birth doula

In birth, ignorance isn't bliss

The exact path your birth will take is unpredictable. With so many variables in the process, it can feel overwhelming to attempt preparation for all of the possible twists and turns you’ll encounter during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. While it may seem like the best (only?) option is to go in without expectations and follow the lead of your care providers, I want to encourage you to take the reins on your body and your birth experience. You absolutely cannot control every aspect of your birth, but you can educate and prepare yourself for the experience.

When meeting a potential client, I always ask what your plans are for childbirth education. I want to know what you’re going to know about labor and birth. I provide informational support during pregnancy and birth, but that does not replace childbirth education. And not all childbirth education courses are created equally. If you haven’t already booked classes, I’m happy to provide referrals to instructors/courses that will meet your needs.

One of the advantages to preparing yourself for childbirth is that you’re more likely to have an empowering experience when you feel confident about your decisions. You’re in a totally different state of mind during labor, and having to learn about an intervention for the first time when you’re laboring can be distracting and unnerving. It’s hard to really take in the information that’s being shared (or ask for it if it’s not being shared) when you’re laboring. If you’re prepared for what may come, you’ll be clearer on what’s best for you in the moment and in the long run. And all of that education and preparation will hopefully lead to a more positive birth experience and a stronger start into parenthood.

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. 

She’s a human, not an incubator

Many expectant parents make comments along the lines of, “…as long as the baby is healthy” when talking about their upcoming birth. As a mother of two, I wholeheartedly understand wanting healthy babies, but somehow we have created such a babycentric culture that not only friends and family, but also mothers themselves, believe that their mental and physical health have a lower value than that of their child’s. It starts when a woman is pregnant and complete strangers think it’s okay to feel her belly. She’s treated like a vessel instead of a human who may be totally uncomfortable with you touching her body.

Then, as the women thinks about how she might want her birth experience to unfold, she may weigh her options in terms of what is “best for baby.” These sentiments may be echoed or strengthened by her care provider, family, or even her own partner. Of course the baby’s health is important, but did the mother’s lose its value the moment the baby was conceived? There are two lives to consider, and a person shouldn’t be treated as though they are selfish or heartless if they take their own body into consideration.

The postpartum period seems to be a time when a mother’s mental and physical health gets most neglected. It pains me when women who’ve recently birthed are treated as though they’ve served their purpose in delivering this new life to the world, that they’re now an empty incubator, and all of the attention turns to the newborn. New moms need care. They need to know that they have support as they focus nearly all of their energy on caring for their baby. And while mom’s eyes are on the newborn, close family and friends need to remember to keep theirs on the new mom. Is she eating well? Is there something you could do around the house for her so she can feed and rest with the baby? Does she seem overwhelmed or anxious? Does she know that you have her back?

New babies are squishy and adorable and exciting. Feed them and hold them and talk to them. Respect when they’re upset or tired, revel in their joy, and celebrate their milestones. New moms are awesome. Feed them and hold them (if they want to be touched) and talk to them. Respect when they’re upset or tired, revel in their joy, and celebrate their milestones. These are two lives, two humans who are equally important to each other and to the world.