Summer is almost over, and I know I’m ready! Fall is coming…hooray!
Hang in with me, friends, this is gonna be one long update! And it’s gonna get all nerdy up in here. 😉
Over the past year or so, I’ve had a fair few experiences in the birth and postpartum world that caused me to do a little reevaluation of my birth doula structure. Specifically, I saw a need for more time with parents prenatally, and also more postpartum time. Those first days and weeks after birth can be really challenging, and there’s a lot going on for mama’s body, baby and the family. Many families choose to breastfeed, but struggle to find support and information that they can apply to their actual life. All the ideal advice and education in the world won’t help if it’s not something that will work for your family, in your home and with your baby. To be able to offer that kind of informational and educational support, it can sometimes take someone who has a holistic view of your family. I also believe that the doula way-empowerment and information(versus taking over and advice) is a great way to help you figure out your own style.
How supported we are in birth matters, it really, really does. But if we are supported during birth, only to have things go sideways in the first few weeks after birth because we weren’t given enough information(usually before birth) or support, then we might start to feel guilty or like failures, when in fact we often just didn’t have a trusted source for all the details that many providers don’t cover(or they only cover the part they are trained in). What if there was someone who could help you pull all the pieces together and help you create your vision for your new family, grounded in reality and what you deeply value?
When I chewed all of this over in my mind, I realized that what I’ve come to believe about myself, is that I serve my clients best when I am able to follow the entire arc of their pregnancy, birth and postpartum. That means we get to talk about birth, yes. But also your recovery, breastfeeding, infant sleep, parent sleep, babywearing, pooping, peeing, going back to work…you name it, we’ll cover it. And if it’s too in depth for a doula visit or outside of my scope of practice, I’ll refer you to a resource that is trustworthy and evidence based.
I’m kind of a hybrid-birth and postpartum rolled all into one(although my postpartum model is also a little off the beaten path, you can check out a description under the “Services and Pricing” tab). There are a few other birth doulas practicing this way in the area, but it’s not the norm. And I recognize that this model won’t work for all clients. And I think that’s quite alright, I might not be their doula. Thankfully, we have many fantastic birth doulas in the area, who I am happy to refer people to if that’s what works for them.
The clients I think this model is most helpful for – first time parents or experienced parents who have had trauma and/or lack of support for a previous birth and/or postpartum. My repeat clients will actually be able to do a little adjusting to the model, as needed(and with adjustments to pricing as needed). Having already worked with me, we may have less ground to cover. 🙂
How does this work in real life? Well it looks something like this:
Visit 1- full intake and history, along with discussion about your hopes and plans for your birth.
Visit 2- creation of your birth and 24-48 hour postpartum plan in a collaborative format that allows us to work on it together even after our visit, discussion about things we can do to help you be more comfortable and supported during your birth, practice with the TENS unit.
Visit 3- discussion about postpartum reality, infant feeding, infant and parent sleep, mom’s recovery, making sure you stay fed, finding additional support, extended family struggles, etc.
Your birth! 🙂
Visit 4(24-72 hours after birth)- assessment of infant feeding (focus on latch, protection of milk supply, nipple health)(if bottle feeding-focus on safe formula feeding, donor milk, paced feeding, etc.)how to get rest, infant sleep, how things are working, concerns, referrals to other professionals as needed, etc.
Visit 5(roughly 2 weeks postpartum)- all of the above from visit 4, plus mom’s recovery, processing your birth experience, babywearing and therapeutic tummy time.
That’s a lot of time together! And I get that it looks pretty intense on paper(on website?). It turns out it’s actually a lot of fun, and it typically works out to be one visit per month before your birth. And I see the results- happier, more confident and connected families and happier more capable and connected babies. It’s why I do what I do…it’s why I LOVE what I do.
Thanks for reading(Really, THANK YOU, this was a novel!), and endless gratitude to those who’ve allowed me to support them as their doula. <3
PS- Almost forgot! A few months ago I submitted my application and was accepted into IBLCE’s Path 3, on my way to becoming an IBCLC! Breastfeeding is one of the great loves of my life, and I’m excited to have a retirement plan that lets me keep helping families until I’m 100 or so. 😉 Internship has already started, coursework starts in January!
Ah, winter, how I love thee… I’m a fan of cold gray days, or even better, snow! We had some beautiful snow here in the Triangle a couple of weeks ago. I was off call, with no worries about getting up my neighborhood’s crazy hills. We hunkered down for 3 days and stayed cozy!
Back in September, I started collaborating with a local IBCLC and another doula with the goal of giving doulas the resources for more comprehensive breastfeeding support. I thought it would be a quick project, but the more we dove into it, the more deep it became. We spent weeks brainstorming! Now comes the task of organizing the information into a format that makes sense and doesn’t overwhelm already overwhelmed new parents. It’s exciting work, and I’m learning things that I’m already incorporating into my practice with my clients!
I continue to work as a home birth assistant for Carrboro Midwifery. We just had a beautiful home water birth last week(attended by the wonderful Michelle Rhude, CNM of Bella Donna Birth and Women’s Health who was cross covering for Deb). Carrboro Midwifery will not be taking clients with due dates from April through August of 2018, so that Deb can care for a family member. We pick back up in September(we’re already full for that month!). During her break I’ll be taking a limited number of private doula clients. I’ve decided to keep it low key for the summer, as I’ll be writing a curriculum for Carrboro Midwifery’s first homebirth class for our CM clients and eventually the wider homebirth community. We’ll be offering it June 16, 2018.
We’re moving into fall, one of my favorite seasons! I’m ready for blankets, jammies, and hot things to drink(heading towards fall has also helped dull the pain of no more Game of Thrones for two years). 🙁 😉
Summer of 2017 has been a pretty great season in my doula year. In the last 4 weeks I’ve attended births in hospitals, a birth center and a home water birth. I feel like I have the most interesting and exciting job(so much to learn and do!), although for me, the best part is seeing families feeling great about their birth experiences. Empowered, supported birth experiences help make parents more confident and their families stronger. Doulas make a difference, in more ways than we might sometimes realize.
I’m meeting this week to collaborate with an IBCLC and another doula buddy to work on a more comprehensive handout for my breastfeeding clients. I believe that as a birth and postpartum doula, I can be doing more to help clients succeed in their stated breastfeeding goals. With so much time for interaction, we have such an opportunity to help them have an experience they feel reflects their values and hopes for infant feeding. This should be available to my clients in the coming weeks. I’m really excited!
I’ve also connected recently with another IBCLC(hopefully more info coming soon!) to help teen moms meet their stated breastfeeding goals. As a former teen mom myself, I remember vividly the contradictions and challenges that arose for me and for my baby. Helping ALL parents feel supported and cared for is incredibly important to me.
My other big, new adventure is working as a birth assistant with Deb Fiore, CNM at Carrboro Midwifery . Our first client gave birth in July and is now a happy, healthy 8 week old! Being a birth assistant not only gives me whole new set of skills, it allows me to better understand the birthing process and medical recommendations of care providers. Even though the scope of practice is very different, I have noticed that being a birth assistant has made me a better doula, and vice versa.
My husband and I are looking forward to a couple of days at the beach with friends this weekend. I’m off call for just enough time for a mini vacation and some autumn ocean breezes. I hope you and yours are having a wonderful 2017, and are enjoying the cooler weather as much as I am!