Answers to very general questions about Doulas can be found on my Doula FAQ page HERE.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: Before you decide if I'm the right Doula for you, I prefer that we set-up an Initial Interview, which is a free meeting. This Initial Interview is usually held in pressure-free environments, such as Starbucks, or Panera. The Initial Interview is intended to be a relaxed get-together, allowing us to become better acquainted with each other.
BEFORE OUTLINING MY STANDARD SERVICES, please know that as a Birth Doula, I have a distinct duty to serve the mother, and her family. As part of that duty, I do everything I can to ensure my clients are informed clients. Information is a key element of reaching your goals for your birth. Informed clients are better-prepared to address potential complications that may arise during childbirth, and better-prepared to make sound decisions.
Educating clients about the birth process is the foundation of the Birth Plan. The Birth Plan's design is intended to mirror your own wishes for the birth, as well as accommodate adjustments to the plan, based on the actual events of your birth. I will help you prepare for, and customize, your birth.
It is my belief that a Birth Doula should provide informational, physical and emotional assistance, be a strong advocate, and dedicated to mother, her partner, and her family. A Birth Doula should be a source of strength, comfort and reassurance.
MY STANDARD BIRTH DOULA SERVICES:
* Two (2) Prenatal Visits
* Birth Plan Preparation
* Belly Mapping
* Phone and Email Support
* Emergency-Call Support, 24 hours a day
* On-Call Status, 24 hours a day (begins 2 weeks prior to due date)
* Four-Week Wraparound of Due Date
* Continuous Labor Support During Birth
* Immediate Postpartum Support (Up to 2 hours)
* One (1) Postpartum Visit
* Backup Doula Option
* Three (3) Months Breastfeeding Support via Telephone
* Childbirth Class Surrogate Service
* Candid Pictures of Birth, if requested
The following are the details of each of the above services:
Two Prenatal Visits
During the prenatal visits, we will address any concerns or fears you have, talk about topics you feel are important, and determine if there any topics, about which, you would like additional information. We will construct your Birth Plan. We will discuss medical interventions and procedures, and their possible side effects. We can compile questions for your care-provider to answer. We will talk about the varying factors affecting labor, from one birth, to another. We will go over the best position for your baby to be in for the birth, and we will do a belly mapping. We will discuss relaxation techniques, alleviating discomfort, emotional and physical needs, the various tests and procedures performed on newborns, and my overall level of involvement. It is also important to discuss recent visits to your doctor, or midwife. I also have created the Get A Good Start program, which is helpful advice for the first month of your baby's life. The intent of these prenatal visits is to ensure you are completely informed, and comfortable with your decisions. Additionally, these meetings also allow me to learn more about you personally, in order to help you achieve your goals.
Birth Plan Preparation
Essentially, the act of creating a Birth Plan helps you realize the most important aspects of childbirth to you, thus it allows you to organize your birth to suit your priorities. Think of it as your vision for the birth. As you know, sometimes, plans do change. So please, keep in mind that your plan is still subject to the actual events of the birth. In that regard, we will diligently work together to construct a Birth Plan that can adjust itself as needed. Even though the prenatal meetings reveal the numerous variables of the birth process, it is impossible to truly predict the exact course of your specific birth. For this reason, please realize that the Birth Plan you create can only provide you the most realistic, reasonable blueprint for your childbirth experience, but it cannot predict the entire event. One extremely valuable tool that will help you prepare your Birth Plan is an activity that allows you to prioritize the issues of greatest concern. People have told me that this activity was a huge help to them, and even made them realize things about themselves.
Belly Mapping is a method used to determine your baby's location and positioning. The goal is to identify if there is a need to adjust the baby's position, thus to ensure that the baby is in the ideal position for birth. At that time, we would discuss the various methods for repositioning the baby, should there be a need to do so. I have had wonderful success helping mom turn her baby, and the entire process is empowering for mom too.
Phone and Email Support
I am available to you by both email, and phone. I vow to return all emails within a matter of hours, depending on exactly when you send the message. As for phone support, I am available between the hours of 9am and 10pm, 7 days a week. If there are any changes to my availability, you will be the first to know, and alternative options will be discussed.
