I wrote this initially in 2013 but feel it needs to be back at the top of our blog. So often folks come to our Mingles to meet us and say that they want to avoid a cesarean. Yet they are choosing a hospital where the cesarean rate is over 40%. They do not plan to take classes or they plan for a hospital based class or a one day abbreviated one. Please realize that today with the high levels of intervention, you have to do a lot of things to avoid the interventions that lead you to the OR. There are lots of ingredients that go into making a gentle birth pie:

  1. Provider
    1. Your gynecologist may not be the best one for your pregnancy care- well woman care vs pregnancy and birth care
    2. Communication goes both ways- can you discuss things and be heard and feel listened to now?
    3. Back up is important- who covers what- do they share call- will you get to meet them beforehand?
    4. Midwifery model vs the medical model of care=What do most women choose? Obstetricians are by far the most common choice in the United States, although certified nurse-midwives are becoming more popular: In 2006, CNMs attended almost 8 percent of deliveries in the United States and over 11 percent of vaginal births. provide handout
    5. CIMS questions to ask
    6. Marriage – then date- can lead to divorce- when is it too late? Don’t stay where the rules of the games are different than the game you want to play.

“Midwives see birth as a miracle and only mess with it if there’s a problem; doctors see birth as a problem and if they don’t mess with it, it’s a miracle!” Barbara Harper in Gentle Birth Choices

“Unfortunately, the role of obstetrics has never been to help women give birth. There is a big difference between the medical discipline we call “obstetrics’ and something completely different, the art of midwifery. If we want to find safe alternatives to obstetrics, we must rediscover midwifery. To rediscover midwifery is the same as giving back childbirth to women. And imagine the future if surgical teams were at the service of the midwives and the women instead of controlling them.” Michel Odent, MD

“When meeting with my OB, I described—in a light way—the feeling I had about the baby telling me he was coming out vaginally. Unfortunately, this kind of thing does not provide confidence to everyone in the medical community! And much to my dismay, they wanted to schedule me for a C-Section, just like that. Thankfully, at least one very important local midwife did believe me and believe in me (and my baby). She encouraged me to do what I needed and go where I needed to get my try at a VBAC. “– Jenna’s story

“Switching practices mid-pregnancy was perhaps the best decision we have made. Last week I was so fed up with being pregnant that I just about begged her to induce me. Had I stayed with my old practice, they would have scheduled a date right then. But not Janet. She just calmly reminded me that no one stays pregnant forever and that my baby would come when she was ready. She talked through natural things we could do to help get labor started and walked us through what would happen if she doesn’t come by 41 weeks.

As we left her office I turned to D and said, “We picked her for a reason. I don’t really want to be induced. But I was desperate. And instead of letting me cave to my uncomfortableness, she talked me out of it. Gently. I’m thankful for that.” She has been a rock for me during the last half of my pregnancy. I’d recommend her to anyone. {This is Janet Fedullo with Alpharetta Women’s Specialists}”- Chrystal Rowe from the blog (more…)

When Labor of Love Doula and Childbirth Services began as a group almost two decades ago, we were the ONLY group in town. Now there are several groups.

But how are we different in terms of our group in the area of labor doulas?

1. We are a true mentoring- apprenticing group of doulas who work together as a sisterhood of support and back up. We are not working for other groups at the same time or on our own, nor are we a referral only group. We meet together to share new ideas and concepts we have learned. We come together for our Meet and Mingle once a month to offer you a time to meet us all and select a doula who is the right fit for you. We are not competitive with each other. We truly feel that you should select the doula who is right for you. We are all very similar and yet all very different in personalities although our approach remains the same. We provide a real sense of community and shared spirit.

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2. We provide back up if and rarely as it is needed within our group of doulas only. We allow you to let it be known who your preference is for that backup if the need arises, and try our best to meet that desire. You will never be without a doula. And we find more than 93% of the time it will be the doula you hire. You are able to meet the potential backups by attending our monthly tea.

3. We have over 1000 births as a group of doulas. There are several labor doulas who are actively taking births every month! We have one doula in our group who has been doing this for over twenty years, Teresa. She has over 660 births of experience. She eagerly shares her wisdom from that experience with all of the other doulas in the group. In fact, she is the go to call if something arises in your labor and you are with a different doula. No matter the time of day, she is there to offer any input she feels may help in your situation. We have four doulas in our group, Teresa, Delandra, Charlotte and Renee, who have over 100+ births of experience each. Experience is one of those things that can not be manufactured. It is what causes your doula to be able to quickly assess needs that she may be able to help you within labor. We often have newer doulas, who have been mentoring with our group for several months who offer a lesser fee that is more in line with limited budgets. But when you hire one of them, you get this experience full available to them if it is needed. And we usually have an apprentice doula, who is able to offer a second pair of hands for those who are willing to allow her to apprentice their births with a mentoring doula. This is how we take the training from their initial certifying organization to a different level. Each of our doulas has apprenticed with a mentoring doula at some time in their training. Learning by doing is a great way especially if there is an experienced guide showing the way.

4. Our fee is all inclusive. We are fully available to you for phone calls, emails or texts if you have hired us. We love to hear how things are going and offer guidance when it is desired. We provide one or two prenatals depending on your specific desires. We do not charge extra if your birth is long. We may offer to bring in an apprentice or experienced doula if the primary doula needs some extra hands for a long birth, but that is up to you. We offer continuity of care. And we love to meet with you after the birth to share the photos we may have taken the notes from your birth to help you with bridging your memory with some events you may have forgotten.

5. Our fees reflect experience levels.  They are reflective of experience in our group. Some doulas in the metro area charge what the market will bear regardless of their experience.  We do not. Perhaps they bring other skills to the table that cause them to have a higher fee. But it is important to know that fees are not reflective of experience overall in this town. So, if the experience is important to you, ask the woman you are interviewing how many births she has actually attended to ascertain her level of experience.

6. All of our labor doulas are trained by a national or international doula certification group. Most of our doulas have completed their certification. But our training and education do not stop there. We encourage our doulas to continue to read new books on birth, attend workshops and conferences and seek another level to their certifications and training. Many of our doulas wear other hats as well. We have childbirth and parenting educators, a massage therapist, child safety experts and lactation specialists who are labor doulas.

So, although the model of being a group of doulas (and educators and other birth professionals) has sprung up around town, note that we are not all modeled the same. You can make the right choice for you as to what model works best for you and your family. There are some wonderful doulas in this town outside of our group. And although over the years some of our labor doulas have moved on – changing careers, shifting dimensions of being a birth professional or moved elsewhere, we will continue the model of care that we have had going forward into our second decade.

We have more than just labor doulas – we have postpartum doulas, childbirth and parenting educators, bodywork therapists and a placenta encapsulator within our group.  Our group is currently made up of six labor doulas, one apprentice labor doula, three postpartum doulas and a placenta encapsulator. Many of us teach the multiple classes we also offer.

 

Antepartum or Postpartum Doulas

Antepartum or postpartum doulas are “mother’s helpers.” Their role is to “mother the mother.” For women who are restricted to bed rest before the baby comes, assistance may be needed. And many times our own mothers cannot come to us after a birth. Or perhaps they can only come for a short time to help us during the adjustment period. A postpartum doula acts as the person who fills in at this time.

She is knowledgeable about bed rest situations, new babies, breastfeeding, newborn care and learning to meet your baby’s needs as well as your needs. You may need education before the baby arrives and she can offer this or assist you in arranging to have an educator come to offer private classes while you are on bedrest. She can assist you in learning how to bathe, massage, feed, and care for the baby. She knows comfort measures and safety issues as well as swaddling and more.

In the antepartum period, her job is to take care of the needs of the mom who is restricted in the activities that most moms are able to accomplish. After the baby comes, the postpartum doula does not take over the care of the baby. Her job is to help the new mom to learn how to do this herself. Although, during naps she will take care of the infant so you can get those much needed naps.

She also takes care of the mom. Doulas do light housekeeping, errand running and cooking. Her role is to help make this waiting period for the anticipating mom and the adjustment period after the baby’s arrival be as smooth as possible.

A list of things an antepartum and postpartum doula may do is:

  • provide emotional support
  • help parent infant bonding
  • assist and demonstrate infant care
  • provide relaxation
  • accompany mother and baby to appointments and outings
  • take care of household tasks
  • prepare nutritious meals and snacks
  • listen and honor your birth experience
  • support and encourage new parents
  • support for breastfeeding
  • help tend to and support siblings of the new baby
  • provide comfort measures and light massage
  • answer phone calls and field visitors
  • provide mother with freedom and help
  • run errands and shopping as needed
  • cleans dishes, tidies the home- doing minor chores &laundry
  • respects your confidentiality

We offer a three hour Soothing Session for those who do not feel a full service of having a postpartum doula is needed but want a little guidance early on.

How do you hire a antenatal or postpartum doula?

Email Delandra or call her 770-241-2078. She will send you an informational packet to review. You can then have a phone interview with any and all of the doulas whose profiles interest you. Their phone numbers are in the packet. You can then set up interviews with the doulas who you feel best meets your needs. At the interview you may choose to hire a doula. Or you may choose to attend a Mingle and Meet to meet us all in person and hear us talk about our full list of services. Many times couples hire a doula at the tea that best meets their needs.

After you have chosen your postpartum doula and paid half of the initial ten hours for postpartum and the balance is due at 38 weeks. Then we wait til you have your baby! After the birth of your new baby, you call your doula and let her know when you will be wanting to have her come to you’re your needs after your arrival home. The postpartum doula agreement will outline our complete services. The fee  is $25/hour with a minimum day of 3 hours and a minimum agreement of 10 hours. There is a reduction in the hourly rate after the first 10 hours have completed.

We Offer Apprentices 

For the pregnant couple:  Occassionally we have newly trained doulas who desire to be mentored by an experienced doula. We offer the ability to have an additional apprentice doula accompany you when you have hired one of our trained and experienced doulas. If you are interested in including an apprentice, we will certainly include her if we have one available. Some hospitals have strict policies regarding the number of people allowed in the labor room. Usually three is the limit- this includes the partner and two others-  but others are not so strict. Let us know if you would like a doula in training to attend your birth along with your primary doula.

If you desire to invite a doula in training to your birth, it is a free option that not only helps the training doula but also is an extra pair of hands and another gentle heart. Your primary doula would remain so if a doula in training is included.

Apprentice Doula Program

Interested in becoming a doula?: We are often asked if we offer classes to train doulas. We do not. But what we do offer is an opportunity to join our childbirth series with a mentoring educator to learn some techniques needed to be a great doula. This also meets most certifying organizations requirement that you attend a childbirth series as a non pregnant person.  We encourage you to find an international organization- not a local organization for your training as a doula or as an educator. That way, when you move from the area, the training you have had will be accepted and recognized outside of the area. We are mostly certified with CAPPA (www.cappa.net) or DONA (www.dona.org).

The requirement to apprentice a childbirth series is a full committment to attending the full series and bring a snack for the students. You come early to help set up and prepare for class and stay late to clean up and reset the class space for the next class. It is best to attend the class series prior to your official certification training as it prepares you for your training.

We also offer the opportunity for you to attend births – when desired by couples- and attend the prenatal meetings to get to know those couples. We offer this as a time to work along side of the mentoring doula. Depending on the length of the birth and your opportunity to serve the client, this could qualify for a certifying birth. We only have you attend births once your certifying training workshop has been completed.

After apprenticing a series of classes and attending a birth, an evaluation is made to determine if we would like to offer you an opportunity to join our company. Sometimes you may not desire to become a part of a group and sometimes we may not have a need to add an additional doula. So apprenticing does not guarantee that you would join our group.

