Doula 2 Doula - Why I Don't Offer In-Home Consults

I've had potential clients get miffed from time to time over me not offering in-home consultations. Sometimes they've even compared my practice to other local doulas who do offer in-home consultations.

I get it, it's more convenient to the potential client, especially if they have children. It's more private, intimate, etc...

But let's talk about the other side of things.

As a human, and a female human, I would like to think the best of people. But there's no denying that we live in times where we need to be considerate of our safety. If I were to meet a complete stranger in their home without any prior knowledge except an email and possibly a phone call, I have no idea what I am walking into.

There are a number of stories in the birthing community of doulas who found themselves in scary, and even dangerous, situations because they trusted the strangers that they were going to meet. In one, the woman backed out last minute and said 'go ahead and meet with my husband at our home, I have to go to an appointment.' (this was when the doula was literally on the front step knocking on the door). In another, someone blocked her ability to leave the home when she had to leave for another appointment. In yet another, the home was abandoned and a car pulled up to block her leaving the driveway, but then her husband (who happened to be with her for that day) stepped out of their car and the other vehicle drove off.

So please know, potential client, it isn't because I think badly of you. It's because I am thinking safety for all when I say 'let's meet here'. And doula to doula - staying safe in our field isn't difficult with simple boundaries and safe business practices.


The Empowering Cesarean

Empowerment - making one stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.

Let's get one thing straight from the start - noone can empower another person when it comes to the humanistic experience of empowerment. Empowerment is, by definition, one finding ones own strength. So, I cannot empower you... but, you making a choice that feels good and resonates within you can be empowering to you. It is your power of making that choice that feels good. 

I am a huge advocate of low intervention, no pain medication birth. In healthy and low risk birth, less intervention (medications, tools, equipment, etc..) means less inherent risk. But just because I believe in that truth does not mean that it is going to be true for every birthing journey. Every birthing journey doesn't stay healthy and low risk, not every birthing journey couldn't benefit from weighing the pros and cons of an intervention and erring on the side of the intervention. So, that is where we start.

Women can have very empowering births in whatever way that they birth. My years as a birth worker have taught me that truth. The number one deciding factor that makes or breaks the case for a woman's fulfillment of a birth experience and decreases her chances of seeing it as a trauma is choice. When a woman is provided with choices, and is given the space to be a partner in her healthcare and birth planning, she is able to look forward to her birthing time with joy and not fear, fulfillment and not trauma.

If you find yourself planning for an upcoming cesarean, here are some options that are specific to you:
 In addition, you can talk with your provider about using a clear drape or a drape with a window in it, see if your hospital offers the TAP block for post-operative pain management, and talk with them about having a photographer in the OR with you to document those first moments.

Knowing your options, and finding a provider who will have an open dialog about these options, helps to ensure a happy and healthy mom in all birth experiences. 


Continuing Education

To her faithful readers, friends, and clients -

Hi there, this is a letter from a friend of Cole's. She was my doula a number of years ago and she is now on her way to becoming a midwife. As she continues this journey, she has a number of opportunities to continue her education and keep her skills up to date. There are two opportunities that she would like to be able to take advantage of in 2016, but I also know it is virtually impossible with the cost of midwifery training. And that's why I'm writing this letter.

Cole has said, in conversation, that she would love to go to the Association of Texas Midwives Conference this year. This conference will be an evening and two full days of lectures and hands-on learning for the midwife and midwife student, specific to the state of Texas. The dates are May 5, 6, and 7, 2016. The total cost for the Conference is $420 for a double occupancy room.

The other continuing education opportunity that she has is the Farm Midwife Assistant Workshop. The Midwife Assistant workshop that she would like to attend is either August workshop dates: Aug. 7-13 or Aug. 28-Sept. 3. The 6-day workshop is very intensive and integrative. This workshop will fulfill many of the requirements of her midwifery module training through Via Vita School of Midwifery. The total cost for the workshop is $1,345. This includes her meals and her materials. She already has the book and a place to stay.

