If you're researching doula training, you've probably noticed there are a LOT of organizations and training programs out there. A decade ago, there were only a handful, mostly comprised of the original organizations involved in researching and establishing the doula profession; in 2017, there are dozens available, with YBE Doula Training and Certification joining the ranks. There are a variety of mindsets, philosophies, and training methods, some of which you can do completely online without even attending an in-person workshop. How on earth do you know which one is best?
Have you ever created a vision board to help you reach an important goal in your life such as lose weight, reach a certain level of income or meet the love of your life? Vision Boards became wildly popularized at the height of The Secret fame and as the public became familiar with the idea of the Law of Attraction, which essentially "the idea that whatever we give a lot of attention to will become part of our lives. The theory likens us to magnets that are constantly attracting what we think about .
Could this be a tool you could use to ditch your fear of childbirth and create a positive and satisfying experience? We think so!
In honor of International Doula Month, I feel compelled as I often do each year to write a blog post both celebrating the work I do alongside many other birth workers, as well as promoting awareness of this truly crucial vocational field. But before I tell you about what I AM going to discuss, I should tell you what I’m NOT going to discuss.
What do I do as a doula? I show up and I bring my heart. Read on to see what I mean by that!
Just as clothing has evolved from fig leaves to funky leggings, and people were once convinced the world was flat, opinions and trends regarding procreation shift as well. More recently we’ve seen trends that have made a way for informed consent and refusal, evidence-based medical care, promotion of the golden hour, and now: value-based health care promoting shared decision-making.
“The gap between the way many patients wish healthcare decisions could be made and the way these decisions are actually made is tremendous. According to a 2014 survey conducted by the Altarum Institute, nearly all patients expect to be in control of medical decisions. Only 7% of adult, nonelderly patients wanted their physicians to be in the lead role.2 Despite this clear preference, the same survey found that the vast majority of patients let the doctor take charge of care decisions nonetheless...
As a birth worker and adult managing ADHD, I've found myself drawn to methodical and mindful activities that require me to slow down and pay attention. It's healing to the mind that is focused on EVERYTHING ALL. THE. TIME. And the rewards of working and cultivating things are so very sweet. But as a doula and childbirth educator for a decade (I celebrate 10 years with DONA International this month!), I find even more meaning in the patience and awareness these activities cultivate in me.
Is infant formula a safe substitute for breast milk? What formula is best for my baby? Do I really have to boil water or sterilize bottles? What are the dos and don'ts in preparing powdered formula?
You may be reading this article because you’re concerned about safety and want to know if you are unknowingly putting your baby at risk. Maybe your knee jerk reaction is to assume you’re about to read a super judgy blog post from some know-it-all, holier-than-thou doula shaming you for your choice to supplement or cease breastfeeding.
So what's the big secret about infant formula?
Childbirth educators currently have quite a challenging task. According to Listening to Mothers III, only "one-third (34%) of women reported taking childbirth education classes during their recent pregnancy' . This means there are many families who receive little to no preparation for childbearing and parenting, and of the parents who do take childbirth classes, not all of them truly grasp and retain the information that could be most helpful to them. As a doula and childbirth educator with a degree in education, I can attest to the fact that HOW people learn is every bit as important as WHAT they learn.
Typically, when people talk about what women and families want during the childbirth process, they usually mean the medical interventions involved in childbirth. I have found that focusing on these objectives alone are only part of the puzzle of helping women achieve a positive and satisfying childbirth experience. The part of the puzzle many have missed has to do with the intrinsic values a woman or a woman and her partner hold that guide most of the decisions in their lives. I believe the five things women want in childbirth are the key to helping us put the ownership of birth back in the hands of mothers and improve childbirth experiences. I have found that a values-based approach to birth planning helps bridge the gap and allows to families gain ownership (rather than control) in the birthing process...
As mothers who are not childbirth experts, we depend on medical professionals and other knowledgeable sources to help guide us in making the best choices for ourselves during pregnancy and childbirth. But, in looking to others for help, are you inadvertently giving away your decision-making power? To whom does your birth belong?
Most of us have imagined the day we would become parents from a very young age. We do so many things that seem to come naturally to us in life, like falling in love, and cultivating a desire to get pregnant and grow a family. It's like we just can't help it! But what about when the baby actually gets here? Even if you have cared for other children in your life, few of us have even held newborns until we hold our own. You may be asking yourself, "How will I know what to do when my baby is born?"
There is an interesting phenomenon that happens in the world of professional childbirth work that I like to think of as the Big Sister Effect. It’s a natural thing that happens inside us as humans when people we care about experience difficult things and something inside us rises up and wants to defend and protect them. This is actually a physiological and evolutionary response that is good for the human race, and yet, it can get us into a world of hurt. Many feel this kind of emotional attachment is unwarranted in professional doula work, and I have a different view of it.
Most often, people think about the things doulas do during the actual birth such as position changes, back rubs and verbal encouragement, but the informational support is glazed over as if this act of giving information is a simple one. The truth is this: anyone whose role involves transmitting information is at some level an educator. Therefore, every doula is inherently a childbirth educator whether she realizes it or not.
I believe that more women need to know about the full spectrum of maternal care when preparing for birth. Your journey to motherhood is not only about birth; it's about your story. Whatever comes, how you prepare will directly impact your entire life in big and small ways. The smartest thing you can do is prepare to be whole.
The problem in choices in childbirth is they don’t make much sense if you don’t understand them. What this means in the childbirth arena is that it’s hard to decide whether or not you want something if you don’t know the risks, benefits and if, when, why, where and how it might be beneficial to you. The use of forceps might sound like a medieval torture device until you know they could save your baby’s life without the turmoil of cesarean as major abdominal surgery. When considering what kind of childbirth education you will pursue, be sure you are able to gain information about your choices in a way you can understand and assimilate into your worldview.
There are as many opinions about childbirth as there are people on the planet. The truth is, there is no right and wrong in childbirth; there is only what's right for you! But just how exactly do you find out what's right for you when there are so many options? Wouldn't it be great if there was a one-size-fits-all childbirth education curriculum so you could be guaranteed that you would get just exactly what you need out of it or at least know which way to go to find what you do need? If you are a birth professional, wouldn't it be great if you had a tool that you could use with every client to help them get the results they need? Sound like unicorns and rainbows? It might not be as far from reality as you think!
The most predictable thing about childbirth is its unpredictability. There are many indicators that contribute to a healthy delivery, but no one can guarantee anything. If you focus on being informed, prepared and having a positive experience, rather than a perfect one, you are more likely to set yourself up for success.
You see, while everyone else in the childbirth professional community and doula world is arguing about who's right, who's wrong, which organization to train with, which childbirth method is the RIGHT one, and why THEY deserve to get paid as professionals, Your Birth Experience Instructors are looking at the women giving birth, the ones who really matter.
I've got a secret for you: I can't make you a great doula. I created Your Birth Experience to show professional HOW to go from good to great but I can't do it for you. You have to choose every day to commit yourself to excellence and do better than you did yesterday. If you're committed to that, all you need is a system to support you, and one that gives you the "how" and the "why" so you can stop doing things that don't work and start seeing success in the lives of your clients and in your childbirth business.
Here's how to stop being a good doula and be a great one: