Posts by Category : business


Student Article- Natural vs. Medicated 0

The Pregnancy Ramble

Natural vs. Medicated Birth: Do your Research- Dallas Robles

Just Born

Just Born

As many of you know, I had a natural childbirth. I did not use medicine of any kind, did not have the epidural, wasn’t induced with Pitocin or any labor inducing drugs, and birthed in a birthing center with a big bathtub for a water birth. It didn’t take me long to discover the pro’s of natural childbirth, but I needed to do research and speak with other women who had done it before I felt confident in my decision. I want to give my opinion and helpful pro’s and con’s about natural childbirth in the hopes that I can help in a woman’s decision much like other women did for me.

This is a very sensitive subject for a lot of women. Some people are very pro-epidural and others are very pro-natural childbirth. I realize that I may be biased because I am pro-natural, but I feel that too many people completely overlook this option. Most OBGYN’s are very similar, you show up for your appointment, meet with a nurse practitioner who weighs you and takes your vitals, the doctor comes in to hear the heartbeat and asks you for any questions, and then you both go along your merry way. He may talk to you about “options” aka, the epidural as soon as you get to the hospital or the epidural once he convinces you to get it when your contractions get intense. OBGYN’s are certified surgeons who are also trained in gynecology. They are trained to handle the worst case scenarios, emergency C-sections, and often push toward what they are specialized in to avoid maternal and infant complications. If you have an abnormal pregnancy with pre-existing problems, then I can understand the risk. But if you’re healthy, have a totally normal pregnancy, and aren’t at risk for complications, a C-section is rarely necessary. However, thanks to combinations of other modern medicines, it’s getting more and more popular.

America is now at 30% of all babies being born by C-section. At the Salem Hospital, it’s over 40%. This is from a number of very debilitating choices from both the mother and her doctors. Over 22% of all pregnancies are induced before 41 weeks gestation. The process of induction begins with a drug called Pitocin. Pitocin is pumped into your body from an IV drip, the amount of which is turned up every hour until you reach the contraction pattern that your doctors are looking for. It also will help dilate your cervix; once it reaches 10cm, it’s usually time to begin the pushing process of labor. Pitocin is a very hard drug on both the mother and the baby. It speeds contractions up, makes them significantly more intense and you’re unable to leave the hospital bed to get into a more comfortable position for contractions, such as squatting, bouncing on a medicine ball, lounging in a bath, or leaning over the hospital bed. Because it makes contractions so intense, many women decide to get the epidural. The epidural is an anesthetic that is supposed to numb your lower half to make contractions more bearable. It’s inserted via a needle into your spine. For some reason, epidurals and Pitocin don’t really get along. When you get the epidural, often times your cervix will retract and your contractions will lessen. Because doctors like to see quick progress, they’ll up the Pitocin even more. And so begins a downward spiral. Many babies do not react well to the extreme intensity of the Pitocin-induced contractions, causing heartrates to drop and fetal distress. And because the two drugs counteract each other, over 25% of all inductions will result in an emergency c-section.

Now, the con’s of epidurals don’t stop there. “Epidurals are associated with increased rates of operative vaginal delivery, prolonged labor, fetal malposition, and intrapartum fever–Evidence supports the claim that epidurals increase the duration of both the first and second stages of labor. (”   There is also talk that the aftereffects of the epidural for the mother can be anywhere from numbness at the injection site, to periodic back pain, to severe back pain or becoming paralyzed. While most OBGYN’s know the side effects, they very rarely tell mothers. Most OBGYN’s encourage the epidural for the immediate relief from contractions. The use of epidurals is over 50%, in some places it’s between 80-90%. Apart from the epidural side effects, I know from firsthand experience that it dramatically effects the ability to breastfeed.

Many women have a very hard time breastfeeding their babies: lack of production, bad latches, and tongue-ties to name a few. “As many women are induced with Pitocin, which must be given through an IV, the amount of fluids given to many mothers in labor increases. With a constantly running IV, fluid can accumulate in the mother and baby. This situation can set up several problems. If a mother is edematous (swollen with fluid) her nipples will be harder to latch onto. If a baby is edematous it can lose more than the standard 10% of it’s bodyweight, thus giving the doctor the indication that baby isn’t nursing enough, setting up for the supplementation cycle, when in reality the baby could be draining off excess fluid (” Your milk can take anywhere from a day to a week to come in, allowing babies to eat Colostrum, a milk produced with a very high fat content. All babies lose weight within the first 24 hours, but once they begin eating healthy amounts of Colostrum, they gain the weight back tenfold. When babies suck and pacify on mom’s nipples, it stimulates milk production, causing the milk to come in quicker. The amount of milk production differs from each woman, but with the right diet, calorie intake, and stimulation, breast feeding production should be easy to obtain. A month after my daughter was born, my midwife posted a video of something called the “breast crawl”. In short, the video was about the ability for newborn babies to crawl up the mother’s chest to latch on to her breast within the first 15 minutes after birth. The study showed less than 50% of the babies who were medicated and did not go to the mother’s chest within the first 15 minutes were unable to perform the crawl. It also showed that 50% of all women who had a medicated birth and had their baby on their chest within 15 minutes had babies who could not perform the breast crawl. Almost 100% of the babies who were not medicated and on the mother’s chest within the 15 minutes were able to breast crawl and latch on correctly. The effects from medicated births are very real and proven to make labor and newborns much more difficult for mother’s.

