Posts Tagged ‘birth professionals’

30 Days of Gratitude, Days 8 & 9: Shared Nerdiness & Geeky Culture

Monday, November 9th, 2015

thankful 2015 days 8-9 aBirth professionals are a unique breed. Nerdiness is a built-in feature of each of us. We tend to be counter-cultural in a lot of ways, and our passions extend beyond the bounds of birth, babies, and breastfeeding in surprising ways. Today, we are all thankful for this ability we have to bond in our shared nerdiness and geeky culture.

We all geek out over things which the rest of the world will just back away from. We have all squealed in delight at the latest and greatest fake boob, because we can use it to demonstrate a pump. We have each sighed longingly over a new model pelvis, because ours is missing its tailbone. Our Amazon wish lists are filled with midwifery texts, cute scrubs, birth books, and tools of the trade. And don’t even get me started on the awesomeness of placentas!

We go all fangirl when we hear that Ina May Gaskin, Penny Simkin, or Michel Odent has agreed to speak anywhere in our near vicinity. They are the rock stars of the birth world, and we just can’t handle the awesomeness.

And yet…our geekiness doesn’t stop there. Our ridiculous passion for birth extends to a lot of other areas. Did you know Colorado Springs has a stormtrooper midwife? Yet, she is not the only out and proud nerd in town! Our very own Desirre Andrews has quite a large, geeky following on her Dram of Outlander blog, and is writing reviews for a few different SyFy shows. Seriously, we are a geeky bunch, and we were geeks before being a geek was cool! (So, we’re like…hipster geeks. *snort*)

“I’m thankful for nerd girlfriends! Doctor Who, LOTR, Books, Sherlock, all things geeky and nerdy!” -Sabrina Stewart, Pregnancy Fitness & Breastfeeding Educator and CLC

Not only do birth professionals connect over all things birth, we connect over fandoms. Everything from Marvel to Star Trek to Doctor Who, to Outlander to Downton Abbey to Sherlock to Firefly, you can find us geeking out over something.

A geek is a geek is a geek, and while we’re not all the same, we find our common ground in our fandoms!

Today, we are thankful for our sisterhood being built on more than birth and breastfeeding. We are thankful that geek culture is in, and that it’s finally okay to be wildly passionate about anything! Here’s to the comic book nerds, the cosplayers, the bookworms, the gamers, the Marvel fanatics, the BBC fangirls, and all other nerdy passions!

What are you geeking out over today?

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator and Student Midwife

30 Days of Gratitude, Day 6: A Warm Bed

Friday, November 6th, 2015

thankful 2015 day 6The days may have been warm, but the nights are getting pretty darn chilly in these parts, so we are all finding ourselves thankful for our warm beds. There is nothing more satisfying to on-call birth professionals than falling into our own warm bed after an all-nighter. Except, maybe, that first cup of coffee upon awakening. I think it might be a tie.

“It includes lots of my favorite things: my pillow, quilts, sleeping, and (usually) solitude,” quothe Erin, one of our midwife assistants and childbirth educators.

I think it’s safe to say that it goes for all of us.

Beds are incredible places, full of dreams, cuddles, and the cool side of the pillow. Our beds are our havens. Some of us have a little coffee station close by, so as to be able to drink that first cuppa without leaving the cozy sanctuary.

Some have beds full to the brim with children, those natural hot water bottles of cuteness.

Some have beds that move, making reading in bed more luxurious, and lower back pain less noticeable.

Many have bedside tables stacked with books, and have a hard time choosing which ones we’ll be reading from evening to evening.

Some have our beds gloriously to ourselves, and it has become our haven when we are overstimulated and touched out from a day caring for other humans–whether they be our own tiny humans, or our clients is immaterial.

Beds, beds, glorious beds on a cold and biting autumn night, or a crisp day after a long birth. They are things of beauty, whether made or unmade, spartan or covered in fancy pillows, king size or queen or full or twin. They are our beds, and we thank God for them on this lovely day in November.

What are you thankful for today?

Warmly (possibly from my bed),
Tiffany Miller
Student Midwife, Childbirth Educator

Life Lessons Found As A Doula

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Being a doula has taught me…

  • I have to disappoint people I love sometimes. At any moment, I may have to leave people I care about high and dry while I bolt to the side of a mother in labor. Babies don’t care about the date on the calendar.
  • I will be growing and learning forever. I will never “arrive” at a place where I cannot possibly learn any more.
  • It is not only okay to ask for help, it is imperative.
  • It is also imperative to walk in gratitude for all the help I receive.
  • Self-care is really important, and I am not very good at it most of the time.
  • To value the friends who stick around, even though they can never really depend on me as if I were a normal person.
  • To take myself and my work seriously. This isn’t just a feel-good hobby. It’s hard work, and it is worth it to invest time and resources into growing professionally.
  • Never to take anything for granted. There are no guarantees of good outcomes in any decision I make.
  • There are risks and consequences to everything in life. All we have to do is decide which ones we are willing to live with.
  • Having a mentor is critical.
  • Growing to become a mentor is a privilege.
  • Peer review in the safest context possible is essential to avoiding burnout.
  • I can never care more about a birth, and its outcome, than the mother. Ever.
  • Humility is the first pillar of solid bridge-building between the staff, care providers, my clients, and myself.
  • When I walk into a birthing space, I walk in with the reputation of all doulas in my hands.
  • To be flexible.
  • I don’t have to know everything. I just need to know where to find good information.
  • Scope of Practice is one of my most valuable assets.
  • How and when to say “No.” The rubber has met the road, where my family is concerned, and saying “No” is becoming a little less difficult.
  • While I will never check my faith at the door, my hands, my heart, and my love are far better tools than my tongue.
  • How to actually listen, though I think I will always be working at this.
  • There is no such thing as perfect balance in a person’s life. I can only do the best I can with what I have.
  • I cannot be all things to all people in all situations. However, I can love all people in all situations, and I can be fully myself in whatever moment I am living in.
  • My best is enough.

Above all, being a doula has helped me grow in love–for my God, my husband, my children, and all who come across my path.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

As a doula, I finally understand what it looks like when love wins. It doesn’t always mean that everyone is happy, or that everything works out perfectly. It means that choices are made that encompass what is truly best for the other person. It means laying down my desires, opinions, passions, hopes, and putting the best interest of the other person at the top of my priority list. In all situations, love of God, and love for my neighbor (beginning with those in my home) is the answer, and is the deep water my roots drink from.

I am so grateful for the growth I have experienced as a doula, and I pray that I never stop growing. That I always stay teachable. That I always walk in what I know to be true.

What life lessons have you learned from your work, either as a mother, wife, birth professional, flapjack flapper, or whatever it is that you do?

I have to give a shout-out to my mentor and friend, Desirre Andrews. More than anyone, she has challenged me to take risks, get up after I fall, and to widen my view while staying within the bounds of a very narrow path.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Doulas Benefit Care Providers, Too.

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Image credit: apperson.com/support

I’ve written a lot about the measurable benefits of trained labor support for women and their families, which is important. However, I believe firmly that doulas have great potential to benefit care providers and staff as well. As one more important piece of the birthing puzzle, doulas can either add to or detract from the big picture of any birth they attend.

When a doula is at her best, when she understands her role and her scope of practice, she brings freedom, communication, and peace to the place of birth.

Part of my Scope of Practice as a CAPPA-certified Labor Doula reads as follows:

During labor and birth, the labor doula provides the mother and her partner with physical, emotional, and informational support. She facilitates and promotes self-advocacy, informed choice, and effective communication between the family and care providers. She seeks to foster a cooperative, respectful, and positive atmosphere with all members of the birth team so that the mother can birth with confidence. (emphasis mine)

What does “effective communication” look like at a birth?

It looks like a bridge. A sturdy, well-built bridge that begins with openness, humility, and an extended hand from the doula to the staff member or care provider that does not interrupt their conversation with the client.

It’s remembering that the client chose her care providers just as much as she chose her doula.* That fact alone should elicit basic human respect from the doula toward those caring for her client. Period. Regardless if that respect is returned or not. Doulas do no one any good unless we do our best to leave those chips on our shoulders at home. We do best when we take the high road, and treat everyone on the birth team with dignity and respect.

Side note: respect doesn’t mean agreement or likeability. It simply means getting along, and choosing to work together toward a common goal: The safety and health (physical, mental, and emotional) of both mother and baby.

When a doula sees herself as an integral part of the birth team, and understands that everyone else there has their place (as long as her client chose them), there are a lot of benefits she has to offer to the care provider and staff she is working with.

Among those benefits:

  • Added perspective–Doulas can often get very creative when coming up with ways to help a labor progress effectively before medical interventions are truly needed. Care providers often appreciate suggestions that don’t interfere with safety, and that seem to help the mother.
  • Someone labor-sitting–Care providers are rarely available to labor sit as long as a doula can. Even home birth midwives may not have as much opportunity to do so, and usually arrive later in labor than a doula would. This means that a doula can fill in the provider and staff on what has been going on, what tricks have been tried, and things that may be relevant to improving her client’s care. The doula can often provide clarification where the mother’s or partner’s recollection is fuzzy. This helps the care provider have a more accurate picture of how labor is going.
  • Continuity of care for patient–This is one of the hardest things to provide as a care provider. Nurses, doctors, and hospital-based CNM’s change shifts–no matter what. Even home birth midwives may have to send a backup if two births are happening simultaneously. The doula provides one continuous thread of care, and we all know that this works out to better quality care in general. Also, can bond more quickly with the new people on shift, making her care easier for the staff and/or care provider, as they have to spend less time establishing trust.
  • Bridge of communication with patient–Doulas teach their clients to ask good questions, relevant to their own care, and how to understand the answers they’re given. This helps the client to build trust in her chosen provider, which makes caring for her easier for the care provider. A doula’s presence should facilitate togetherness at a birth, not a sense of “us vs. them.”
  • Extra set of hands–As much as care providers love to do hands-on care, many times they are simply not able to do so. Doctors, nurses, and even home birth midwives and their assistants, can easily get bogged down by charting, checking and setting up needed equipment, and (in hospitals) caring for other patients. This is as it should be, since the safety and health of the mother-baby dyad rests on their shoulders. Any non-clinical care they get to do is icing on the cake. Doulas have no such worries impeding their care. Non-clinical care is their only focus.Therefore, care providers are able to focus solely on their number one priority: the health and safety of mom and her baby.

I know that the above benefits are really more indirectly beneficial to the care provider. However, when there is benefit to the birthing woman, there is benefit to her care provider as well. The patient load of most OB’s is such that it can be extremely difficult for them to individualize care. After all, the care provider has as little time, per appointment, to get to know their patient as the patient has to get to know them.

Therefore, if there is any way for a doula to help build bridges, encourage their client to ask good questions, and utilize whatever time they have with their care provider, it enables and empowers the care provider to do what they want to do most: Provide evidence-based, individualized, humane care to their patients. This results in good feedback for them, and encourages them to be more open to the next client asking questions or wanting something different than the basic standard of care.

In short, the presence of a doula can mean heightened communication, empowerment, and a positive experience for everyone on the birth team, not just the mother.

*I understand that many women only have very limited, or no choice, when it comes to their care provider, due to geography, local/state laws, financial constraints, or other factors. Still – they ultimately still have chosen their care provider, rather than birthing unassisted at home. Therefore, they are placing some modicum of trust in that care provider. I appreciate feedback on this.*

Care providers: How often do you work with doulas? What do you appreciate most about good doulas? What tips might you offer to doulas who are still learning, or who need to understand your perspective better? What ideas do you have to foster better relationships between clinical and non-clinical professionals?

Thanks for reading!

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

New Happenings!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Image from: homeandgardenideas.com

My business is beginning to thrust up little green shoots of growth, and I am deliciously excited with the doors that are opening for me in this privileged line of work! My responsibilities in my work grow, and I find myself considering each and every commitment in my life, my list of priorities, and my dreams as a birth professional in a new light as I experience growth and learning through change.

It seems to be a bit of a bumpy ride, but like birth, it will all be worth it in the end! The hard work, prayer, and rearranging I am committed to in order to keep growing is a lot to digest, and is a little bittersweet. It means that my life will not be the same. That’s great though – it was time for a change!

This summer will be a time of transition for me, as I begin to phase out a lot of personal outside commitments, and focus on more family and birth work commitments. By the fall, there will be a lot more birth work, if all things go as planned, and I am working hard to make small, daily changes to give my work a greater chance to thrive.

I cannot do otherwise. Every time I turn around, I’m receiving “random” confirmation from the God I serve that “this is the way, walk in it.” It’s exciting and scary and new and so very, very right.

One of the changes I am implementing is committing to real-live, genuine office hours as a part of Preparing For Birth! They are short, but they will be expanded come fall. These hours will allow me to keep my word to a few friends who need me over the summer, but still initiate the growth in birth work that is on the horizon.

I will be in the office from 1:00pm to 5:00pm every single Tuesday. I will reserve the mornings for home visits and postpartum work, while the afternoons will be open to interviews and prenatal office visits. It’s also a time that anyone who would like to can stop by, borrow a book, ask a question, pick up supplies, register for classes, etc… Preparing for Birth is growing, and I get to be in on it!

