Archives for February 2015

Questions to Ask Your Doula

QstoAskDoula

So you’re going to hire a doula – yay! First things first, did you find one yet? (How to find a doula) Once you do, come back here!

I’ve run into many moms asking what they should talk about during the initial interview with their potential doulas. The interview is a great time to learn about your doulas strengths and weaknesses, her views and values, and ultimately, if you two click personality-wise. The interview is two-fold: She is getting to know if you’re the right fit for her as much as you’re getting to know her.

First of all, relax. The interview is a time to just chill and get to know each other. My favorite part is just chatting with the potential clients about where they’re from, they’re hopes for this birth, and their experience. In the same way, you as a potential client can get a feel for the way I run things and my personality.

In any case, here are some questions that can help you during the interview process. By all means, ask all of them or none of them, it’s up to you! See where the conversation brings you.

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— Why did you become a doula?

— Where did you do your training/certify?

— How long have you been a doula? How many births have you attended?

— What do you offer with your doula services? Prenatal visits, postnatal, breastfeeding education, lending library, etc.

— How much do you charge? Do you take payment plans? Offer discounts?

— What do you require of me as a client? Childbirth education classes, breastfeeding knowledge, certain conversations with providers, etc.

— How many births do you take a month? Do you offer backup arrangements?

— When does the on-call period begin?

— How do you feel about natural birth? Epidurals? Inductions? Cesareans?

— Have you attended a cesarean birth? A VBAC? Multiples birth?

— When do you arrive at the birth? How long do you stay?

— What are your favorite pain management techniques?

— How do I get in contact with you?

— Tell us about a birthing experience.

**I suggest you interview several doulas in the area before you make your decision. Doulas understand if we are not the right fit for your particular circumstance. There is a doula out there for everybody!**

How to Find a Doula

HowtoFindaDoula

There are doulas out there… but how do you find them? It’s surprisingly easy, if you just know a few tricks and tips! Here are some of the best ways I know to find the doula right for you.

ASK AROUND

A majority of my client base comes from word-of-mouth. Be that on online forums (think, FB groups), former clients, or other doulas who are either booked up or suggest me as an alternative for whatever reason. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

DO A QUICK WEB SEARCH

Open up your favorite web search and type in Doula and then Your City. Most doulas have websites. Click on some of them and see where they lead!

ASK YOUR CARE PROVIDER

Most care providers will be able to give you the names of popular and reputable doulas, especially ones they have worked with and can vouch for. I know I have gotten a couple referrals from care providers. As a doula, I’ve handed out a few business cards to providers to give to their clients. Just ask!

DOULAMATCH.NET

While I couldn’t be a part of this website due to my location, if you’re in the United States you can easily find a doula on this website, as long as the doula has signed up and made a page for themselves. Just type in your zip code and it will bring up a page of doulas available near your due date, their prices and experience, and so on. Start calling them!

DOULA ORGANIZATION WEBSITES

There are several organizations that certify doulas, such as CAPPA, DONA, BAI, CBI, and others. Visit their websites and do a search for doulas on there.

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**A lot of these practices can be used to find childbirth education classes, lactation consultants, and midwives. Just start doing your research!**

Doulas Deserve a Living Wage, Too

DoulasDeserveLivingWage

I participate in plenty of online forums/groups, mostly through Facebook, that deal with pregnancy and birth. These groups feature a wide range of individuals, mostly women, looking for support and answers to their questions. They cover most demographics, areas all over the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world, all ages and family sizes. There is a wide variety of experience.

What I see almost every day is someone asking for information about doulas – Should they hire one? What should they ask the doula at the interview? What makes a good doula? How can I get one for cheap?

This post is mostly for you doulas, but I’m trying to aim it toward the pregnant mothers who might stumble upon this blog.

Doulas deserve a living wage, too.

What does that even mean? What is a living wage? Simply put, a living wage is “an amount of money you are paid for a job that is large enough to provide you with the basic things (such as food and shelter) needed to live an acceptable life.” (source) This is why we have a government-regulated minimum wage, so that people will be paid fairly for the job they do, so that they can live and support themselves and their families.

There is a common myth among new parents that the role of a doula should come at an inexpensive cost or free of charge. I can see how that comes about: Doulas are seen as quiet helpers who sometimes “don’t do much,” that they aren’t medically needed for a birth, that they stand in for the mother, grandmother or sister of the birthing mother.

Doulas still play an important role in the birthing room, as important as the midwife or the nurse, just in a different capacity. Just as you wouldn’t expect to have a midwife attend your birth for free, you shouldn’t expect a doula to do the same. I understand that birthing can cost a lot of money, especially if your insurance won’t cover certain aspects (like a doula.) However, understand that the cost of a doula is worth it. Worth every penny.

Becoming a doula isn’t free, and neither is maintaining the job of a doula. Let’s look at a basic breakdown of my own expenses:

Training/Certification: $700+
Materials: $75, ongoing
Childcare: $8-10 per hour
Travel: $20+ per birth

Even a doula who doesn’t participate in a training program and gain a certificate, or has childcare issues, still has expenses with every birth. Not to mention the time spent with each family. Let’s look at that:

Interview: 1-2 hours
Prenatals: 1-2 hours each (at least 2)
Birth: 1-24, or more, hours
Postnatal: 1-2 hours
Total: 4-30+ hours

Imagine you spent 30 hours working at your job… what would you expect to be paid?

Living wage is dependent on a lot of factors, that’s why you will find doulas of ranging prices. You have to take into account the area you live in (cities generally are more expensive), the economy of the area (rent, gas prices, so on), the doulas experience**, and the doulas availability. Of course, as a client searching for the doula, these aren’t your issues to be concerned about. As a doula, you need to look at these factors when determining your pricing.

**I don’t believe a doula fresh out of training should be offering free services to work on her certification. However, a bit of a discount is appropriate, but not necessary. I offered my first few births at a discounted price. This is an individual decision. You’ll find more experienced doulas will charge more, which is perfectly acceptable.**

Lastly, own your pricing. Don’t make apologies for running your business. If a potential client asks how much you charge, don’t be sorry for naming your price. Don’t feel like you need to offer discounts for everyone. If this is your job, then work it like a real job. Lawyers don’t feel bad for their prices, doctors don’t either, neither should you apologize for the service you provide.

What are your thoughts on living wage?

{Birth Photography} Jennifer

Sometimes, births take a different turn than what you expect.

I met this lovely couple weeks before the birth, and with a couple prenatal appointments, we were ready to rock it! However, Jennifer’s due date came and went, and eight days later the hospital was concerned for the baby and an induction was in place. Jennifer was positive through the whole experience! I was glad to be there to help her through.

Hours passed and suddenly, Sam’s heart rate dropped and did not pick back up, so Jennifer was rushed back for an emergency cesarean. Thankfully baby Sam was in perfect shape! He has a special birthday now, November 11th, Veterans Day.

Jennifer1Jennifer2Jennifer3Jennifer7Jennifer5Jennifer4 Jennifer6 Jennifer8

 

Dear First Time Mom

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Dear First Time Mom,

You’re finally here, you’re going to be a mom. Isn’t that such a terrifying and exciting notion? You’ve surrounded yourself with baby books, shopping lists, and name ideas. You’re designing that perfect nursery for your baby. You’re daydreaming over what that little baby will look like – will he have your ears? Your partner’s hair color? What will be his favorite color, or food, or book? I remember being there, pouring over the books and opening up the pregnancy apps countless times a day. The anticipation is

Can I just give some advice? Now that I’m on the other side of motherhood?

Educate yourself about birth.

Put down the baby name books and pick up a childbirth book. Close those pregnancy forums and open up a webpage about what to expect during labor. Save that document about the baby gear you need and start thinking about your birth preferences.

The birth of your child, the first or the tenth, is going to be such a significant moment in your life. You will remember every detail. You will analyze the decisions you made and the words your care providers said. You will recall the feel of those early contractions and the rush of the pushing stage, or the way your body is numbed from chest down before you give birth by cesarean.

FirstTimeMom

You should spend as much time and effort into planning your birth as you would into planning your dream wedding. Just as your wedding is a significant moment in your life, so are the births of your children. I would actually wager to say that the births you experience will have a bigger impact on your life than a thousand weddings you plan.

Birth education starts with you. Start reading as much as you can (visit my Resources page for my favorite books), all sorts of books, medical and philosophical. Read blogs about childbirth. Talk to people who have had babies all sorts of ways (no interventions, induced, cesarean, you name it). And then go talk to your care provider. Learn about their policies and procedures. Ask them the hard questions: Do they frequently perform episiotomies? What are their cesarean rates? What are the policies regarding VBACs? What are the newborn procedures? Etc.

Learn about every procedure so that, in the heat of labor, you won’t be scrambling to try and make a decision based off of limited knowledge. Learn about the pain medications offered, the risks and benefits, and which you would prefer, if you are leaning toward that. Learn about induction methods. Learn about the stages of labor, how different positions affect your outcome, and the optimal pushing positions. Learn about relaxation techniques. Learn about how a cesarean is performed, if your birth comes to that. Learn about recovery and breastfeeding.

Just load yourself with knowledge. You can never have too much. Even now, as a doula, I’m learning something new every day.

And better yet, attend a childbirth class. Not the one-hour kind offered through the hospital – you want a comprehensive class that covers all these topics and more.

Make yourself a Plan A: Your dream birth. List out the most important things you want in your birth and make them clear to yourself and your care provider. Really think hard about how you envision your birth going. Get it down on paper and focus on it. And then sit down and make a Plan B, and then a Plan C. Because, just as with dream weddings, birth might not go as planned.

I’m imploring you to make this birth the best you can. Don’t fall into the trap that, since your care provider is the expert, you don’t have to do any research on your own. Remember that, as the patient, you will help call the shots. All too often, first time moms go into their birth without the proper education, and sometimes they come back out disappointed at the outcome. Don’t make your second birth the best one, start with your first. Know that every decision made during the birth was within your control and you will most likely be satisfied with the end result.

With all love, hope, and excitement for your future,

Chantal