Emergency-Call Support, 24 hours a day
For emergency situations, I am available to you by phone 24 hours a day.
On-Call Status, 24 hours a day (begins 2 weeks prior to due date)
Beginning two weeks prior to your due date, I am "on-call" 24 hours a day, and ready to go.
Four-Week Wraparound of Due Date
Beginning two weeks before your due date, and extending two weeks after your due date, I do not schedule any other births, as my time is dedicated only to your birth. I do not schedule vacations, nor do I travel any distance that affects by ability to attend your birth. Exceptions to this rule are only allowed when expressly consented to by the affected clients.
Continuous Labor Support During Birth
I remain with you the entire duration of labor and birth, with quick meal break(s), and trips to the washroom, being the only exceptions.
Immediate Postpartum Support (Up to 2 hours)
Postpartum needs vary from one birth to another. I may need to help mom move her belongings to her postpartum room, or perhaps get her something to eat. Mom may need assistance taking a shower, or going to the washroom. Mother's partner may need a break too. Quite often, I am simply asked to just "hang out" and talk. I can assist mom with breastfeeding initiation/latching-on for her first nursing session. If mother and her partner are busy with the baby, but want to tell everybody the good news, I can make phone calls on my client's behalf. Truly, the intent is to make sure you are as comfortable as possible, and able to enjoy your new baby.
One Postpartum Visit
About a week, or a week and a half, after the birth, we get together for our postpartum meeting, where we can talk about the birth, and make sure you had a great experience. We can address any questions you may have about the birth. I can provide information on subjects of interest, such as finding a pediatrician, parenting groups, postpartum depression and breastfeeding. Afterword, it’s time to play with the baby.
Backup Doula Option
If there is any reason whatsoever that I am unable to attend your birth, a backup Birth Doula is “at the ready” to take my place, and act on your behalf.
Three Months Breastfeeding Support via Telephone
For a period of three months after the birth, I am available by phone between the hours of 9am - 10pm, 7 days a week, to provide breastfeeding assistance.
Please read the following to explanation of the difference between breastfeeding support offered by me, and breastfeeding support offered by others.
In addition to being a Birth Doula, please note that I'm also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). In order to be credentialed as an IBCLC (the world's most recognized breastfeeding credential), I had to obtain a minimum of 90 hours of lactation-specific education, complete 14 different health science college courses, and perform a minimum of 1,000 hours of lactation-specific hands-on clinical experience. Last, and by no means least, I also had to successfully pass the IBLCE's 175 question IBCLC Certification Exam. The IBCLC Certification Exam recently (2016) changed to allow for testing two times per year in the United States and some other countries. When I tested in 2014, the exam was only being given one time per year.
Keep in mind, breastfeeding assistance at hospitals is provided by IBCLCs.
While other Doulas may offer breastfeeding assistance, please understand that their education on the topic, and their actual experience helping people, is very limited. This isn't intended to belittle their efforts, it's just a simple fact.
If anybody claims to be an IBCLC, please check the IBLCE Public Registry to verify they are, in fact, certified by IBLCE by going HERE.
Unless they're IBCLCs, the breastfeeding education Doulas receive is derived from taking short self-study courses (from free to $40), or by attending a 3 hour breastfeeding class. One of those options are required by DONA International just for a Doula to get certified as a Doula. That being said, DONA requires that the education be provided by an IBCLC. The 3 hour breastfeeding class I teach is an example of the class these folks take to become certified as a Doula.
With all due respect, a self-study course, or a self-study course, or a 3 hour breastfeeding class, does not compare to thousands of hours of hands-on clinical experience, 90 hours of lactation-specific education, and completion of 14 health science college courses.
Childbirth Class Surrogate Service
In short, if your partner is unable to attend a childbirth class, I will go to the class on behalf of your partner. This service is free for the first two classes, after which we would discuss a reasonable fee for additional class appearances.
Candid Pictures of Birth, if requested
Not to be confused with birth photography, I am happy to take candid photos any time you wish. I am an amateur photgrapher with more than 24 years of experience.