What To Do When Someone You Know Has Lost A Baby

This is a post of simple things to do and remember when you have lost your baby or someone you love has lost their baby. This post may contain triggers. Please be gentle with yourself.

Read more

25 Things The Best Doulas Do

  1. A doula gets to know you as a person.

    She wants to know about all of the things that make you unique. She doesn’t just view you as a client, or a pregnant woman. She wants to know your story and how adding a new baby is going to be a celebration and continuation of that story.

  2. A doula gets to know the people in your life that you love.

    If you love someone, they’re very important and deserve respect. The doula works with you to understand the roles of those people in your life, and works to include them in your birth and parenting journey in a way that is comfortable with you.

  3. The doula assists you in celebrating the bond between you and your partner

    and works with your partner to develop further ways to assist and attune with you while you birth your baby and connect with each other postpartum. The mother’s partner knows the mother on a much more intimate aspect than the doula.

  4. While there is a lot that a doula does directly with the mother during labor, she works with the entire family. There isn’t a narrow focus. It’s all about building a village.
  5. A doula doesn’t replace your partner.

    A doula is a lot like a wedding planner. You’ll come to view the doula has having made your experience better, but really she is just a facilitator. She talks with you and your partner before the baby arrives and asks you what your expectations of your role are and what your expectations for each other are. That helps to make sure you’ve vocalized your desires before the big day. In ways, it’s a lot like a birth rehearsal.

  6. A doula isn’t just focused on maintaining a continuous face to face presence with the mother during labor. A doula does spend a lot of time close to the mother and making eye contact with her, but she knows the best eye contact a mother can receive during labor is the eye contact of her partner.

    The birth isn’t just about the laboring mother. It’s about the growing of the family.

    The birth story belongs to the mother’s partner as well.

  7. A doula knows when to not budge from the mother’s side, but she also knows when you need time to rest with just your partner. You don’t need a babysitter or a supervisor for birth. And when you think back on the birth of your baby, you’ll have tender memories of the intimacy between you and your partner. You don’t need a third wheel.
  8. When a doula is giving you your desired space at intervals during labor, she is happy to carry in things from your car, bring your partner some coffee, fetch some meals or snacks, and listen to your mother tell stories about when you yourself were a baby.
  9. A doula is a wingman for your partner.

    She is their spotter. If they need to go to the bathroom, take a nap on the couch, or go to the waiting room to talk to excited family members, the doula stays in your room so that you are never unsupported.

  10. A doula respects your care provider.

    Chances are good the doula has worked with them before and is familiar with their practice. A doula doesn’t go over your head. She was hired by you to work with your family. She isn’t going to form an antagonistic relationship with your doctor or midwife.

  11. A doula encourages you to find your own voice and use it.

    You are in control of your body, your family, and your choices. If you voice concern over asking a question aloud, your doula will encourage you that it’s always okay to ask for your own information. Everyone on your birth team cares about what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling, and how you want to proceed. You never have to worry about being self-conscious, or feeling like you don’t know what something means. You can say, “Can you please tell me what that word means?” or, “I would like a minute to think about that/talk that over with my partner.” No one is going to judge you.

  12. An exceptional doula doesn’t have an agenda.

    She isn’t a birth advocate, a birth voyeur, or believes in doing things just one way. A doula doesn’t provide unsolicited advice. A doula doesn’t compare you to her own birth story or think of you in terms of other clients she has served. When she is with you during birth, you are her entire world. She only cares about what she can do for you and your family based on the desires you have conveyed to her during your prebaby planning.

  13. An exceptional doula adapts to change.

    Even if your birth plan goes out the window, or you change your mind about something you said, a doula knows how to connect and attune with you no matter what. She isn’t going to say, “But you said…” You are the supreme authority and your doula goes with the flow.

  14. A doula knows that you can curse and say you want an epidural and knows when that is just a vocalization and when that is you seriously asking for an epidural.

    An exceptional doula works with you on finding your “code words”. If you’ve talked prebaby about wanting a natural birth and everyone knows that, it’s normal for people to remind you of that when you’ve changed your mind. By vocalizing in frustration that you want an epidural, that helps the doula know you need more support and she’ll work harder and try new things to get you back into your groove. By saying your code word (like “umbrella”, “xylophone” ) everyone already knows not to question you (mother-in-law included).

  15. A doula is intimately connected with medical jargon.

    She can tell you in simple English what things such as an “amniotomy” are.

  16. A doula has a thorough understanding of the physiology associated with childbirth.

    She knows how the baby’s position in utero in relation to the mother’s pelvis impacts the mother’s comfort level during labor and how that impacts the duration of labor. A doula knows several positions to assist with a cervical lip, a posterior baby (baby has its head in the mother’s back instead of it’s face – usually results in “back labor”), helping baby to engage in the pelvis, and helping the mother to readjust if the baby needs to be repositioned in the pelvis.

  17. Not only do different labor positions aid in the position of the baby, but many of them aid in the laboring mother being able to stay comfortable and focused on her birthing style longer.

    A doula knows that not only does a birth ball help open the pelvis by 30%, but the repetitive motion of swaying your hips in a circle gives you something rhythmic and external to your body to focus on.

  18. An exceptional doula speaks in positive language.

    She doesn’t speak in terms of, “If” and, “Do not”. The parts of the sentence you hear first dictate your feelings. When you hear, “If” it creates feeling of doubt. When you hear, “Do not” you feel like you are doing something wrong. A doula talks to you about, “When” you rock your VBAC. If a doula sees something that can be changed, she gently suggests it for your consideration with positive language.

  19. A doula moans with you, and sways her hips when you sway your hips.

    She becomes so attuned to you in those moments that it’s almost like her subconscious thinks that if she moans or sways with you, it will somehow help you more than you doing it alone. It’s an automatic response that comes from women trying to help other women.

  20. An exceptional doula makes your birth place feel like home. If you’re at the hospital, she plans with you to bring LED candles, soft textiles from home such as a blanket, dims the lights, and encourages you to bring your favorite music from home (if you want it). If you’re having a home birth, the doula steps in to put distractions away and create a mama nest for you. She knows you don’t want the unfolded clothes on the couch to be in your birth pictures.
  21. A doula assists you with breastfeeding

    , if you’re inclined to breastfeed. She knows that attuning to your baby is a process and that breastfeeding takes some time to establish. She works with you at your birth place when you are ready, and is willing to continue to assist you once you return home. If you have challenges outside of her scope of practice, she’ll help you find an IBCLC that does home visits.

  22. A doula doesn’t leave you the second the baby is born

    . She stays for a couple of hours after birth to make sure you’re settled in as comfortably as possible. Giving birth is a very emotional process and you’ve become connected to your doula. You need, first of all, to connect with your baby and your partner and have time to do it. And then you need to have the time to have your doula look you in the eyes and say, “Are you ready for me to leave for the day? Is there anything I can do for you before I go?” You don’t want to look away for a second and then have your doula vanish. A doula will step back to give you ample time to connect and meet your baby. She meshes into the background. Often times she will sit in the waiting room and see if you need anything in those first two hours or so and then disconnect.

  23. A doula doesn’t expect that you’re birth and parenting journey ends on the day your baby is born.

    A doula that works solely as a birth doula will meet with you in the weeks postpartum to connect you with postpartum resources. A doula that does birth and postpartum services will offer you continued support through offering you her postpartum care. An exceptional doula is trying to work herself out of a job with your family. She is excited to assist you in connecting with other professionals and other moms in your community so that you are completely confident and ready to emerge into the world as a new family.

  24. An exceptional doula maintains her professional boundaries

    while she is hired by you for the duration of the hire. But then she is excited to receive pictures of your baby’s first birthday and to see you at community mothers groups. An exceptional doula never forgets you. It doesn’t matter if she has worked with two families or two hundred families. She’ll always remember your personality, the connected moments you had together, your baby’s name, the sound of their first cries, and so on. If you’ve had an exceptional doula, you’ll never forget her, either.

  25. An exceptional doula listens and validates you.

    An exceptional doula is a safe place. An exceptional doula knows when to speak, and when to be silent.

If Only I Had A Doula When I Was A Single Mother

 I was an emotional wreck. 

I left my first husband in the spring of 2011. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever needed to do – primarily because my son was 15 months old. The only place I could call home was over a thousand miles away in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. I wasn’t okay when I left. I was having major health issues – both mentally and physically. I felt constant pain, and was in the throes of a postpartum mood disorder. At the height of a mood disorder, it took my doctors months to diagnose fibromyalgia. From there, it took years for me to work through Fibromyalgia as a mind over matter thing and something I wouldn’t accept as part of my identity. To date, I haven’t had a flare in a couple of years.

I thought marriage was forever. That was my intention when I got married. When it was apparent to everyone else, and finally myself, I knew that my ex was a contributing factor to the exacerbation of both my physical health and my mood disorder. And I needed help. Right away.

Read more