Posts Tagged ‘birth’

Essential Oils in Pregnancy, Labor, & Birth: Part I ~ Safety Guidelines.

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Welcome to Birth In Joy, and a new, short series on essential oils you can use in pregnancy, labor, and birth by my dear friend and colleague, Kim Prather.

Kim Prather is a wife to Ryan and mom of 5, learning how to use therapeutic grade essential oils to live a healthier life! Join her, as she learns more about the wonders of God’s creation and how to use essential oils in everyday life, and special situations! She is learning and sharing about Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, and loves to help those who are interested in learning more themselves. You can contact her at Front Range Scentsabilities by clicking HERE.

Disclaimer: The essential oils described in this post refer only to therapeutic grade essential oils. I only recommend Young Living essential oils, as I am certain of their high quality. This is for informational purposes only. Different people will respond differently to the use of essential oils.

Essential Oils in Pregnancy, Labor, and Birth: Part I ~ Safety Guidelines for Essential Oils

I created this information sheet for a class that I taught recently to birth professionals. A few of the warnings at the beginning I included as I wasn’t allowed to ONLY promote Young Living, so I wanted to be sure to have my bases covered in case they tried inferior oils. I’ve added a few personal notes in here too! Please comment with questions and your stories!

Important Essential Oil Safety Rule:

Always have carrier oil or pure vegetable oil close by to wipe off essential oils if needed. Apply the pure vegetable or carrier oil to a cotton ball, tissue or handkerchief to dilute and remove the oil. Keep essential oils away from the eyes and the eye area. DO NOT rub your eyes or handle contact lenses with essential oils on your fingers.

The most common Essential Oil Safety Mistake:

If you get oil in your eye, immediately remove the oil by gently dabbing your eye with a cotton ball or tissue that has vegetable or carrier oil on it. This will help dilute the oil. Do not flush the eyes with water! Water spreads the oil and could make it worse. Oils are not water soluble.

One of the most important rules for essential oil safety is to always test an essential oil on the skin before use. Each person has their own unique body chemistry and just as foods affect people differently, so do oils. Testing the oil on the soles of the feet is the safest place. Always test here for babies and children and for those with allergies. Another location is on the inside of the arm just above the elbow. 10-15 minutes is usually sufficient. If the person you are testing is prone to allergies, or unusually sensitive, allow for 30 minutes. Testing allows you to see how their body will respond. Always ask about allergies.

The following are essential oil safety guidelines that are important for you to know:

1. Always have vegetable oil or carrier oil close by when applying essential oils. This is to dilute and remove the oil if necessary. Do not try and dilute the essential oils with water, it will spread the oil and could make it worse.

2. Certain oils should always be diluted. They can burn and injure the skin. Oils high in phenols, citrals and cinnamic aldehyde, such as Thyme, Oregano, Clove and Savory (phenols), Lemongrass (citrols), Cinnamon Bark (cinnamic aldehyde).

3. Always use a dispersing agent, such as bath gel base, when adding essential oils to bath water. Never add undiluted essential oils to bath water as they can injure or burn the skin.

4. Do not apply undiluted or neat essential oils to parts of the body that are hot, dry, or tender. Instead, use a compress that has been soaked in cold water filled with dispersed essential oils.

5. Use only therapeutic grade essential oils and oil blends. This is extremely important regarding essential oil safety. Before ingesting essential oil, or applying it to your skin, know and trust your source. Most oils contain chemicals that may be dangerous and toxic. I only recommend Young Living Essential Oils because of their purity and quality.

Sources:

F.E.A.R.

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

I have been thinking on the F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) acronym.  What else can it mean? Fear itself can be a positive or a negative. Fear can be a stumbling block or a motivator.

I enjoy coming up with affirmations and words that alter the view especially as it relates to pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. I have been and know so many who have fear thrust upon them by friends, provider, family, strangers or have deep fear from previous experiences or from the unknown lurking ahead.

