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  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}


what i want for my life

do you ever sit back and compare what your life was like a year ago? two years? five?

i find myself doing that often. especially in this past year. 2012 & 2013 were years that kinda flipped the script on me for reasons i can’t delve into on the internet. it’s the internet! you already know too much about me as it is.

but i can say that one of the big changes in our household is our financial status. that’s no secret. i’ve talked about being poor again on here previously. i’ve always lived a life of modest means. my needs were met but nothing too extravagant until sometime in my mid 20s. i made a really good salary and i met and married a man who made a good salary. i experienced a few short years of abundant income, even in my decision to leave full-time employment. most often we had more money than we could spend and i was diligently squirreling money away for a rainy day.

and then the rainy days came, rainy weeks, going on a rainy year. thank goodness for that diligence.

so now you find our family very much like so many others, scraping by, making it but just barely. i have questioned this season in my life and have come to a realization of its purpose: to show me how to live the life i really want.

and to show me that the life i dream of living is valid and important.

after careful thought and inventory, i have to admit that i wasn’t living the type of life i desire before. i wasn’t being authentic and it was making me terribly unhappy. isn’t it funny how less money often equals more happiness? i could get into a list of reasons why this is but i’m sure you know them. even if you’re a sitting pretty, scrooge mcduck doing back strokes through your sacagaweas you still know deep down that money distracts and deters.

being poor makes you focus on the important things in life. it makes you question what you really need to be happy. you can’t focus on what you want. you have to focus on what you need.

sometimes i feel pressure to go out and take any old job that i’m qualified for to force a solution to some of the problems but then i stop myself and think about what i really want my life to be about and i am overcome with the strong, sure feeling that my life needs to be about less and not more. the answer is not to go out and make more money. it is to eliminate things from my life that are energy, monetary and time sucks.

because here’s the thing: i’m the happiest and most fulfilled with my life’s work that i can ever remember.

if i had to architect a perfect life’s work for myself i could sit back right now and laugh at myself for my worries because i’m already there. i’m doing it. I spend every day with my daughter and that is the most important thing to me and it always has been. i remember having these thoughts in high school and feeling guilty that i didn’t have strong career aspirations because what i really saw myself doing was being with my family, tending a garden, running an efficient household. but that seemed so anti-feminist at the time. well, and figure in that i was nowhere near home & baby making at that time. i wanted to see and experience life first.

but i know that i’ve always had this in me. i’ve always dreamt of this life. i’ve always wanted my life to be about mothering and babies and living a sustainable existence, living simply, living free.

i’m with my girl. i help women become mothers and men become fathers. i educate darla with life and adventure. i am conscientious about my connection to this earth and take that into consideration with every purchase and action i take. i am lucky enough to have a part-time job that believes in what i do and i believe in what they do. that job even aligns with my earthy sensibilities. and i get to write here. this pays me nothing but it sure gives me an outlet and i treat it like a job. because some day i hope it will be.

i love writing this blog and i love having you read it. i hope my readers can see that this blog isn’t about telling you how to live your life. i can’t give you ideas and how-to’s on putting together a dashing ensemble. i can’t give you crafty instructions for throwing amazing parties. i can’t give you recipes that are going to wow your family and nourish them. even though you will find those things on here from time to time, you won’t find that sort of instruction here on the reg.

the only thing i can offer to you, readers, is myself. i can only offer you how i live my life and my feelings and thoughts about that. i can offer you my desires and my mistakes. i can offer you the hilariousness of my daughter that gets me from one day to the next. i can offer you my struggles. and i can offer you the ideas and strides i am making towards creating the life that i’m passionate about.

so, what i want from my life is simplicity, peace, love, happiness and adventure. i want fewer things and more experiences. i want to live a life in accordance with my connection to the earth and my fellow human beings. i want a life that is focused less on how much money is in my bank account and more on that feeling of fulfillment i have that has settled down into my core because i’m doing exactly what i want with my life {although i wish i could do it a little more frequently. expecting columbus couples, give columbus birth arts a chance!}

awww gosh, i never know how to finish posts like this. maybe i’ll just end it by saying thank you. i’ll end it that way because it applies in every possible way in my life and to so many people. yes, that’s perfect:

thank you.

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!

new doula t-shirt and homebirth onesie!

hey y’all.

so what i do when i stay up late at night is write blog posts and design birth t-shirts. here’s a blog post about new t-shirts! {i’m really good at multi-tasking}

so, what we have here is a nice little organic homebirth inspired onesie for your lovely little lassie. she would look darling in this number at your monthly birth circle meeting, dontcha think? {there’s also one in blue if you have a homebirth homeboy}


and next we have a Need a Doula? t-shirt in athletic grey, inspired by how athletic the last birth i supported turned out. i got a full upper body work out. you try doing a hip-squeeze on a momma for a couple hours and tell me it’s not a phenomenal feat of upper body strength ;-)


and of course there are lots of other styles over on the website. i’m favoring tanks during these warm days when walking through farmer’s markets and festivals are sparking some good birthcentric conversations.

daily moment

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gosh, i wish there would have been a bit of info about how you’re going to receive awesome the gifts from your clients for being their doula in my training. i wish i had taken a pic of getting to snuggle with a handsome little dude b/c that would have been my daily moment for sure but receiving this special gift is right up there. love it.

thank you universe!