I know a lot of mom’s are easily convinced to use drugs because they’re afraid of labor and the pain of contractions. After reading books like Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirthand Orgasmic Birth, as well as watching documentaries such as Business of Being Bornand Pregnant in America, I’ve learned that, for myself and for my family, I will do whatever it takes to always have a natural childbirth. From personal experience, I went into labor with the mindset that it would be intense not painful. My Oma performed hypnosis and relaxation techniques of imagining a smooth, calm labor that was quick and successful. I achieved that 100%. My labor was 4 hours long, I was laughing and cracking jokes for the majority of my labor, and was very proud of myself for accomplishing a natural birth. To know that your body took control and you were able to birth with just your power alone is one of the most empowering things women can ever experience. To this day, I am so proud that I was able to do that at only 18 years old. And I honestly believe it was the best choice for both myself and my daughter. Not all women will agree with me, many women swear by the epidural and don’t understand why anyone would go through it without pain-relief. I wonder though, are they empowered by their birth? Did they feel the absolute rush of Oxytocin that I felt as soon as my baby was out of me and onto my chest? Were they able to get up only minutes after the birth and walk into the bathroom?

I want to inform, not judge. If you had the epidural, I don’t look down upon you. That was your choice, and your choice only. But if I can relay this information to just one woman and have her make up her own mind about the different options, then I am satisfied. Birth can be a very stressful, scary experience, but it can also be beautiful, empowering and life-changing. Research is everything, and sticking to what you want your birth to be. Having a strong support system with husbands, mothers, siblings, doulas or midwives will ensure that you are not easily pressured into making a decision you didn’t originally want. Stick to those guns, ladies, because the ride of raising a child will definitely test your decisions over and over again. Happy birthing!


Ps, a few other things that may be beneficial to research: vaccines (pro’s and con’s, delayed schedule), Vitamin K injections (pro’s and con’s), infant eye drops (pro’s and con’s—this one is especially unnecessary unless the mother has a sexually transmitted disease), cord clamping (the benefits of waiting for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it), saving the placenta (how dried capsules can help with postpartum depression and milk production), attachment parenting (thinking of the first weeks of life like the “4th trimester” of pregnancy), co-sleeping (the ease for breastfeeding mothers and the untruths told about dangers of bed-sharing), and wearing baby (baby bjorns, moby wraps, ergo’s, and the help they can be on new parents).


Doula, did you know?

Here are some new research outcomes on the benefits and effectiveness of doulas and continuous support from the Cochrane Database

Doula Support

Doula Support

Here are a few important findings from the study.

Numerous types of information to include illustrative materials are within the full Cochrane document, you  can compare all data that was available from all included studies for the specified outcomes. It was found that women who received continuous support were less likely than women who did not to:

  • use regional analgesia
  • utilize any analgesia/anesthesia 
  • vacuum extraction or forceps  used during the birth process
  • to have a cesarean birth
  • have a baby with a low 5-minute Apgar score
  • reported greater birth satisfaction.

Women receiving continuous support were more likely than those who did not to:

  • experience spontaneous birth, this means not forceps or vacuums were used in the birth process.
  • experience shorter labor times

It was found that continuous support did not seem to impact:

  • use of synthetic oxytocin during labor
  • newborn admission to special care nursery, NICU, etc..
  • prolonged newborn hospital stay
  • breastfeeding rates at 1 to 2 months
  • depression in the postpartum period
  • self-esteem in the postpartum period
  • severe perineal trauma
  • labor pain severity

This is a wonderful study to illustrate what supportive care in labor can do, and in addition by omission it shows what can be done with postpartum support to support healing and beastfeeding rates.