Most of the doulas with our company have come through this apprentice opportunity. Contact Delandra if you are interested in becoming an apprentice.

Our company really does offer a true mentoring apprentice program. And when joining our company, our doulas are part of a sisterhood of doulas and educators who work seamlessly together offering call coverage and continuing support and training- we do not just provide a referral network.

Often folks ask us about how working with a labor doula works. I thought I would share a timeline with you as to how it works with us.

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  1. Consider having a doula… review the website bios and give Teresa a call. Teresa tells you based on your due date and location for your birth who is available and sends you our information packet.
  2. Receive the information packet and decide to attend one of the monthly Meet and Mingles to meet all of the doulas or contact the doulas who seem to “speak” to you.
  3. Interview the doulas you are interested in and hire them or hire them at the Meet and Mingle.
  4. Once the retainer and agreement has been received in our office- you are added to the doula’s calendar who has been hired. Within 24 hours she contacts you to let you know how excited she is to be your doula!
  5. You can then email, text or call your doula to let her know how you are doing along the journey- she likes to hear how your appointments with your care provider, what you are learning in your childbirth classes and any other things you want to share with her. The more sharing, the more she gets to know you and your dreams for your birth. (We would encourage you to read the blog and consider some of our classes.)
  6. At 34 weeks or soon after, you will get a prenatal form in an email. She wants you to give some thought to the questions and send it back via email filled in prior to your prenatal. Teresa has a private class space where she offers many teaching tools to help solidify things you may have learned in your classes. It is a plus having a dedicated teaching space, it is a great place to learn some new things if you did not learn them in the class you took. The place for your prenatal should be private it possible. Although you may think a coffee shop is a great place to meet, it may be fine for an interview, but your prenatal may need to be much more private. It is best to not do this in your home as the normal day to day distractions of pets, interruptions by your children or just day to day distractions are not present. So try to pick a time that you have several hours- at least two and maybe even more like three hours to be able to open up and get into some great discussions that will help you work wonderfully with your doula. This can be just you and your doula but ideally we would love to have your partner there for at least part of that meeting.
  7. As you begin to believe you are in labor, your doula would love to hear from you along the way. She may have some tips and ideas to help you in early labor. She is available to meet you at your home if you desire or to meet you when you are on your way to your birth location. That is up to you and how your labor is unfolding.
  8. She will meet you and stay with you for the duration of your labor. Being present and focused on your needs. She will stay with you usually until you are ready to move to your postpartum room or around two hours unless there are extenuating circumstances that require her to stay longer.
  9. Your doula will text you usually the next day to see how things are going. Because you could be finally dozing off, she will leave the phone calls up to you- she wants to make sure nursing is going well and you do not have any questions or concerns. Feel free to contact her for additional help she can either provide or suggest other to help with- we have postpartum massage, lactation educators, postpartum doulas and more. But often your needs can be met  by your doula and she wants to help.
  10. We offer a postnatal time to share pictures from the birth and a birth timeline. Since we are active doulas and many of us are also educators, we want to do this in a timely way that also meets your needs and works around our busy schedules at the same time. We want to see you and your baby. This is special time for us to share with you.  Based on where you live and where your doula lives, you need to keep in mind she may be on call for other moms and need to work around being close to home to head out to her next birth. Teresa loves to offer a special time with her moms in her class space. She can offer a book or handout that may be helpful during this time, breastfeeding tools that she has in her space or other tools that you may find helpful. But we all can come to your home if that is what is desired and needed. Getting out the first time seems so overwhelming, especially for first time moms, but you may find that a short drive out to a different location is exactly what is needed. Often the time you desire to set up this prenatal is delayed by having family in town. We leave the timing up to you. Contact us when you are ready. If there is some delay in us being able to meet, we can send your pictures and timeline to you prior to getting together.

