Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to Interview a Doula

How to find a doula, questions to ask a doula, and questions to ask yourself to help with choosing the doula that is right for you

How to Find a Doula 

You're pregnant, you've done a little reading, you know you want a doula to support you on your birthing journey -- wonderful!  Now, how do you find doulas in your area?

  • Web Search - a quick Google search of "doula (your location)" should turn up some results.  It may also provide results for local professional organizations that will contain listings of doulas who are members.

  • Doulamatch.net - this is a website where doulas can list information about themselves and their services.  It's a nice resource because all of the information is in one place making it easy to compare potential doulas.

  • Personal Referral - ask your friend/sister/cousin about doulas.  Maybe they know someone to recommend, or know someone who knows someone.  Hopefully they at least know what you're talking about!  Additional ideas for people to talk to are your health care provider, chiropractor, prenatal yoga instructor, etc.  

Once you have located the doulas in your area, choose 2-3 prospective doulas you are most interested in. Contact them to find out their availability and schedule an in person interview!

Questions to Ask a Doula

You've searched, you've narrowed, you've had that initial contact.  Now the meeting is here and you actually have to interview the prospective doulas to figure out who will be the best fit to support you during your pregnancy and birth.

Here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • Why did you become a doula?

  • What kind of training have you had?

  • Are you certified?  If so, you might ask them which organization they are certified with and why they chose that particular organization.

  • How long have you been in practice?  Don't automatically discount newer doulas, they can still provide awesome support!

  • What kind of experiences have you had as a doula?  If you are hoping for a particular type of birth such as homebirth, waterbirth, VBAC, hospital birth, hypno-birth etc. you may inquire with the doula as to whether they have experience supporting that type of birth.

  • Have you attended any births at _________? Your desired location of birth, may be home, a particular hospital, birthing center, etc.

  • Ask for clarification on the services that they offer such as: how many prenatal and postpartum visits do you offer?  What sort of topics will be covered?  What is your fee?  When are payments due?  Do you have a contract for me to review?  How many clients do you accept per month?

  • When will you be "on-call" for me?  What does that mean to you?

  • Do you have a backup doula available in place for emergencies?  Can I meet them if I am interested in doing so?

  • When and where will you join me during my birthing time?

  • How long do you stay during the birth?  After?

  • What are your greatest strengths as a doula?

  • What is your birth philosophy?

  • How do you see your role at my birth?

  • How do you feel about the use of medication/interventions during birth?

  • Do you offer any other services that I might be interested in?  Some doulas also offer photography, placenta encapsulation, postpartum support, etc.

  • What are the next steps if I want to hire you?  

Questions to Ask Yourself After the Interviews

You've done the work, now it's time to make a decision!  Here are some questions that may help you decide which doula is the right one for you:

  • Is there anyone I want to eliminate due to the information I now have?  Perhaps they don't have the qualifications you're looking for, or they haven't had experience with the particular type of birth you're seeking, etc.

  • Is there anyone I'm particularly interested in due to the information I now have?  Perhaps they have a strength that appeals to you, or offer additional services you are interested in, etc.

  • Do all these doulas seem truly supportive of me?  You want your doula to be open to whatever your choices and desires are for your birth. A doula is someone you are hiring specifically to support you on your journey to your best birth.  Does the doula have an agenda of their own, or can you count on them to support you no matter what?

  • Who did I "click" most with?  You must feel comfortable with your doula!  It's an important decision whom you choose to invite into your birthing time and you want to feel good around them!  The doula who is the best fit for you may/may not be the one with the most experience or the one who is most obviously like you.  

Once you have explored your options, gathered necessary information, and done some exploration of your own opinions you will be able to choose the doula who is perfect for you!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How Eating Dates Can Help You Prepare for Birth

Dates are a sweet little nutrient packed superfood.  They are a rich source of energy, fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, and antioxidents.  Good nutrition is important during pregnancy and dates are a great healthy snack option!

Did you know that eating dates is beneficial for labor preparation?

Consuming 6 dates daily beginning the 36th week of pregnancy can lead to a shorter, easier birth.  One study found that mothers who eat dates have:

  • a higher incidence of labor beginning on its own
  • a lower incidence of premature rupture of membranes 
  • greater cervical dilation upon hospital admission
  • less need for Pitocin 
  • shorter overall labor
  • lower rates of cesarean birth

Pretty good when all you have to do is eat some tasty fruit on the regular!

Eating dates plain is a great option, but if you want to switch things up here are some ideas for how to enjoy your dates:

Quick, easy, and with added protein and healthy fat from the nut butter!

Sweet and savory - yum!  You can use nitrate-free bacon and blue cheese made with pasteurized milk.
You can also substitute cream cheese or omit the cheese completely depending on your preference.

2 ingredients, 5 minutes to prepare - sounds like a great postpartum snack as well!

Endless variations, but they all begin with a date base!

I know people love their green smoothies!
Spoiler alert: one of the 4 ingredients is dates!

A little more indulgent and dessert-like, but they look so tasty!

Healthy, 3 Ingredient Date Shake
Similar to the smoothie, but a little less green :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rebozo: A Traditional Tool for Pregnancy, Birth, and Beyond


I recently had the privilege of attending a rebozo workshop with a group of lovely ladies.  It was great fun and I learned a lot of awesome techniques that I'm excited to use!

What is a rebozo?

