the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i’m really excited to start this series and share the wisdom of these women with you.

the doula spotlight this week takes us back to Tampa, FL.  Gaetane Joseph of Seeds of Mommy Soul submitted her interest after reading my very first doula spotlight post. Gaetane is a mother of 3 vivacious kids in Tampa. She started her journey in 2010 as a Doula and CLC after the home birth of her 2nd child. Gaetane believes that every woman should have a positive birth experience and her goal is to make that obtainable.

Gaetane Ring sling picture

1. How long have you been a doula and what lead you to pursue doulahood?

As a young girl I always had an interest in birth. In high school I decided to volunteer in my local hospital’s Labor and Delivery. During that time I witnessed 2 births and knew that my interest as a young girl would soon lead to my aspirations into my adulthood. I decided to train as a Doula in 2010 after a successful HBAC (home birth after cesarean) of my daughter. Since then it has been an honor to be a part of the many family’s lives as they embark into parenthood.

2. Having a doula is shown to reduce the amount of time a woman may spend in labor. Physical support is a contributing factor to this reduction. What physical support do you provide during labor?

Research has shown that investing in a Doula has reduced the amount of time a woman spends in labor. One of the contributing factors to reducing the time women spend in labor is the physical support we provide to her. As a Doula, we provide non-medical support. One of the techniques that I have used that has been successful is the use of counter pressure. Most may not fully grasp how useful this technique may be until they are in labor. I have received quite a few praises for knowing how much pressure to counteract with during a contraction. Some of the other physical support that I provide would be temple massage, shoulder relaxation techniques, and assisting mothers during labor to change positions often.

3. You are also a Certified Lactation Counselor {CLC}. Do you think having a doula benefits a mother with establishing a breastfeeding relationship? In your doula practice how do you help a mother prepare for breastfeeding if she’s planning to do so? 

 As a CLC, I have experience assisting mothers with initiating breastfeeding and addressing concerns that may arise. Because we are aware of the correlation between birth and establishing a breastfeeding relationship, a mother will benefit by investing in a Doula. Once a mother delivers her baby we assist her in initiating skin to skin immediately. Skin to skin not only helps newborns regulate their temperature but it also makes it easier for baby to latch on for the first time. As a CLC and Doula, I will assist a mother with more than just initially breastfeeding. During pregnancy, I educate mothers on topics such as the anatomy of breasts and the overall health benefits of breastfeeding for mother, baby, and family. Once mothers deliver, I help mothers by suggesting different holding techniques, observing and correcting an improper latch, and evaluating feeding: such as sucking and swallowing. For some mothers, breastfeeding may not be as smooth as they may have expected. As a CLC, I am here to provide education and support to mothers to ensure that she feels empowered to breastfeed.

I’d like to thank Gaetane for her participation with the doula spotlight. Gaetane is servicing Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, and Polk County in FL. Check out her website at www.seedsofmommysoul.net for services and to schedule your free consultation.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks! Also, would you like a t-shirt? {smile & wink}

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the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i really love working on this series and i’m so happy to share the wisdom of these women with you.

photoRina Crane kinda seems like a, excuse my language, badass. Rina is based in the Bronx as a doula, doula trainer and founder & program coordinator of a volunteer doula program called Bronx Doulas serving women that otherwise might not have access to doula care. I was connected to her by another awesome doula and based on her answers and bio I can say i’m so happy women like Rina are doing this important work. From hypnobirthing, to reiki, to lamaze, it seems that Rina’s studied it all.

I’m happy to give you the words & wisdom of Doula Rina:

1. How long have you been a doula and what brought you to down the doula path?

I’ve been working as a doula for five years and feel that I’ve always been a doula at heart. After my births, I felt that there was lots of information that wasn’t easily accessible by so many women in our culture. Most of us do all of the standard things without asking questions or knowing what our options are. I felt very strongly that I should help get information out there. I decided to train as a doula so that I could help one or two women every now and then. Apparently, I’ve had a slight departure from that initial goal.

2. I’ve experienced people with the preconception that doulas only help women during natural birth. How would you respond to that? Who can benefit from doula support?