Another change is that, in addition to being a private practice doula, and a contracted educator, I will also be offering my doula services under contract with Preparing for Birth. There will be benefits to my clients whether I am hired under the Birth In Joy name or the Preparing for Birth name – I feel strongly that this will be the best way for me to give greater access to my services to a wider range of women and their families.

Also, I will become the official “librarian” for Preparing for Birth. Over the next few weeks, I will be collecting and cataloging all the books we have at our disposal, and implementing an easy system for our clients and students to check out books and videos. To be honest, this sounds fun to me. My natural bookworm tendencies has me excited about this!

As I sit in the office, typing this post, I smile. I know that there are challenges coming up, and there will be some inner conflict as I work to change some deeply ingrained habits, but I know that I am strong to meet them, by the grace of God. I’m sure that there will be a few stumbles as I unlearn a lot of things, and open my heart and mind up to learning new things, but I am also sure that I am not alone. I have an incredible community of support, and I am truly as excited and happy as I am nervous about it all.

I cannot wait to see those small green shoots grow into lovely shade trees – perhaps kind of willowy – stable and richly green in season. I am willing to work and wait, water and weed, protect and persevere to see it all come to fruition. To rely on the grace and wisdom of Jesus as I walk.

I can do this.

I was made for it.

Grace & Peace,
Doula Tiff

Enough

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Image from global.wonderware.com

I cannot always be everything to everyone, but I can sometimes be something to someone.

It’s okay with me that I cannot be the right doula for every mother. It’s okay with me if they choose another doula. I often ask potential clients if they are interviewing other doulas, and if not, I ask if I can give them some recommendations. After all, I would never encourage a client to hire the first care provider they meet.

Just as I encourage clients and potential clients to interview multiple care providers, I encourage them to interview multiple doulas. It’s only right to do so. Every doula brings something different to the table. Different strengths that will complement a client’s weaknesses. Different experiences that are in line with the experiences of different clients.

It would be the height of arrogance for me to view the interview process as a chance to “sell myself.,” as if I can guarantee that I am the best possible fit for all women, all the time. I’m already “sold” as a doula — after that, it’s a matter of the client’s needs, cultural/religious preferences, and simple personality.

I’ll frame it this way: Doulas are like those puzzle pieces that all look alike. You know, when you’re putting together the cloudless blue sky in a landscape? Or all the grass? We all are part of the same section of the puzzle, and we all look alike on the surface. Many of us have similar scopes of practice, similar philosophies of birth, and similar servant hearts. But – we are not as alike as we look!

Many families have a piece missing from their birth team that fits us exactly. The best way to find out who fits in that spot is to try a few different pieces. The good news is that it often doesn’t take talking to more than two or three of us before a family finds a good fit.

Heaven forbid a client ever hire me simply because I’m the only one they talked to. Sure, that sometimes happens, when we click really well, but that’s not the norm. Heaven forbid a student from a childbirth education class hire me, simply because I was their teacher. I really do feel better about a client deciding to hire me after they have talked to at least one other doula, and their gut tells them they feel right about hiring me.

I may not be able to be everything to everyone, all the time.

I can, however, be something really special to someone. I can make a difference, one mother, one baby, one family at a time. I can be the piece that completes the puzzle.

And that, to me, is enough.

Grace and Peace,
Tiffany

Birth Professionals are People, Too.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

In light of my last post, which highlighted what things I might do differently if I were to find myself with child again, has got me thinking. Not posting, but thinking.

When I open up and share about the struggles I had with breastfeeding, CIO/Sleep training, and other decisions, I often see a look of surprise on the face of the person I’m talking to. I assume the surprise I see stems from their knowledge of what I do as a birth professional.

I think people must think that, as a birth professional, I must have gotten it all “right,” or that I’m some sort of cape-wearing supermom. “You, of all people, had trouble with that?” I see a bit of skepticism in their eyes.

I would like to just take this moment to say that I am no different than the mothers I serve. I am real, human, and I don’t know everything. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have it all together all the time. In fact, I often find myself struggling with questions of what I ought to do.

At no time do I want anyone to think that, because of my level of knowledge about birth and all that goes with it, that I somehow must have a better handle on things than anyone else. I hope this thought never crosses anyone’s mind: “Of course she can do it. She’s an expert!”

Heaven forbid! I “did it” before I knew all that I knew now. In fact, I only knew a fraction of what I know now when I was birthing my babies. My knowledge was pretty limited, and that is part of why I struggled with certain areas.

