Over the years I've served many different types of clients..all who have different motivation for hiring professional birth support. It's funny, sometimes clients seem to think out loud through the hiring process, almost feeling the need to justify the reasons for it.
Obviously, I believe in doula support because it's my profession, but sometimes it's a difficult concept for people to swallow. They have supportive partners, family and OBs and feel strange bringing in outside help. They don't necessarily need education so what can a doula really do for them?
A lot of them time, I am hired because people have done some research and just want some extra guidance to avoid unwanted interventions including cesarean. Maybe they are familiar with the maternal and infant mortality statistics in the US and that the use of routine interventions are the biggest contributor to that.
ACOG and The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine recognize this benefit and made this statement:
Most of my clients are not opposed to all interventions, they just want to cut out what isn't totally needed. Sometimes that's an epidural, or pitocin, or an episiotomy. Priorities are different for everyone. Obviously, even the best doula cannot control this and knows labor is unpredictable, but we can discuss techniques and communication tools to lessen the possibility.
On the spot education is a big comfort for lots of people. They don't want to be overwhelmed with the "possibility" of what can happen, they just want to keep their head in the game as it's happening... Maybe they didn't have time for birth classes, or just didn't want to take them. AND, no matter how comprehensive your birth class, sometimes things happen that just are not covered (or are forgotten) I'm happy to help these couples have amazing support regardless of their knowledge base leading up to birth.
Education isn't always needed during delivery. I've been hired by tons of medical professionals, including an Obstetrician, Pediatrician, Orthopedic Surgeons, Physician's Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Chiropractors (specializing in pregnancy), Registered Nurses, physical therapists...as well as Doulas and Childbirth Educators themselves. AS a doula, I also had a doula myself.
Again, motivation was different for each one. Some of these families wanted to avoid repeats of their first births (long, difficult labors with many interventions, some planned VBAC- vaginal birth after cesarean) Some of them wanted epidurals (and I fully supported them)
I wanted doula because I KNOW the pain relieving benefits of knee presses and would have paid someone JUST to do that even with no other purpose. I don't have words to express how much it alleviated my pain. That's not something, in my opinion, that can be learned by practicing a few times. I wanted someone with real life experience who I knew would know exactly what to do and when. I can do REAL physical things to make this process less painful.
Some people are very confident about their abilities and what they want. They feel strong and capable and hare a very clear vision for what support looks like.
Some people are scared shitless and have a history of anxiety and/or depression. They know they need all the help they can get because they do NOT feel confident about the physical, mental or emotional journey they are one.
Least commonly, I have a client with a non supportive partner, who needs me to step in. Sometimes I'm working with a military family who's spouse is deployed, a partner who is out of town and even single moms... but these have been rare cases in my client load. Most clients are in supportive, loving relationships and partners are thrilled to have my guidance and support.
NOW... there are some misconceptions about doulas and the most common stereotype of doulas is usually the opposite of what clients want.
I think when people first hear of a doula, they picture a woman who comes to the side of the laboring woman and pushes other support people out of the way. A woman who firmly plants herself next to the mother, never giving anyone else a chance to participate. OR they think doulas are some variation of witches like this scene from The Back Up Plan doing nothing that is really helpful or beneficial for the mother or family.
They think that doulas only help with home birth or birth center births...or natural births... when in reality, the vast majority of the deliveries I support are in hospitals. Most of my clients are regular people with realistic expectations about birth. The last thing they want is some crazy doula running around with a drum talking about their "flower" opening up.
Birth is raw, it's painful, it can be scary. There is comfort in being able to share these feelings with your doula. It's an intimate process and it's best to find someone who respects the delicate relationships intertwined, someone you can be real with.
I support ALL families, regardless of what they want for their birth or why they choose to hire me. The decisions we make about our births are multifaceted, there are many many layers as to why people birth and parent the way they do. I can provide information about choices and communication tools to help families they way they want to be helped.
The number one question we get asked when we tell people "I'm a doula" is "What's the difference between a doula and a midwife?" OR "OH! Your'e like a midwife?".
A doula is no more like a midwife than an obstetrician. This is a simplified chart of medical duties. It doesn't begin to cover the beauitful relationships that exist between providers and clients/patients. It's basic because above all else, your midwife is there as your medical provider and a doula is NOT.
We want you to love whoever you choose to deliver your baby, and wherever you choose to give birth. It's our job to smooth the process for everyone involved...YOU, your family and your birth team. <3
MIDWIFE (or OB)
There are 2 different types of midwives
Provides prenatal testing/blood work/pap smear/pelvic exams
In Texas, a CPM can only attend deliveries outside of hospitals(at home or a birthing center)
Typically does not have any medical training but is an expert in a broad range of birthing practices
Conducts regular prenatal visits
In the event that you have to transfer to a hospital, your midwife may not be able to stay with you
Is readily available by phone/email to provide resources for pregnancy/birth/postpartum
Checks blood pressure
or continue to make decisions about your medical care. You’ll need to transfer to an OB or CNM with
Can make referrals to midwives or OB/Gyns depending on your desires
Listens to fetal heart tones
hospital privileges. A doula will transfer with you and does not leave your side, no matter who your provider
Will meet with you 1-2 times in your home birth to discuss desired support measures
Measures fundal height
is, where or how you give birth. A doula is happy to stay in the operating room for a cesarean too.
Learns what your unique emotional, physical, and educational needs are
May provide or refer you to have ultrasounds
In Texas, a CNM can work in or out of hospitals.
Helps you understand how to best communicate with your medical team
Makes medical recommendations
If you are already delivering in a hospital with a CNM,
Help you know what to expect each step of the way
Her level of involvement will vary depending on the number of patients she has at the time
[Not all midwives (or OBs) practice the same or share the same philosophy about birth. Your doula can help you find the provider who is right for you based on your desires for your labor and delivery.]
[Not all doulas practice the same. A doula’s sole purpose should be supporting the client. Her training should have a focus on non-judgemental support and helping the client to achieve her own individual goals and a cohesive (not combative) relationship with the medical team.]
Ideally gets called/you arrive when you are already in active labor
The doula never replaces your midwife or OB or nurse.
