10 Tips for Hiring a Doula

Are you thinking of hiring a doula but don’t know how to go about selecting one? Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind so you can find someone who is a great fit for you!

1) Look at all the contents of a doula’s website before inquiring further and requesting a consultation. The doula will hopefully have lots of information on their site about their services, their philosophy, etc., and you can usually get a pretty good feel for whether their services will be a good fit for you simply by looking at their website. This allows you to focus on interviewing a few select doulas that actually have the potential to be what you are looking for.

2) When you request consultations, make sure you share all pertinent information with the potential doulas. When are you due? Is this your first child? Where are you planning to give birth? Are you using a specific program for childbirth education, or do you have any special circumstances? This allows the potential doula to start determining whether you would be a good fit for them. You do not want to waste your time interviewing potential doulas who will not be able to work with you for logistical reasons, so make sure to share a bit of information in your initial inquiry.

hiring_doula

KobieHouse Photography

3) If you have a partner, schedule consultations for a time when both you and your partner can attend. It is really important for you both to meet potential doulas, since your doula will be working closely with both of you during a very significant time in your lives. You both need to feel comfortable with the person you decide to hire.

4) Meet with potential doulas in person if possible. While you can ask questions and share information over the phone or video chat, there is just something about meeting someone in person that can’t be replicated. Meeting in person will allow you to get a better feel for them, whether they are being genuine with you or not, and whether you can actually see them being a part of your birth experience.

5) Be organized going in to the consultation. Make a list of questions you and your partner have for potential doulas. Write down pertinent information about yourself or your pregnancy/birth situation that a potential doula might need to know about. Is there anything that makes your situation unique? What information do you feel like you need to share or gather in order to be able to make an informed decision on whom to work with?

6) At the consultation, make sure you ask any and all questions you have and share all the information you wanted to share. Gauge the doula’s response. Is she comfortable working with mamas in your particular situation? Is there anything else you or your partner need to know about the doula or her services to be able to make an informed decision?

7) Trust your gut!! Do the doula’s responses seem genuine? Does conversation come easily? Did the potential doula start building a relationship with you and gaining your trust? Do you feel comfortable having this person attend your birth?

8) Interview more than one potential doula. Meet with at least 2 doulas, if not more. Don’t go crazy with this though. The goal is not to meet with as many doulas as you can. The goal is to meet with 2-4 doulas who based on early impressions (from looking at their website and interaction with them from your initial inquiry) seem like they could be a good fit for you.

9) If additional questions or uncertainties come up after you meet with a potential doula, don’t hesitate to send an email or call to address these things before making a final decision on who to hire. You should feel fully informed before making a decision.

10) Take your time making your decision on who to hire. This isn’t a decision that should be rushed. Do be aware though that doulas usually take on a set number of births for a given month. You do not want to wait so long to secure a doula’s services that you lose your spot with your chosen doula. Typically you will have a gut feeling and know pretty quickly who you want to work with. If you do not have this feeling, you may need to find another doula. If you have interviewed a number of doulas who initially seemed like they could be a good fit, and then you didn’t get the feeling that any of them were right, you might need to evaluate your expectations and whether there might be something else going on that could be holding you back from moving forward with this.
 
 
I hope you find these tips to be helpful and that you are able to find a doula you are excited to work with!! Click for additional tips on ways to start preparing for your baby. If you are looking for resources for expectant parents, including my Birth Plan Kit, please check out my Etsy shop, MamaEmpoweredBirth.
 
 
 
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What My Births Have Taught Me About Myself

I have learned so many things from the births of my 3 daughters. I had expected this to a degree. Birth and becoming a mama are supposed to be these amazing, heavy, life-changing and life-affirming events. I knew giving birth and becoming a mom would be unlike any other experiences I had ever been through and would forever change me. I had no clue the extent to which this would be true though, nor could I have predicted the ways I would be changed.