Introduction to Cradleboards- Student Article

Introduction to Cradleboards- Student Article
By: Susan Dlutkowski
cradleboardIn July of 2013 I attended a traditional arts gathering on Drummond Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There, I heard Earl Otchingwanigan speak about “The Language and Culture of the Cradleboard”. I knew that Earl was a respected Ojibwe elder and I was very interested to hear his presentation. I knew that cradleboards were used for holding infants, but I wondered:
Were they too confining?
Were they comfortable?
Are they still used?
Earl started by explaining the construction of a dikinaagan (cradleboard). He was also instructing another group at the gathering that was building cradleboards. He named several parts, such as the aagwiingwe’onaak -oon (the head protector) and the apizideyaakwa’igan -an (the foot brace). He held two beautiful black velvet bands, each beaded with traditional, colorful floral designs. Each of these miishiiginebizon -an were wrapped around the baby on the cradleboard, one covering the baby’s middle, the other around its legs and feet. With two bands, only the bottom one needed to be removed to change a diaper. These cloth bands were decorative since creating something beautiful for the baby was an important feature of the cradleboard. Infants and toddlers up to the age of three were put in cradleboards where they were kept safe, could sleep, or could observe the goings-on of their families.

Instead of spending time purposely stimulating their baby, families went about their activities; the baby was stimulated through quiet observation. Cradleboards could be hung by a strap so that babies were often at adult eye-level, receiving level eye-contact. This was considered important to a baby’s development and interaction with the group. At first, infants’ arms were swaddled by their sides. Later, arms were left outside of the wrapping. Mothers could sit with their legs outstretched, the cradleboard propped on their toes, so that the babies could see what their mothers were doing with their hands.

One man who attended the talk said that he and his wife used a cradleboard for their now seven-year-old daughter until she was three. She could be brought outside to safely watch wood-chopping and at the table she was at eye-level with her parents when the cradleboard was placed on a chair. The father said that his daughter would crawl to her cradleboard on the floor, for comfort. A woman at the presentation who was expecting her third child thought she would like to use a cradleboard for her new baby and was especially interested to hear of this father’s recent experiences.

I thoroughly enjoyed Earl’s presentation and was grateful for the opportunity to hear his first-hand knowledge of the cradleboard. I gained more of an understanding and a definite appreciation of the benefits of cradleboards. As an Ojibwe culture specialist, tradition bearer and scholar, Earl Otchingwanigan shares his knowledge, learned from family members in his childhood, and later from his own studies.


ACOG Recommends Doulas to Lower Primary Cesarean Rates- Angela Rooney 0

ACOG Recommends Doulas to Lower Primary Cesarean Rates



A new publication just released on February, 19, 2014  by the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) announces what a doula already knows!

The articles findings state that from 1996 to 2011 cesarean rates in the U.S. have increased rapidly without a decrease in maternal or fetal injuries or deaths.  This indicates that OB/GYNs have been over using the surgery on first time mothers in non-emergency instances.

In order to invoke change in the rising increase in primary cesareans, one must ask the reasons these surgeons are performing so many major surgeries to first time moms in the first place.

The top five reasons for a primary cesarean in order of greatest to least:

1.  Labor Dystocia

2.  Abnormal Fetal Heart Rate

3.  Malpresentation of the Fetus

4.  Multiple Gestation

5.  Fetal Macrosomia


The article then discusses safe measures that need to be taken to decrease the chance of resulting in a cesarean section.  These are not new techniques or guidelines, but we need to see them better implemented.

  1. Labor Dystocia:
    1.  Labor may be a slower process than previously defined and needs to be redefined.
    2. Defining active labor is strongly recommended to change from 4 to 6 centimeters.  Before 6 centimeters, actions for the active phase of labor should not apply.
    3. Physicians should be well trained in operative vaginal deliveries, such as vacuum and forcep delivery,  to utilize them as a safe alternative to cesareans.
  2. Abnormal Fetal Heart Rate:
    1. “Amnioinfusion for repetitive variable fetal heart rate decelerations may safely reduce the rate of cesarean delivery.”
    2. Scalp stimulation is an effective tool when the cervix is dilated to determine the fetal acid-base status.
  3. Malpresentation of the Fetus:
    1. Fetal presentation should be checked by 36 weeks in order to apply an external cephalic version.
  4. Multiple Gestation:
    1. Women with cephalic presenting twins or cephalic/ noncephalic  presented twins should be recommended to deliver vaginally.

5.  Fetal Macrosomia:

a. Ultrasounds are fairly inaccurate at estimating weight in later pregnancy.  Only mothers with estimated fetal weight over 5,000 g. without gestational diabetes or 4,500g. with gestational diabetes should be subject to a cesarean.

b. Women should be counseled on maternal weight gain, diet, and exercise guidelines.


The best part of the article comes at the end when it discusses the importance of continuous labor support.  Ahem ;)

“Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula. A Cochrane meta-analysis of 12 trials and more than 15,000 women demonstrated that the presence of continuous one-on-one support during labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and a statistically significant reduction in the rate of cesarean delivery (111). Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized.”