Stays in close contact before active labor ever starts
Monitors vital signs with help from a nurse or birth assistant
A doula typically has an intimate relationship with her clients,
Takes pressure off of your partner to know when "It's time."
Performs vaginal exams
She is empathetic, kind and non-judgemental
Helps you know when to go to the hospital/call your medical team based on your unique labor/signs
Makes medical decisions
She respects the intimate nature of birth and your relationship with your partner
and symptoms by observing your body language/breathing
A doula is a professional and a trained expert in birth.
Helps you find positions/natural techniques to manage pain/discomfort
A doula should not push her own philosophy about birth but should support her client’s philosophy.
Supports your decision for pain management whether natural or pharmaceutical
Performs perineal repairs (stitches)
A doula’s focus should be the well being of the client, no matter what twists and turns occur.
Stays with you during all of your labor, helping you navigate every turn as it happens
Handles medical emergencies that may arise
In an emergency, the doula is there to calm anxiety for the parents while the medical team works quickly to ensure safety
Provides 6 week follow up appointment
Provides in home postpartum visit at desired time
to check recovery and discuss birth control options
May offer additional services like breastfeeding support/postpartum doula care/placenta encapsulation
May continue well woman exams as needed
Will continue to be a resource for emotional, physical, and educational needs
My six year old daughter is a bright, engaging and energetic child. Right about a year ago she started having some real trouble processing some big changes happening in her life. We thought she would grow out of it but as time passed, we realized it wasn't getting better.
I had to cancel two of her therapy appointments in a row because I had been called to births. Today when I was able to finally get her there, I found out that I was still being charged for the appointments she missed. I cried.
It was a jolting reminder of the extra costs associated with living the #DOULALIFE
I had 3 clients due in all of December. Through some strange turn of events, I had 6 clients deliver within 2 weeks. I was there for each birth. The first couple of births kept me awake for 40 hours before I was able to climb into bed. I was not with either of them for a very long time. Another couple of those births kept me up close to 30 hours. Within that 2 week period, I was up straight once for 40 hours and once for 30 hours.
NONE of those six clients needed me for an extended period of time. This is just what is expected as a full-time professional doula. I'll do the same thing again over and over next year too.
I love what I do and I don't believe that you can be a doula if you don't love it. You'll figure out it's not sustainable and you'll drop off within 2-3 years (the average lifespan of a doula).
The quick burn out is proof that the system for sustainability is and has been flawed. Unfortunately, many of the old doula organizations (and old school doulas) condition those new doulas to think shitty business practices are actually expected IF they really care about women and birth. There is a lot of judgment and I'm over it.
I CONTINUE ON BECAUSE THE THOUGHT OF QUITTING BREAKS MY HEART.
I BELIEVE THAT AM CHOSEN TO DO THIS WORK.
In April of 2015, I trained with a new organization that makes sustainability a priority. I immediately started using ProDoula's contract which defined a period of time included in the service and anything over that period of time would be billed as overtime. For me, that period of time is currently 18 hours. For some it's 12 or 15. I have a doula friend in Ohio who states 16 hours because that's the longest shift that nurses are allowed to legally work in her area. Getting paid ovetime is not a new concept.
What happens if they go over that? Nothing changes as far as support. The doula at the birth might need to call in her partner if she needs to go to sleep for a while...maybe eat and shower. She'll need to pay that doula as well. She'll also need to sleep hard after the baby comes. If she has kids, she'll need a sitter for the following day because she'll be a zombie. She'll have added expenses for things like ordering food in. I've also gotten sick after being at births for extended periods of time. No sleep is very hard on your immune system which means you may end up missing another birth. There is a domino effect that can last for days or or longer. (This is also true for average births that happen overnight.) In the doula world we call this a "birth hangover." I'm not complaining, it's all part of the job but the point is, there ARE extra costs associated with long births. Those costs are immediate and not always accounted for when you are actually making a living as a doula.
STAY WITH ME...THIS PART IS IMPORTANT.
If you are a doula who boasts to potential clients about being at births for longer than 18-24-36 hours with no additional fee in order to land a contract, you might want to think about the power of those words. I don't ever want an client to need support for that long. I would never wish that on any family or any doula for that matter. As a client, I wouldn't want to be scared into hiring a doula.
AND as a doula, if YOU are with your clients longer than 12-18 hours other than on very isolated occasions, you need to reevaluate what you are doing. Oxytocin is the hormone that causes labor to progress and we know for a fact that women who are watched or feel waited on, have a harder time producing oxytocin and making progress. When you arrive too early in labor, it's highly possible that YOU are SLOWING her labor. So while you are including infinite hours in your contract, you may be the very reason she needs infinite hours of support.
I uplift my clients, I tell them they are very unlikely to need me for hours and hours and hours...and you know what? It's true. I believe in them and that gives them the confidence to trust themselves. They know when they really need support.
I don't want to plant a seed of fear with my words (or my contract). I want my clients to know that I have total faith that my service will give them everything they need and more. Maybe reading that contract allows them to believe that they won't ever need support longer than 18 hours because they know hardly anyone does. Maybe if they read a contract stating they'd have support for unlimited amounts of time, they will expect that they'll need you literally for days on end.
If you tell her being a good doula means you won't charge extra when her birth is 40 hours, you only have yourself to kick when it actually ends up being 40 hours. Your words have power.
1. Doulas are for natural birth (or home birth)
This is the most common misconception. I believe doulas are for ALL birth, ALL pregnancies, ALL families. Fort Worth Doulas serve families who are having babies. Period. It's our job to help you have the very best experience and let you know that you still have options and choices no matter how your baby is born. We know how to help you make the very best of your epidural or cesarean whether it's planned or unplanned. (And we will never judge you or make you feel guilty when an intervention is used. We respect you and value you.)
2. Doulas replace other support people.
Your partner/family know YOU best and we know BIRTH best. It is our goal to make your support people feel MORE involved in your birth. We want you to remember them. We would be horrified to think your partner felt replaced. We are there for your entire family, to help your birth run smoothly and to keep everyone involved and informed.
3. Doulas don't like working in hospitals.
In fact, 90% of births that Fort Worth Doulas attend are in hospitals. We love working in hospitals and will help you navigate the system like a pro.