I should start by saying that none of our births went as planned. With all 3 babies, we planned to give birth outside of the hospital (the first at a birth center and the second two at home). I had always envisioned myself giving birth in a peaceful setting while my husband and I worked together as a unit. I wanted to trust my body and my babies. I hoped for my babies to be caught by me or my husband and immediately brought to my chest where they belonged. I did not want to use any pain medication but rather wanted to feel my body doing the work of bringing my babies into the world.

Unfortunately, none of these things came to be with any of our births. Instead, we transferred to the hospital three times in a row and for completely different reasons. The first two were unexpectedly born via cesarean. The third was the vaginal birth that had eluded us, but it was still in a hospital, and a number of our requests weren’t followed by medical staff. (More on my feelings towards the medical establishment in my next blog post…) Overall, my births were traumatic (mostly the first two), surprising, and overwhelming. There were feelings of defeat and grief and remorse that followed all of them at least to an extent. I questioned myself and my body. I struggled with why me. I am a doula. I know a lot about birth. I have been to many wonderful births and have seen what the female body working in tandem with her baby can do. I know what birth can be.

Earth Mama Empowered Birthing

Earth Mama Empowered Birthing

Our journey experiencing the pregnancies and births of our three kiddos has been a long one.  It has tested me and my husband in unexpected ways.  It has changed who I am and what I am passionate about.  No, I am not the same person I was before this journey began.  Here are some of the most poignant things I have learned about myself:

* I am strong. Stronger than I ever thought I could be.  This did not come in the form I thought it would though.  Before our first baby was born, I imagined giving birth without pain meds.  Of course I would leave this experience knowing my strength as a woman.  Women who birth without medication are strong!  This was going to be me.  This was going to be one of the things I would get out of that experience.  But, that wasn’t my experience, as it isn’t the experience of a good portion of other women out there.  Unexpected situations arise.  Birth doesn’t go as planned.  But we are all strong!  We just find that strength in different ways.  Maybe that strength is discovered by having to face your worst fear (such as having major surgery – this was a huge one for me).  Maybe that strength is discovered by accepting the vulnerability that comes from giving birth and becoming a mother.  Or by conquering the challenges that can come with breastfeeding.  We all have our own hurdles, but birth and becoming a mom do cause us all to draw on our strength.  To do things we never thought possible.  And to come out stronger on the other side.  I know just how strong I am now.

* I love and value and need my husband more than I ever realized. My husband and I had such an amazing relationship before children.  Full of passion and life and love.  Things change when you have kiddos though.  Not that we don’t love each other after having children, but things are just different.  And sometimes we forget how much we love and appreciate each other.  Our relationship can be drowned out by the day-to-day of being parents.  But I needed my husband to get through my last pregnancy more than I’ve ever needed another person.

My husband is the only one who experienced the previous two births with me.  He was there to share in the fear and disappointment that surrounded our births.  He was there when I went through the processing of our birth experiences after the fact (which he needed to do as well).  Although our experiences of the births were different, he lived it with me.  He got it more than any other human being.  He got me.  When our 3rd baby was transverse and it looked like our hopes of not only an out-of-hospital birth but also a VBAC were coming to an untimely end, he was there for me just as I needed him to be.  He held me.  He gave me space to grieve.  He cried with me at our therapist’s office.  He was everything I needed.  And then he was there to share the joy with me as I pushed our 3rd baby out.  We had done it together.

My love for my husband is different than it was before we had children.  It might not hold the same passion or spontaneity or newness, but it runs deep.  It is strong.  He is my partner, my love, and such a great man.  And I think we have so much more respect and love for each other after going through this journey than we ever did before.  We are so lucky!  Again, this connection did not happen as I thought it would.  He was not in a birth tub holding me as I went through the waves of contractions.  We never got to be a single unit that was working through birth together without intrusions of the outside world.  We did not experience the births as we hoped we would.  But our relationship was strengthened in other, unexpected ways.  We had to lean in together to get through the journey, and the respect and love I have towards him are indescribable.