It’s not exactly a new concept that elective cesareans have been overused with 1/3 of U.S. mothers walking around with c-section scars.   Finally research findings are becoming mainstream, and hopefully, new guidelines can be put into effect.  Yes, sometimes a Cesarean is crucial to prevent maternal or fetal morbidity.   We must come together as birth professionals, doulas, midwives, nurses, and OB/GYNs alike, and respect the guidelines for our common end goal– a healthy and happy mother and baby.


You can read the full article here:


About the Author:

Angela Rooney has a BA in Psychology, is a professional birth doula, and is a Certified Pre/Postnatal Fitness Specialist.  She’s passionate about helping pregnant women have a memorable childbirth experience. Read more about Angela and her work at []. Follow her at [] and [].


“With Woman” by: Dana Luttrell

“With Woman” by: Dana Luttrell

“It has not been long that I have been a doula. My training is inching toward completion with attendance of a couple births left to be evaluated and as I continue to scrape together time to finish assignments and book reports. I take great pride in my training efforts, read far more than required, watch every film and documentary, listen earnestly to other birth workers and other mothers like myself who have experienced a birth trauma only to redeem their experience with a subsequent birth. I think I can confidently say “I know the basics” just as confidently as I can say “there is so much to be learned”.

As a training doula, I often focus my learning on techniques to be used: massage, Rebozo, essential oils, memorizing positions and their uses. Important stuff, as in most descriptions of a doula these are the highlights of our work. We know how to help you cope, physically. We know the process, and believe in the process, of natural childbirth. We also know about the interventions and how to work with them so they don’t fall into the “cascade” we birth workers fear will take away from the childbirth experience. Ask any lay person what a doula does and if they know anything about us at all, they will know that we can help you deal with the pain of labor.

But despite all the wonderful uses and intentions of those techniques, I fear I have left out focus of a key factor of my work. As a doula can tell you, the most beneficial part of having a doula at your birth is the CONSTANT SUPPORT. I knew this. I believed this true. And yet I still didn’t understand the extreme impact that statement has.

With woman. 

Not “doing it with woman”, not even “helping a girl out”. WITH. With? Such a simple implication of a word. Defined easily, categorized simply.

Not until the last birth I attended did I truly understand the full weight of importance of “with” in my role as labor support.

Although, I should have as I experienced it in my own birth of my second child. In my personal experience of a rather quick labor/birth (6 hrs total), I did not want coping techniques to be used on me. I was fighting off the panic of how quickly my birth approached. I holed myself up in the smallest room of my house and made a small nesting area reminiscent of the dogs my family bread in my childhood used to do. I was offered a simple, and known to be quite effective, hot water bottle, but the presence of the gentle, loving, midwife’s apprentice and the trying of that physical ease made me loose focus. I did not like either, and so I stayed alone in my safe place listening to the conversations of my husband and midwife, my mother crushing ice for me in the kitchen, my father retreating to another area of the house so not to disturb the process, alone and content working internally to handle my labor.

And then, eventually, I came out of my nest because I honestly felt a little out of the loop. I wanted to be near the people. I entered the hardest of my labor there, with them. I needed them there. I did not need them to assist me labor and frankly they couldn’t have anyway. No, I just needed them. After a unfavorable positional change I remember grabbing my midwife’s knee suddenly as a heavy contraction hit before I was ready. Her face was shocked by my sudden grasp as I had until this point labored within myself, not reaching out for help. And then her eyes told me what I needed to know:

“I know it’s hard. I know you’re working harder than you ever have. I know.”

After that moment I felt a new level of trust. Not because she helped ease my pain or even because she said some scholarly fact about transition being the hardest but shortest part, but because she empathized and validated my experience….. all in a look.

With woman.

Yes, a doula can offer you many helpful things to deal with your labor but not all who labor want a massage or a positional suggestion. Some just need you to be WITH them. To hear them when they cry out that they don’t want to do this or that they don’t think it can be done. To know they are suffering. To somehow with your presence tell them you understand. Perhaps a word of “but you are doing this” or “your work is paying off” or even “you are further than you realize and doing more wonderfully than you think” but mostly just WITH.

The last birth I attended was a mother’s 3rd and first attempt at a totally natural and un-augmented childbirth. Much like my own, quickly moving. She fought her labor until she couldn’t fight anymore. She voiced her retreat of intent for this birth so I could hear it, not because she really meant she wanted to give up but because someone had to know how difficult it was. And I did. I knew. It was hard and it was fast and it wasn’t exactly how she pictured herself laboring. Once she had told me and I agreed that it was hard, she stopped fighting it. She danced beautifully the dance of a laboring woman, drawing her baby further through the pelvis. And when her dance was sufficient she found herself a bed to rest in. And when her rest was sufficient, she pushed the baby out in 2 waves without voicing to anyone that it was happening (in fact, in that dark hospital room, we nearly missed that the baby was being born, let alone a doctor to be present for its entirety!). Her birth was beautiful and it was hers. She was strong, even when she tried to say she wasn’t. I did not help her with counter pressure or positions as I so often do. No, instead I was simply “with”.

