Labor Support Posts

This Pregnant Doula Isn’t Hiring a Labor Doula

That’s right. This pregnant doula isn’t hiring a labor doula.

As a labor doula, postpartum doula, placenta encapsulator, and a trainer for an international doula certification organization, you would think I would be the poster girl in support of doulas at birth.

And I am. If you want one.
But I’m not hiring a doula for my birth.
As a person who talks about the advantages of having a non-judgmental support person available to you 24-hours a day leading up to your delivery, and then for constant support through your birth, you would think that as soon as I found out I was pregnant, my next major decision would be to bring on my doula to my support team.

But I’m not hiring a doula for my birth.
Hold on… I’m not a hypocrite.

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5 Things for the Last Weeks of Pregnancy

Waiting for the last weeks of pregnancy to be over can be both infuriating, frustrating, exciting, and completely uncomfortable.  Everyone on planet earth is asking,

“Are you still pregnant?”

and you may be sad that you can’t rhetorically whack them on the side of the head, like they can to you.

So here are 5 things for those last weeks.

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Why Physicians Are Getting Into Bed With Doulas

Doula: A lay-person trained to support people before, during, and after childbirth.  The support could be educational, it could be through physical contact, or it could be emotional with encouragement and a non-judgemental ear.  Some people think a doula is a little too “woo-woo” to be given credibility in a medical facility, but there is a growing number of physicians and administrators who are very excited to explore how doulas may improve birth.


Professional Doulas

There are many professional doulas committed to building relationships with care providers.

These doulas are looking to collaborate.  They are looking to be seen as an asset and not a liability. They are hoping to strengthen the communication between their clients and the doctors selected to care for them.  They wish to be a resource for the community.

These doulas recognize the importance of certification and professional ethics. 

These are the doulas providers are hoping to meet and attract to their hospitals and birth centers.

Why should you care about doulas?

Simple: Because doula work is an unlicensed and unregulated field.

Some doulas are self-regulating, meaning they are seeking certification through an organized body with a standardized curriculum, with a procedure to file grievances, and consequences should a doula act outside of her scope of practice.

But that is an independent choice.

We, professional doulas, know that it will take many conversations, years, and more data to show that “doula” is a profession that requires regulation.  In the meantime, there is a tool available to each hospital that would allow for more security, more trust, and more transparency: credentialing.

Before I could become an ER Volunteer at the University of Chicago Medical Center, I had to attend a training, get a current flu vaccine, and have my information in the computer system before being given a photo ID to enter and exit restricted spaces.

It was helpful to know what to do in the event of a Code Pink or a “Dr. Strong.”  It was helpful to participate in conversations concerning patient services.  It was helpful to see concerns from the hospital’s side of the conversation.

Professional doulas want to be helpful in the labor room, to clients, and to medical staff.  If filling our a sheet of paper that has us agree to standards of practice that we should already be following helps our clients have more open conversations between all members of her chosen support team, sign me up.

There are many doulas trying to support and engage in these conversations.  And there are hospitals trying to facilitate conversations as well,  such as Advocate Good Shepard Hospital in Barrington, IL.

If more voices are present as policies are being developed it will only benefit the patient and improve birth experiences.

Patient Satisfaction

Fact: more and more reimbursements are tied to patient satisfaction.  When those surveys go out,  you want honest feedback, and you hope it is positive.

Having a professional doula present really does help improve patient satisfaction.  Concerns are more likely to be heard, questions are more likely to be asked, and constant attention is able to be paid to families.  Patients may not remember every conversation that is had at her labor, but the feelings from each conversation will be  stored away.

  • Do they feel heard?
  • Do they feel involved in making choices?
  • Do they understand why interventions or options are suggested?
  • Do they feel respected?

Doulas are not able to guarantee birth outcomes.  But professional doulas are able to make a positive impact on the birth experiences inside your facilities.  We want the memories that will replay in our client’s minds to be as positive as possible, regardless of how a baby comes from its parent.  I believe physicians and nurses want that too…And not just for a hospital’s bottom line.

We all – doulas, doctors, and nurses –  hope to leave birth better than we found it.  We all have a role to play.  Randy Patterson, Co-Founder of ProDoula, has shared before that medical professionals are ultimately responsible for  having a safe and healthy mother and baby;  as doulas we are concerned with the mother’s connection to her experience and with the bond she feels with her child.  When we work together, we have a more complete care: healthy mom healthy baby, healthy mind, healthy bond.

Written by Ariel Swift



3 Benefits of Professional Development

One of the best parts of my year as a doula has just happened.

In a profession where there is an incredible amount of heart and vulnerability, many doulas have never known about or thought to attended a professional development conference. This year, the ProDoula Conference “Share the Vision 2016” had roughly 230 attendees, all of which – new doulas and seasoned to a quarter of a century – contributed to the overall success.

The posts that are popping up online are of many attendees sharing their experiences. For those who may not be able to see the larger value of attending a professional development conference let me break down just a few benefits that an event like next year’s Speak Your Truth 2017 ProDoula Conference could offer you.

3 Benefits of Professional Development

1. Learn some things you can implement immediately!

Up-to-date research, discussion with experts in your field, and staying current with trends in our industry: this alone is enough to warrant attending professional development.

At the 2015 conference, some may remember the speed and veracity that Catie Mehl and Angela Horn’s presentation on fetal positioning entered our discussion groups and started to question traditional (and outdated) ideas of posterior positioned babies.

You can read their work in a two part series:

Does Baby’s Postion Matter In Labor: Part 1

Does Baby’s Postion Matter In Labor: Part 2

This year’s immediate take away for many was the Postpartum Recovery Red Flags – The First 6 Weeks by Dr. Meedlen Charles OB/GYN.

OR…the practical planning that was given by Erica Patterson of Yellow Jacket Social.

OR… perhaps it was the myths that were busted by Marion Welch about cord blood banking.

OR… the change of mindset that was encouraged by Sabrina Nitkowski-Keever, Director of the Maternal Child Health Department at New York Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital. 

Or the handfuls of other speakers…

2. Be able to lead, influence, and connect with other professionals!

Many doulas are still faced with, “What is a doula?” At this year’s Share the Vision Conference, I was able to see face-to-face interactions between people who were uniquely able to challenge and inspire growth. Personal growth and professional growth happening without a technological barrier.

To be seen and respected, to give counsel, and to have shared experiences together was incredble. The conversations can go straight to what’s important. The community that has been created through emails, discussion boards, comments on blogs, and phone calls can finally happen in person.

Be seen. Let others benefit form your perspective, and gather the benefit of others.

3. Confidence

Attending a professional development conference is a boost of energy.

It is an oasis from professional burnout.

It is an investment in yourself.

The buzz words “self care” go around and around in the doula world. For many, being around so many strangers is exhausting and overwhelming.  But even for those people, I would argue they cannot be excluded from the well of vulnerability people seemed to fill their cups with.

They were filled up, they told their truths, and they left stronger for being honest and sincere about where they wish to go.

And how will we, as entrepreneurs, be successful in our day-to-day endeavors if we have no “X” to mark the goals on the map of our future?

Being real about where we want to go and who we want to be can only help us as we move toward it. With connection, information, vulnerability, and encouragement, we can all return home with more confidence.

What a great weekend.  What a great fresh start.

Written by Ariel Swift
Photo – Rosie Pope, Keynote Speaker at the 2016 ProDoula Conference, taken by Yellow Jacket Social