Take my words, come up with others and make your own acronyms to work with the FEAR surrounding you, inside you and take away its power.

 

F                      E                     A                     R

Feeling, Freedom, Fix, Fire, Fierce, Forge, Find, Fortitude, Frame, Fight, Force, Free, Forever, Forgive, Feel, Fearless

Everything, Exist, Eradicate, Excite, Envelop, Empowered, Encourage, Enhance, Expectation, Effort, Exquisite, Endearing, Encourage, Enhance, Effort, Expectation, Exquisite, Equal, Excel, Expert, Ease, Engage

Admit, And, Am, Advocate, Amplify, Armed, Above, Answer, Awareness, Act, Assist, Attitude, Ally, Appear, Admire, Ask, Alter, Apprehension, Action, Alive

Rest, Respect, Rise, Release, Rage, Rights, Ready, Resonate, Relief, Repair, Rely, Resist, Rejoice, Roar, Risk, Release, Re-frame, Rephrase, Remain

 

Please share additional words you come up with!

EMAB and Doulaparty Team Up

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

 

 

Join the #doulaparty on Twitter or follow along at DesirreAndrews.com, June 22nd 6pm PT/9pm ET to kick off summer birth work with something extra special!

 

I am very excited that Earth Mama Angel Baby is sponsoring this weeks live chat. EMAB has amazing products for all types of birth professionals and families.

 

A note from the EMAB Team:

 

Are you a midwife, doula, nurse or obstetrician looking for pure, safe products to comfort postpartum mamas and brand new babies? You’ve come to the right place! Earth Mama Angel Baby offers safe alternatives for your clients who are concerned with detergents, parabens, 1,4-Dioxane, artificial fragrance, dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers and other toxins. Earth Mama products are used in hospitals, even on the most fragile NICU babies, and they all rate a zero on the Skin Deep toxin database, the best rating a product can receive. Earth Mama only uses the highest-quality, certified-organic or organically grown herbs and oils for our teas, bath herbs, gentle handmade soaps, salves, lotions and massage oils.

Earth Mama now offers a Birth Pro Cart for wholesale pricing available for birth support professionals! Join Earth Mama Angel Baby on the #doulaparty chat Friday June 22 to talk about their new shopping cart plus answer any questions you may have. Earth Mama will be giving away Postpartum Bath Herbs and Monthly Comfort Tea, Mama Bottom Balm, Mama Bottom Spray, and a grand prize of their new Travel Birth & Baby Kit!

Intangible Reasons

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Image from imdb.com

My husband and I watched “Away We Go” last night. It’s a movie about a pregnant couple’s quest to find the place where they want to give birth and raise their baby. Along the way, they meet up with a lot of old connections to try and get a feel for where they belong. During the obligatory “hippie-tandem-nursing-birkenstock-wearing-freaks” scene, one line really stood out to me, and bothered me.

As filled as the scene was with exaggerated stereotypes, it wasn’t those that bothered me, because all of the families in the movie were portrayed in a way that was a bit over the top. (Except the infertile couple – THAT was one of the best movie scenes I have ever witnessed. Ever.)

John Krasinki’s character explains why he and his girlfriend don’t need a doula. He says something along the lines of “Doulas are for women who are clueless, or have a partner who doesn’t want to be involved, and since I am involved and educated, we don’t need one.”

While he is right in the fact that a doula can be a great asset to a couple who are “clueless,” the quote illustrates the common misconception that doulas replace fathers in the birth room. That if the father is involved and supportive, a doula is just an extra. It’s simply not so.

For one thing, “clueless” clients have more potential to drive a doula crazy! We try to teach our clients to take responsibility for their own births, and encourage them to educate themselves as much as possible about everything relevant to their situation. Some do, and some don’t. The hardest births to be on as a doula are ones in which a mother has not educated herself much at all, and has unrealistic expectations of both birth and her doula. That is a problem that is usually easily remedied. However, not really the point of this post.

Moving on. Sorry to slow you down.