A rebozo is a traditional Mexican shawl.  It is a long piece of woven cloth with fringe at either end. Rebozos are used in many ways: as a head covering, a shawl for warmth, to block the sun, carry babies or goods, and as a tool for pregnancy and childbirth.  I loved learning about the historical context of the rebozo and how important it is in Mexican culture.  It has uses for birth, death, and everything in between.

During labor I can use the rebozo to help you relax physically and mentally, assist you in a variety of positions, and encourage baby into a more optimal position, if necessary.  The rebozo is an incredibly versatile tool!

Here are some ways that you might be interested in utilizing a rebozo:


During pregnancy:

A rebozo can be wrapped around your belly in the later weeks of pregnancy to help support the extra weight and give your back, hips, and pelvis some relief.  It can also be wrapped around your hips and tightened if you're experiencing hip or pelvic discomfort.  You can use the same technique postpartum if you would like to feel a little more supported.


During labor:  

A rebozo can be used in many ways during labor.  Some easy, yet effective techniques include supporting your belly while in hands and knees position, wrapping it around your hips and tightening for counter pressure, or using it to tie on a warm rice sock or tennis balls (tie them on, then lean against the wall for counter pressure).


Once baby is here:

Wear your baby!  And enjoy all the benefits of babywearing, utilizing a tool that helped you during pregnancy and birth.

Additonal resources:

Labor Tool - Rebozo
Amazon - Mexican Rebozo Shawl

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's a Doula?

My older daughter is a doula.  

...What's a doula?

My mother, who is very supportive of the work that I do, tells me that when she tells other people I'm a doula she's often met with confusion.  People think I'm some sort of midwife or they have no idea what she's even saying because it's a term they've never heard before.  I've certainly encountered the same confusion.  Although the role that doulas fulfill is in some ways as ancient as birth itself, the modern role of a professional doula is relatively new.  A birth doula is a trained and experienced support person offering women continuous physical, emotional, and informational support before, during, and immediately following childbirth.

Simplified, as a doula I am a personal guide on your birthing journey.  I use my knowledge and expertise to help you achieve the birth experience that you desire.  It may sound simple, but the support I provide as a doula is invaluable.  Mothers who have doula support tend to have shorter labors, fewer complications, increased success with breastfeeding, and a smoother transition into motherhood.  Most importantly, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their birth experience overall.

So, what exactly is this support that I provide?  What do I actually DO?

I meet with you prenatally to discuss your options and help you decide what your preferences are.  I talk you through the labor and birth process so you know what to expect.  I demonstrate ways you can help to facilitate the labor process and remain as comfortable as possible.  I help you formulate questions for your care provider, prepare for breastfeeding, point you toward quality resources, and talk you through fears you may have.  I want you to enter your birthing time feeling knowledgeable and confident!

I provide hands on support throughout the birth process.  I join you at your home when you don't feel ready to go to the hospital, yet need an extra set of hands with fresh perspective.  I place a comforting hand on your shoulder, breathe with you through contractions, and remind you that you're doing awesome!  We transition to the hospital together; I'm a familiar face in unfamiliar surroundings helping you and your partner settle in to this new environment.

I hand you your cup before you realize you're thirsty, get you a cool washcloth, and suggest another trip to the bathroom because an hour has already passed without your realizing it.  When your partner looks uncertain I remind them of how great they're doing, suggest that they slow dance with you or rub your back or get you another cup of ice.  I offer all sorts of fun positions for you to try, brush your hair out of your eyes, remind you to stay in the moment, and squeeze your hips because it feels so much better.  I encourage you to vocalize through contractions and then I remind you that you're almost there!

When it's time, I remind you of all the strength you possess, and remind your partner to tell you out loud just how amazing you are in this moment because they're already silently thinking it.  I reassure you that those shakes are normal and fan you because you're suddenly so hot!  Your partner and I work together to encourage you as you bring your baby into this world.  I snap a few pictures with your camera while you and your partner marvel at your new little baby.  Then, I help you navigate that first nursing session.

We meet postpartum to review your birth, because it's nice to talk about it with someone knowledgeable who was there every step of the way.  Then I answer questions: any tips for getting baby to sleep at night?  How do I use this Moby wrap?  I'm thirsty all the time, how do I remember to drink more water?  And, if I'm lucky, I get a few baby snuggles.

As a doula I walk with you on your path to birth.  I am there to be an experienced supporter, a quality resource, and an unending source of comfort.  I bear witness, facilitate communication, and do what I can to make everyone's day just a little bit better.  It's amazing and humbling to be invited in to another's birth experience and it's incredible to be able to have a positive impact on such an important journey.

I'm honored to call myself a doula.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Beginning at the Beginning


Happy New Year and welcome!

Last year was a big year for me.  In 2014 I transitioned into a new career as a birth doula.  I learned a lot and grew both personally and professionally.  I had the privilege of supporting 10 families on their birthing journeys and meeting many new colleagues and friends in the birth community. I began last year as a newly trained doula nervously attending my first interview and ended the year as a DONA International certified birth doula with a wide range of experiences gained from the births I attended.  It was an incredible ride and I can't wait to see what's in store for 2015!

And now that we're beginning a brand new year I want to use this space to share my thoughts and perspective as a doula.  I will write about topics I know a little something about - birth, pregnancy, motherhood, doulaing.  And hopefully the result will be enjoyable for both you and me.

Thanks for reading!