Venn diagram of the three kinds of birth doulas

There’s more than 1 kind of birth doula?

Venn diagram of the three kinds of birth doulasIt’s been at least a decade since I first heard of the concept of birth doulas with different ways of looking at the job, and it has been an interesting concept to consider as I’ve come to know other doulas and mentor new doulas just starting it. I feel it can be a useful concept for parents considering which doula can best help them meet their goals as well.

At some point in the first 2-3 years of being a birth doula, I took a little quiz that categorized doulas into three types:

Birth focused – These doulas were focused on helping moms have the kind of birth that they felt was the best. They are the ones who are advocating for all low risk women to birth at home, for midwifery to be the standard of care unless higher level care is needed, and who have in mind an ideal birth they’d like to help their clients achieve. They tend to be huge fans of birth plans and often align themselves with specific methods of childbirth. Some doulas who have this philosophy will work only with out of hospital birth, and many go on to become home birth midwives.

Baby focused – These are the doulas who view everything about birth through the lens of the impact on the baby. They tend to be attracted to the work of APPPAH, to encourage mothers to talk to their babies and to be huge proponents of skin to skin bonding and breastfeeding. Many doulas who philosophically fall in this area tend to be very much against circumcision, routine newborn procedures, and formula. They can be passionate and valuable advocates and supporters of moms who have similar philosophies.

Woman focused – These are doulas who are most concerned with mothers feeling supported in their decisions and having the power and right to make decisions for themselves. They have an easier time supporting moms who make decisions that they may not have made for themselves. They tend to work in homes, hospitals and birth centers somewhat equally, and can support women planning everything from a planned cesarean birth to an induction with epidural to a home waterbirth or lotus birth.

Now these three types of philosophies are not at all mutually exclusive, nor are they unchanging and constant. As doulas learn, grow, and see more births, their thinking often changes. I would say that when I started out, I was definitely more birth focused, but over time I have become more woman focused, though I still do have quite a bit of overlap between the two with some baby focus thrown in there for balance. I feel pretty passionately that there is not any ONE way of giving birth that is “correct” for everyone, and I firmly believe parents have the right – and should be trusted – to choose what is best for their family.

Want to take the quiz for yourself? You can find it here: What Kind of Advocate Are You?

I don’t think that any one focus of a doula is necessarily any better than any other, but I do think it is important for parents to consider if the doula they are interviewing has a focus that is a good match for them. Most doulas will (like me) have quite a bit of overlap, but often there is one area that is more passionate for them, and it sure comes out when doulas talk about what drives their work and motivates them to do this job. You’ll hear it in their tone of voice, in the fire in their eyes, and in the power of their words.

One thing to watch out for is the doula that ProDoula founder Randy Patterson calls the “Birth Avenger” style of doula work. I’ve seen many times that new doulas come to this job because they had a horrible birth experience and they want to “save others from what happened to them” – this can create a really difficult situation when the doula has not processed and resolved her difficult birth experience. I’ve heard from a doula that she had to leave in the middle of a client’s birth because “she was going down the same road I did and I could not stick around for the train wreck” that she believed was coming. It was her last birth as a doula, she dropped all her remaining clients and left the field. I’m sure the client felt abandoned at a vulnerable time as well.

I’ve counseled doulas who were retraumatized by attending births at the hospital where they delivered – even if all went well.

Let me be clear here: Having experienced birth trauma does not mean a woman can never be a doula. It does mean she should do whatever it takes to process and heal from her birth trauma before attending other women’s birth. It may mean she sets boundaries such as not working with a specific place of birth or provider, too.

Being aware of what drives a doula philosophically is an important thing when practicing as a doula or when choosing which doula to hire. Not all doulas are alike, and find a good match in style, philosophy and personality is crucial for a good working relationship with your doula.