4. Doulas are the same as midwives.
Midwives are trained medical professionals doulas are not. A midwife replaces an obstetrician. A midwife does NOT replace a doula. Midwives are in charge of monitoring you and your baby. If something is wrong, they will make decisions about your care. They do vaginal exams and 'catch' your baby. The focus of the midwife is ultimately to provide you and your baby with a safe delivery. Midwives are wonderful people and many of them also provide some emotional support but they have many other duties while attending a birth and may not be able to juggle delivery while providing for your physical, educational, and emotional needs.
5. Doulas are advocates.
This is a tricky one. SOME doulas act as advocates or activists but professional doulas do not. Clients may have a hard time understanding why this is important but professionally trained doulas really understand the difference. A doula cannot create a peaceful and supportive environment while she's protesting intervention or fighting for an ideal. See, doulas are not medically trained and should not challenge the medical advice given to you by your obstetrician or midwife. Doulas should not discourage you from following medical advice or cause you to distrust your team. We help you to communicate and understand what your options are at your birth and if you are truly dissatisfied with your provider, we can help you find a better fit. Our presence alone makes a statement to your care team that you CARE about your birth so they are usually much more open to your choices simply because we are there. Support means we don't have our own agenda. It means we want what you want. Our own opinions about birth will never trump yours. We will never be disappointed in you because it's not about us. And we don't need you to give birth according to any ideal. We will lift you up, support you and make you feel loved. That will empower you and give you SO.MUCH.STRENGTH. We want you to be happy with your experience.
6. If you can't afford a doula, you can get a "student" or "doula in training" for free.
There is no such thing as a doula in training or a student. Once you are trained as a doula, you are qualified and ready to support. Being a doula doesn't require a medical degree or a degree at all. Doula work requires compassion, empathy and intuition. She will already have the skills she needs prior to training, but the training helps her understand how to use them. It gives her tangible tools to use and fully prepares her for this job. A doula will either be able to support you or not, there is no in between. Her time is valuable. She has left her family (maybe in the middle of the night, on a holiday or special day) and doesn't know when she'll be back. She puts in the same amount of work whether your birth is her first or 500th. Unfortunately some doula training organizations have such little value for the doulas they train, they are told they should not value themselves. Pay your doula a living wage even if it's her first birth. Her confidence in her ability to support you will be reflected in her price point, and will carry over into your birth. You'll want someone who knows they are valuable. I do not believe that I am better than any other doula...but I do believe my time is valuable while other doulas do not.
7. Obstetricians don't like doulas.
Nonsense. OBs love us and we love them. We have many obstetricians who refer clients to us and we have amazing relationships with them. Working as a team creates the best possible birth for our clients.
8. Nurses don't like doulas.
See answer to number 7. We make the entire staff's job easier because communication is enhanced and our clients are more comfortable.
9. If you take a good birth class, you won't need a doula.
Having a doula for support has nothing to do with what you know. Our clients include many medical professionals who really know it all. We have been hired by doctors (including an obstetrician and pediatrician), physician's assistant, nurse practitioner, certified nurse anesthetist, neonatal nurses, RNs, chiropractors (who specialize in pregnancy). Doulas also hire doulas. Support is different than education and while both are important, one doesn't replace the other.
10. Every woman needs/deserves a doula.
There are many, many benefits to hiring a doula but those who say that everyone NEEDS or DESERVES a doula are implying that women are incapable of giving birth without us. They might have a savior complex and may want to attend your birth to vindicate or validate another bad experience. Doulas who say this will often attend births at deep discounts to the detriment of their families and their own physical, mental and emotional health. We wholeheartedly believe in what we do but will not fear monger you into believing you MUST hire a doula. However, we understand that some families who truly want support do have financial constraints. We will happily arrange payment plans for those clients. A normal pregnancy is 9-10 months long and most babies are born 2-3 years apart so we feel this is a great solution when you prioritize your professional doula support.
Thanks for reading!
Fort Worth Doula
Summer is here and I love the water. Beaches, pools, and being on the lake are my favorite places but swimming is killer on fingernail polish! When I was postpartum with a brand new baby, I learned to paint my own nails. Practicing has helped me become really good at it and using the right products makes all the difference in how long it lasts.
In between swimming sessions and surfing the internet for all things baby, take a swing at painting your nails. Start with a good base coat and two coats of a high quality polish. My favorite brand is Essie. Top it off with a thick coat of Seche Vite and you’ll be all set to go in 5-10 minutes of dry time.
My polish stays so much longer in the water and is great when you have a new baby you are caring for because it dries so fast. Painting your nails can also be a fun activity for family members. It could be so rewarding to include a grandmother or great-grandmother as you exchange memories of your own summer swim time as a child.
I’m not only good for childbirth education and figuring out how to get a crying baby to sleep, I’m also really good at painting my nails!
Fort Worth Doula
These are the sweet words from former student. She met with me one morning for coffee to discuss postpartum doula support. She took my hardcore natural birth class a couple of years ago. Nothing about her birth or postpartum went as planned and her views on birth and parenting have completely changed since her experience. Thankfully, so have mine.
I will keep my narrative of her experience to a minimum because it's her story to tell not mine.
She was a woman who did everything within her power to have the natural birth she desired. She followed every recommendation from her provider. She took the long natural birth class (mine) and she hired a doula.
She shared with me that her doula didn't seem attuned to her feelings. During her difficult labor, she seemed more focused on the outcome of the birth (natural and avoiding a cesarean) than anything else.
My student knows that I provide non-judgemental support and she wanted me as a doula. However, she had already commited to the other one and felt a sense of loyalty to her. (Though I secretly wished she hired me too, because I knew I could have served her best).
Long story short, she delivered her baby via cesarean section. To her surprise, it was the best part of her entire birth experience. The one thing she feared so much became an amazing and empowering experience for her.
She was able to do delayed cord clamping and skin to skin in the operating room. She was respected and listened to by her providers. They did everything within their power to attune to her needs as they changed over the course of the day.
Her focus has changed as she prepares for the birth of baby number two. It's changed to simply enjoying her birth...no matter how or when it happens. She's open to the flow and possible changes and is being proactive about having people around her who support HER.... not a single outcome.
Fort Worth Doulas and ProDoulas want what you want. We support you. We learn to adapt and attune to you in each moment, whether the plan stays the same or it changes. Our goal is to help you have a GOOD and positive birth and postpartum birth experience. There is no black and white definition for that. It's different for everyone and it often changes as things progress.
We offer non-judgemental support. We want to help you define what a good birth means to you.
No matter what kind of birth you plan to have, natural, epidural, cesarean, or anything inbetween, we are here to support you in each moment with compassion and understanding. We recognize that plans can change and promise to deliver support that you will feel amazing about.
Fort Worth Doula,
Fort Worth Child BEST doula 2014, 2015, & 2016
Having a doula isn't about a perfect birth...It's not about a certian type of birth. It's about having support, no matter what. We can't control the outcome but we can make it the most positive experience possible. We want to be there for you, especially when you don't know what to expect. Doulas are not just for natural or low risk births... we are for ALL births. Including cesarean birth. Contact Fort Worth Doulas to see how we can help you.
Fort Worth Doulas
Fort Worth Doulas take a hard stance on one thing. Support. We proudly support ALL families, ALL the time.
Share the love!!! Hire us to unconditionally love and support you and your amazing family today!!
Fort Worth Doulas,
Abbey and Megan
Best Doula in Fort Worth
Fort Worth Doula
The doula line of work is very interesting... and very different than what most people think.
We are in the business of support. We are basically making a living at loving people (which I love!) <3
From the outside looking in, the job of a doula is romanticized. People always say "That must be very rewarding." AND......... That's it.
Being a doula IS very rewarding. It's my dream job. It's my passion. It's amazing and beautiful work.
The vast majority of doulas don't support each other. Doulas will RIP each other apart for not agreeing on business practices or birth philosophy. They don't trust their clients to make decisions for themselves. They don't trust providers (OBs, nurses, hospital staff). They think they know the best way to birth, and will share that with you in a way that makes you feel "wrong" for making any other decision.
Many doulas have no interest in serving a client who chooses an epidural...or a doctor she doesn't like... or a hospital she doesn't like... or a hospital at all... or someone who chooses an induction or a c/section... and on and on and on.
I LOVE natural birth... when it's my client's choice and she is empowered by that choice.
I LOVE working in birth centers with midwives... When my client is 100% empowered by that choice.
I LOVE working with OBs, with clients planning epidurals, or c/sections, or induction, or ALL the interventions WHEN IT's HER CHOICE and she is EMPOWERED by those choices... because it makes her feel SAFE and SATISFIED with her experience.
IT's not for me to say what should and should not make a woman feel safe at HER birth.
I have seen MAGIC at natural births, planned epidural births, and c/sections alike. I have seen women BEAMING and ECSTATIC, in tears with gratitude at ALL types of births.
There's this thing that doulas do... They sit around and talk trash about providers...and hospitals. They get stuck on things that are not 100% perfect and that has a major effect on the ability for things to change for the better.
I will not participate in bashing a client's doctor or midwife. I will ALWAYS encourage my client to go and talk to their provider about their concerns...and be there to listen and help them know how to come up with a solution. I will meet my client where they are and not push them to do something or go somewhere they are not 100% comfortable with.
Trusting your provider is crucial to having a satisfying birth experience.... But those are the dirty words.
"Trust your provider" is not something many doulas are accustomed to.
You know what else is dirty in the doula world? Trusting your client to make the decisions that are right for her and her family. REALLY trusting her... in a non-judgemental way. Support shouldn't be conditional...but it so often is.
Not in my doula world. I can walk into any environment with absolute confidence that I can find something positive and peaceful....and support the family I am there for.
I LIKE working with doctors, midwives, in hospitals, at home and at birth locations. I like having faith in those around me. I have mad respect for Obstetricians and CNMs, L & D nurses and CPMs who communicate and collaborate and work with my clients to have the best care possible for them.
If a client doesn't trust her provider, I help her find someone she does trust... then we will all work together to give her the best birth possible for HER. But I will not plant fear, distrust, or hostility. I will not fuel a negative relationship between a client and her team. This I promise.
Fort Worth Doula
I posted the thread below in some doula forums on facebook and quickly have gotten over 600 likes. Apparently, this is an important issue as I was asked to put it in a format that can be shared. Here's the post:
"I officially let the past die today.
16 years ago I had a very bad experience with an obstetrician during my own labor and delivery. It was an absolute nightmare.
I always knew that one day I would cross his path.
I didn't know what I would say but I knew it would be good. I had SO much to say. I went over different scenarios in my head a million times in 16 years.
I worked with that OB today. He hasn't change much...
But I have.
I worked with him as a professional. I served my client. I respected him. I fostered a team for her, with him.
By the time she delivered (after 17 hours), he thanked me several times for being so helpful during my client's labor and delivery. There were things I didn't like... but I never showed it. I stayed attuned to my client and completely professional and positive.
I smiled and thanked him in return....
And it felt damn good. Much better than digging up a past that no longer defines me.
#alwaysmovingforward #doularevolution #dontbringbaggage#professionalism"
The thing about letting go of the past is that you can't really write about it because then you aren't really letting go...
I am not going to rehash every detail of my birth story or speak poorly of any obstetricians.
I will say that my daughter's birth in 1999 shaped some of the local misconceptions about doulas to this very day, 16 1/2 years later.
The honest truth is, ACOG had just changed their VBAC guidelines and the OB wasn't happy about having to stay at the hospital for my entire labor...which was shaping up to be a very long OP birth. I was not a compliant patient. I was stubborn and I thought I knew everything and I was refusing everything. I can truly understand now why this OB was frustrated. I'm not excusing the way I was treated, but I have a different vantage point now.
No one understands how truly profound it was for me to work with this specific obstetrician except the doula who supported me through that very long day. I spoke to her this morning and she was beyond words she was so proud of me. She said it there would be no better news all year.
What I want you all to know, it wasn't hard. I truly am a professional... I have transformed my life and I no longer hold onto anything that happened that day. I have so much respect for Obstetricians... AS well as my clients. It doesn't serve ANYONE to walk into a labor and delivery with a chip on my shoulder. I will continue to take one day and one birth at a time. I will support my clients to the best of my abililty and will not bring my own baggage into a birth.
Thank you for reading!
