One of the biggest questions I am asked is, “how can I get my partner involved and to feel involved during my pregnancy/labor/birth?” This a common feeling to be had with partners. I know that the glowing, pregnant mama is getting all the fame and glory, but there is so much that the partner can do to be involved. This is their baby too! Here are some tips that they can do to feel included in this adventure.
During pregnancy, your partner can support you by:
One of the biggest questions I am asked is “What is in your doula bag?”. So today I will reveal what’s in my big bag of magic! Let’s start off with the boring stuff. I always have a change of clothes with me. You never know when a client’s bag of water is going to break on your or what the mystery stain could be on my left shoulder. I also keep with me a bag of toiletries, such as shampoo, soap, a toothbrush and some deodorant. Some labors can last over 24 hours and I want to make sure I am always smelling my best. We wouldn’t want a stinky doula working, now would we? HAHA. I also keep some food and snacks with me to make sure I keep my energy up so that I can continue working just as effectively as when I first arrived. Again, if labor is over 24 hours, this was I can just run to the cafeteria and heat up my bowl of soup instead of having to leave to go find food. Now that we established the boring stuff, lets talk about how I can help you, as my client. In my bag, I keep a variety of tools to help my clients. Some of these things include massaging tools, light snacks, toiletries and combs. Combs? Say what? How could a comb help my client in labor? We will get to that in just a second. First stop, the massaging tools I keep with me are just your typical hand-held massagers and my tennis balls. The tennis balls seem to be a favorite with my clients. I put 2 tennis balls in a sock and knot the top. This way I can massage right next to your spine where back labor seems to hurt the most without actually hurting your spine. The balls separate just enough to give your spine some room. Because the balls are soft, yet firm, I can apply a lot of pressure without hurting you. The balls roll up and down and just seem to feel really nice. I also carry a rice sock with me. Basically, I put 2 pounds of rice in a sock and knot the top of that as well. With the rice sock, I am able to heat it up in the microwave, or throw it in the freezer to give my client whatever temperature they may want. I can use the sock on their back, or the lower abdomen. Plus, sometimes the weight of the sock feels good on the aches. The toiletries I keep with me for my clients include an extra toothbrush and tooth paste, some extra hair ties, some wisps, chap sticks and lotions. All of which are a one times use. I make sure to stay stocked up on these items. These little items seem to be the ones that are forgotten the most when the hospital bag is packed, or sometimes they’re just out of reach and I am able to receive them a little faster if my client needs to throw their hair up, if they vomit, or if their lips become chapped from all the mouth breathing that is going on. I make sure to stay stocked up on honey sticks and emergen-c for energy, protein shakes if they become hungry (a lot times in the hospital, food isn’t allowed and that can really cause the energy level to drop), and some dum-dums. Fun fact: If labor stalls, by pressing the lollipop on the roof of the mouth using acupressure, it can re-stimulate contractions. I also carry 4 essential oils and a diffuser with me. I carry lavender which can help with relaxation, peppermint that can help with nausea, sweet orange which can help give a burst of energy or raise the mood in the room, and clary sage which can be used to help stimulate contractions. The oils can be used either mixed with coconut oil for massage or diffused. Then there are some loose items such as a hand-held fan, a hand-held mirror and combs. So how can the combs help? A lot of clients enjoy inflicting pain to help cancel out the pain. By holding the comb with the prongs against your palm and squeeze, it can help inflict the pain in a non-injuring way. Lastly, the most important tool I bring with me is my hands. My hands seem the be the absolute most favorite. With my hands I am able to apply pressure to the hips, massage, help hold your hair back, and whatever else you may want me to do. So those are all my little gadgets that I bring with me. Its always case specific too. Sometimes my client wants me to bring a speaker to play relaxing music, sometimes they want me to bring my flameless candles to make the room more sensual and relaxing, sometimes they want me to bring their favorite candy. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to my doula bag. Until next time….
Hello! Welcome to my first blog!! I figured that the perfect “first blog” would be my journey on becoming a birth doula! I will start off with a little history about how my passion for birth began. My passion for birth started back in 2011 when I gave birth to my first child. I loved all the excitement and beauty there was revolving around birth. I had dreams of becoming a labor and delivery nurse. I wanted to be part of that action without being an OBGYN. I had a midwife at the time, but she was a very modernized midwife. She reminds me of an OBGYN but without the title. I got pregnant with my third in 2013. (I had an early loss back in 2012) I remember going into labor with her and driving myself to labor and delivery. Upon admittance, I begged the nurses to teach me how to breath! I had taken no classes or watched any videos on how to breath. I remember thinking that it would be a genius idea if there was someone out there whose job was specifically just to help a laboring person breath, but quickly dismissed the thought. After the birth of my daughter, for different reasons, I decided that I did not want to have a hospital birth ever again. My goal was to never even set foot in a hospital during my fourth pregnancy. I decided to start researching natural birth and home births. Fast forward to the labor of my fourth child. I remember being in my birth tub wishing someone knew how to help me with my labor pains, to help me get more comfortable. My husband was there, and he was great, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t enough. He was great with making me feel safe, but just didn’t have the experience of physically helping me. While laboring in the birth tub, I started telling myself out loud, “Sara, you can do this!” I then heard softly behind me, “Sara, you are doing it! And you are doing beautifully!” Those 2 simple sentences are what helped me finish my labor. Every time I would tell myself that I can do this, I would hear that sweet echo that I WAS doing it! If it weren’t for that, I don’t know if I could have done it. After the birth, I talked to that sweet voice, who happened to be a midwife named, Allison. She then planted the seed into my head to become a doula. After she left, I started researching everything there was to know about becoming a doula.
It then became time to choose which school I would want to attend. There were so many different ones out there! CAPPA, DONA, BEST, BAI, just to name a few. I noticed each school had different requirements that were needed to certify, or stay certified, and each course had different requirements to just to keep my certifications. I had to choose the one that fit my needs and beliefs. What were my needs or beliefs? Basically, I wanted one that would allow me to help any laboring person in any situation they felt best in. Whether it was in a hospital, or at home, or even unassisted. I wanted to make sure everyone was supported. Most courses do not want their students attending unassisted births, and if you were to, you would lose your certification. To be honest, the thought is scary. An unassisted childbirth is where the labor person gives birth at home with no assistance. Basically, there is no midwife present. Just the laborer and the partner and family. The problem with attending an unassisted is if something were to go wrong, even though the doula offers no medical assistance or advice, in the court of law, she could be seen as practicing without a license because we are birth professionals. So, most courses just tell their students no. Therefore, I decided to certify through Birth Arts International because there were no restrictions on who I can support. I also loved that birth arts required more books to be read for certification and required more births to be attended. I felt that with all this combined, I would be able to advance much more than with any other course.
I started my course in the beginning of 2017. I will admit I was very intimidated! I had 3 kids under the age of 5, and I had to read and do book reports for 10 books! Yes, you read that right, 10 books! I started on the course work and I was loving every moment of it. Halfway though, I learned that my director wanted me out there and starting my business and creating my image. How the heck was I going to do that? Ive never started my own anything before, let alone a successful business! Then I learned she wanted me to start attending births! Insert shocked emoji here! If I could survive 3 small kiddos, I could survive this! Next was finding a name for my business. I could not think of a name for the life of me. Everything I thought of was to long, or just meh. Finally, my mother told me that when she was younger, she wanted to own a maternity consignment store called “Expecting a Little Company” and that name was PERFECT! She offered to let me use the name, and I couldn’t decline the offer. Thus, my business was born! Next order of business was figuring out a uniform and creating all my documents including intake forms and my contract! I hate to admit it, but I went through more paper than I ever have in my whole life trying to make everything perfect. I rewrote my contract at least a few dozen times. I knew starting a business wasn’t cheap or easy, but I never expected to be as expensive and hard as it was. I am so grateful that my husband was able to cut corners and let go of some things to help me afford to get my business going. So now that I had my contract and other various forms typed up, I had to find my first client! I had no idea how to go about that! I contacted, Allison, to meet up with her, and she was able to refer me a few of her patients for me to use for certification. I ended up getting 3 clients through her! Awesome, so I got those few lined up, but I needed more. I started posting to local groups offering my services for a lot less than I would like to admit, but I really wanted to find those clients to certify. I had the thought that if I charged, no one would want to hire me because I was brand new. Now that I found some clients, it was time to start those book reports! By this time, I had started to homeschool my eldest. So now I am a stay at home mom with 3 kids under 5, starting a business, going to school and homeschooling my kids. If you’re wondering how I did it, a lot of cookies, patience, and support from my husband. If it weren’t for him allowing me time to myself every night, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I will admit, our house slacked a bunch when it came to cleaning, but my husband would pick up the loose ends. I am happy to announce that as of November. 20,2017 I am officially a certified doula! All that stress, sweat, and tears, it was so worth it! I am so proud of who I am today and everything I accomplished! In the words of Allison, I did it! And I did it beautifully!
Up next: Whats in my doula bag! Plus What I have to offer!