There’s more than 1 kind of birth doula? Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up August 13

WednesdayWrapUpNNo one, NO ONE, has the right to decide for a woman if her birth was traumatic or not. My Traumatic Birth, According to Me

One of the frustrations about living in Utah. People are so afraid of seeing women’s bodies they do things like call the police over a breastfeeding booth at the Farmer’s Market.
Thankfully the chief of police is well versed in Utah’s laws and handled it well.

And to get my blood pressure down again, I could use of these apps to learn relaxation and meditation in pregnancy.

A new Pinterest board you might want to check out “What Childbirth Educators Want You to Know About Birth”

I’ve already shared a bunch of funny pregnancy announcement videos, but I found a new one that is a fun one:

Wednesday Wrap Up August 13 Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up July 9

WednesdayWrapUpKNice rundown of what you need to know about Breastfeeding and the Workplace.

I wish these stories did not need to be told. But they do. Sadly, some people cannot accept that birth trauma happens at all, and of those who acknowledge it, many feel it is a mother-only thing. But Birth Trauma is Not Just for Mothers, as this father’s story shows.

A follow up to a post from last weeks story about a mom who had a positive breastfeeding experience in Starbucks. When the story went viral, it was not exactly what the mom had anticipated. Here are her thoughts on The Disturbing Trend I Noticed When My Breastfeeding Story Went Viral.

If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re not having enough fun. The Onion takes on home birth.

A look at how fear plays a role in the low numbers of VBAC births. Do Malpractice Threats – Real or Imagined – Lead to More C-Sections?

It *is* important to get the terms right! Notes on postpartum mood disorders

An illustrated example of why it isn’t so simple as “just cover up” when nursing in public.

Today’s video is a small teaser snippet from an upcoming movie called Trial of Labor – all about VBAC. In this clip, you’ll learn more about the obstacles moms face when planning a VBAC.

Wednesday Wrap Up July 9 Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up 7/2

WednesdayWrapUpJIt’s not often talked about, but there are times when epidural anesthesia does not work. Here are 5 Things to Do When the Epidural Fails

An unusual birth story told with a sense of humor!

And another funny – big brother holding the new baby for the first time.

And to further make you laugh, a completely sarcastic set of instructions: How to Breastfeed Appropriately

A nice collection of videos on using the rebozo in labor.

Loved seeing a positive story about breastfeeding in public!

Great information on breastfeeding and medications, from the Centers for Disease Control.

Today’s video is Jimmy Kimmel going to a childbirth class with Jessica Alba. It’s overdramatized and overdone, but I can truthfully say I have had people like Jimmy in my classes. Many of the comments he made are comments I’ve had in class.

Wednesday Wrap Up 7/2 Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up June 25

WednesdayWrapUpFThis post marks a year and a half I’ve been doing the Wednesday Wrap Up!

An interesting potential clue about what starts labor. I’ll be interested to see if this pans out and how it might increase our understanding of how labor begins.

A nice collection of links on being active in labor.

I liked this list of how to prepare for labor. Particularly #10. There’s no one way to birth, and moms get to figure out what works for them.

Want to know if your pediatrician is really breastfeeding friendly? These are great questions to ask – and the answers you want to look for.

An interesting debate going on about Natural Birth. This first link:

The Cult of Natural Childbirth Has Gone Too Far is what set it off. I think many people missed the point of the article, which is more about class distinctions and the idealization of something not available to many women.

This response, Natural Childbirth is Not a Cult, missed that point but does make some good points as well.

Today’s video is from Laura Paulescu of Crowned Photography in Seattle (formerly Denver). It shows a mom alternating movement and rest through her labor.

The birth of Naomi Yonina | Crowned Birth Photography from crownedbirthphotography on Vimeo.

Wednesday Wrap Up June 25 Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up May 28

Wednesday Web Links
Collection of possible positions for laboring or birthing in the tub. I like to show moms lots of potential positions for any kind of labor to get them thinking beyond the most common ones.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out: A mom sues the hospital for forcing a cesarean against her will. This happens daily across the country, simply by hospitals and doctors refusing to “allow” VBAC, but this case is particularly outrageous.