Earth Mama Empowered Birthing

Earth Mama Empowered Birthing

* Our baby’s births represent them. Realizing this helped me come to terms with the circumstances of their births.  I questioned myself and my body as well as why the events surrounding our births (particularly the first two) had happened for a long time.  I really beat myself up over it.  What could I have done differently?  How could I have allowed certain things to happen?  Why did I agree to this, that, and the other?  I felt a lot of guilt.  I felt guilt towards my children that they were not born in the gentle, loving manner I had hoped for.  I felt guilt towards my husband that he had to experience these stressful birth experiences instead of what we had planned.  I felt guilt and regret towards myself that I would never get to have the experience I had dreamed of my whole life.  But then in one moment I was able to let it all go.

It dawned on me one day that my children’s births represent them.  They each have very distinct personalities that were apparent from the time they were little.  For example, our oldest really takes her time with everything.  She likes to look at things, think about things, and talk about things before making decisions or acting on her thoughts.  I used to try to rush her through life before realizing that this is who she is and how she experiences the world.  I needed to let her be because taking your time and experiencing all that life has to offer is a beautiful thing.  She shouldn’t be rushed.  Well, this same kiddo went over 2 weeks past her “due date.”  We were pressured to rush her out by the medical establishment.  In hindsight, I wish we had waited and not rushed her.  That we had listened to our instincts.  We did the best we could though.  She was in there doing her thing.  She just wasn’t ready to come out.

Our other kiddos’ births can be tied to their personalities as well.  Once I realized this, the guilt went away.  Many of the circumstances surrounding their births were present because of who they are, and who they are is an incredibly beautiful thing.  We did the best we could given the various circumstances that were present.  I have now decided to honor their births in a different manner than I had done before.  They were all born in a way that represented them (mixed with the constraints put on us by the medical community given the particular circumstances).  I love my children with my whole being, so I have learned to love and accept these births that are so representative of who they are as people.

* Birth is what I am passionate about. After the birth of our first child, I knew that I had found my calling.  I have always been interested in the birth process.  If I could go back and do it again, I would become a midwife straight out of college.  Pregnancy and birth always held some mystery and intrigue for me; even long before having children of my own was on the table.  Being pregnant for the first time caused this passion to grow and grow and grow as my belly grew.  I read everything I could get my hands on.  But it wasn’t until our first child was born that my passion for birth really developed.  We felt let down by the system and our support people.  My husband and I had felt so alone after we transferred to the hospital.  It was then that I realized that I wanted to become a doula so others wouldn’t have to feel that way.  I wanted to be able to support others in the way we hadn’t been supported.  Suddenly my life had a new mission.  That mission has changed slightly with each of my births, as my passion for doing this work has grown.  I feel so lucky that my births have brought me this gift!

* I am a good mom. Although I second guess decisions that were made during their births, I know that in the moment my children’s well-being guided all the decisions that were made.  I did the best I could to protect them and bring them safely into the world.  Could things have been done differently?  Probably.  But, I did my best.  And I have to let the rest go.  I was a good mom then when those tough decisions about their births were being made, and I am a good mom now.  I am not a perfect mom, nor do I try to be.  I make mistakes.  Then I talk candidly with my children about the mistakes I’ve made and how I will use them to grow.  I try to teach my children to be loving individuals, and my biggest hope for them is that they will be good people and that they will be happy.  Even though I have felt like a bad mom many, many times along the way, I know deep down that I do my best, that my children love me, and that I am in fact the best mom to them I can be.  Their births were the start of this process.  I learned through these experiences just how deeply I love them.  I learned about the challenges of trying to make the right decisions for your children when the answers aren’t exactly clear.  I learned how I am willing to go through anything to keep them safe and healthy.  These experiences created the foundation for the mom I was about to become.

Earth Mama Empowered Birthing

Our birth experiences have helped mold me into the person I am and the family we are today.  And I love who we are today.  Unlike other people who talk about how the day their babies were born were the best days of their lives, I would say the best days of my life were the days we brought our children home from the hospital.  The days when we were finally all together by ourselves at home where we belonged.  Those were the days I felt my life as their mom began.  Those were the best days of my life.

For a while I struggled with trying to figure out how I would share my children’s birth experiences with them.  Their births can still bring up negative emotions for me, but I don’t want them to ever feel negative about their births or who they are to me.  I have decided that I want to be honest with them though.  I want them to understand the dynamics that were present at their births as well as what was overcome to bring them into this world.  Of course, I will wait until they are developmentally ready to be told the details.

I do plan to stress the positives that came out of these experiences with them.  Aside from them coming into the world, which was obviously wonderful and miraculous, there were other, more subtle and unexpected positives that came out of these experiences as well.  I will make sure they know about their mama’s strength and what it took for her to bring them into the world and how she got through things she didn’t think she could.  I will tell them about the strength of their mother and father’s relationship.  I will tell them about their wonderful personalities and how these personalities were already present from even before they took their first breaths.  I will let them know that their births instilled in me a passion for birth and helped me to discover what I want to do with my life.  And I will tell them how fiercely their mama loves them and how she has always done her best to be a good mother for them.  I want them to know that although their births didn’t go as planned and although there will be things I always regret, I don’t ever for one second regret having them, and I would go through all of it and more again for them if I had to.  They are worth it.

My hope for all women and mamas is that they can see the strength in all they do, the impact of these experiences on who they are, and the value they bring to their children and families.  Having a baby is a life-changing experience, but it doesn’t always change you in the ways you think it will.  It can take years of reflection and self-analysis before seeing the beauty in these experiences and the positive elements that they brought to your life is possible, but it is definitely worth taking the time to do so.
 
 


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5 Ways Your Birth Business Can Reach Potential Clients

Are you having a hard time reaching potential clients in your birth business?  Are you just starting out as a birth professional and don’t know where to begin to get your name out?  There are lots of different ways to market your birth business.  The following tips were written with doulas in mind but really can be applied to all birth professionals.

All other aspects of starting your birth business are discussed in great detail in the Setting Up & Protecting Your Birth Business Toolkit.

Here are 5 ways to get your birth business name out there and to reach more potential clients.

1st Way to Reach Potential Clients

Share the fact that you are a doula with everyone you know – on your personal and business social media accounts, with friends, with practitioners that may come in contact with expecting families, in local birth forums, etc.  Word of mouth is huge in this business!

2nd Way to Reach Potential Clients

Attend “meet the doula” events in your area (or host one if none already exists).  Look for or create opportunities to meet pregnant moms and to connect with people who can refer you to them.  For instance, you can offer to speak to moms groups about topics you are knowledgeable in.

3rd Way to Reach Potential Clients

Share your business cards with people you know who might come into contact with pregnant women (acupuncturists, chiropractors, etc.).  You can also share your business cards with medical professionals you meet at births.  Create good relationships with providers you come in contact with who can then refer you to others.

4th Way to Reach Potential Clients

Find a doula mentor in your area who can familiarize you with all the birth related services and supports in your area as well as introduce you to people whom it would be helpful to know.

5th Way to Reach Potential Clients

Create partnerships with other practitioners, if there is anyone you feel comfortable doing this with.  For instance, you can partner with a birth photographer and both offer to discount your services when a client books both of you.  It is wonderful to have others marketing your services, and this can be a win-win situation.

Earth Mama Empowered Birthing

Earth Mama Empowered Birthing

Next it is time to start preparing for consultations with prospective clients.  See below to receive “10 Tips for Increasing your Effectiveness at Consultations.”

If you would like to learn more about creating your birth business, please check out my Setting Up & Protecting Your Birth Business Toolkit.  This resource guides you step-by-step through the process of setting up your birth business in a manner that gives you limited liability protection.
 
 
 
If you would like to receive a free download for birth professionals, “10 Tips for Increasing your Effectiveness at Consultations,” sign up for our newsletter by entering your email address below.

Sign up to receive:
– A PDF with 10 tips you can immediately put to use in your birth business
– A planning guide to develop your future consultations
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Your privacy is very important to us. We’re never going to sell or share your email address. We’ll only use it to send you what we’ve promised.

