How to Hire a Doula with Peace of Mind!

How to Hire a Doula with Peace of Mind!

Your Guide

With the popularity of Doulas dramatically increasing in recent years, many expectant parents are finding it a bit harder to navigate all the choices available.  At Childbirth Concierge, our tag line is “Delivering Peace of Mind”. With that in mind, we provide guidance for families to find the right support for unique situations and dreams for your pregnancy and birth.  Our desire is that you experience Peace of Mind in this process.  This document has been created to help you navigate all the basic nuts & bolts of hiring a doula who will support your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period.

This guide will offer thought-provoking questions that you may not have yet considered. There is great value in spending time with your loved ones discussing what really is important and how you envision yourself giving birth.  The more clear you are regarding your hopes and dreams for your baby’s birth, the easier it is to express what is key for you. This clarity helps the doula to determine how to meet those needs and support you more fully.

 

Your Birth Goals

I always love to ask the question “how do you see yourself giving birth”?  Do you see yourself in a hospital or out of hospital setting?  You have most likely played many different scenarios through your head.  Do you want to labor without pain relief medications or do you want an epidural?  There is no right or wrong, but even taking the time to identify what resonates with you helps begin to paint a picture of important items for your experience.   I encourage parents-to-be to list out ten things that are important to you for your baby’s birth. Once you have your 10, then narrow it down to your top 5.

When you identify those 5 items, begin to envision how a doula would help you work towards that.  In other words, think about, “What do I want for my birth experience and who is going to help me to get that?”  A skilled doula will help you navigate options and help you determine if your expectations are realistic or unrealistic based on where and with whom you are planning to give birth.   Questions to ask yourself and your partner are   “What am I hoping a doula will do for us? How will hiring a doula impact my birth experience?”.

Doulas Explained

The mere fact you are reading this shows that you have some working knowledge about doulas, but let’s go a little deeper. There are birth doulas and there are postpartum doulas. Birth doulas focus on preparation for and during birth and immediately after birth.  Most doulas offer package rates for the Birth service.   Postpartum Doulas traditionally care for the family day or night and focus on mother, newborn care, and home life for an extended period of time following the birth on an hourly rate.

It is safe to say that in the US, the cultural norm is that a doula is a non-medical support person who provides emotional and physical support and education.  Their primary role is to support the families they serve.  Here is a quick read https://www.vogue.com/article/what-does-a-doula-do-top-experts-pregnancy-birth .  Another way to think of a doula is like a wedding coordinator, golf caddy or even a travel agent.  They are professionals in their field, giving guidance and feedback based on their years of experience.  You should never feel shamed or judged for your birth plans and parenting choices when working with a doula.

Non-Medical

Doulas do not provide clinical skills or assessment like blood pressures, vaginal exams, measuring fundal height or fetal heart tones. Those skills are provided by your medical care giver whether a doctor or midwife.  Some doulas may be cross trained as birth assistants or nurses who have a medical skill set, but when working as a doula, they should stay within the doula scope of practice and on the non-medical side of care and support.  They should also never tell you what you need to do, instead help you navigate options.  Ultimately, decisions rest with the pregnant person and it is their responsibility for their medical care.

How are Doulas Trained

It may come as a surprise, but there are no State or Federal guidelines on universal training or competencies for doulas. So that means a doula can choose to attend a training or not, promote herself and accept clients.  Some bigger organizations like DONA.org and CAPPA.org set their own Ethics and Standards and police their own memberships. Some trainings require a certain number of births and experience before certifying the student, while others don’t require any experience to become certified.  Therefore, this leaves the process in the hands of families hiring a doula.  Just because someone is certified doesn’t make them the right doula for you and vise versa.  You must trust your gut when interviewing. It is also a helpful starting point if you are being referred to a doula.

Where to find doulas

A good old Google search of “doulas near me” should get you a list to navigate through.  You can also ask your care providers who they have worked with and can recommend.  Doulamatch.net is a national data base where a lot doulas lists their services.  You can also call local birth centers to see who they work with and recommend, as well as friends and colleagues. Word of mouth is still the best way! Always, always look at the Google or social media reviews, as this can be very telling about the doula, their services and their professionalism.  If a doula doesn’t own a formal company on Google and has website, be sure to ask to speak to previous clients to get feedback.  Nowadays anyone can quickly set up a beautiful website, but it doesn’t always equate to excellence of service.  Do your homework!