With woman.

To sum up the whole, the best part, the most important part, is that I, and all the striving birth workers in our present, past and future, are with YOU, woman. Every mother that has ever been is with YOU, birthing goddess. And if you need to be validated while you work to bring your baby earth-side, just look to the woman at your birth-she is WITH YOU in this momentous right of passage and that, I hope, will sooth your soul. ”

 Dana is police officer’s wife, mother of 2 young sons, & Labor         Support Doula in training living in the heart of the Midwest. After the birth of her first son, a hospital experience, she chose to leave her career pursuits as a nurse & join the ranks of stay at home moms while researching & planning the birth of her next son, a midwife assisted home birth. After personally experiencing the difference a birth with professional, loving support can make, she chose to train to be a Doula through Birth Arts International & has joined in volunteering for TBS on their social media fronts. A believer in evidence-based obstetrical care, she most strives to help mothers & families by assisting them in obtaining the birth they desire through education, support, tradition, and mindful presence.”


De-Stress in the New Year

De-Stress in the New Year

If you know anything about me, it is that I really feel that stress effects so much more of our daily lives than stress.

Stress effects our weight, sleep, ability to communicate, relate to others, and so much more. If we are stressed we may find that we cannot relate as well to the needs of clients as we should. We may find that we share too much, are not able to function as well as practitioners and overall job satisfaction will lessen. We can use the following tools to make sure we are experiencing less stress day to day and have more relaxing and fulfilling lives.

Relax in the Bath

Relax in the Bath

1. Get your move on! Move, burn calories, increase your heart rate, and your sweat on. Dance, yoga, weight machines, whatever makes you feel good. Give yourself the gift of joyful movement, take 20-30 minutes a day for yourself. This movement time will really make you feel so much better.

2. Bathing Beauty- Take time to bathe. Relaxing and breathing and a nice long bath with relax you on so many levels.  When I need a relaxing bath to help me de-stress and feel at peace. Generally I add 2 cups of Epsom salts, 1/4 cup Celtic sea salt, 1/4 cup baking soda, with 10 drops of either Lavender, Sandalwood or Rose essential oil. Soak for at least 20 minutes, breath and close your eyes and try to let the world go.


3. Breathe- Deep restful breathes. Make sure you do not hold your breath. Often during the day we are taking shallow breaths, and erratically breathing, this is often when we are feeling anxious or stressed. So work at taking restful breathes. Eventually this will become a natural way, we are just rewiring circuits and reminding our body on how to have restful breathes. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound effect on resetting the stress response, because the vagus (relaxation) nerve goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath.

4. Sleep More! Many adults, and children for that matter are not getting enough sleep. 8 hours for grown-ups. Children and teens need more, sometimes teens need a lot more. Not getting enough sleep effects the metabolism, stress and anxiety levels and it should be a priority.

5. Change your thinking- Learn how to rethink life. Identify stressors, and learn how to lessen them, deep breaths, listening to a happy song, dance around the room, laugh. Laughing is often the best medicine for everything. Laughter can bring light into the mist stressful times. Always take time to laugh.



Birth and Postpartum Doula Business Tips

Birth and Postpartum Doula Business Tips

1. I am a business owner- These are words that you need to start saying in your head. When people ask me what I do, I do not say “I train doulas” I say “I am the Director of Birth Arts International, a doula certification organization”. See the difference. “I am a doula” versus “I own (insert your business name here), I am a professional doula.” See the distinct difference. This difference is apparent to potential clients. You are taking your place in the community by taking a place in your community’s league of professionals. Parents/clients/colleagues all benefit from your distinctions. Try introducing yourself to yourself a few times, make yourself believe in your professionalism and ownership of self. No one can own your company but you, but in order to be respected as such and valued as such you must learn to accept and believe this of yourself.

At Work

At Work

2. Make a business plan- Make a business plan, a list of goals, dream board. You can find business plan resources at- the SBA. Be realistic and be ready to do the work. Running a business is a full time job. Make sure you can work your schedule around your life if you have children. This can be a successful and fulfilling career if you have children and want to work around the needs of being a parent. Be realistic and reasonable with yourself.

Do not start your business from a place of competition or jealousy. Do not compare yourself to other providers, unless it is to improve yourself. Most clients will not choose you over another provider, just for price. Make sure your rates are reflective of your costs, not the other rates in the area. Be true to yourself. If your rates are too low, you will have an unsustainable practice, and you will potentially burn out. Be realistic with your goals, costs, finances, and make sure you are honest with yourself.