Fort Worth Doula
Facebook- Fort Worth Doulas or Doula.Abbey
Instagram- Fort Worth Doula
I had the honor of attending a meeting about vaginas last week. It was hosted by North Dallas Doula Associates. Our speaker was Shirley Jefferson, a certified sexologist and experienced sexual health educator. She is a DONA trained birth doula with North Dallas Doula Associates and serves clients in DFW as a couples sex coach.
There were nearly 20 women who got together to enjoy some wine and cheese and learn about our bodies. We indulged in cupcakes made to look like vulvas. We made nametags with our alter egos. The names that women came up with were so much fun. We giggled and talked and asked lots of questions. Many of those women were doulas and there were a few L&D nurses and a certified Nurse Midwife. No one got a perfect score on the vagina IQ test... and every single one of use learned something new. Shirley reminded us that nurses are experts in pathology and she is an expert in pleasure.
Our bodies are amazing... and it was sad to hear many of the women saying they felt sex was more of a duty than a truly pleasurable experience. There are so many ways that we can lose ourselves as women. With the many changes in our bodies and hormones...mental state, when we experience pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, weight gain, weight loss, aging... the social stigma of being a woman and espeically a mother who *GASP* enjoys sex!!
We need to know what our bodies are capable of...and find a way to truly embrace and enjoy it!!! We need to give ourselves permission and the freedom to claim what belongs to us and not be embarrassed or ashamed. We need more nights of sharing and opening up to each other. More times when we are not afraid to ask questions.
I cannot wait for the next meeting in this series!! I hope to see you there!!
Get in touch with North Dallas Doula Associates for information on more meetings like this.
And if you are on the Fort Worth side and need a doula, let me know! I'm here for you. <3
Fort Worth Doula
I have been a doula for 14 years. Of those 14 years, I was only certified for 2 (from 2002-2004)... Until this past April when I decided to certify with ProDoula.
I have served hundreds of families and have hundreds of very happy clients.
Of those hundreds of clients and additional hundreds of consultations I have gone to, less than five percent of those famlies have ever asked if I am certified.
For many years, I didn't think that being certified was important because no one ever asked... and after all, it's just a piece of paper, right? I've done this 14 years, I'm not going to 'learn' anything from an organization.
It was. I was only ever a peice of paper to me...until I certified with ProDoula.
I had an awkward situation with a client recently whom for reasons unknown to me decided not to complete a contract. She paid my full fee and used me for delivery and was very, very happy with the service she recieved. When I called her to set up her other visits, she declined.
I called Randy Patterson, one of the owners of ProDoula.... I told her about the client and the situation and what I did about it and even though it was a little uncomfortable for me to talk to her about, she smiled on the other end of the line and told me to write a blog post about it.
She was proud of me because what I decided to do in the end was sit down, write a thank you note to my client and ask her to contact ProDoula and let them know if there was anything I could have done differently for her. I supplied a phone number and mailing address for ProDoula for any grievances or complaints.
I had ABSOLUTE confidence that ProDoula would handle anything she brought to them with absolute professionalism. I had ABSOLUTE confidence that ProDoula would communicate with me and help me be the best doula I could possibly be. I have ABSOLUTE confidence that I am providing the most professional service possible because I have an extra layer of accountability for my actions through my certifying organization.
It felt really good to have that ability to give a resource to my client (who may or may not have been happy with my service) the ability to have the closure she needed without having to confront me personally.
Giving families I serve the ability to communicate with ProDoula directly about me is incredibly freeing for me and just as liberating for them. I am proud that I am a part of ProDoula. I am proud to be certified. I am here to say that my certification with ProDoula is more than a piece of paper. It's professionalism and accountability.
I will ALWAYS choose to be certified with ProDoula. It's important to me and even if my clients never realize it, it's important for them.
I'm so proud to be a part of this amazing organization. <3
Fort Worth Doula
My first experience with Harris Fort Worth was October 29, 1996. I was 19 years old and pregnant with my first baby. She decided to stop moving that day and I noticed. I arrived about 10 pm with plans to be placed on the monitors for 20 minutes then go home. 20 minutes turned into 7 hours, an emergency ultrasound and ultimately an emergency c/section for non-reassuring fetal heart tones and fetal distress. I was a mess. I was swollen and exhausted and terrified.
The care I received back then was outstanding. Every single person I came into contact with was kind, empathetic, and genuine. Harris is also where I fell in love with midwifery care. In 1996, they had a group of CNMs called the "Harris Midwives". Nancy Jo Reedy sat with me and held my hand as I tried not to pass out from the vials of blood were drawn from my arm. It meant far more than I think anyone could ever know. The following morning, about 5 am, I learned that Emma would need to be born via c/section and my only reassurance was that Nancy was with me throughout.
Emma stayed in NICU for 5 days. I was given everything I needed to pump for her and provided a wheelchair so I could go to the NICU anytime I wanted to see her.
As awful as my experience with my birth was, and scary, the hospital itself was outstanding. The staff was outstanding.
That hasn't changed today. I have worked at Harris downtown more than any other hospital in the metroplex and I LOVE it!!!
I get to work with the UNT midwives a lot but also quite a lot of the obstetricians there.
They go above and beyond to help families have the births they want. The UNT midwives have use of a wonderful waterbirth tub and will do everything they can to help you have a natural birth if that's what you choose. Of course, medication is available to you if you want that as well.
The approach to cesarean has changed and most providers have moved towards a family centered model. I have had the honor of attending a good handful of surgical births and we have been able to have skin-to-skin and an extra person in the operating room.
It truly is a great place to have a baby.
I have saved the best for last. The nurses at Harris downtown are the most amazing, supporting, caring, accommodating nursing staff you will find in Tarrant County. I LOOOOOOVE the nurses and cannot say enough about them. I'm always greeted with hugs and kind words.
Bravo Harris Fort Worth!!! I wish every hospital did what you did, offered what you offer, and had the commitment to families that you have. I am truly excited to be a part of what you are doing in my community. Happy Birthday to us!! I hope we have many more!!