5 Important Ways to Start Preparing for Baby

Are you pregnant and starting to realize that you will soon have a little person joining your family?  Do you want to start preparing for baby before baby’s birth? In addition to hiring a doula, there are many things you can do before the birth of your baby to make the postpartum transition as smooth as possible, although, in all honesty, there is no way to ever be fully prepared.

From my experience as a doula and mom of three kiddos, here are the 5 most helpful ways to start preparing for baby and for the postpartum period.

1st Way to Start Preparing for Baby

Cook and freeze a number of nutritious meals that you enjoy.  You and your partner are not going to feel up to cooking for a while after baby’s birth.  If you prepare now, you won’t have to.  It is okay to order in as needed in those first weeks, but you might find that you are craving healthy, familiar meals.  What are some of your favorite meals?  Cook them now, and freeze them in meal size portions.  Also, stock up on food that is easy and quick to make (i.e. boxes of pasta and jar pasta sauce).  Having these meals available can make a huge difference in your postpartum experience!

2nd Way to Start Preparing for Baby

Line up help for the weeks after baby’s birth.  How much support do you anticipate needing?  Enlist help from family and friends to bring meals or help in other ways once baby arrives (make grocery store runs, clean, etc.).  Communicate your anticipated needs now so that you can start receiving support as soon as you need it after baby’s birth.  You will find that friends and family will want to help you but often don’t know how.  Let them know!

3rd Way to Start Preparing for Baby

Set boundaries with family and friends before the baby arrives.  How soon after the birth do you anticipate being ready to have visitors?  How long will you be okay with them staying?  What do you want these visits to look like?  How involved do you want your family to be in your baby’s life in the coming months and years?  It is important to start figuring out whether other’s expectations are in line with your desires before your baby is even born.

One of the important parts of being a parent is making decisions that are right for you and your family, even when those decisions depart from the desires of others.  It is easier if you start doing this now versus waiting until after the baby is born and emotions are running high.  Step into your new role now so others know what to expect.  This way you can relax and not deal with having to establish boundaries when you should be enjoying your new baby.

4th Way to Start Preparing for Baby

Research your health insurance policies and options as well as the leave policies at your and your partner’s work.  Try to understand what your benefits are now so you are not caught by surprise after baby’s birth.  Also, decide now what insurance plan your baby will be going on and who you want to use as their pediatrician so you don’t have to stress about these important things postpartum.

5th Way to Start Preparing for Baby

Spend quality time with your partner now because it may be a while before you have the opportunity again.  Discuss with each other what kind of parents you hope to be, what you think you will need from each other once baby is born, and how you plan to stay connected once the baby is here.  Your relationship will never be the same once your baby arrives, but staying connected and openly communicating with each other can help ensure your relationship only changes for the better.

Earth Mama Empowered Birthing

Earth Mama Empowered Birthing

If you are looking for resources for expectant parents, including my Postpartum Planning Kit, please check out my Etsy shop, MamaEmpoweredBirth.

If you are a birth professional interested in further supporting the clients you work with, please check out my resources for doulas and other birth professionals at https://mamaempoweredbirthing.com/toolkit/.
 
 
 
If you would like to receive a free download for birth professionals, “10 Tips for Increasing your Effectiveness at Consultations,” sign up for our newsletter by entering your email address below.

Sign up to receive:
– A PDF with 10 tips you can immediately put to use in your birth business
– A planning guide to develop your future consultations
– New articles and offer notifications

Your privacy is very important to us. We’re never going to sell or share your email address. We’ll only use it to send you what we’ve promised.

5 Things to Know Before Becoming a Doula

So you think you might want to become a labor/birth doula? You probably have a lot of questions and aren’t quite sure where to get started. You might be asking, how do I become a doula? Or, is becoming a doula the right path for me?

There are many things you should know before you become a doula, and I would recommend doing some research and, if possible, shadowing another doula at a birth before committing. The Ultimate Birth Doula Toolkit contains a comprehensive framework for structuring your thriving doula business and answers all the questions aspiring doulas typically have, so I would recommend checking out this resource as well.

To get you started, here are the 5 things I wish I had known before becoming a doula.

1st Thing to Know Before Becoming a Doula

Being on call can be hard!! Exactly how hard it is for you will depend on a variety of factors. Do you have another job? If so, navigating how you will work out being on call at all times of day while fulfilling the responsibilities of your other job can be challenging. Do you have children? If so, you will need to have someone lined up who can reliably watch your children at a moment’s notice. Are you the type of person who needs to know what their schedule is going to be like, or is your personality pretty go with the flow? Being on call entails having your phone with you at all times and being prepared to leave for a birth quickly at any time of day for an unknown period of time. This can be tough!

2nd Thing to Know Before Becoming a Doula

There are a lot of materials that need to be developed and processes that need to be thought through before you start taking on clients. How can you best empower your clients to have positive birth experiences? What information and materials will you want to share with them? Doing a lot of this work upfront ensures you will be able to better support even your first clients. If you need help in this arena, our Toolkit has you covered!

3rd Thing to Know Before Becoming a Doula

Births can be long! Births can be short! Births are unpredictable! You might miss a birth because it happens so fast you don’t arrive in time. You might be at a birth for 24+ hours. You just never know. While it can be challenging to navigate the unknown elements of birth, this also makes doula work exciting and fun. You never know what to expect, and two births are never the same. Birth is exciting and unpredictable!

4th Thing to Know Before Becoming a Doula

It is difficult to anticipate how much interest there will be in your doula services, especially initially. You could have months where 5 clients want to book you and others where none do. Once your business is more developed and you are better known in your community, continuity will develop, and you will have a better sense of how much demand there will be for your services on a monthly basis. Until then, there may not be much consistency, which can make things difficult if this is your only source of income and you are depending on a certain level of business each month just to get by. Having another source of income initially can come in very handy!

5th Thing to Know Before Becoming a Doula

Seeing a new person come into this world never gets any less amazing! It’s incredible, breathtaking, surreal, and beautiful! That moment when you witness a baby take its first breath and parents meet their child for the first time makes the stress of being on call, the long periods away from your family, and the sleepless nights sooooo worth it!!
 
 
 
Are you ready to become a doula? If so, you can start thinking about how you will get your name out there once you start your new doula business and how you will reach potential clients.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a doula, please check out The Ultimate Birth Doula Toolkit. This resource guides you step-by-step through the process of becoming and being a doula and is meant to help you become the best version of your doula self.
 
 
 
If you would like to receive a free download for birth professionals, “10 Tips for Increasing your Effectiveness at Consultations,” sign up for our newsletter by entering your email address below.

Sign up to receive:
– A PDF with 10 tips you can immediately put to use in your birth business
– A planning guide to develop your future consultations
– New articles and offer notifications

Your privacy is very important to us. We’re never going to sell or share your email address. We’ll only use it to send you what we’ve promised.

New Blog! New Toolkit Coming Soon!

It has taken me a long time to get around to starting a blog, but I am excited to finally be making my first post! There are lots of changes in the works at Earth Mama Empowered Birthing, so this seemed like a great time to get started blogging.

I am thrilled to be expanding our services to now provide education for doulas and other birth professionals. This is such a passion of mine, and I feel so fortunate to be given the opportunity to make this happen. I have so many ideas for products I want to create to support other doulas, but I will be starting with a series of 3 toolkits.

The first toolkit, The Ultimate Birth Doula Toolkit, will hopefully be finished and up on my website in the next couple weeks. Yay! I am hoping to have the other 2, including the Setting Up & Protecting Your Birth Business Toolkit, ready later this summer.

If you would like to sign up for our newsletter to receive updates as these toolkits become available, please enter your email address below.  By signing up, you will also receive a free download for birth professionals, “10 Tips for Increasing your Effectiveness at Consultations.”  I am so excited to start this new journey with all of you!
 
 
 
Sign up to receive:
– A PDF with 10 tips you can immediately put to use in your birth business
– A planning guide to develop your future consultations
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Your privacy is very important to us. We’re never going to sell or share your email address. We’ll only use it to send you what we’ve promised.