This is just an idea of what is normally done. We believe in flexibility and are more than willing to do what you need. Let us know how we can assist you. Thanks!

april 12 2012 100

Bringing a new baby home can be a wonderfully exciting time. But for many families it can be quite scary! Want to have a postpartum professional come to your home in those very early days to be a listening ear and provide you with some awesome resources to explore!  This new family soothing session is three hours packed with teaching you some wonderful soothing techniques, providing some sleeping suggestions, checking your baby’s latch and providing breastfeeding support,showing you some  baby wearing positions and even doing a car seat safety checklist! Three hours is really packed with a plethora of skills.

Need someone to help you get started with:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Newborn Care
  • Baby wearing
  • Soothing Techniques
  • Sleep Ideas

Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block soothing techniques plus many more can be shared and demonstrated to help you feel more equipped to begin this new journey. Three hours usually allows time to allow the baby to need a feeding so that our baby professionals can check the latch and tweak anything that may be causing pain or problems. Teaching you side lying position for nursing enables you and your baby to get more sleep. Swaddling properly allows your baby to stay asleep longer. Safe bed sharing ideas will be shared if you desire. Safety is our goal but also helping you to feel more well rested. If you have a baby carrier and want some instruction and guidance they are able to do that as well. And if you need some selection guidance, they can offer that. And after all of that, they will go through a checklist for your car seat safety and teach you the proper way to buckle your baby in safely.

This is a great way to feel more confident as new parents and get you off to a great start! And if your friends and family want to offer you a wonderful gift, this is priced to be a fabulous gift for the new family at only $100 for these 3 packed hours of guidance and comfort! You can pay for that service at this link.

I had a dad attend the Meet the Doula Tea last week. He had interviewed one doula already and had come to meet the doulas in our group. He said he was on the fence on using a doula. He said that he understood we talked about teaming up with the partner but he felt it was a subtle way of saying that partners were inadequate. It made my heart sink. Oh my, why does this dad feel like having a doula would mean he was in adequate?

It made me quite sad that he felt that having an experienced guide with him meant that he was incapable of being a great support to his wife. I wondered if he felt that way in other areas of his life. If you had a mentor at work who was to teach you how to do something at work, does that mean you are inadequate? When he had professors or teachers sharing information with him, did he feel inadequate? When his neighbor who was a plumber offered to come over and help show him how to fix a pipe and use his tools, did he feel inadequate?

If this is a place you have never been- or even been involved with but understand having an extra hand and heart to support, how does that make you less of a partner? How do we expect those who are so personally involved to not allow their emotions to overcome them? Why do we expect someone to sit in a class series and come out an expert to the information received? We don’t do that in any other way or situation.renee 3

8522_174491805184_48618835184_4043917_4157419_n2013-01-22 12.18.56I love supporting families- not just the mom in labor- but her family- her partner- her mother- her father- her sisters… I love being there to help all of them. I love seeing them step up into a role they may have been afraid to do but with a little guidance feel much more capable. I love taking pictures of partner’s supporting their lover. Rarely are there pictures of me- since I am the one taking the photos. Instead the memories will be filled with her power and their support.

I hope this dad reconsiders the added support of a doula for him and his wife. I hope their birth goes gently and he will feel more than adequate and fully supported.

 

Someone recently asked me if using a doula was really needed if you had a midwife.  How about if you plan to have a home birth? I thought I would share roles as determined by some internet sites (the title is a hyperlink to go to the site) for each type of job that the labor support folks offer. In our area it is not unusual for a midwife to have multiple women in labor. She can not be everywhere at the same time. It is not unusual for her to be on for 24 hours straight- so she may be eating and sleeping some of that time as well. In our area most nurses are assigned to two patients at the same time. Her role limits her contact with the mom during a lot of her labor. As far as home birth midwives, some come once labor is well established and others may send their apprentice initially to assess how you are doing if she has another mom in labor. Some will have a back up midwife in case more than one mom is in labor. A home birth apprentice at a birth acts more like the nurse in a hospital birth- assisting the midwife. She may have been a doula before, but her primary role is to learn the art of midwifery by assisting the midwife- not being the primary support to the mom. The doula has one role- to be there for the mom or couple. Her role is to be fully attentive to the emotional and physical needs of the mom. So look over the roles- they may differ within your practice, and determine who you want to have with you in labor. think about your needs and I am sure you will make the right choice for you.