The truth is that men in the labor room is a recent phenomenon. For eons, it’s been women’s work. Birth is what women do. And we do it well. We did not “need” our men in the birthing room – we could handle it pretty well, thankyouverymuch.

However, we began to want our men in the birth room, and welcomed them. Super-cool! We felt it only made sense for the one who helped create this child, be there to help bring him into the world. And we were right. Men should have the chance to see the women in their lives be so strong.

We then threw the baby out with the bathwater, and banished everyone else in favor of the men in our lives.

No one – and I mean no one – can replace the father, husband, lover in the labor room. However, neither can the father bring the shared connection all women have. They can’t bring the “girl power” women thrive on when they are laboring.

Birthing women need both.

For example, I had both my husband and my mother at all of my births (this was before I’d ever heard the word “doula” – my mom essentially filled that role). I could not have done what I did with either of them missing. It is hard to explain tangibly the reasons that this is so.

When I tried to explain it to my husband, I told him that when Mom said I could do it, she was the one I believed.

It’s not that I didn’t believe anyone else, it’s just that it was her energy, faith, and connection to me that helped me put feet to my own belief in my ability to birth. I believed my husband when he said he believed in me, and I appreciated his confidence, but when my mom looked me in the eye and said “You can do this,” something inside me responded, and I could not doubt that she was right.

That is why even the most educated, proactive, emotionally-healthy, bonded couple can benefit from having a doula – and I would even venture to say, needs a doula.

I hear it all the time from my clients: that they just believe me when I tell them they can carry on. They tell me that they love and appreciate the safety and security of their partner’s presence; the love that radiates from his eyes when he holds her hand or brings her water gives her a comfort that cannot be matched. She blossoms under such romance (which is exactly what it is).

But when the doula speaks, moms listen, and their faith in their own ability to birth is given wings.

The truth is this: She cannot do as well as she wants to do without either.

Nearly every client tells me, “I couldn’t have done it without you!” then immediately turns to her partner, “But I couldn’t have done it without you either!” Both statements are as true as true can be. I feel the same way about my mom and my husband.

Of course, there will be exceptions to this, and only you can decide if you are one of them. There are also many situations in which a mother doesn’t have a partner at all, or her situation varies from the norm in some other way. Her need for a doula who will walk alongside her, hold her hand, and support her unconditionally is even greater! I have supported several such women, and stepping into what is essentially a dual role is tough. I could never do that for all births!

My point is that just because factors, A, B, and C all line up for you does not mean that you don’t “need” a doula. Sometimes, it’s the most educated clients that need me the most when push comes to shove. (No pun intended.)

Never say never. Talk to doulas in your area, gauge your needs well, and make the right decision for you and your family. Don’t let anyone – especially a care provider or Hollywood – tell you that you don’t “need” anything when it comes to your birth. Only you can decide that. And take what the media says with an extra-large grain of salt.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

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

Top 10 Things I’d Do If I Were Pregnant Again

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Image from decalsground.com

We all have things we’d like to hit the rewind button for. Today, I thought I’d share the top ten things I’d do differently if I were to miraculously find myself pregnant again. Why not? It’s not something I’ve shared before on this blog. I don’t often get very personal, but I’d like my readers to see me as a real person, who has made real decisions about birth.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order:

The Top 10 Things I’d Do If I Were Pregnant Again:

Image from richmondmidwife.com

1) Have a water birth.

The first time I’d heard of water birth was at our group tour of the birth center where DS #1 was born. In answer to another mom’s question, the midwife leading the tour said something like “No, we don’t do water births here, because we don’t think babies were meant to be born that way.” They did allow moms to labor in tubs, and I tried it. My labor practically stopped. I didn’t know then that if you get in the tub too early, the water can slow/stop your labor. I never thought twice about it all the time I was birthing my four children. Now that I have seen several water births, I would definitely choose to have a pool set up in my house for that purpose.