When to hire

The sooner the better, if you can.  The earlier you connect with a doula the more time in your pregnancy you have to reach out when guidance is needed.  Also depending what area you are in, there can be waiting lists as the demand maybe larger than the number of skilled doulas in your area.  Starting the process in the 1st trimester allows you to take your time and interview. This will reduce your stress of needing to secure someone later in pregnancy.

Costs

Most insurance companies do not yet cover doula services although the profession is seeing a positive movement in this area. Check with your insurance company and employer benefits. Doulamatch.net will give you a bird’s eye view of the average rates in your area.  Also, if you have a Health Savings Account you may be able to use this for doula services.  One can expect to find those gaining experience (students) to be no cost, all the way up to 3k and more depending on what area you are in.  I encourage you to have a price point in mind as you begin looking for services. Some doulas will offer payments plans, and most take credit cards.

Things to ask and consider when interviewing doulas:

  1. Are they available for your due date?
  2. What do they offer and what are their price points? Most offer packages that offer a variety of services and some a La Cart Options like childbirth education, breastfeeding support, placenta encapsulation, belly binding.
  3. What is their or the company’s philosophy of birth? This is really important as you want a doula who is respectful and comfortable with your birth desires, providers and location of birth.
  4. What motivated them to get into this field? Was there an experience that was a turning point for them, and if so, was this a positive or negative experience? Both are motivating forces but I encourage you to look for a doula who has worked through her traumas and is not projecting those traumas into your birth experience.
  5. What is their style of advocating for clients? How do they empower those they work with?
  6. How long have they been practicing as a doula? When you hire a doula you are hiring their years of experience, and their ability to correctly articulate that in your birth experience.  Experience in this field is important, however there are doulas who may not have a lot of experience (as in number of births), but carry themselves professionally, and are able to articulate well, and offer you skilled support.
  7. Are they a solo practitioner or do they work as a team with another doula? This will determine a lot how things get handled if the doula has an illness or family emergency when you go into labor. Who is their back up and will you need to pay additionally for that back-up? Also, will you get to meet them beforehand if even virtually? Another thing to ask is how often have they needed back up?
  8. What is their specialty, if any? Many doulas specialize in the following areas; Birth, Postpartum, High Risk, Multiples, VBAC, bereavement, hypnodoula, full spectrum, trauma informed, abortion, queer, BIPOC, breastfeeding, hospital birth, out of hospital birth. Be sure to ask what they consider their areas of speciality.

 

What should I look for in a contract?

Part of choosing a doula is the financial piece and it is very important to look at the contract, as this is a binding agreement.  I have had clients tell me they have interviewed doulas who said they didn’t use contracts. I highly advise against that as you would have no legal recourse if needed.  When items are clearly spelled out it is clear for both parties, and reduces chances of misunderstandings.

A basic bare minimum contract should include both parties’ names (who is the contract between), beginning and end dates, scope of work, what they do and some include what they do not do, or the provisions if back-up is needed, the cost of the service, and how to terminate the contract if needed.

Making a final decision

After evaluating all the options and things to think about, we really do encourage you to go with your gut feeling.  So often we dismiss what our true self is communicating to us.  We get all up in our head around so many things. It has been medically proven with over 400 studies that the heart sends more messages to the brain than the brain does to the heart.

I encourage you to take a look at this 3 min quick video about the Science of Heart Focused Breathing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxNjw3bcfVo .  Practicing this simple quick coherence breathing can help calm you and listen to what your heart is telling you.

Additional Resources

Check out my guest appearances on The Birth Ease Podcast.

How to Hire a Doula

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5zaW1wbGVjYXN0LmNvbS9kbmozd2dLNQ/episode/N2YwOGMyYzAtNGNlOS00MDc3LWJlZDUtMGY0NzJjM2NiNGEw?ep=14

Doula Services and Labor Support

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5zaW1wbGVjYXN0LmNvbS9kbmozd2dLNQ/episode/N2YwOGMyYzAtNGNlOS00MDc3LWJlZDUtMGY0NzJjM2NiNGEw?ep=14

Spanning a 33-year career in the maternal health field, Kathy is an industry pioneer and the visionary behind Childbirth Concierge.  She honors all journeys to parenthood and feeding, and is committed to ensuring that parents feel seen, heard and valued while in her care.   As a mother of five herself, Kathy has considerable experience in preparing for the birth and care of newborns, and helps to empower parents by delivering peace of mind during what can at times be a challenging situation.  A born educator, she is in her element teaching new parents and health professionals.  She worked 14 years in Maternal Health at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando and is a self-proclaimed “Birth JUNKIE”.