homebirth midwife in labor

“If you choose home birth for delivery, your midwife’s role will begin long before your due date. A midwife will provide regular checkups and refer you to a doctor for prenatal exams, such as ultrasounds. Your midwife will see you throughout your pregnancy, tracking your baby’s growth and checking you for any possible complications. Because prenatal visits with a midwife are longer and more relaxed than in a traditional medical setting, you and your midwife will develop a much more personal relationship than is typical with a doctor.

When it’s time for your baby’s birth, your midwife will come to your home with any equipment that may be necessary during the birth. She will monitor you throughout childbirth, typically checking the baby’s heart rate with a hand-held Doppler, as well as monitoring the baby’s position and the progress of your labor. She will stay with you throughout your entire labor, helping to keep you comfortable and making sure your labor is progressing as it should. After your baby is born, your midwife will clean up any mess, examine you and your baby and help you to try to start nursing. She will stay for a little while to make sure you and your baby are happy and healthy. She will visit you a day or two after your birth for a postnatal checkup, as well.” (more…)

credit to Ella Grey Photography
credit to Ella Grey Photography

We also have certified lactation educators who can assist in less critical ways to help get breastfeeding off to a good start.  We offer a breastfeeding class for couples to have a hands on learning experience to help prepare them for success. If you take this class, you can come to Teresa’s childbirth class for any follow-up needs you may have at no cost. If you did not attend this class and need help. There is an hourly fee of $25/ hour if you make an appointment to come to our teaching space. If you need us to come to you it is a two hour minimum at $45/ hour. We offer help in latching the baby and good positions with guidance in the basics of breastfeeding.

We also have a few certified lactation consultants available to assist in this area. They are trained and specialize in helping to get a mom and baby nursing happily. They come to your home for an initial visit to help ascertain how to best help you establish a wonderful nursing relationship with your new baby. This initial visit allows some follow ups by phone and if additional appointments are needed they can be determined from there. They are available for more extensive help beyond the basics.

How do you enlist lactation services? Call Teresa and she will ascertain if your needs require the expertise of an IBCLC or a lactation educator. She may be able to help you over the phone with some basic concerns that may be all you need. If you need more assistance, she will give you the names of those who may be able to assist you.

arms-open-wideWe are the most experienced doula group in the state. Our group (the doulas currently working with our company) has supported couples more than 1200 births!

We are available for unlimited telephone and email support throughout pregnancy. We offer prenatal meetings- one minimum, sometimes two to discuss your birth ideals and to get to know each other more. We provide unlimited labor support- one fee no matter how long your labor may be. Usually, we will attend you during early labor in your home, depending on location and distance to the hospital. We offer massage, guided imagery, some reflexology, position suggestions, and guidance during labor. If possible, we take photographs and write a birth story or timeline for your review after the birth. We stay an hour or so after the birth to assist with breastfeeding. Most of our doulas have personal breastfeeding experience to share with you in helping you initiate breastfeed successfully. We offer a postnatal meeting to help you with any problems and for the doula to see “her baby,” once you are ready to get out and about.

We back each other up in case of an emergency that does not allow us to attend your birth, but you choose your primary doula.

Our labor doula fees range from $475 for less experienced doulas to $800 for the most experienced doulas in our group. We all include all of the services above. A fee is paid by an initial retainer of $250 and the balance being due two weeks before your due date. We also offer payment plans and never want our fee to discourage your use of one of our doulas. Contact TDelandra for an agreement to be sent to you via email.

See what our clients and students share about what we were to them: Students and Clients Share {youtube}xmiuIC8gHxE{/youtube}