Competition is not to be afraid of. Make sure you view competition as a positive. So do not make fun of, diss, or second guess another practitioner. Be kind, and gentle. If you start your career from a negative, competitive and “nasty” place your business will not last. Having a business plan that you stick to will help you to keep focus, and give you something that you can work from and use to guide you as your practice develops.

Business investment- a lot of students feel they have spent sooo much on education, etc.. But the reality is that being a doula is a business that you can start with investment costs less than $1000.00. I can’t think of another long term career that you have that can see your seeing a profit in less than the first year. Remember this. Most businesses do not see a profit for the first three years. BAI offers the most intensive and beautiful doula training in the world, remember the value it is, and honor that.

It is essential that you pay for additional education, continue to improve yourself, skills, and keep up with the demands of your local market. You can find a variety of educational options at

When you invest in yourself you will be making your business and career path stronger. Make sure you do the work, skimping on your career plan, business plan, etc.. will only work against you. So do the work, after all it is for you.

3. Dress the part!- Do not show up in your sweat suit for a meeting with clients. Until you know your business style and you know what clients expect keep it simple. Does this mean you can’t have style and flair? No, but it does mean you need to be groomed and respectful. No cleavage, no miniskirts, no t-shirts with band names, beer/product/pithy cartoon logos, now is not the time to be “cool”. Parents do not want to see your underwear, bra straps, or lots of make up or jewelry. Parents can be offended from a variety of clothing issues.
Until you know the parent keep it simple. I know this sounds obvious, but once I had a client, about 15 years ago, who said she almost didn’t hire me because I had a tribal print tunic, she thought it was too pagan, or witchy. To me it was a cool shirt, so from then on I kept it simple.
Parents need to be able to visualize you at their birth. You do not know someone’s back story, marital history, or insecurities. Take this into consideration.
Look it is simple if you are respectful, polished and present a professional presence parents will feel safe in your hands.
If you have tattoos, dreadlocks, or lots of piercings be aware that not all people are accepting of alternatives in dress. This is not their issue, it is what makes them feel safe, do not take it personally. Other parents may feel the exact opposite, be aware and make sure you yourself do not judge parents, you are the business, and they are the client.

Some articles on professional dress

-How to Dress Professionally

-Tips from a BAI Doula

4. Promotion- Make sure you have business cards, a website, and advertise locally. Hang fliers, at health food stores, place cards at baby boutiques, ask to leave brochures at doctors and midwives offices. Make your website clean and easy to navigate. In your about you section detail your education, the training organization you worked with and additional beneficial education. Choose a simple business name the expresses to potential clients what you are offering, use an original logo. In the business would you will occasionally find that someone has stolen another’s logo. Make sure yours is original to your practice.
Choose an appropriate email address. If you own your URL make a local email address or if you use a free service yourdoulapractice@hotmail/yahoo/
Do not use silly names people will not identify with you. is not very business-like.
Check out your competition, assess the market.

Check out services like VistaPrint, or Staples Business Services.
Take a look at who other birth professionals are targeting, maybe they are overlooking an area of need. Are you all looking and promoting yourself to the same core group of people.
Here are some categories that you can assess.

Doula Support

Doula Support

• First baby
• Previous birth trauma
• Crisis/teen pregnancy
• High risk pregnancy/high risk/stillbirth/previous loss
• Homebirth
• Intrauterine insemination/in vitro fertilization
• Adoption
• Cultural diversity
Then decide if you can serve this population and if so how to effectively market to that area.

5. Create a clear contract- Have a client for clients to sign that details what you will and will not do, your fees, back up, cancellation of services, refunds, etc.. Make your policies clear. The small business associations in your community, or your organization can assist you. Stick to your contract. It is essential that you follow your end of the bargain 100%. Sometimes legal advice is needed when drawing up a contract, pay for it if you need it, or seek out small business resources in your community.

6. Look you are not perfect, life is not perfect but if you are respectful, stick to your core foundation, follow your end of the contract then you are going to have a more sustainable and profitable business. Remember this. Yes, you will have times when you say, “This sucks”, etc.. Shake it off, assess yourself and believe in your goal. Have friends outside of the birth world who will offer you friendship and distraction from work. Do not get involved with local birth world drama. Never bad mouth another doula, if you can’t address it directly to her, then you shouldn’t be saying it. Stop playing the gossip game, do not pass on the negative, doing this is your choice.



Growing a Birth Community

Growing a Birth Community

BAI Training with Mavis Gewant

BAI Training with Mavis Gewant

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” – Proverbs 29:18

When I first became a doula in 2009 I tried to start a doula network, facilitating meetings and workshops. I desired a community of colleagues, sharing their experiences and encouraging one another in their journey to empower women during the childbearing year. Unfortunately after 12 months roughly hosting regular meetings and plus two workshops, it had not thrived like I had hoped. I live in Delaware, up until several years ago it was near impossible to find a doula.

Most people had no idea what a doula was or did, if they had heard the term. The handful doulas I knew of lived an hour north of me bordering Pennsylvania. I had to surrender to the fact that the community I live in just wasn’t ready for a doula network. I put it on the back burner until the community was ready. However, I never surrendered my deep longing for a birth community.


Over the years as a birth professional I actively sought out doulas in my area; aspiring, new and seasoned alike. I worked to keep communication going, by adding those with an expressed interest to my email list or newsletter; to inform them about activities and events they may be interested in. Rarely I heard beyond the initial email inquiring about how to become a doula. It was disheartening for me.

This experience led me to change my approach a bit. Several times a year I attend events like baby fairs, holistic health expos and lactation educational seminars as a vendor so I can reach two types of audiences: consumers and health care professionals. It’s a really great opportunity to network with supporters in the community and potential advocates who can help promote your cause on a professional level within state health departments, health care practices, hospitals and various other organizations.


You could also seek out networking opportunities with like-minded women through babywearing groups and breastfeeding groups like Le Leche League. While these groups are not directly birth related, they are still a wonderful resource. 8 years ago we had no Le Leche League, but today we have two! When Delmarva Babywearers, first formed about 8 years ago about 5 women attended monthly. Their babywearing group has exploded into 6 meetings a month (some social and some instructional) with 15-20 women attending! I encourage all new local moms and my clients to attend their meetings. I have found it to be one the best sources of passionate advocates to tap into. While they may not be actively involved in every birth-relative initiative, they can help spread the word to new members joining their group.


Another fantastic option to creat a birth community is through an established organization like Birth Network National, who have chapters nation wide. The Birth Network is comprised of parents, professionals and advocates. Your state or community may be in need of you to start a chapter. An organization like Birth Network National has already done all the work to establish and can give you ideas on how to create a birth community. In Fall 2012 I started the Delaware

Birth Network with great anticipation. In June the Delaware Birth Network hosted a successful “Doula Night”. Several women came out to support doulas, learn about becoming a doula and learn about what doulas do. I wish I could tell you our monthly meetings have a lot of people attending or even regular attendees. However, Delaware has tremendous obstacles to overcome to grow a thriving birth community. I firmly believe in time with a lot of hard work and creativity we will reach more people.


At the end of May I had the great privilege of hosting a doula workshop for Birth Arts International, which 12 wonderful women attended. One of the most touching parts of the workshop was that one of the women who attended was a former doula client of mine! That is powerful and beautiful! I had planned this for nearly 9 months and been dreaming of ways to grow the birth community in Delaware for 5 years. For quite some time I have been the only active doula in central Delaware. While some may say by hosting a doula workshop I’m “training my competition”, I disagree, I believe there is power in creating colleagues so your impact may be greater. Helen Keller said it best, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”


In order to continue seeing growth in the community we must also facilitate opportunities for continuing education for birth professionals. Fall 2013 Delaware will be having its first placenta encapsulation workshop. In 2014 I hope to host a workshop with Lara Catone, to teach a workshop to birth professionals, about diastasis, pelvic floor health, scar tissue and it’s effect on labor. The neat thing about the workshop with Lara is that while I feel is vital information to all birth professionals, it will also be open to consumers. It’s a great opportunity to blend parents and professionals together!


If you are waiting for a birth community to start thriving in your area, stop waiting and start getting busy! The “community” may be waiting for YOU to cultivate it! Reach out, network, prepare to be rejected and ignored but don’t give up. It may take years but it will be worth it. If you are so fortunate to live in an area where there is an existing and thriving birth community, count your blessings and please go hug those pioneers that paved the way. They will appreciate it more than you know.

Cindy Collins is a native of the San Francisco Bay area but now resides in Delaware with her husband and 3 boys.

Before she became a doula she was a professionally trained baker, holding a degree in baking & pastry. In addition to being a doula she volunteers as the chapter leader for the Delaware Birth Network. She is also an herbalist studying dually with Heart of Herbs with Demetria Clark and Herbal Medicine for Women with Aviva Romm.

Cindy is also a professional photographer who specializes in maternity, birth and nursing portraiture. For more information she can be reached at and




Meet the Doula- Heather Keeney

  • Heather Keeney

    Heather Keeney

    1. Why did you choose BAI?

    The logo! Seriously. When I first decided to become a doula, I did a lot of research online. I found tons of info about some of the larger organizations (DONA, CAPPA, etc.), and while the information was good and piqued my interest, it didn’t really resonate with me. Money was also a concern—we were a single income family at the time, and it was looking like following my passion was going to have to wait a bit, because I just couldn’t afford the training. Then one day something with the beautiful BAI logo popped up on my screen, and it was like someone was saying, “HEY! Over here!” I read through the information on the Birth Arts website, and I KNEW I had found where I was meant to be. When my scholarship application was accepted, it was like coming home.