2) Have my placenta encapsulated.
This is an option I had no earthly idea about when I was having children. I think it could really have helped me with a whole slew of issues. I never struggled with baby blues or a PPMD, but I did have pretty roller-coaster-y emotions in the immediate postpartum days. Also, I have never been able to say that my milk supply was abundant, and I think the reassurance of the placenta pills’ ability to boost supply would have been a welcome comfort to me.

3) I would take a comprehensive, independent childbirth class.
Since I am a certified childbirth educator, I don’t think I’d actually take a full course, but I would probably take a refresher workshop of some kind, just to see if there is any new information out that would be important for me to know, and to give my husband a chance to internalize information he has heard at random since I became a doula. There is always room to grow, and I think we would both benefit from additional education.

One more thing. If I found out that I had to birth at the hospital, for some medical reason, I would definitely take a full, comprehensive course. Since I have never birthed at a hospital, I would really need to fully equip myself for the big differences I would face.

4) I would take a breastfeeding class.
Breastfeeding, for me, though a beautiful experience, was a struggle. I never had cracked, bleeding nipples. I never had to overcome hospital “booby traps,” because I never birthed in a hospital. I had the full support of my husband, my friends, and my mother.

Still, I was never able to meet my breastfeeding goals. When I look back, I know it was simply a lack of basic knowledge of how breastfeeding works. I hadn’t even read a book about it. I think that, if I were pregnant now, that is the first class I would sign up for, and would make sure I had the phone number to some good lactation support.

Image from portlandplacentaservices.com

5) I would make placenta prints.
Before I had it encapsulated, of course. I would frame them and hang them in my living room. They’re gorgeous when done correctly.

6) I would exercise.
Now that I have started trying to take care of my body, and can see the immediate benefits to my emotions, my confidence, and my overall well-being, this is something I would do during pregnancy. Though I did eat well, I never officially exercised with any of my kids, except for the occasional walk with a friend. I know that if I kept up a good exercise routine, I would probably enjoy my pregnancy more.

7) I would try a few different baby-wearing carriers.
For all four of my babies, I had a trusty ring-sling. One was a hand-me-down, and one was custom-made for me by a dear friend. I loved my ring sling, but there were some definite downsides to it. I had no idea there were any other carriers out there that would be properly supportive of my babies (Snugli’s and others like them are not ergonomically correct for a developing baby). So, if I were pregnant again, I’d hook up with the local “baby-wearing lady” in town, and try something new.

Image from hottopic.com

8) I would YouTube/Facebook/Tweet my birth.
I wasn’t on any kind of social media during my other pregnancies, but this time, all my friends would be hearing from me regularly! I’d probably try to facebook/tweet pictures and thoughts as I labor, and be able to announce my little one’s arrival as soon as he got here!

9) I would have professional prenatal photos taken.
This is something I really wish I had done before. I look at all the adorable baby bump photos around me, and sigh a little, wishing I had done the same.

10) I would have a professional photographer at my birth.
There is nothing as powerful as positive birth images. Images that reflect the intimacy, the intensity, the power, the strength, and the sacredness of birth.

There, that about covers it. I can come up with a few more, but I’ll leave that up to you! What would you do if you were pregnant again? If you’re already pregnant, what kinds of things are important to you? What are you doing to enjoy your pregnancy this time around?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

From the Cheap Seats to the Choir Loft

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Image Credit: oxfordbaptist.com


As a certified “birth junkie,” it’s easy to preach to the choir. What can be difficult is getting new members to join. I think a lot of that is due to society’s general lack of knowledge about birth, and the entrenched medical mentality that is so difficult to overcome. Difficult, but not impossible.

I also think it’s partially due to over-zealousness on our part, as birth advocates. How we communicate about home birth is far more important than we think.

There are quite a few acquaintances and friends of mine who have chosen the lesser-worn path of midwifery and home birth care, at least in part, because of my influence.

I have been called a “home birth evangelist” by some. It was meant as a compliment, and I don’t mind the association.

I’ve been asked how I “do” that.

The short answer is: “I don’t really know.”

However, there are some things I know I don’t do.

For one, I don’t walk around with a copy of Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, hitting people over the head with it and screaming that home birth is the only way to birth heaven. Whatever “birth heaven” is.

I don’t wield statistics in favor of home birth like a weapon, with the goal of hacking to pieces any naysayer who would stand in my way.

I don’t preach that home birth is the magical panacea to all birth dilemmas.

Half the time, I don’t even bring it up unless it comes up naturally.

So, how on earth did I “convince” the women I did to choose home birth?

Well, I didn’t.

There is simply no way I can “convince” anyone to do anything. I can barely convince my children to make their beds; I cannot convince anyone that home birth is right for them, no matter how much I want to.

All I try to do is to meet women where they are in the moment.

My method isn’t super-scientific either. I didn’t even know I had a method until I tried to write about it. For better or worse, this is essentially how I operate:

I follow hunches that tell me when women are open to exploring other options they may not have been aware of. I follow hunches that tell me when all they want is someone to listen, and I keep my trap shut.

When the hunch tells me they’re open, I share how home birth might alleviate some of the difficulties they are dealing with in their particular circumstances, and offer to refer them to a midwife if they would like. I do this by asking them questions.

“How do you feel about talking to a home birth midwife about _________?” is the primary question that leads to a great conversation in which I find out more about what she wants in her birth experience, and why. The more questions I ask (especially those open-ended ones), the more I know whether or not sharing the home birth option is the right way to go.

I have learned to try to really hear the heart behind the stories women share with me. And, when I really listen, I often find that choosing a home birth would likely be a great way for these women to meet those needs they have that aren’t getting met in the medical model they’re currently under.

I think it boils down to the simple fact that I have something to offer that I can believe in, and that I am real and honest with women.

I have found that I can open doors for people that they didn’t even know existed. Even if they choose not to step through that particular doorway, they now have the option to do so, and therefore, become more active participants in their care. And a woman who is an active participant in her care is a well-served, happy woman with a beautiful outcome, no matter where she births.

Ultimately, I think my “home birth evangelism” works because women know that my desire isn’t to increase the number of home births — though that would be cool — but that I truly want them to fully understand all their options, and that I believe in them to choose the very best for themselves and their babies, regardless of what their actual decision ends up being.

They know that no matter what, they have a friend and supporter in me, and that is what leads them to take me seriously, and oftentimes, to take the plunge into the birthing pool in their living room.

Of course, once they experience their home birth, they become “evangelists” themselves, singing the merits of this fantastic, realistic, safe option to their friends and families in their own new-found voice of strength!

That, I think, is how we reach the people in the cheap seats, and bring them into the choir loft.

For me, it’s about genuinely caring, learning to listen and gauge a woman’s need, and educating sensitively the women I meet. It’s about balancing between that place where I don’t care how people react to me, and meeting women where they are. What does it look like for you? What can you do, today, as a birth advocate, to soften your message without compromising the facts?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Social Media and You

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Get your pregnancy, birth or postpartum story heard!

I am looking to interview several mothers/families who have been positively changed, supported or impacted emotionally, physically, socially, educationally and/or spiritually during the perinatal (pregnancy, labor, childbirth, postpartum) and/or into the first year of mothering/processing birth outcomes through the use of/participation in social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Forums, Message Boards, etc.).

Purpose: Information will be used to complete a speaking session about birth and social media, as well as, material for additional writing, educational sharing opportunities.

If you are interested, please email me by October 31, 2011 with your contact information, when due if pregnant, how old your baby is if in the postpartum period and how you were affected by social media.

Contact: Desirre Andrews – Owner of Preparing For Birth LLC, birth professional, blogger, mentor, healthy birth advocate and social media enthusiast. Site: www.prepforbirth.com

Email: desirre@prepforbirth.com

Low Intervention Birth Plan

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

A birth plan has a few real purposes. It can act as a values clarification exercise for you and your partner. Then it is a vehicle to open communication with your care provider about your needs, desires, wants for labor, birth and postpartum.  What you want and need matters.