First, everyone can benefit from doula support, that’s why we’ve always had doulas. In most cultures, women are supported in birth by members of their community who come together and share their experience, stories and comfort techniques. Whether it’s one person or a group, this is how humans have always birthed in most parts of the world. I’ve been hired by women who were planning to use pain medication or even have cesareans. They may hire me for the reassurance and comfort I might provide or for the information I can share.

Sometimes we think we are being given a choice, but without an understanding of the pros and cons, we are being cheated. If you have a negative side effect from a decision you made, but you knew that was possible, you’re still in control. If you didn’t know about the consequences, it can have long-term effects, physically and emotionally. Many doulas say that they empower women in their births. I disagree. Women have the power already. Sometimes, a little information or a little word of encouragement uncovers it for them, the power that was theirs to begin with. That was a circuitous route to say that doulas can be immensely helpful during births with planned or surprise interventions.

3. You are a doula trainer and run a volunteer doula program in the Bronx, {tres awesome!} can you give me 3 top concepts of the doula role you teach women pursuing this role with you.

I became a doula trainer in order to support my volunteer program (my next step is to convert it to a community-based non-profit in which the doulas get paid!), and have learned from my trainees which are the top concepts:

-It’s not your birth

When a prospective client asks what my birth philosophy is, I say it is to help them achieve what they want. As doulas, we need to put our own ideals aside. We help people get the information they need to make the decisions that are right for them. Sometimes, we may not agree or understand them, but we don’t have to.

-How will she remember this?

As a doula, it’s important to know that a woman will always remember how she was made to feel in labor. Sometimes ours is the lone voice of calm or encouragement in the birth room. It’s essential to keep this in mind. A birth that departs greatly from the plan can still be triumphant and fulfilling if the woman feels she has been treated with respect and care. For various reasons, sometimes the doula is the only person doing that, but unlike others on the scene, that’s her job.

-Take care of yourself. 

Hopefully, it’s clear how this is important for your clients. You know, the whole idea of putting on your own oxygen mask first? Some things are obvious like eating well and urinating frequently and having reliable back up. Just as important, though, is having a network with whom you can debrief. Don’t take this work lightly. Attending a birth is exhilarating and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. You should have someone with whom you can share your joys and sorrows. You will experience both.

I’d like to thank Rina for sharing her thoughts and words on the doula spotlight. You can learn more about Rina’s services at DoulaRina.com  and her service work on the Bronx Doulas facebook page or website.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks! Also, would you like a t-shirt? {smile & wink}

the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i’m really excited to start this series and share the wisdom of these women with you.

i’d like to introduce my first west coast doula. Katie Hamilton has the distinction of being the first doula to buy one of my birth work t-shirts, other than myself! we connected through a mutual friend and now I’m honored to host her as my first left coast interviewee. Katie offers her support as Mama Nurture Birth Services in Los Angeles and the South Bay area. I present the doula wisdom of Katie Hamilton:

katiebabybellyKatie & her own beautiful baby belly

1. how long have you been a doula and what made you pursue doulahood?

At the age of 15, I finally got the news that I would have a sibling. I was involved right from the get go. From helping with the baby registry, to attending the Lamaze classes…I was there. I remember falling asleep on the vinyl couch in the hospital waiting room while doing my algebra homework. I was called in the room during pushing and got to experience the miracle of birth. Upon arriving home, I walked around the house reading the infamous “What to expect…” book to my mom. I was probably the rare teen that knew what meconium was, clipped my sisters fingernails, and knew what developmental stage we would be approaching next. To this day I sometimes refer to her as my “first baby”. I remember announcing then that I wanted to be a midwife. I didn’t end up becoming one but always looked forward to becoming a mother myself. I had my first daughter at the hospital with the midwives. Despite a good outcome and the normal, unmedicated birth that I wanted…I wasn’t completely satisfied with my experience. I begged the nurse to get in the shower, and was refused. In fact I was one of those unusual cases where I dilated from 2 to 10 in 2 hours and had they had sent me home like they wanted to I would have ended up having the baby out of the hospital. I had to be my own advocate when really I just wanted the staff to be my side, honor my instincts that told me exactly what I needed to birth my baby. I was a square peg in a round hole because I didn’t get the epidural that would make my labor more predictable and manageable. At last my midwife appeared (it was 3am), and insisted they open a room for me and allow me to use the shower. Well, within an hour and a half I was nursing my baby.

