Posts Tagged ‘childbirth educator’

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,

Time Management, To-Do Lists, and Other Things Practical

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I’m sitting in the office I share with three other women, thinking about what I want to write about this week. Lately, I have been at a loss for topic ideas, because I look around the blogosphere, and see how much truly wonderful stuff has been written about all things birthy.

It came to me that I haven’t really shared a lot about what it’s like to be a doula and childbirth educator who is homeschooling four young children and has a husband to feed and care for.

It’s interesting.

The understatement of my life!

I have discovered in this line of work that my ability to manage time is critical. When I was just “me at home,” I could fudge a lot more with time than I can now that I have a “real job” to do. Even if it is mostly home-based.

I’ve gotten a lot better at time management, actually, as I get more and more into the simple habit of just writing things down, putting them in my phone, and setting alarms for myself. It’s amazing how much more incentive there is to remember things when you’re getting paid! Ahem.

(That reminds me – I need to set an alarm really quick that will remind me to take meat out for our dinners. One sec. Okay. Done. Where was I?)

An electronic and/or paper brain works far better than my own grey matter. It’s sad, but true. And hey – if it makes me a better wife, mother, doula, and childbirth educator, then I’m all for it! There is no shame in using crutches if you’d be limping otherwise.

What I’m still needing serious improvement in is the nitty-gritty, paper-and-pencil, business-y stuff.

Remembering to make copies, file stuff regularly — not to mention figuring out HOW to file all this business stuff — make time for phone calls, emailing and updating clients, and working on curriculum are all things where I need some work.

Take today, for instance.

When I went to bed last night, I had a pretty long list of things I wanted to get done at the office today. Did I write them down? No.


This morning, when I got here, I tried to remember it all, but could only come up with a few things. I’m running through that list pretty quickly, actually, and I think I’ll end up taking some time to read The Greatest Pregnancy Ever, which came in the mail a few days ago.

After that? I’ll probably head home, and take the girls to go get some Easter dresses for Sunday. Woohoo!
I was supposed to begin a new Home Birth Prep Series tonight, but since it’s frigging WINDY and COLD today, (there’s a winter weather advisory in effect until midnight too), I decided it wouldn’t be nice to make pregnant mommies come out in this crazy weather, and cancelled for tonight.

So, I have even more time to figure out what I’m supposed to do “at work” today. I will not remember everything else that was supposed to be on my list until bed time tonight, I’ll wager.

As tricky as it is to manage all the practical ins and outs of my days, it seems to be working so far. I’m procrastinating less, learning more, and growing. Not without setbacks, of course, but I celebrate every step.

What tricks and tips do you use to help you figure out what you need to do in your daily routines for work? How do you organize paperwork in your birth business? What works best for you?

Grace & Peace,

All We’re Really Trying to Say

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

There is a misconception I have noticed among the general population in regards to birth professionals who advocate for the kind of birth outlined in the above photo. How surprised they are when they learn that doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives are actually all for advances in technology and care. We just desire that practice be driven by evidence, not by the shiny new toy.

Let me explain.

I think part of the misunderstanding lies in the belief that because birth professionals outside the medical profession unapologetically share what is scientifically verifiable to be the healthiest norms for mothers and babies, that we are therefore against hospitals/technology, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Speaking for many like myself, what we really desire are two things: 1) True cooperation between hospitals, doctors, and midwives, so that women and their babies get the best, individualized care, and 2) Practices based on the most scientifically sound evidence, rather than the shiniest new toy or convenience for the care provider, or any other reason than the medically verifiable health and well-being of the mother-baby dyad.

Cooperation between the medical establishment and midwifery care isn’t an either-or proposition. Advocating for normal childbirth does not equal opposition to hospitals and all they offer.

Normal birth and all that it implies is a truth with a solid foundation of evidence – nothing more, nothing less. It is not a commentary on any individual woman’s story. It is not a value judgment on the choices made by any woman. Every birth experience is valid, and has inherent value. Every birth is still a miracle. Birth is always sacred and special , no matter how the precious little ones make their appearance.

Every birth is ours, as women, to own and learn from. The planned cesarean is no less valid than the natural home birth so many birth professionals support and love.

Information shared about normal birth is what it is: statements of fact, backed up by evidence, and fueled by an undeniable passion for helping women empower themselves to make truly informed decisions regarding the care of themselves and their babies.

A passion to change the world.

To change the world through loving women and their families, and building bridges of communication between women and their chosen care provider. If we can do those two things, the rest will follow so much more easily than if we tried to force it.

To accomplish the change we are advocating for, we need to speak. Out loud. About unpleasant, but truthful subjects.

And we need to do it all through the filter of love and compassion.

I encourage you to take our words to heart if you can. If it’s too painful – speak out. Find out why it hurts so much to hear about another beautiful home birth. You matter. Your voice matters.

Thanks for hearing me out.


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,