If you are planning a delivery at Harris Fort Worth, give me a call at 817-343-7545 to find out how I can help you make the best of your experience! Or fill out the contact form and set an appoinment.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you,
Abbey Robinson ProDoula CD-Labor
My mind is filled with thoughts of overwhelming love yet I'm doubled over with doubt
Insecurity swirls through my head as I look at the perfect family photos all around me
I'm told I'll know what to do, but what if I don't?
People keep saying it will change me,
They say "oh, just wait...."
As if I can do anything but.
No one really says HOW it changes things...just that it does
So much advice
So many different philosophies
I want to do the right thing
At times I feel I've prepared so much and at times I feel I'll never be ready
I feel like no matter what I do or where I turn, I'm being pelted with advice
My head may explode if I have to reasearch one more thing.......
I don't know what I want anymore
Everyone has something to say, but no one is asking me what I want
No one seems to be listening to me
When is it my turn to talk?
To say what I want for my own family,
My own child?
Please, let me speak!
Listen to me
I've bottled up a lot
I need a turn
I'm not asking for answers
I don't want advice
I JUST WANT TO BE HEARD
I just want to be heard
The greatest gift is to hear what I say, to just be in the moment with me, to feel what I feel.
I need validation
I need reassurance
I need to know I'm not alone
Walk with me, beside me, hear me talk, feel my heart and breath
Help me to find MY own way and
What feels good to ME
What's right for MY baby
and works for MY life
Help me be the best parent I can be by simply listening to me
Fort Worth Doulas are specialists at providing non-judgemental support throughout pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. We are experts at listening (and lots of other things.) <3
1. Timing of contractions is not usually as important as how they make you feel.
The first thing couples do is get out the contraction timer and become so focused on timing contractions that they seem worse than they are. Put the timer down and listen to your body. Find something to distract yourself instead of hyperfocusing on the timing. Get a quick feel for the time between but then move on. I've seen women with contractions 2-3 minutes apart for 24 hours and women who were having contractions 10 minutes apart with a baby 90 minutes later. Usually contractions that bring a baby last over 60 seconds long. Wait for contractions that cause you to vocalize... Like a tea kettle building so much pressure that it whistles when it lets off steam.
2. Don't go to the hospital too early.
Women need to be in a well established labor pattern or 'active labor' before heading in. There are several reasons for this. One is that the change of environment and adrenaline release can slow or even stop labor. Secondly, being in the hospital longer can increase the number of interventions because your body doesn't operate the same way in a hospital environment as it does in your own home. Your sphincter muscles are more relaxed at home.... You don't feel like you have an audience so you will most likely progress faster in early labor in your own space. If you need a nap, your bed will be more comfortable than the hospital bed.
3. Eat FOOD before you go in.
First of all, you may be labor longer than you expect. There are quite a few providers who are comfortable with light snacking in labor, but there are many who are not. Going on an empty stomach can cause low blood sugar, which can make your baby appear sleepy. Your body needs calories, your uterus is working very hard. Your baby needs calories, your baby is working very hard.
4. Don't lie down for the 20 minute strip!
Providers like to see a reactive heartrate on baby as soon as you are admitted. No matter how amazing the nurses are, they will always lay the head of the bed down in a reclined position and ask you to lie down while they monitor baby. It's truly the most painful position to be in and I often find clients clinging to the rail just trying to "get through" this period. Those hospital beds are made to move, experiment with the head and foot functions and sit up... Or get on your hands and knees...or Stand next to the bed... Or sit on a birth ball while being monitored. The nurses don't care what position you are in, as long as they get the assessment they need but you need to be proactive about it.
5. Drink lots of liquids
Most providers are supportive of a saline lock (the IV without the tube feeding you fluid) so you need to be responsible for staying hydrated. Dehydration can cause short, painful contractions that don't do much to change the cervix. Hydration is critical. Women may choose to drink water, coconut water, broth or juice. You can also ask the nurse to order you a "clear tray" with things like broth and jello, etc. They will usually bring in a popsicle too! Ice chips alone don't usually suffice. If that's all your provider allows, think about hooking up the IV when they are monitoring baby's heartrate or when you are near the bed, then unhooking when you want to move more. And don't be afraid to ask for some IV fluids if you are nauseous or unable to drink. Your bladder needs to be filled and emptied frequently, it helps your baby to move down.
6. MOVE your body
I think it's a huge mistake for women to just lie in the bed during labor. There is a great position for lying down. Spinning babies calls it the "rest smart" position. Doulas call it any number of things...from The running man to the rotisserie. It's a productive labor position and encourages baby to rotate downward but lying on your back or writhing around side to side is usually not good for comfort or productivity. Once your labor is active, change positions every 5-6 contractions. Move your hips, sway and dance. Go from hands and knees, to standing, to sitting on a ball, to the toilet and back again. STRETCH your body.... Extend your shoulders, reach up and rock your hips, hang loose and open.
7. Make noise
I think that women are afraid to make too much sound in hospitals because...well, You have neighbors. But don't be afraid to make the sounds that come natural to you. Women in labor almost always make universal sounds. Once you've seen a couple hundred natural births, you know those noises... And it makes me so happy when I see a woman finding that natural rhythm and vocalizing with contractions. There is a certain sound for transition, when labor is coming to an end and pushing is soon to start. Don't fear those sounds, invite them in and roll with it.
8. The staff is there to help you, not sabotage you.
Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. If you need water, extra pillows, wash cloths, a blanket...socks Even. I've never met a nurse who doesn't want to help. They want to be useful, they want you to have a good birth. Go in with an attitude that you will have a supportive nurse, call her by her name and let her know that you would love for her to help you. Nurses ask what your pain level is because it's their job, many hospitals require them to. They may offer an epidural because they want you to be comfortable. everyone has a different idea for their ideal birth and many women want the meds...so If you don't, simply communicate that.
9. Use B.R.A.I.N.
Don't assume that just because something is suggested, you have no choice. Talk through your options. Ask:
Benefit-What is the benefit of this procedure?
Risk-What is the risk of this procedure?
Alternatives-What are the alternatives?
Intuition-What does your intuition tell you?
Nothing-What if you do nothing? (or wait an hour, two hours)
Don't be afraid to communicate and be informed.
10. Be open to the flow of your own unique birth
Most often, it's the couples who have an idea and a goal about what they want but who are open to what is needed in the moment who do best and are most satisfied with their birth. Don't get fixated on avoiding every single intervention no matter what it costs. Be open to what is needed at the time while honoring your own journey. Interventions can be hazardous when used routinely...but There are plenty of times that I have seen a much needed intervention...something That the couple initially wanted to avoid but helped labor and birth tremendously. Don't compare your birth to anyone elses. Only you can decide what is right for you and sometimes that changes dramatically in the moment. Be forgiving of yourself if your birth goes differently than expected. Find the good in honoring it as uniquely yours.
~Fort Worth Doula
Abbey Robinson, ProDoula CD-Labor
I love children's books! When asked what my top reads were, I came up with:
Good Night Moon
Where the Wild Things Are
Horton Hears a Who
The Giving Tree
Where the Sidwalk Ends
I've read each of these over and over again as a child and to my own children. I hope you get to read them as well.
If you have a favorite child's book, please share!!
~Fort Worth Doula
About 14 years ago when I had to put my 2 year old daughter in childcare, I remember touring a Montessori school and seeing how different these children were. I remember them working quietly and independently...doing things like pouring water neatly, alone. I didn't understand why or how they were 'behaving' so well but I do remember that it stood out in my mind as something completely different from the childcare I would have to choose because of cost. Montessori was much more expensive than the other options...and now I understand why.
Montessori education IS completely different than any other type of education. It respects the child like no other, giving them the liberty to do the work that they find important. It emphasises movement and language as the basis to all other learning. Montessori education begins in infancy. The teachers or guides in Montessori classrooms go through extensive training and education. These are not 'daycare' teachers. The full program takes years to complete and I can only imagine how difficult it is after experiencing just 2 weeks. I am only certified as an assistant, not a guide.
I want to clarify that when we use the word "education" in Montessori, it's not us teaching the child...it's the child teaching himself. It's the child's mind constructing their personality... and Dr. Montessori believed that it happened from birth. This is the power of the sensitive mind of the child. In the book, The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori, she says "There are many who hold, as I do, that the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man's intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed." (ch. 3, pg. 21)
There were many many discussions in this training that resonated with me as a doula, as a caretaker, as a supporter of women. Montessori education never judges the child. We don't have expectations for what the child "should" be learning. We simply observe the child and remove obstacles that would keep them from reaching their full potential. Then we give the child the liberty to do the work that they feel is important even if it doesn't make 'sense' to the guide. I see it the same way for the women I support.
When women come to a doula for labor support, she needs just that. She doesn't need us to analyze what she wants and why she wants it. It's simply my job to support her and to help her have the environment that is optimal for her own desires and goals. When you have a client who is open to the possibilities and just let her find her own strength while you gently support...THAT's when amazing things happen!!
Dr. Montessori also talked about birth and the newborn that I'm going to save for another post. There was so much information crammed into this two week training that I can't even begin to scratch the surface of what I learned.
My certification does qualify me to work in a Montessori classroom for ages 0-3 as an assistant, but don't worry, that's not my goal for now. I just wanted to have something tangible for me to hold onto to add to my postpartum services. I feel like I learned way more than I expected and that's always pleasant for me. I love learning and adding to my list of services.
If you are interested in learing more about Maria Montessori, here is a link to a documentary about her and her legacy. I found it incredibly interesting and inspiring. She was an absolutely amazing woman and humanitarian. She wanted world peace and believed that children were the key. After experiencing this taste of Montessori education, I have to agree wholeheartedly.
Consider this my PSA for now. I support women and families in whatever way they need and want through the birth and postpartum period.
ALL WOMEN, ALL FAMILIES, ALL CHOICES, ALL BIRTHS.
I'm taking an intense Montessori training, and that's a different post for a different day, but if you know anything about Montessori education, you know that the children reach their full potential when they are simply supported in the right environment. I have already seen so many correlations in this training to what I am already doing with birthing women.
YOU are most successful when you don't feel pressured from anyone to birth in any certain way...when YOU know your goals and are given the tools and the environment to achieve them.
YOU know how to give birth and deserve to do it on your terms, in your own unique way. WHATEVER that means to you.
Being supported in birth is not about an ideal, it's YOUR journey. NO matter what occurs, you should have loving, NON-JUDGEMENTAL support throughout the entire process.
YOU are the only person who can define what YOUR ideal is. No one should do that for you. And whoever you choose to be a part of that journey should have the wisdom and insight to allow YOU to make your own choices and decisions in that process.
As a doula, I support you in a gentle, loving, accepting way. I know that you will have YOUR best birth, I don't need to bring in my own ideals or agenda.
When I encounter people who don't understand the role of a doula, they automatically think that MY goal for my clients is natural birth...or that's all I attend. My goal for my clients is to support their birth, however they want and need...and that's the end of the story.
I give AMAZING NATURAL BIRTH support.
I give AMAZING EPIDURAL BIRTH support.
I give AMAZING CESAREAN BIRTH support.
I give AMAZING SUPPORT to every client, no matter where or how they give birth.
And when plans change, I STILL give AMAZING support...
I want YOU satisfied with your birth. I will never judge you. End of story.
Much love to you and yours from Fort Worth, Texas. Let me know how I can help you have the birth you want. ~Abbey Robinson, CD Labor-ProDoula
Last week I moved into a lovely new apartment. I love my apartment. I am so excited to be here.
Yesterday, I got up to fix coffee and take the girls swimming before the guy came to set up the internet and phone. My 5 year old was excited and she jumped a few times.
A few minutes later there was a knock on the door. It was the downstairs neighbor.
SIX days. Six days we've lived here and I am already bothering the downstairs neighbor. SIX days. I could have been nicer. I could have been more apologetic. I was just so shocked and sad that we were already too loud after being here such a short period of time.
Maybe an hour later, I recieved a phone call from the apartment manager about the noise complaint. WHAT? Now I'm just angry. Why would the neighbor come talk to me AND file a complaint with the office. I tried to explain that my 5 year old had been spoken to numerous times about neighbors and keeping it down but she's 5. I was distraught. The manager wasn't nice. She lectured me about 'dropping things' and how in my lease agreement, people have the right to a peaceful environment. Jaw dropped.