birth links

here’s a healthy dose of birthy goodness for your weekend reading since Birth Links was absent last week:

an article about Dr. Michel Odent, a pioneering advocate for natural birth practices. This article highlights information about his new book that examines birth in the technological era. His main question being does how we give birth effect who we become? The questions posed in this article are good ones to ponder for your own birth philosophies.

i attended a birth last week for a baby at 42 weeks, 2 days gestation and babe was sitting pretty. This article is a short but applicable one. should we let babies decide their due dates when stress tests reveal no complications even after 42 weeks?  Just a little fact: The average gestation for first time babies is actually 41 weeks and 2 days. Mommas, if you’re expecting your first please put that 40 week date out of your mind!

a lovely birth story from Birth Without Fear blog about the difference a doula can make.

this article about using 6 cm as the more accurate mark of active labor. Some moms can sit at 3-4 cms for a few days before the show really gets kicked on. by using 6 cm as the accurate marker numerous interventions could be avoided.

i attended a talk last week by the Dellesky family. The family spent a year in the phillipines while Jamie completed Midwifery training at a free maternal health clinic. the family is now on their journey to opening a similar clinic in Tanzania. Follow the link to learn more about their project and information to donate should you be moved to help for this cause.

and lastly, my post about the beautiful transformation i see come over mothers during the pushing phase.

that’s all. enjoy your weekend. and always remember:


the beauty of pushing

wanna know which part of supporting a birth is the most emotional for me?

you’re going to guess when the baby is born, right? that’s what i would guess for anyone.

but we’re wrong in my case. i always think i’m going to be able to make it all the way until the babe has finally come earthside before my strong emotions come flooding in.

but i’m wrong every time.

i get emotional for my mommas when they’re pushing, especially this last birth. it was a long haul and i was so happy for this incredibly strong mother and her partner. i always get to a surreal, very clear moment of extreme gratitude and empathy and trying to will my own physical strength to the momma so she can perform this ultimate task. i usually manage to keep it in until the child is born because my rule is that i cannot get more emotional than the parents but if i could i’d cry every time during the pushing stage.

and i’ll tell you why:

it’s because i think mothers are so unequivocally beautiful when they are bringing new life into this world.

i’m sure that sounds weird to most people, especially if you are a woman who has gone through what those moments are like. i assume the majority of women go through those moments, in our current society, with the thought somewhere in the back of their mind that it must be the worst they’ve ever looked in their entire lives. we live in a culture that preys on our insecurities about those moments, that puts them in movies and makes you believe that you’re going to just look like a red-faced, sweaty mess.

well guess what, you are going to look like that. but you don’t have to hire someone to come in and do your hair and make-up afterward before pictures can be taken. {yes, some people actually do this. they are rich and i don’t know them.}  i want to tell you right now that you look beautiful, absolutely beautiful during that moment of your life.

there is a raw beauty that comes with life and death, when we have to step outside of our thoughts and operate in the realm of our instincts. when you can’t veil it and can’t think your way through it. no one gets much control in the moments that bring us into the world and those that take us out and it’s mind-blowingly gorgeous if you let it in.

if you are lucky enough to have the privilege of witnessing life coming or going then i hope you might pause to let this raw beauty in. it’s there lingering on the edges, waiting for you to pull it into focus. once you get it in your sights it will draw on you and leave you with a deep impression that will last all your days. it will open you up and make you a little more at peace with being human.

i beg of you: revel in the beauty of pushing.

the universe is testing me: on yeasayer tickets and doula commitments

guess what! i won tix to see yeasayer tomorrow night here in columbus. if i haven’t told you before {i have} they are my favorite band. i feel very honored to have been bestowed this gift from the universe.

the only problem is that in all likelihood it won’t be able to go.

the situation is that one way or another i’ll be supporting a momma as she brings her babe earthside.

i’ve known about the possible schedule conflict and even entered the contest with the thinking that the baby would make his way here before but you see babies operate on their own schedules.

so i think this has all transpired to test me, to say “are you sure you want this on-call life of missing out on special events, important family occurrences and yes, occasionally your favorite band?”

and i can tell you the answer is yes. albeit, at the moment it’s the kind of yes that would visually be represented by me kicking a rock in the dirt and saying yes under my breath because i reeeeeaaaalllllyyyyy love yeasayer and was digging the idea of seeing them almost an exact year later but it’s a yes. a definite yes.

and it’s ok. it’s more than ok. it means i’m in this. it means i’m committed. and that’s pretty cool for a gal like me.

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.


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!

birth links

some birthy goodness for your weekend reading:

1) a brief post from childbirth today about how Fear contributes to complications and adverse outcomes in birth found here.

2) published study findings that planned home births are safer than hospital births.

3) this is my favorite for sharing today! the dudes are getting some love! it is directed towards the fathers, the most common, but not only, birth partner for mom. these are some of the roles a doula can provide if dad wishes for his role to be different but I try to work with my couples and prepare partners to fill these roles in the birth space. these are very important roles. i think one of the best things we’ve done in maternity care was inviting dads into the birth room but we did them a huge disservice of placing high expectations on them and minimal information on how to meet these expectations. i hope these tips help. ladies, you can go ahead and put these in papa bear’s inbox and tell him to memorize them! talk to your partner ahead of time about how you both envision the birth partner carrying out these roles. it will be so very beneficial for you come birthing day.

as always, i’m here for labor support services as well as pregnancy mentoring and postpartum care. best wishes to you for a calm & confident birth.

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