 

Planning a Positive Birth Experience

Planning a Positive Birth Experience

In a day and age where there are so many choices, how in the world do new parents begin to navigate pregnancy and birth?  Planning a Positive Birth Experience was the name of a class I wrote back in 1993 and later taught at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando Florida to help parents navigate all the choices. Yes, I have been teaching and supporting expectant families for 30 years now!  So I am in the process of turning that class into a book.

Are You in the Wrong Class?

I used to open the class by welcoming everyone and then making sure they were in the right class they registered for. “This is Planning a Positive Birth Experience Class, if you signed up for the Horrible Birth Class, that meets on Friday nights at 7pm” I would say.  Everyone laughed, but I wanted parents to make a conscience thought about how silly it would be to actually go to a class that helps you learn how to prepare for a horrible or bad experience.  In reality people don’t plan for a bad experience they just don’t always do the work towards creating a positive birth experience!   

Birth Values

So how do you see yourself in labor?   Are you calm and breathing through contractions, or are you scared and praying this baby magically appears?  In other words, what is your birth value or philosophy?  Some of you may know right away how you see yourself giving birth, and other think “I have no clue”. For those of you who say you have no clue or are not really sure, I invite you to do a little exercise.  Make a mental note, or jot down the first three words that come to mind when I say “giving birth at home”.   Was the general feel to your words more negative or positive?  Now do the same thing with the words “giving birth in a hospital”.  Was the general feel of the words you thought positive or negative?  I could also use the words natural birth/no pain medication or Epidural.  The point being that you instinctively  have a thought process around different options around giving birth. Most likely those feeling are running around in your subconscious. It doesn’t mean you must keep these thoughts but pregnancy is a time to evaluate how you really feel and if you want to make any changes in your thought processes.   I invite you to begin exploring different options and see how you feel about them.

Care Providers & Birth Location

I do recommend expectant families to think through who they choose to see for care and where the provider practices and delivers.  These two choices alone can have a huge impact on your experience and birth outcomes. Ask co-workers or friends about their experiences with providers, not just who did they go to and did they like them. In some areas in the US, because of the ‘culture” of birth, can increase your chances of a surgical birth just by the zip code. Find those providers where you feel respected, listened to and their office staff matches the provider’s care of you.  Do your best homework upfront, but also don’t be afraid to change providers if you feel something isn’t right for you. Trust your gut!

The Right Support 

Every step that you make toward the birth of your baby is important. Most people wouldn’t plan a trip oversees without researching and educating themselves on the various aspects of the country, lodging, food and activities.  The same should go for planning for your baby.  Some say birth is as strenuous as running a marathon.  Think about who you would want next to you encouraging you.  Do they support your decision or would they to talk you out of something that is important to you because of their own bias?  Consider what their birth philosophy might be, does it align with yours?  Choosing the right doula, a labor support person, is another option for your birth team. Each year more and more families are partnering with doulas for labor support. When hiring a doula you ultimately are hiring her ability to articulate her years of experience into your birth experience. Once again trust your gut when interviewing.

Learning is Foundational

In full transparency, as a childbirth educator my bias is naturally towards education.  I do feel strongly about the importance of birth, postpartum, breastfeeding and parenting education.  Some choose not go to class and do just fine as the body does know how to birth a baby!  But I prefer people to educate themselves and have better birth experiences by feeling empowered and understanding the process that your body and baby will go through.  There are all different kinds of books and classes available.  By choosing a class that covers relaxation techniques for natural, medicated and c-sections you will be well rounded and prepared.  Look for classes that align more with what your are wanting to do in labor.

Is Birth Plan a Four Letter Word?

In truth, I love and hate birth plans!  I strongly feel that they are a communication tool of desires that can be quickly communicated to the birth provider team. I love the fact that just the concept and thought of writing one out invites expectant couples to begin to explore options they may have not realized they have. I hate them because they are not meant to be written-in-stone agreements, and can be disastrous if expected to be.  Ask your provider how they feel about them and what their experience has been.  Their response may give you further insights to how they will work with you during labor.

Weathering Bumps in the Road

As poet Robert Burns wrote ” the best laid plans of mice and men” means no matter how well you plan, things may not always go your way. Often time parents forget that there is a baby, a little tiny human being, that also gets a say in how they arrive earth side. So in all your planning I encourage you to check in often with your baby.  It may seem weird to do this, but science has proven babies in the womb can hear and are conscience beings, they sense and feel what mom experiences.  I bet some people speak more to their pets than they do the baby in their belly.  I invite you to begin having conversations with your baby and what your plans are, you’d be surprised how smart they are. 

When ever you are experiencing a bump in the road, you can do a very simple, and fast technique to called Heart Focused Breathing (click here for a 2 min video). Close your eyes and focus your attention to your heart. Imagine that you are breathing in and out of that region of your chest or heart. As your breathing slows and goes deeper, imagine something that is calming, peaceful or that represents safety and peace.  Keep your focus there for a few minutes, this will help your body, mind and emotions come into coherence. Did you know that your heart send more messages to your brain than your brain to your heart?  Sit a minute with that.  Are you making decisions from your heart or head?

No Judgement Zone

No matter how you choose to birth or the outcome of your birth, I want you to be able to look in the mirror and be proud and satisfied with your birth experience and how you navigated decisions that needed to be made.  Our society shames so many women for so many things. There is no right or wrong way to give birth. Create your own NO JUDGEMENT ZONE!  This comes from a deep knowing and belief in your ability to make the decision you need to for you and your baby! Healthy boundaries are part of delivering your own peace of mind!

 

Kathy Bradley, IBCLC, CD, CCE is available for “Planning” appointments/consulting.  She can be reached at kathy@chidlbirthconcierge.com

 

Word is Spreading- “We made the news” Free Virtual Childbirth Classes during Covid-19

Word is Spreading- “We made the news” Free Virtual Childbirth Classes during Covid-19

Childbirth Concierge is offering certain free virtual childbirth and breastfeeding classes as well as virtual doula support during the Covid-19 aka Corona virus.  While Serving the greater Orlando area, our virtual classes and support has no location restrictions..

Anyone anywhere can benefit from our education and support.   Our company motto is Delivering your peace of mind!!  Please reach out , we are here to support you!

Click the you tub video to watch the new story.

Thank you to Spectrum News for taking the time to share our contribution.

Click Here for Full Story

If you are interested in Free Childbirth & Breastfeeding Classes or Virtual Labor Support please visit us at https://childbirthconcierge.com

Breastfeeding Class- Virtual

 

FREE Childbirth Class-Planning a Positive Birth Experience during Covid 19 – Virtual Class

Breastfeeding During Covid-19 Pandemic

Breastfeeding During Covid-19 Pandemic

No doubt you did not plan on the Covid-10 corona virus pandemic, let a lone while pregnant or breastfeeding! We are in chaotic and very stressful times as our country navigates through this global pandemic.  Childbirth Concierge has always dedicated our work to Delivering your peace of mind! 

Breastfeeding is very important for you and your baby.  The WHO and CDC are differing on what the recommendation is. However giving your baby breastmilk is agreed on currently by both organization.  Be sure to get guidance form your care providers concerting your infant.

Out team will be offering free childbirth and breastfeeding classes during the month of April you can click here to see available dates.

Free Virtual Breastfeeding Class During Covid 19

 

 

For additional information 

From the World Health Organization https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-on-covid-19-pregnancy-childbirth-and-breastfeeding

From CDC.  https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/maternal-or-infant-illnesses/covid-19-and-breastfeeding.html

Free Childbirth & Breastfeeding Classes or virtual labor support please visit us at https://childbirthconcierge.com

Giving Birth During Covid-19

Giving Birth During Covid-19

No doubt you did not plan to give birth during the corona virus pandemic! We are in chaotic and very stressful times as our country navigates through this global pandemic.  Childbirth Concierge has always dedicated our work to Delivering your peace of mind!  We spoke with Dr. April Merritt of Delany Park OB/GYN located in Orlando Florida to hear what patients were concerned about birth and corona virus and to gain guidance from what she is sharing with her patients.

If you need support and classes we are here for you.  During the month of April our classes and virtual doula support is complimentary!

Reach out at https://childbirthconcierge.com/contact/

https://womenscarefl.com/provider-pro… Dr. April A. Merritt is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a member of the American Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery. She is a Fellow in the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Merritt practices general obstetrics and gynecology. She also practices high-risk obstetrics and handles minimally invasive laparoscopies and same-day surgeries and performs vaginal prolapse surgery such as anterior and posterior repairs. She is a wife and mother of two handsome boys.

Dr. Merritt is located in Central Florida and practices at Winnie Palmer for Women & Babies https://winniepalmerhospital.com 

If you are interested in free Childbirth & Breastfeeding Classes or virtual labor support please visit us at https://childbirthconcierge.com

Free Virtual Planning a Positive Birth Class 

FREE Childbirth Class-Planning a Positive Birth Experience during Covid 19 – Virtual Class