 A brief one page plan with an opening paragraph with bullet point information specific to individualized care and desires not usually within your care provider’s standing orders or usual protocols of the birth location.

I advise you take the written birth plan to a prenatal visit at least a month prior to your given estimated due date. This gives time for conversation, to have a clear understanding of expectation and agreement.

If it becomes apparent that you and your provider are not on the same page, you then have time to seek out another provider that fits you and you fit with.

Remember it is not a legal document that your location of delivery or care provider must adhere to.

=======================================================

Birth Needs and Desires for: _______________________. 

Care Provider:_________________.

Estimated Due Date: _________________.

I am planning on a no to low-intervention labor and delivery.  I plan on being mobile, lightly snacking, drinking orally, and having ___________ present.   I understand that intermittent monitoring of me and my baby will be necessary.  I want to be fully consented for any procedure that may come up and fully participate in the medical care for myself and my baby.  I understand that there is pain management available to me, I will ask for it if I so desire.

  • I plan on wearing my own clothing. I will ask for a gown if I change my mind.
  • I would like a saline lock in lieu of a running IV.
  • Limited vaginal exams after initial assessment.
  • In the event an induction and/or augmentation is medically necessitated-
    • Ripening – Foley Catheter instead of Cytotec (misoprostol), Cervadil or Prepadil
    • Pitocin – A very gentle and slowly administered dosage increase.
    • AROM – will only consent to if an internal fetal monitor is a must.
  • Spontaneous pushing and delivery in any position I am most comfortable with.
  • External pressure and/or compresses instead of any perineal or vaginal stretching.
  • No cord traction or aggressive placental detachment, including deep uterine massage.
  • Delayed cord clamping for at least 10 minutes or until my placenta spontaneously detaches (baby can receive oxygen or other assistance while still attached to me).

Postpartum and Baby Care

  • Request that my baby is on my belly or chest for assessments and warmth (even oxygen can be given on me)
  • Delayed bathing
  • Delaying vaccinations including eye ointment and vitamin k.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding, no pacifiers, sugar water, or formula. I will hand express if necessary. I will hand express if needed to syringe feed my baby.
  • No separation from me unless absolutely medically necessary not just protocol.

Cesarean: In the event a cesarean becomes necessary and is not a true emergency requiring general anesthesia.  I would like to keep the spirit of my plan A to plan C so the delivery can be as family centered and intimate as possible.

  • Only essential conversation related to the surgery and delivery
  • Lower sterile drape or have a mirror present so I may see my baby emerge
  • Only one arm strapped down so I may touch my baby
  • Pictures
  • Aromatherapy as I desire for comfort, abate nausea and to mask surgical odors
  • Baby to stay with me continuously in OR and recovery
  • If baby must leave OR for treatment, my partner/spouse goes with baby and I would like my ____________ to stay with me so I am never alone.
  • Breastfeed in OR and/or recovery
  • Delayed immunizations
  • Delayed washing and dressing of baby
  • No separation from me except what is absolutely medically necessary
  • I am willing to hand express if baby cannot get to breast right away.

This “plan” may be copied, pasted and edited  for use by others.

A Guide to Finding Your Doula

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Building a labor support team is part of conscious preparation during pregnancy for your labor,  birth and life with the very newborn. Hiring a labor doula continues to gain in popularity for the expecting family. Your doula comes alongside you in pregnancy through labor and delivery with some additional early postpartum follow-up.  For additional after birth support, a postpartum doula is a great addition.