Instead of being defensive, angry, hurt, and making assumptions...and making enemies, I decided to bring her a peace offering. My 5 year old picked out some cupcakes and a candle, flowers and a card. My 9 year old wrote a letter and they both signed it. I wrote how sorry we were that we were loud and that we would try to do better.
When we delivered the gift bag... Our neighbor was almost moved to tears. We had a heartfelt conversation and she apologized profusely for causing us stress.
It turns out, she never filed a complaint. She simply made a "harmless" post on facebook and the apartment manager saw it (they are friends) and took it upon herself to call me.
This brings up an entirely new issue with the management telling me a complaint was filed when it wasn't...but the neighbor is kind and sweet and we have a great relationship where it could have been very very bad.
She wrote a handwritten card to me, further apologizing, and brought the girls a bag of crafts and glowsticks and fun things. They immediately ran down to thank her. Now I'm thankful she is my neighbor.
I currently have a situation in my professional life very similar to this... a story is being shared about me that isn't true, only I have never been given the opportunity to have that face-to-face conversation and clear up the assumptions and misconceptions. It's amazing what a kind gesture can do... a little grace. An open heart and sincerity.
Abbey Robinson, ProDoula CD-Labor
Here it is. (it's not actually a class, just this blog post...It's also meant to be funny. ;) )
1. Birth is the hardest thing you will ever do times 1000. If you want to have a natural birth, have a plan... Plan to get some sleep early on in your labor, no matter what it takes. First babies are often the longest and most difficult labor you will have. (And by long, I mean, contractions can literally last DAYS... and that's NORMAL)
2. Sometimes birth is really long (and seems even longer).
3. Birth can feel like it's taking forever.
4. Typically, the first birth takes the longest, and is the most difficult labor.
5. When you hear about a "normal" or "average" labor being 12-18 hours.... That doesn't mean from the time contractions start.... That means 12-18 hours after "ACTIVE" labor is established. ACOG recently change the definition of active labor to 6 cm, rather than 4....because we all know... it can take DAYS of contractions to get to 6....then it tends to move faster...and by faster, it can still be hours and hours before your baby is born.
6. When you are having contractions that are more than 5 minutes apart... going about your business is usually the best thing you can do for yourself... distract yourself instead of sitting still and timing contractions. (That will make them seem SO much worse)
7. Labor takes a long time.
8. It's more than just dilation (going from 0-10 cm). Birth can't happen until, you your cervix is dilated to 10 cm, effaced (thinned) to 100%, it's moved from posterior to anterior (pointing to your back and then to the front), baby has moved down into the pelvis, from -3 station to +3 station (0 is right in the middle of the pelvis) and baby rotates the head to navigate through the pelvis. EACH change means progress. Sometimes one thing needs to happen BEFORE the cervix dilates anymore. That can take time (especially for a first baby).
9. Plan for your labor to be long. Get a survival kit... food, water, juice, coconunt water, netflix, sleep, repeat, food, water, some activity... have some lunch, go to dinner for the last time before you have a newborn to take care of. Take a walk in the park (or the mall). Visit friends (the kind that won't freak out when you stop to breathe).
10. If this is not your first baby, it's highly possible that your next labor could be faster... Not always, but most of the time. Your body has memory so pay attention to when things get intense....It may kick into overdrive faster than you think. In my experience, second babies like to fly out the fastest.
Abbey Robinson, ProDoula CD-Labor
You met with me when your baby was the size of a jelly bean. You found me through a local moms group from another client I served. You could barely contain your excitement when we met and you hired me on the spot.
I listened to you, your wants, your needs, your desires. I heard you. You asked for information and I gently guided you towards the provider of your dreams. We emailed several times a week. You asked and I answered. I never judged, just listened and affirmed when you found the answers.
You grew from being scared, afraid, insecure, untrusting, crippled by your lack of choices.... to a whole new world of possibilities you never knew existed. You began to feel confident and secure. Self-assured and proud to choose! You became educated and the owner of your own course!
Even though things were never perfect, you had disappointments and unexpected bumps in the road. Your baby grew and thrived and your belly swelled with life. We waited and were patient... I listened... I understood... I felt compassion and understanding for you and your journey. I respected your choices and supported you and everything you felt good and right about.
I was simply there for you.
YOU did it. YOU birthed your baby... YOU never NEEDED me but I was there for you at your weakest moment, the most vulnerable you've ever been. When you thought you couldn't, I knew you could.... and you DID!!!
Thank you for allowing me to see you grow. From a woman to a mother. What an incredible journey. Now you are his mother. His life. I feel such appreciation that you trusted me to love and support you through this beautiful transformation. That you trusted me to care for you when you couldn't care for yourself.
It's bittersweet that our last meeting is over. I will miss our emails and exchanges and seeing your amazing transformation but my work is done as yours has begun. Enjoy your new role!!! You are MOTHER, what a beautiful thing. <3 <3 <3
As I finished up a postpartum this morning and headed out the door to another continuing education workshop, my client said "Wow, you go go to a lot of those." I agreed.
And I thought about it...
And I responded "Not all doulas do."
This is my career. I take pride in what I do and and take every opportunity to learn and grow. I LOVE going to workshops, conferences, classes and events. I LOVE being a current point of reference for my clients. I have years of education and training that allows me to make a profession out of being a doula. It's much more than a hobby for me. I am committed to putting out the highest quality service with confidence.
Part of my fee goes directly to developing my skill-set and furthering my education...and a ton to running my business, that is VERY important to me.... which makes each and every one of my client's satisfaction vital.
Unlike medical personnel, doulas don't have any licensing, no requirements for using the title they do. We live in a world where there is zero regulation or accountability for doulas. There are "doulas" who simply wake up one day and call themselves doulas. There are several dozen certifying organizations that may not even require an in-person workshop or require a single birth before issuing a certification. Sometimes it's a matter of answering some questions online. I can't tell you how many free or 'low cost' doulas I have seen let their clients down. I've been doing this for over 14 years.
When you hire me as your doula, you gain my expertise, my education, my training... You owe it to yourself to take advantage of this care customized for you. Hiring a professional doula saves you needless worry and allows you to put your mind at ease. Your satisfaction is my absolute goal!!
Abbey is a birth and postpartum doula and placenta specialist in Dallas/Fort Worth and a mom to 4 children between the ages of 22 and 8.