After that medicalized birth experience, I did my research, and decided that home birth would be the best option for me. I was the most incredible experience I could have ever hoped for. My home was my sanctuary. I had my favorite foods, my favorite flowers, positive affirmations to pause and look at on my walls, a warm tub, my little girl eagerly awaiting her sister, a supportive husband, and trusted midwives. My daughter was born peacefully in the water with her big sister by her side.

As a La Leche League leader leading mother to mother breastfeeding support groups in our area, I am always hearing birth stories and connecting with other new moms. I found myself loving to support them and at the same time feeling like I wanted to do and know more. I learned about the wonderful Ana Paula Markel and Bini Birth, and decided to take the DONA doula training course. Sitting in class, with all those women who cared just as much about the sacredness of birth and empowering families in making informed choices- I knew I had found my calling. I began my business fall of 2012 and haven’t stopped celebrating birth since!

2. a doula’s support is informational, emotional and physical. do you have a favorite? what makes it your favorite?

One of my favorite parts of the doula’s role is the informational aspect. I meet a handful of amazing, respectful, personable OB’s. I also meet quite a lot of OB’s that are simply not practicing evidence based medicine. I believe I have helped guide a birth in a healthier direction for both mom and baby by just providing my clients with the current research they need to ask the right questions and sometimes even feel confident saying they want something different. Something as simple as asking, “What’s my Bishop Score” can give a mom an extra few days to go into labor on their own versus being induced and increase their chances for a surgical birth. Asking for intermittent monitoring rather than continuous on their birth plan can make the difference between a manageable labor in which a variety of different comfort techniques can be used, or a labor where finding necessary comfort is more challenging and freedom is very limited.

Seeing a woman reach her limit and push past it, and the elation and pride that comes out of that is like nothing else. There is a new respect for our bodies as being creative, our psyche as one that is strong, and a feeling that one can surmount anything. We carry that satisfaction and sufficiency into our days and weeks postpartum. Every woman deserves to feel safe and protected in labor. The doula is an asset to the emotional experience of both the mother and partner. The experience is treated as sacred, a rite of passage to be honored and enjoyed. Even when things don’t go quite as planned, a doula helps the preserve the memory of the mother being cared for and supported.

3. how do you answer the question “what is a doula”?

A fellow doula sister of mine, Kelsie Packer, described the doula’s role perfectly. “My role is to be an extension of your hands, voice and heart. I support and empower the mother in all women ” -kelsie packer (truladoula)

I’d like to thank Katie for sharing her thoughts and words on the doula spotlight. If you would like to know more about Katie’s services and support work {or take a peek at her pretty family} you can find her at her Mama Nurture website or her facebook page.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks! Also, would you like a t-shirt? {smile & wink}

the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i’m really excited to start this series and share the wisdom of these women with you.

i am extremely honored and happy to present this next doula to you, readers. she is a wonderful woman and although i only spent a brief amount of time with her, less than 24 hours, it was enough time for her to make a big impact on my life. AND it was enough time for her to push on my back in just the right spot while i labored in bed and ask me the question “what do you mean when you say ‘tickle my back’ in your birth plan?” i’m talking about my own doula, Karen Phelps. She’s with By Your Side Birth Services, which was a part of in-house services at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Springs, MD when miss darla was born but is now running independently in the DC Metro area. I present you, my doula, Karen:

Holding Darla Wright 1

Karen & Darla. January, 2009

1. How long have you been a doula and what brought you down the doula path?

When my daughter gave birth to my first grandchild five and a half years ago, she asked me to help coach her through labor and delivery. I had delivered my own four children unmedicated, using Lamaze techniques so I guided her and her husband through the process with what I remembered. (She had a long, unmedicated birth.) After the birth, the nurse asked if I had ever considered being a doula because I did everything a doula does. I had never heard of doulas but immediately learned everything I could and quickly took the training and became certified.

2. You were an integral part of getting my husband comfortably involved and active in my labor. In what ways do you facilitate and support partner involvement {when applicable} in births you attend?