Step 1: Finding a Doula

  • Inquire with friends, family, local support/informational groups (for example – ICAN, LLLI, Birth Network, Birth Circle, Cloth Diaper store), childbirth educators, care providers, prenatal massage therapists, prenatal exercise instructors, lactation experts and chiropractors for referrals.
  • Use your favorite search engine and type in your city or area name with the keyword doula
  • Search training and certifying organizations such as CAPPA, DONA, ICEA ToLabor , Birth Works and Birth Arts International
  • Search general doula sites such as All Doulas, Doulas.com, About.com, Doula Match or Doula.com

Step 2: First Contact

Once you have located local area doulas, the next step is  to make contact. You will likely find that most doulas are women though occasionally you will find a male doula in your area.  After visiting any websites; phone or email only the doulas that most interest you and fit your particular needs.  Generally there is not much need to contact more than three perspective doulas.

During your initial phone conversation or in your email be sure to include:

  • Full name
  • Contact information
  • Estimated Due Date
  • General location where you live
  • Care Provider
  • Birth Location
  • Top needs and desires for birth
  • If referred, by whom
  • Any financial considerations

Step 3:  Setting up the Interview

I encourage after the phone or email contact and response, set-up in-person interviews with the doulas you found most compatible with you.

  • Unless the doula you are meeting has her own office, interviews are usually held in a public place such as a coffee house, restaurant, library, park, or shopping center. If you meet at a place where beverages or food will be ordered you can offer to pick up the tab for everyone if you desire, but it is never expected.
  • Your partner, husband or other support who will be attending the birth needs to be at in-person interview if at all possible.
  • Expect the interview to be approximately an hour and to be free of charge.

Step 4: The Interview

The interview is to gain more detailed information from the doula, as well as, share more  about yourself and what you want.  It is customary for the doula to either email ahead of time her client packet or bring it with her to the interview. It may include her professional profile, client agreement, services, and support details, as well as, additional offerings.

Suggested Interview Questions:

  • Why are you a doula?
  • What is your philosophy of childbirth?
  • Where did you get your training?
  • Are you certified? Why or why not?
  • How long have you been a doula?
  • What is your scope of practice?
  • What types of births have you participated in?
  • What types of birth locations have you been to?
  • How many births per month on average do you attend?
  • How many clients would max you out in a month?
  • Have you ever missed a birth? Please explain why.
  • Do you specialize in working with a specific type of clientele or birth plan?
  • What has been the most challenging birth you have attended? Why?
  • How do you work with my husband/partner/other support?
  • Have you worked with my provider before? If yes, please describe the experience.
  • How many prenatal visits would there be?
  • In general, what is covered in the prenatal visits?
  • Will you help me make a birth plan?
  • Please explain how your fee is structured.
  • Do you accept barter?
  • Do you have a back-up and do I meet her ahead of time?
  • When do you go on-call?
  • Do you labor at home with me?
  • What do you do if I am induced or need to schedule a cesarean?
  • When will you see me postpartum and what does it include?
  • What are your expectations of me as a client?
  • How long do I have to decide before you would contract with someone else around my EDD?

Of course that is a fairly long list of overview questions. Brainstorm some of your own. The interview is not meant to be a free prenatal visit, it is simply to find out if you and the doula are a fit personality wise and in how she practices.  Most doulas do not expect to be hired on the spot. You  need time to think and process after each interview. If a doula is pressuring you to hire on the spot because she fills so quickly, that could be a red flag and cause for you to take a pause.

Step 5: Hiring the Doula

Within 1-2 weeks,  contact the doula you would like to hire and proceed and those you did not choose to let them know you have hired someone else so they will not be holding your EDD space open any longer.

Details to be clear about when initially hiring your doula:

  • Sign and return the agreement/contract she gave you at the interview (if applicable).
  • Return any intake paperwork by mail or email.
  • Payment  – First portion of fee is usually paid upon hiring a doula.
  • Ask her usual business hours and contact preference for non-emergencies or labor related needs.
  • Let her know your contact preferences and all phone numbers to reach you and your spouse/partner or other support.
  • Set the date and time for the first prenatal appointment. Give her directions if your home is not easy to find.
  • Get clarity on what routine contact she would like from you (updates after care provider appointments, etc.)

Happy doula-ing!