As a birth professional, I speak of what I know with passion, honesty, and confidence born of both experience and education. But I didn’t learn it all at once. It has taken time, more education, and more experience.

Birth professionals are people, too. We all have our own stories, mistakes, and triumphs that we want and need to share with other women on this journey. There is nothing “special” about us that makes us more able to birth our babies (or whatever) than any other woman. Every woman has that capability – even if she needs a cesarean. She is capable of coming into motherhood on her own terms, as an empowered, knowledgeable, strong woman.

Give your doula, childbirth educator, or other birthy friend the room to be human. You may find you learn more from her experience than from her head knowledge.

I share my story as honestly and accessibly as I possibly can. I hope that every time you read my blog, you come away encouraged, empowered, or a little more knowledgeable.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

One Small Goal

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Today marks Week 3 of teaching yet another childbirth education series as a volunteer at our local crisis pregnancy center. I can’t even begin to describe the blessing that this ministry is! To be a part of what they do is such a joy to me.

Serving women who are often abused in the system is a privilege and an honor. My goal for each woman who leaves my class – no matter how young she may be – is that they would feel confident, equipped, and ready to make adult decisions reflecting the adult nature of their responsibilities as mothers.

One of my goals for the year 2012 is to take the Teen Educator training through CAPPA, in order to be even better equipped myself to minister to this under-served population of young women.

I can’t wait to have enough saved up to get started!

I’m hoping to share more of my 2012 goals by the end of this month, but I’m taking my time to sort them out and pray over them carefully before I do. What are some of your goals for 2012?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Something is Better Than Nothing.

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

As a birth professional, a big part of my job is walking alongside women and their partners during the childbearing year by educating them about almost every aspect of their pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum period.

I meet women where they are, not where I think they should be. Often, not even where she thinks she should be. Ask any mother, and she can give you a whole laundry list of things she thinks she can do better. Her mind is filled with “if only’s.” Part of my job is to encourage her to grow and change in ways that will benefit both her and her baby.

However, I’m not the one walking her journey. I’m just with her for a relatively short period of that journey. I get glimpses and snapshots of her and her life, not the big picture. I do not have the power to make decisions for her, and even if I did, how can I really know, at the deepest levels, what is truly right for her and her family?

In pregnancy, labor, and birth, there is not a definitive “right” and “wrong” for many decisions that come up. There are things that are good, things that are better, and there are things that are usually best, but even those can be subjective. There are no guarantees.

So, as an example, take a smoking mother.

We all know that smoking is harmful to anyone, and there is no known “safe” level for nicotine in an unborn baby. We all know that it’s wise to quit when we are carrying a child. Of course, we would love nothing more than to see her totally quit the habit, for her health and for her baby’s. However, we also know how horribly difficult it can be to cut off a nicotine addiction.

How horrified are we when we see an obviously pregnant woman smoking? How much do we look down on her poor choices, and feel a righteous indignation that “we would never do something so terrible!

What we are missing is the other side of that coin.

How do we know, on the surface, that this isn’t the first cigarette she’s had in weeks? How do we know she’s not working her butt off to quit, but is struggling just like anyone else? How do we know she’s not eating really healthy foods, staying hydrated, and doing mild workouts to stay as healthy as she can?

When will we get to the point when we realize that something is better than nothing.

If that woman were my client, I would assume she knows the dangers of cigarettes to her unborn child. I would assume she feels badly enough about smoking as it is, and that what she needs from me is encouragement to do what she can with what she has at that moment, just like the rest of humanity.

I would remind her that everything she is able to do well, is enough. That something is always better than nothing. That smoking one less cigarette everyday does make a difference, and shows that she is trying.

Even if I did know exactly what would be right for this mother, should that change the way I see her as a human being? May it never be!

As a doula and childbirth educator, I have come to realize that I might be the only person this woman ever meets who does not look down on her. Who treats her with respect and dignity. Who believes in her ability to make good choices for herself and her baby. Who will cheer her on and encourage her in every effort she is able to make, and will ultimately help her to empower herself to continue in her personal growth beyond the ending of our professional relationship.

It’s a valuable lesson I think all individuals would do well to learn. To look beyond what is seen, to the heart, whenever we can. And, when we can’t, to leave well enough alone and refrain from judgment. It’s one I am grateful to have learned early on in this birth career of mine.

This posts is an offshoot from a seed planted by my mentor and friend, Desirre Andrews, who has taught me to think outside the box more than anyone else I know.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany