that in a few ways. The first would be to suggest that you make changes to your new baby budget to allow it. Is there something on your registry that you might be able to find used from an online mom’s group? I see popular, pricey baby gadgets like DockATots and mamaRoos posted in the Lexington, KY, Buy, Sell, Trade groups pretty often. Sometimes they’re barely used or brand new because not all newborns are hip to the fact that these sleep aids work for other babies. Or perhaps you can add birth doula services to your registry, or ask a few close friends to gift you a birth doula as their shower gift. I know that a lot of wedding registries now include money for experiences/honeymoons instead of the traditional kitchenware, so it’d be a concept familiar to a lot of people.

A second idea would be to contact me to see if we could come up with a payment plan or some other arrangement that would allow a birth doula to work for your family’s budget. There are also circumstances in which I am willing to work at a lower rate for families that cannot afford my services. And if I’m not able to meet your needs, I will gladly refer you to new or training doulas who may be able to offer lower rates than mine.

The third angle I’d like to tackle the money concern from is one of explaining the value of a doula. I think that some people don’t want to pay $300-1000 for a doula because they don’t know the value of birth doula services. If you haven’t already, you should check out the Evidence Based Birth article on doula support. Here’s part of their summary: “Evidence shows that continuous support can significantly decrease the risk of Cesareans, NICU admissions, Pitocin, and medications for pain relief. Labor support also increases satisfaction and the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth. Although continuous support can also be offered by birth partners, midwives, nurses, or even some physicians, research has shown that with some outcomes, doulas have a stronger effect than other types of support persons. As such, doulas should be viewed by both parents and providers as a valuable, evidence-based member of the birth care team.”

What else might be holding you back from hiring a doula? I offer free in-person consultations if you’re interested in learning more about my services. During this time, I’d be eager to hear what other questions or concerns you (and/or your partner) have about hiring a birth doula. I want families in Lexington, KY, and the surrounding Central Kentucky region to hire doulas! Come at me with your “if, ands, and buts” and let me show you why you should choose About Birth for your Kentucky hospital or home birth.

Closing out 2017

2017 is a year that I am unlikely to forget because of the very personal accomplishment of launching About Birth and serving my first birth doula families. Since March of this year, when I completed my DONA birth doula training with Chama Woydak of Homegrown Babies in Asheville, NC, I have been able to serve eight families at their births. The first four were shadowing Christina Libby of Commonwealth Doula Services and the final four were solo. All of my clients this year were first time moms with their labors ranging from a lightning fast four hours to about 40 hours. Two of the births were at the families' homes and the other two were at Lexington, KY, hospitals. Each family that I worked with was unique in personality, beliefs, background, and birth preferences, but I was able meet their individual needs by listening and learning at our prenatal meetings, and all four families wrote incredible reviews of my services. I feel very fortunate that they gave me the opportunity to serve them and show that I am excellent at this work. It was truly an awesome year!

So what's ahead for 2018? I have completed all of the my DONA certification work and will be submitting the paperwork on January 2. I understand that the review process can take awhile, but I expect to receive my certification by springtime. I just started a doula mentorship with BirdSong Brooklyn and have already learned a lot about how I can enhance my work as a doula (and wife, mother, and friend). I also recently became a professional member of Evidence Based Birth and will continue my training with them this year. 2018 will also be my first time serving a VBAC family and a second time mom.

Can I add your family to my work for 2018? It's been a wonderful first year as a birth doula so far, and I'd love to have you join me as we journey through the new year. Here's to beautiful, empowered birthing in 2018! Cheers (with a non-alcholic beverage of your choice)!

Not everyone's doula

On my website, I state that everyone who wants a doula should have one. As much as I’d love to be that doula for everyone, the truth is, I’m not everyone’s doula. In an earlier blog post, I talked about the importance of making a personal connection with the doula you hire. You are inviting this person to support and be present with you through one of life’s most intimate and sometimes vulnerable events. It is so important that you feel comfortable with the doula’s personality and manner.  

One of the best ways to make sure your doula is a good fit is to meet in person. At About Birth, the in-person consultations are free. My goal in these meetings is to get a feel for how we’d interact and work together. They are brief, typically 30 minutes, and casual. At my last two “interviews”, I was hired on the spot, so sometimes we’ll just know if it’s right. And if I’m not the right person for you, or you want to check out other doulas before making a decision, I understand and encourage it! There are several other doulas in the Lexington, KY, area who practice similarly to me, but have very different personalities that might be more in line with yours.

So, while it’s great to get hired, it’s way more important to me that you’re finding the right person to support you during pregnancy and birth. Who you choose to be on your birth team is crucial to having a positive birth experience. And everyone, I mean EVERYONE, deserves a positive birth experience. 

All my bags are packed (but am I missing something?)

With our first pregnancy, my hospital bag was packed weeks in advance. It was full to the zipper with things I thought I’d need based on books and online articles I’d read. I overpacked and stressed myself out about it. With my next pregnancy, I threw things in a bag in between contractions. Packing, along with many other aspects of birth and baby raising, can be easier the second go-around. So, while by no means a complete list, here are items a lot of people find useful:

  • Nursing tanks/bras: Good for easy access to skin-to-skin time.
  • Slippers: For walking around the hospital in labor and use around the room postpartum.
  • Flip flops: Sure they clean the shower before use, but still…
  • Going home outfit for you and baby: Think comfortable maternity wear and seasonally appropriate onesie/jammies.
  • Your own pillow: Preferably with a pillow case that will set it apart from hospital's.
  • Snacks: For most women, eating and drinking during labor is safe and so helpful.
  • Toiletries, and glasses if you wear contacts

For birth partner:

  • Sweatshirt: Hospitals can be really cold. My husband had to have a friend bring one (and still hasn’t returned it four years later- sorry, Jarrod).
  • Snacks: Hospitals feed mama after the birth, but dads need nourishment, too.
  • Breath mints: Mama does not want to smell said digesting snacks while she’s birthing.
  • Phone chargers:  Most phones get quite the workout during labor, delivery and postpartum.
  • Car seat: The hospital won't let you leave without one installed and will watch you load up baby.

When you hire me, I will provide a more comprehensive list, but in all honesty, you’ll need less than you think. The hospital provides a lot of birthing and postpartum essentials and you’ll spend most of your recovery time in the bed because rest is best.

Every birth is different

You will probably receive tons of unsolicited advice and sharing of personal experiences when you're pregnant. For some reason, people see that belly and think it's a comment box. While most of the time, they have good intentions, it can be overwhelming and not the least bit helpful.  The truth is, just as every human being is unique, so is every pregnancy and birth.  Even if you're not a first time mom, you can't expect for things to be the same with a subsequent birth.

So when you're making preparations during your pregnancy, do your best to put aside others' opinions and your preconceptions and really think about your current needs and desires. What do YOU want from a care provider? What do YOU need to do to feel prepared mentally and physically for the birth? As a doula, I wholly embrace the uniqueness of each birth and each birthing person. I do not have any expectations of you, but will support the ones that you have of yourself. Your birth experience is just that- yours.