So much of what I do is determined by my philosophy of birth and my role in it. I believe that the birth is not mine. This time and experience belongs to the mother and her partner and I am only there to add and make it the best it can be. I’m only the decoration on the cake. With that in mind, I first see how the couple interacts without my influence. I have had partners that just wanted to watch and counted on the doula, some that were unsure and just needed guidance, and some that wanted to run the show and give orders to everyone, including mom. (I think doulas are good at quickly assessing the situation.) There are many ways to encourage partners into their appropriate role. Once I have done massage, acupressure, stroking, or anything
else and it is effective, I show the support person what to do and encourage them to take over. I often have to demonstrate on the partner’s arm to show them the right soft but firm touch that feels good. I also ask support people to do things because they are sometimes afraid to make the first move or unsure of what would be helpful. I believe that a partner should participate to the level they are comfortable and I encourage as much involvement as possible because it is their experience together that makes the birth so special.

3. Was my labor and darla’s birth the most awesome you have ever attended?

ha ha. just a joke question. Of course my labor was the most awesome! wink wink. On to the real question:

3. You helped me be active during labor and you supported me during resting times while laboring in bed. How do you help a mother transition between different activities during labor? How do your support efforts change when a mother is mobile while laboring versus stationary?

Fairly early in labor, I mention that labor progresses best if there are frequent changes in position and activities so I encourage trying different things. Most mothers are eager for things to move along and are ready to follow suggestions. I occasionally suggest making a change, giving her a couple ideas and letting her choose. As labor builds, I suggest only one thing because mom is usually preoccupied and may have trouble making decisions. As much as possible, I involve the partner in assisting the mother as she walks, uses the bathroom, changes positions, sits on the birth ball, etc. I am there encouraging and guiding. As labor intensifies and the mother is working harder to focus, I work more directly assisting the mother with her breathing, relaxing and finally pushing.

I’d like to thank Karen for sharing on the doula spotlight and for supporting mike, darla and i as we became a family. you know how much it means every single time you do it. If you would like to know more about Karen you can find info on By Your Side Birth Services. Karen will be taking a sabbatical from birth work starting in September but I found interacting with the practice to be superbly pleasant. They are an excellent resource for DC Metro mommas.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks!

doula spotlight

hi good peoples!

this post is part of an {hopefully} ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i’m really excited to start this series and share the wisdom of these women with you.

Henry birthday

i’m very excited to host this next lovely woman on the doula spotlight. She’s been an invaluable resource, support, and friend to me since i just showed up in columbus and knew i wanted to do this but didn’t know quite how i was going to get there. Jenna Wojdacz has been supporting Columbus parents for 12 years and she’s been supporting me as a doula mentor for 3. She also serves as a reproductive health educator for Columbus area schools. She’s a pro at hosting get-togethers and makes a mean curry. I give you Jenna’s doula wisdom:

 1. how long have you been a doula and what led you down this path?

When I was pregnant in 1996, I made the decision to have a homebirth, with no knowledge of how that might happen, not knowing anyone who had ever birthed at home. It just seemed right to me – the approach at the midwifery practice was so different from an OB. That experience planted a seed of awareness in me, about the way birth is treated in our society, and about how different that could be. In 2001 I attended a doula training class and began attending births immediately.
2. in which different settings have you supported births? how does your role change in different birth settings? 
I have had the privilege of attending births in both hospitals and homes. I have been there as a baby surprised us by being born with startling rapidity in a backyard; I have been there, behind scrubs and a surgical mask, for a planned surgical delivery. My fundamental role does not change – to serve this woman, and by extension, the other people she has chosen to include in her birthing – but how I am able to execute that service is definitely impacted by the location. More medical interventions = more restrictions on a woman’s actions and behaviors. it’s just a fact. That does not make doula support less important in interventive situations, just different, in some ways more challenging.
 
3. do you help mommas/couples prepare for labor?

Honestly, it is the preparation that is my favorite part. Though there is no way to know exactly what sort of cards a birth is going to deal, so much good work can be done in hours and hours of conversation about a woman’s (and her partner’s, if applicable) thoughts and hopes and concerns. I love the process of watching people settle in to the idea of parenting, which starts before birth. Watching the growing awareness that they are the experts, that this is their own work, that only they can do. There is specific preparation about hospital policies and labor management techniques and pushing strategies and newborn triage, but it is the mental settling in that is, to me, the really important, transformative work. 

I’d like to thank Jenna for sharing on the doula spotlight and for supporting me over the years. Both mean a lot to me.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks!

doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

in addition to birth links i will be adding a new series to birthy goodness fridays called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers.  each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i’m really excited to start this series and share the wisdom of these women with you.

mchdoulaspotlight

my first kind doula is someone dear to me. she’s been a family friend for years, my wedding photographer, a parenting inspiration and birthwork crush. i think she’s pretty rad and she’s my first doula spotlight. I give you Mary Catherine Hamelin of Magical Days Blog and birth worker and aspiring midwife with Barefoot Birth in Tampa, Florida:

1. when did you decide to pursue doulahood?

I always sort of knew I was more interested in pregnancy and birth than most of my peers–I was 10 when my youngest brother was born and my mother was always very open with us about her births, natural, emergency cesarean, and then a VBAC. I was 12 when my nephew was born and attended a couple of childbirth education classes with my aunt. That old copy of “A Child is Born” with all the amazing in utero photography was well read at my house.

I had strong designs on how I was going to give birth to my daughter, but despite my reading and preparation I was met with the standard “get into bed, put on your gown, time to be monitored” as soon as I entered the hospital environment. I was blessed with a shift change and a nurse who had been a midwife in England who got me up out of bed and moving around the way I knew I wanted to. She essentially served as my doula–hands on physical support, strong emotional support, and then leaving me alone to do my own instinctual thing. I had an awesomely empowered first birth.

After my daughter was born I heard stories from other mothers who didn’t feel as supported, and it seemed so wrong to me–that during such a pivotal time in a family’s life they might feel alone and disrespected, uneducated on their options. The Business of Being Born was released right around that time, and after I watched it I was up in arms. I looked up Midwifery Education programs, learned about doulas, and decided that with a wee baby still in my arms, signing up for a doula training was the first step.

2. what do you think is your favorite part of your support role? what is the most challenging?

My favorite part of serving families is obviously that moment of birth, of realizing that whether things happened according to plans or not, a baby and a family were just born. But also those moments afterward when I get to hear about how GOOD they feel–how they did something they didn’t think they could do, what they learned, when they worried, when they knew everything would be okay…the listening and the learning is my favorite part. And of course, I also love hearing that a family is so glad they hired me. It feels good to know I made a difference in the way a family embarks on their parenting path.

The most challenging thing is supporting families through prenatal choices that contradict what they’ve expressed they want from their experience, saying they really want a certain kind of care or birth but then choosing a birth setting and care provider that are repeatedly meeting them with opposition. It breaks my heart when families feel like they have to fight to have a positive experience.

Leaving my children to attend births is also a challenge. I’m recently getting back to work in a new community after moving from another state, so I’ve had to re-establish childcare support and helpful friends who are available on-call and understand the unpredictability of birth. Having to be awake and ready to parent after an all night birth isn’t easy. My family is on this journey with me for sure, and it’s always interesting!

3. where do you see your path in birth work heading?

My birth work has made a sort of natural transition into studying Midwifery. After a couple of years working as a doula I started feeling called to serve families more directly, to have a greater impact on their care. My original plan was to get my CM or CNM, as most of the homebirth midwives in New York City (where most of my doula experience is from) are, and be able to work in hospital, birth center, and home settings throughout my career. After moving to a very different birth climate in Florida though, I’m feeling drawn to out-of-hospital birth and traditional midwifery.

I’m assisting a couple of wonderful homebirth midwives right now and this Fall will be working on board a rad bus that is serving as a mobile maternity unit for low-income families around the community as well as our own homebirth families. I also teach childbirth education classes and will be helping to facilitate some family support groups. I look forward to continuing as a doula and birth assistant when I begin Midwifery School, hopefully next year.

I’d like to thank MC for kicking off this series. You can find more about her birth work with her partners at Barefoot Birth and you can follow her adventures with her family in their tropical cottage at Magical Days Blog.

in addition, are you a doula that would like to be a part of the doula spotlight? Send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks!