Posts by Category : doula

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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.

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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.

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Birth Matters- Kara Figueroa 0

 

“Birth Matters”

 

baby Birth is one of the most amazing miracles of this world.  It breathes air into life.  Birth not only brings your baby into this world, it sets the tone for how you look at yourself as a person and a mother.  It greatly affects your life in ways you never imagined it would.  It can set you up for memories filled with love, hope, joy and empowerment or it can break you into pieces.  Birth Matters, you matter.

I began my journey of becoming a doula, a woman who serves, after a less than lovely birth experience with my second child.  I was uneducated, unmotivated to learn and completely trusting of the hospital, my doctor and the nurses I have never met.  I set out to have a baby with complete strangers and was treated as such.  It shook me to my core.  I birthed a beautiful baby boy vaginally after 10.5 hours of labor where threats and scare tactics were used on top of medical interventions that went terribly wrong.  I felt alone, unloved and just a statistic.  I didn’t feel like I mattered and my postpartum experience confirmed how I felt about myself, and my ability as a mother.

Experiencing a labor and birth that caused myself to doubt my abilities, lowered my self-esteem and caused unwanted postpartum depression, motivated me to change the way my clients would experience birth.   “Women’s perceptions about their bodies and their babies’ capabilities will be deeply influenced by the care they receive around the time of birth.” Ina May Gaskin, Birth Matters.  I set out to love on women and their partners, educate them on the labor and birth experience, challenge them to dig deeper and counsel them on their fears.  I want my clients to know they matter and to know that I care about them and their hearts.  I didn’t want them to hear “the baby is here and healthy and that is all that matters”.  It’s not all that matters, it’s a huge part, but that is not all that matters.

Why does birth matter?  Ask your mom about her birth experiences, better yet, ask your grandmother.  Do not be surprised if their birth stories are as detailed as a woman that just had her baby yesterday.  Birth leaves and imprint on your mind and soul.  For every mother, birth is an event that shakes and shapes her in one way or another.  Birth leaves lasting effects such as empowerment, euphoria, depression and disempowerment.  These effects all differ depending on how the women is treated and supported around the time she gives birth regardless of whether the birth is vaginal or a cesarean.

Birth matters because you matter.  Do not for a moment leave your birth in the hands of a stranger.  Take my word for it. Build a birth team that will support you, your desires, educate you and empower you to want better for your birth and yourself.  Choose wisely and seek out a practitioner whom you feel comfortable. You wan them to be encouraging, understanding and will freely educate you on the questions you ask.  Interview with doulas and choose the best fit for your family; one that you feel will serve, love and support you and your partner the best.  It is very important that you are comfortable with your birth team.  Love, support and service are a powerful thing.  It can take even the less than ideal circumstances and turn them into more joy than your heart can contain.  Take control of your birth and let someone love on you and treat you the way you deserve, because YOU MATTER!

Source:  “Birth Matters” by Ina May Gaskin

Bio:

Kara Figueroa is wife, momma of 4 and a doula.  She has been trained by DONA and BAI and is seeking her certification through BAI.  Her passion is to serve, love and support.  She has been a practicing doula since 2008.  http://smiledoula.com

 

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

ACOG Recommends Doulas to Lower Primary Cesarean Rates

Cesarean

Cesarean

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:

http://www.acog.org/Resources_And_Publications/Obstetric_Care_Consensus_Series/Safe_Prevention_of_the_Primary_Cesarean_Delivery

 

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 [www.mindandbodymama.com]. Follow her at [https://www.facebook.com/mindandbodymama] and [https://twitter.com/mindandbodymama].

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Preparing for Childbirth-Terri Lee-Johnson

Doula Support

Doula Support

Preparing for Childbirth

 

When most women consider childbirth preparation, thoughts are often limited to the method they’ll use such as Lamaze, Bradley, HypnoBirth, etc. Anyone planning to have a baby should, first, do just that: plan to have a baby. I know, I know, how many of us actually do that or even get the chance since many pregnancies are a surprise? Considering that more women are postponing motherhood until their 30s and 40s, taking a moment in the 20s to plan is a great idea. Also, this is a great addendum to the motherhood topic for those mother-daughter talks. While what method and, thus, what type of childbirth class to take is important, there are a few other things to consider.
1. Consider where you want to birth While birth centers and hospitals are covered by insurance, home births involving the services of a midwife are typically an out of pocket expense. As soon as you know that you want a midwife’s services, you should start saving for the fee. If you’re willing to move temporarily to another state where midwives are licensed because they aren’t in your area, include those expenses as well. A great way to get help with those expenses is to add them to your gift registry or turn one of your hobbies like jewelry making or knitting into a small business for which you’ll use the earnings to secure a midwife.
2. Consider the type of birth you want Two words: BIRTH PREFERENCES. No matter where you plan to birth, you should have one. Even someone wanting a home birth but, just cannot seem to acquire the funds to pay a midwife may have to have a hospital birth and home births that may turn into a hospital transfer should have a contingency plan so your wishes are clear. There are tons of examples online to help you map out your “please dos” and “please don’ts” for hospital staff. Your preferences can include everything from whether or not you desire to exclusively breastfeed to requesting no vaccines be administered to no circumcision if your newborn is a boy. Flexibility is just as important when setting birth preferences as birth can be unpredictable and certain things may conflict with your wishes. The goal is to be educated enough on your options to make informed decisions regarding how you give birth.
3. Consider who you want to assist you in birth OB? Midwife? Doula? In Tennessee, you have two options: a home birth with a midwife or a hospital birth with an OB. Midwives do not have hospital privileges here so, your setting determines your attendant. If that is the case where you live and you prefer to work with a midwife, consider having your well woman care being handled by one to begin cultivating that relationship. It is often forgotten that midwives do more than “catch babies.” Start taking advantage of their services before conception. Just remember it will likely not be covered by insurance but, you get what you pay for. *wink wink*
Now, doulas do not provide any medical services but can attend your birth as emotional and physical support. She will also provide tons of helpful information throughout the pregnancy and into the postpartum period. We are found to be most useful in hospital births where the environment is not as easy to control as your home. Doulas are another out of pocket expense for most though, insurance providers are beginning to recognize our value and provide coverage for our services. This is another item that can be added to a gift registry (great for a group of co-workers to give) if you need help with doula fees.
There are many things to consider when planning to start a family but these are the three questions I would answer first regarding prenatal care and the actual birth. Where you birth and who attends that birth will influence how you birth. If you want an out of hospital experience that will require a small investment, start saving now or solicit anxious grandparents-to-be for a donation. Even with unexpected pregnancies and birth being unpredictable, still give yourself the space to plan and create the birth you want.

____

Terri Lee-Johnson is a homeschool mom, wife, doula, and apprentice midwife in Memphis, TN. In her spare time, she reads voraciously, watches historical documentaries, and is artsy craftsy.

www.zoleka.com

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“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.”

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Sacred Birth- Johanna Schnell

Take a minute and relax. Visualize what the big day is going to be like. The twinge in your belly, signaling a time of great change is nigh. You’ve opened yourself up, completely, to the arrival of a special person. The veil is lifted, briefly, to reveal the great mystery of life.

Sacred Connections

Sacred Connections

Birth is a sacred, mystical experience. But it’s hard to feel like a Goddess when bright lights are shining upon an antiseptic room, and you are distracted by a stream of staff to plug your beautiful body into machines that go beep, poke you with needles, and prod your sacred opening, as a clock looks down upon you with judgmental precision. It just doesn’t feel right.

It is important to understand how hospital routine impacts your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual state.  A hospital can be compared to an assembly line. Medical procedures and tradition encourage efficiency in order to provide roughly the same quality of care to as many people as possible. This directly conflicts with the birth process, as unique to each woman as a snowflake.

This is not just some emotional mumbo jumbo- the level of satisfaction with your birth experience will impact how well you bond with your baby. The strength of your bond will impact how well your child will attach to you, which has long-lasting effects on how your child will approach relationships and independence. Sure, you have plenty of time for you and baby to get to know each other. Bonding doesn’t stop when you check out of the hospital. It sure does help when memories of the birth aren’t clouded by a stressful birthing environment. Mom’s security and comfort will determine how much she will enjoy the experience- the more she enjoys it, the less pain and medical intervention she will need. It is wise to educate yourself on what to expect and ensure you have plenty of support.

Researches on medical dehumanization and on sexual objectification have independently revealed similar characteristics of power imbalance, victimization, and control. Medical dehumanization and sexual objectification are a double whammy also known as intersectionality- when a person comprises two or more categories of disempowered groups. In this case, (non-minority, heterosexual, cis-gendered) woman and patient.  There can be an assumption floating about the antiseptic halls of medicine that women in childbirth are defective and weak objects in need of improvement via masculine intervention.  Seriously, would humanity be here if women weren’t fully capable of doing birthing babies? Pregnancy is not an illness in need of a cure! Your body is not a lemon!!

Read the table below and see the similarities for yourself.

Medical Dehumanization Tactics (according to psychologists Omar Sultan Haque and Adam Waytz) Sexual Objectification (According to the philosopher Martha Nussbaum)
deindivudating practices (taking away identifying characteristics, ex. the generic hospital gown)     as if interchangeable (fungibility)
impaired patient agency (a lessened ability to think or plan for oneself)     as if lacking in agency or self-determination (denial of autonomy, inertness);
dissimilarity (The dynamic of a healthy person in power and an ill one needing help sets up a dehumanizing relationship) as if owned by another (ownership);
empathy reduction (tactic to reduce burnout- not empathetic to pain experienced by patient) as if there is no need for concern for their feelings and experiences (denial of subjectivity)
moral disengagement (so that willfully inflicting pain during medical procedures becomes permissible rather than abhorrent) as if permissible to damage or destroy (violability)
Mechanization (patient is not a person but a set of interacting systems,  literally as a mechanical object, to make it easier to diagnose problems) As a tool for another’s purposes (instrumentality)

 

Given the studies documenting the damaging impact sexual objectification has on women, it is disturbing to see hospital staff treating women in childbirth in a nearly identical manner simply as a matter of course. The behavior is excused on the grounds it will provide better diagnoses and keep staff calm in case of an emergency. However, this belief is questionable, particularly as it relates to childbirth, since this is a natural physiological process. The woman in question is not sick, after all. We don’t keep a doctor on hand every time we climb into the car, just in case we have an accident. So it seems absurd to include professional healers to our bedside during birth.

The overall impact of objectification: your unique birth experience will be treated as though it is a mechanical process, identical to the women who birthed before, and any variation to the Ideal Birth as laid down in the holy medical textbooks is a problem needing to be fixed. This impacts the chances you will be treated with dignity and respect. It will interrupt the flow of your birth, slowing you down and causing unnecessary pain.

Once a birth has deviated too far from your hospital’s rigid norm, it is easy (and profitable) to scare women into accepting “help” they don’t always truly need and tends to disrupt the birth process by telling the mother they are not in control and need experts to tell them what to do, rather than tune into their own intuition and rely on their inherent resources to complete their journey. Staff will try to make all the decisions, meaning your sense of self-respect and empowerment in this transformative experience will be reduced to feelings of dependency and self-doubt. Not the best way to start motherhood!

Want to try a different approach that celebrates your power as a woman and mother? Have your baby at home! Usually, any problem requiring hospital attention will be detected with plenty of time to go to the hospital. You can start out at home and go from there. You will be the boss in a comfortable and safe space. This is how women gave birth for centuries. Only in the last 100 years have women moved into delivery rooms, and it took quite a lot of convincing from the medical establishment for them to do so. If you decide you must have your baby in a hospital, take time to enjoy the experience and make it your own. Wear a nightgown from home. Dim the lights. Dance! You need to feel secure and relaxed to accomplish the great work ahead of you.

The best thing you can do, at home or in the hospital, is to hire a doula. She is a non-medical addition to your support team. Your doula will provide physical and emotional support. She provides spaciousness for you as you create space for your child. It is her job to empower you, help you relax and enjoy the flow of birth, and act as a buffer between you, your fears, and the hospital staff so your wishes are respected.

Sources:

“Objectification”. Nussbaum, Martha C. Philosophy and Public Affairs; Fall 1995; 24, 4

“Dehumanization in Medicine: Causes, Solutions, and Functions”. Omar Sultan Haque and Adam Waytz. Perspectives on Psychological Science March 2012 vol. 7 no. 2 176-186

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Ina May Gaskin. 2003. Bantam.

“The Origins of Attachment Theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth”. Bretherton I. Developmental Psychology 1992 vol. 28 no. 5 759.

Bio:

Johanna Schnell is a doula based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She believes healthy parenting will save the world.

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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.

 

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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 www.birtharts.com

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 name@yourwebsite.com or if you use a free service yourdoulapractice@hotmail/yahoo/gmail.com.
Do not use silly names people will not identify with you. KittenLover21359@whatever.com 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
• VBAC
• 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.

 

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Student Comments and Reviews Birth Arts International Doula Program

As we are coming to the end of the year I thought I would share some comments and reviews from our students. We are only sharing a few of the doula students comments, just to share with you our relationship with our students.

I love everything about this program! I especially love that it is all online, and I can work on the assignments when I can. It has made it possible for me to earn my bachelor’s degree, work, and still work towards my doula certification. I also love the additional herbal and holistic teachings that is included and how they relate to pregnancy and childbirth. I really like that more than the usual number of books and evaluated births is required. This ensures that I get a well rounded and full knowledge and understanding of many different types of birth and life situations.

A. Long 2013

Lisa Lute

June 12, 2013

I have thoroughly enjoyed this BAI course thus far. I am almost done with my certification and am so glad I decided to go through BAI. I am part of a local doula group here in Boise and I am the only none DONA trained Doula. At first I was a little self-couscous of this, but now am very proud! I have learned a lot about DONA and their certification requirements in the last year and I have to say that BAI beats them in every way hands down! I feel like I have received a well-rounded and thorough doula training. BAI does not just teach about the body and the birth process, but they go so many steps further. BAI dives into the spiritual and emotional aspects as well as getting into nutrition, herbalism and aromatherapy…..etc. A lot more course work is expected of us initially, but I believe we are better for it. I have learned so much through this entire process.  And I can’t wait to finish and have my certification in hand! I do not have any real suggestions that I can think of, just keep on doing what your doing and the great word of mouth will spread. I tell all my friends and acquaintances that are thinking about going into birth work to check out BAI. I can’t wait to check out some of your other courses!

 

I very much enjoyed and appreciated the BAI Doula Program. I have learned so much and I feel like I can take so much information away from this experience. I think that reading all of the books was great for me to understand what I as a doula can provide for a laboring mother and her family. Being able to watch birth and be a part of it has been one of the most miraculous experiences for me in my life. I truly feel blessed that I was able to be a part of this program.

Karen Hamel

I have enjoyed this past year tremendously.  I have learned so much.  I love my Birth Arts International Certified Doula Education Program Book and I will keep it for reference.  I will do all of the assignments listed in the book as I believe they will definitely benefit me.  The books suggested for reading have been so educational and I have learned so much from them.  All of the births I have been able to attend have been awesome.  I have had the privilege to attend at least 15 births over this past year and each time has been an amazing experience.  I will consider taking other courses with Birth Arts International in the future.  Thank you so much.

Patricia Hoxie

Leslie Westenhaver
Student Suggestions
I find myself at the end of this journey to become a Certified Doula and I am truly amazing at all I have completed in the past two years. Going into this course, I honestly thought I would be able to finish most of the work within 6 months with one year being the longest it would take me to get the clients and such to complete all the requirements. Little did I know that as soon as I signed up for the course, I would find myself pregnant with baby number five and go through the first year hardly able to complete much of anything. Still, despite many of the setbacks and frustrations in figuring out childcare with 5 young children, I wanted to push myself to complete this course within the time limit given. Now here I am, about to submit all my paperwork for the course and I see what a long way I have come from the person who joined up almost two years ago. I feel this course is absolutely and completely thorough and come back to the page often to read through different things, from the links to rebozo use to the traditions of healing, and I am so proud to have worked through the Birth Arts International certification for doula over some of the others I had looked at before. I love that there is a Facebook group where I can go to voice any issues I might be having with my certification work or to network with other fellow Birth Arts doulas. I am proud to be a part of this group of wonderfully wise women and look forward to serving expecting women and their families for many years to come!