birth work is my jam

birth work tee from skreened.com/momjeanz

birth work is my jam, yo!

all the excitement is with me right now as i’ll be attending my DONA postpartum doula training AND Lamaze Childbirth Educator training today through next wednesday.

excite! excite! all the excite!

i can pretty much guarantee there will be crying from me and lots of lady fawning posts on various social mediums.

all the support for all the families!!!!!!!!!!!

wish me luck.

dear DONA, can i be a doula please?

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yesterday marked somewhat of an achievement for me. it also happened to be the day we received 2o dollars in the mail from my mother. this could only lead to one thing in our household: achievement + $20 = celebratory tacos.

baby belly, meet tacos. tacos, meet baby belly. oh that’s right! you’ve met before. 

yesterday, after almost 2 years of working on my certification materials, i sent off my application to become a certified doula by DONA International.

i have been working towards this for a long time. little by little i got it done and honestly it shouldn’t have taken me this long because i had the actual work part of it done a long time ago. i just had to find time to sit down and compile it all into papers and lists and what not. one of my problems is that i put the things that i need to do for myself last.

but i’m not going to dwell on it because the bottom line is, i done put that sucker in the mail yesterday. and now i just wait to hear if i fulfilled all the requirements in a satisfactory manner.

which is going to be a bit nerve-wracking.

i’m already waiting to hear if i passed one certification and now i’ll be waiting on this one. oh yeah, and i’m starting two new certifications in about 2 weeks. i’ve put a lot of myself into this for the past 3 years and i’m investing a lot of my future in it too. what if i get my packet back and stamped on the outside says “probably the worst doula candidate we’ve ever seen. please don’t do this anymore” ?

there’s a lot of fear wrapped up in this for me.

i have fear surrounding my ability to do birth work after the birth of my own amazing little second human. will there be enough space for me? everybody wants to be a doula now! there will probably be 50 newly trained doulas running around my town by the time i’m ready to take births again. and by the way both those last two sentences are written from a positive spot. i think it’s awesome and right that so many women want to be doulas. it’s my hope for female culture that we reclaim the knowledge of childbirth as a collective. and doulas do run around town. it’s what we do for our clients. we go to them, to their houses, to their hospitals, to their doctor’s appointments. we’re a group on the go. but will there be a space for me when i’m back on the scene?

will there be space in my own life for birth work? i worry about finding time to support clients in a way they deserve while basking in babydom and being present in my own life.

well, the answer is i don’t know what i don’t know. i can only have faith. i can only have faith in myself and in whatever future is out there for me. and i can voice these fears because i know they are not realities. they are just fears of things that have not yet come to pass. one of the main things i do as a doula is hold space for others. i’m going to have to learn to hold space for myself.  i will have to hold space in my life and in my thoughts.

this will need to be mantra: my life and my world are big enough to accommodate me and my dreams. 

sooooo this is all a really long-winded way of saying wish me luck with this approval and with navigating this area of life in an unknown future.

ALSO, this was a really long-winded way of telling you that those tacos were damn good and thanks to my momma for the taco funds!

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}

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!

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!