If you think that you can help fund her in any way, simply click on the PayPal button on the side bar that says "Want to Help A Midwife Apprentice?" with the amount you would like to donate and a note in the donation 'for the ATM conference' or 'Assistant Workshop'. If she doesn't raise the entire amount for the ones denoted, she'll refund it.

So, if you've ever wanted to help give back to your community, this is a tangible way to do so. To see more about her, or to read about her vision as a birth worker, check out her website, http://www.houstondoulas.org/ .


A. Gentry


Judgmental Doulas

Recently I've been noticing a theme in the doula community. The majority of doula websites state they provide "unbiased and judgment-free" doula support. Now that sounds marvelous, and I've never batted an eyelash at it.. until a recent discussion got me thinking...

I would love a doula who's unbiased, but I sure hope my doula has judgment. 

I'm going to start by saying that I bet 99.9% of the doulas who have this on their website agree with everything in this post, and never meant anything by their statement. But let's break it down (because we all know I love definitions and semantics). 

There are different types of judgement. There's good judgement and bad judgement. Positive judgement and negative judgement. 

Positive Judgement
"the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. synonyms: discernment, acumen, shrewdness, astuteness, sense, common sense, perception, perspicacity, percipience, acuity, discrimination, reckoning, wisdom, wit, judiciousness, prudence, canniness, sharpness, sharp-wittedness, powers of reasoning, reason, logic;"
Negative Judgement
"having or displaying an excessively critical point of view. "I don't like to sound judgmental, but it was a big mistake" synonyms: critical, censorious, condemnatory, disapproving, disparaging,"
Here's a little secret: No doula is non-judgmental. And I'd hope you'd want a judgmental doula too. 

I'd hope you'd want a doula who makes choices for our own business practices that show discernment, wisdom, prudence, and sense. I'd hope you'd want a doula who makes choices in the way that we serve the women we've been entrusted to attend that show discernment, wisdom, prudence, and sense.

I equally hope you wouldn't want a doula who was a Wesley - (think Princess Bride), one who simply said yes to everything, because then you'd miss out on the educational portion of doula work - the options and choices and personal experiences and head space of doula work. Doulas should give non-biased resources and education to their clients so that they feel good and positive about their choices, whether they go 'according to plan' or not, and no matter what those choices are. As I have said time and time again, how can we hope to make mothers out of women when we treat them like children

And then, on the other side of the coin, I would hope (for all doulas) that none of us would be judgmental in the fact we make choices for our own business practices or ways we serve women that are excessively critical, condemning, disapproving, disparaging, or censorious... to their clients, their clients choices, or their peers.

It would do us well to remember the difference between good and bad judgement, and bias; I hope none of us provide biased support, but I hope we all show good judgement. So let's be doulas who use wisdom, prudence, sense, logic, reason, astuteness, and perception to benefit our clients through education, resources, support, and community. 


Aromatherapy and Herbal Remedies - Book Review

Herbal treatments and aromatherapy are valuable, time-proven, natural approaches to a healthy and more comfortable pregnancy and birth as well as a successful breastfeeding experience. Herbalist, instructor, and midwife Demetria Clark explains everything a woman needs to know about using herbs and essential oils during this important time of life.
Demetria Clark has written a beautiful and educational resource; Aromatherapy and Herbal Remedies is both insightful and useful. When I first began reading it, I had the bias that it would be something of a resource for myself, as a birth worker, but difficult to encourage my clients to read. I was wrong.

I have already recommended this book to three clients and will continue to do so as the wealth of information and read-friendliness of Aromatherapy and Herbal Remedies is sure to make this a regular on bookshelves across America. Her book is broken down into aromatherapy for pregnancy, labor and birth, and breastfeeding, and remedies for pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum/breastfeeding. She also includes an introduction to herbs, aromatherapy, and information on how to grow, harvest, and prepare your own ingredients.

She has a concise list of herbs and essential oils, as well as their uses and contraindications. Additionally, she provides a substantial section on recipes for everything from teas to poultices, and diffusing blends to massage oils/salves. I'm excited to refer to this book time and time again and have no doubt it will become a staple on many birth workers book shelves.


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