An interesting list of things about labor, compiled by two moms with lots of personal experience in the process. I can’t say I agree with every single one, but worth a read!

A different way to look at postpartum depression: The six stages of PPD

Fantastic article on what childbirth educators need to know about maternal mental health. Includes a 10 question quiz. Take the quiz and let me know how you scored!

This is such a great birth story. I love the photos by my friend Natasha Hance, but the videos she took and included really capture the emotion. Mom talking about the baby’s sex and dad telling the whole family about how he caught the baby! It’s all so very well done. By mom and dad especially, but also well documented by Natasha!

Wednesday Wrap Up May 28 Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up 4/30

Weekly Pregnancy and Birth LinksI’ve wondered for a long time if babies who lose a lot of weight in the first day after birth are just shedding extra water weight from IV fluids! Nice to see someone addressing it.

Good thing they reserved the right to overrule the internet.

The Words that Steal Our Birth Power An interesting look at the words we use when we talk about birth stories, and what that says about our culture.

One thing I have learned quite a bit about in the last year is infant loss. My volunteer work with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep has brought me in contact with many families going through some very difficult circumstances. One resource I was completely unaware of during my first 16 years working in the birth field is perinatal hospice. These programs provide support and help for families who have a baby with a diagnosis that means the baby is not likely to live long past birth. They do wonderful work. Please learn more about perinatal hospice and see if there is a program in your area.

Today’s video is a recent one from Lamaze International. It goes over the facts about cesareans and VBACs in a quick few minutes, with some tips on how to find out if your provider is a good match for your desires. I thought it would be a fitting way to finish off Cesarean Awareness Month.

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Wednesday Wrap Up 4/23

Wednesday Wrap-Up Graphic - Salt Lake City birth doulaA good summary of some of the cultural and societal reasons Why Women Don’t Breastfeed.

Spending time skin to skin with your baby is a pretty miraculous thing. I recently had a family with a baby in the NICU, and they were able to see some pretty dramatic positive results from having the baby skin to skin with dad in the NICU. There are lots of reasons skin to skin contact is good, but here are the top 6 Reasons to Be Skin to Skin With Your Baby

Often parents don’t want to think about bad things happening, but in my years as a mom, I’ve used 7 of these 10 First Aid Skills Every Parent Should Know

I have seen many partners help catch their baby in my years as a doula. For parents who want to be involved, it can be a fantastic experience and a good way to be connected to the birth. How Your Partner Can Catch Your Baby

I have loved seeing more emphasis on family connection and bonding in cesarean births over the last few years. This is a good list of options that you may be able to have during a cesarean birth if it becomes necessary. Planning a Family-Centered Cesarean

Today’s video shows a man in his 20s watching his own birth video with his mom. While I think many of his reactions are exaggerated for drama, and there is some strong language, it’s still fun to watch.

Wednesday Wrap Up 4/23 Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up 4/9

Wednesday Wrap-Up Graphic - Utah Private Childbirth Classes
We are in the middle of planning our family vacation this week, so I have travel on my mind. We will be hitting a few National Parks on a road trip. (Someday I hope to see ALL the National Parks!) If you are pregnant and planning a final kid-free trip before the baby comes? Here are a few links with helpful tips:
Travel During Pregnancy – What to Bring
7 Tips for Traveling While Pregnant
Pregnancy Travel Tips

And if your baby is already here and you want to explore the world:
Car Travel With a Baby
Flying With a Baby
Tips for Traveling with Cloth Diapers
Breastfeeding While Traveling
Bottle Feeding While Traveling
50 Things to Know Before Traveling With Baby

I know, I know, we’re tired of the onslaught of selfies. But I really liked this idea of documenting your pregnancy through photos. It’s a HUGE step up from cell phone mirror shots, and I love how she pairs the photos with words.

Totally tooting my own horn here, but I had an article on Peanut Balls for Labor published on Science and Sensibility yesterday!

Today’s video comes from my friend Amanda McGhee of Kimberlin Gray Photography in Hampton Roads VA. Beautiful home birth that transfers to the hospital. The older kids reactions are just so fun to watch! Just FYI, there are bare breasts in the video, so if you’re not OK with that, might want to skip it. I honestly did not notice because I was caught up in the emotion of the birth.

The birth of Evanora from Kimberlin Gray Photography on Vimeo.

Wednesday Wrap Up 4/9 Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up 4/2

WednesdayWrapUpGIt takes a special kind of person to be a doula, this is true. But it also takes a special kind of person to live with, love, and share a life with a doula! This article shows what that can be like: My Wife Is A Doula

If you’re starting to think that you might not be a good fit with your care provider, this article has some great exercises to go through as you consider how the relationship is – or is not – working.

This is a great article for all kinds of birth professionals to read and consider. It’s a great discussion of professionalism and collaboration among those from different backgrounds and perspectives.

What a tender way for a dad to get involved in breastfeeding.

I’ve always said that it is unfair to say that the ONLY thing that matters is a healthy baby. Not so! But I loved the way Sharon Muza put it in this infographic: Birth is Like a 3 Legged Stool

Today’s video is a fun letter to a new baby born today from the Kid President. Very fun and sweet!

Wednesday Wrap Up 4/2 Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up 3/26

Web links for birthdayIt’s my birthday week, so my baby picture is making a comeback in the Wednesday Wrap Up graphic. I have been a doula for 15 year this summer, and I have always wanted to attend a birth on my birthday, so far no such luck! But tomorrow is the day so maybe this is my year?!?

This. This explains why I am a doula, even when it is hard. Hint: It’s not because I “love babies” like everyone thinks it is.

I loved this story about women supporting each other in feeding their child. A wonderful perspective from a mom who has both formula fed and breastfed.

Some ideas for nourishing foods to try in Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery. I’m a little curious about the groaning cake. Anyone want to bake me one? It *is* my birthday tomorrow…

A beautiful letter to an expectant first time mom.

I’ve always encouraged new parents to think carefully about who they invite to their birth. Because it can make a difference in their experience. Don’t let anybody bully you into having them there.

And to celebrate my birthday…this is the song that was at the top of the Billboard charts the week I was born. Interestingly enough, I did a birth almost two years ago where mom listened to this song on repeat the entire time, so it isn’t MY birth it reminds me of, it reminds me of that family and the little girl who came into this world hearing it!

Wednesday Wrap Up 3/26 Read More »

Wednesday Wrap Up 3/19

WednesdayWrapUpBExpecting moms are sometimes flooded with negative messages about how pregnancy is “supposed” to be miserable. This author gives some tips on how to combat that negativity when it starts to get your down: Living a Positive Pregnancy

Sometimes it is more than just cultural pressure to be miserable. Sometimes moms really *are* miserable. And in those cases, moms and their partners can be assertive about getting the help they need. Being an informed, assertive patient has many benefits. Don’t let your care provider brush off serious problems with “Yeah, that’s normal.” If it is impacting your ability to function and enjoy your pregnancy, push for better care. Push for referrals to other professionals, like physical therapists, nutritionists, counselors, or any number of other kinds of providers who can provide answers and help. It’s important to Push for Your Baby, but sometimes you need to push for YOU, too!

And if it’s depression, this lovely post has a nice balance of things to try and ways to get help. Sometimes postpartum depression gets all the attention while depression in pregnancy is ignored.

Subtle, but important. Everyone else in the room takes their cue from the doula, so watching my behavior and tone of voice is so, so important. Doulas as Tone Setters.

Today’s video is a nice demonstration of various techniques for labor. I love how they are using an actual hospital bed. I find that sometimes it is hard for people to envision how something might work in a hospital setting, so for those planning a hospital birth it can be helpful to see.

Now here’s a twist: What NOT to consider when hiring your OB or Midwife

Wednesday Wrap Up 3/19 Read More »