    2. What did you learn about yourself while taking the program?
    That even though we arrive at the same destination (birth), we don’t all follow the same path to get there. There is no one “right” way for us to birth our babies. I learned that in order to be the best doula I can be, I had to let go of some of my own notions about what a “good” birth looks like. A hospital birth with an epidural and an OB can be just as good as a homebirth with a midwife and no meds at all—what matters most is how a woman feels about her experience. I learned that in order for me to best serve the women I work with, I may have to leave my activism at the door, and I learned how to be okay with that—not every client needs you to advocate for her in the same way, or for the same things.

    3. Tell us a little about yourself.
    I am a 36 year old mother of 3 boys, ages 17, 4 and 2 and a half, as well as one middle-aged furbaby: a Siamese cat. I’m fortunate to have a truly amazing man as my partner in crime—without his unwavering support and belief in my dreams, I would never be able to do what I do. I’m a voracious reader (my favorite book is “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett), an avid crocheter (I love anything with granny squares—they make me super happy!), and a lover of good beer (I’ve never met a Belgian Tripel I didn’t like.) I really enjoy crafty endeavors—any time I see something I like, I catch myself wondering, “Could I make that?”, sometimes with hilarious results. Other than the work I do as a doula, I am a stay-at-home mom, and plan to homeschool my two youngest.

    4. Tell us about your business, or plans for the future.
    My Business—Ordinary Miracles—currently offers both birth and postpartum doula support, as well as breastfeeding education and support and independent childbirth education. My plans for the future include being able to offer customized aromatherapy and herbal products, and to facilitate mother blessing celebrations. My doula “dream” is to someday work with a community organization that focuses specifically on teen mothers… or to found one myself.



Be a Media Superstar!

Working with the Media
All new doula’s, cbe’s, etc.. always want to know how to market their practice.
Here are some easy tips.

mediarelationsMaking Contact
Television- Each major station will have a local affiliate. Try searching “NBC affiliate {your city name}, or if you know search the stations call letters. Visit the contact page, and find the phone number for the contact desk. Ask to speak to the assignment desk, and get their names. Other roles you can ask for all “health reporter” “morning show producer” or an assignment editor.

Radio- Research the station and directly contact the local stations, send your story ideas to the hosts or producers directly. If you are asked to do a phone interview, do not use a cell phone with spotty connections or use a phone in a room-full of people. Having children, etc.. in the background is a distraction, even a barking dog can be. I had had more than one fire truck or ambulance in the background of a live radio interview. It is unavoidable, so make sure you remove the most background noise as possible.

Newspapers- Do the same as you did with the television, and call the paper and ask who to be directed to, a metro or city editor, health or family reporter. Send the person you are directed to a pitch or speak to them professionally.

Write a Press Release
A press release lets local media know of your events, news, etc..
Here are some links they explain how to write a great press release.
Make sure your press release is direct, to the point and snazzy.
Do not have typos, or industry only language.
Make sure you have all of your contact information. Make sure your email address is professional. A long or silly email address reflects directly on you and your business.
Send it to all media outlets that you want to know about what you are doing.
Do not limit yourself to one town paper, or even your town, send them to all in the county. Press releases can also be sent to local free papers also. Just because one editor does not have time for your story, or is not interested does not mean another will not be.

Follow up calls
Make sure the said media outlets got your message.
If they ask you to call back, or express interested make sure you do just that.
Add that persons name to a media contact list.
If they are not interested do not keep calling.

Media Relations
If you are nervous and don’t know what to say, email Demetria, she can even on a weekend take a few minutes and talk to you about talking to the media.
Make sure you tell them you are working with Birth Arts International. People who read articles always want to know where they can get trained too, or who you are working with. Linking yourself to your organization increases your visibility also.

Interview Clothes
Be comfortable and yourself. Remember though how to dress and act will follow you for ever.

Be Yourself and Be Effective
You are fabulous just the way you are.

Some outlets will ask you to submit the questions you want ask, make them good.
“Why are doulas an important aspect of childbirth?”
Do not be baited into any type of provider bashing, or personal kinds of debates. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into but isn’t this “bad” debates. What you say can stick with you forever.
Be calm, clear and rational.
Make sure you have good answers to the obvious like “What is a doula” or “what does a childbirth educator do”, “Why is it/are they important?”

Be you, be memorable and be clear. I know you will be great!

Be on the lookout for the follow up article- Dressing for a TV interview.