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Where Did Your Doula Train?

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Today I read on www.doulamatch.net that there are 67 different doula organizations listed on their site. Wow. While there has been an increase in recent years of different certifying paths I had no idea there were that many.

As with just about everything in life and business there are pros and cons to this explosion of new ways to train doulas. Respectfully I submit a few of my thoughts on this matter:

Pros:

  • More professionals and parents are seeing and reaping the benefits of doulas
  • Easier access to training, along with likely various payment methods
  • Doula has become a household name
  • Being a doula does not have to be synonymous with charity work; more doulas are rightfully charging a living wage, which in turn allows for more pro bono or volunteer work when their own financial needs are met
  • Teams of doulas can partner up or create agencies which can lessen the hard work of being on call
  • Fresh organizations can bring fresh ideas and instill new energy
  • More families are being served

Cons:

  • The trusted and well known organizations who have been around for years have a well crafted method of making sure they are creating professional doulas, do the newer organizations also have the same ethic or are they jumping on an opportunity to sell an online program to as many people as possible?
  • Clients and professionals may find that there is no standard of ethics, codes, or grievance policy — essentially there is no national standard for doulas.
  • A person seeking to become a doula may not be able to tell the difference and spend their educational budget on a program that is not suited to them or does not equip them to be a doula. They may choose one solely based on ease of training, location, or budget price.
  • Doulas who are fresh out of training, in my opinion, require mentoring from their organization as well as continuing education and hands on experience. Will they receive this from a course that only includes a booklet of skills they check off and submit?
  • The doula profession has a high burnout and turnover rate. The initial interview process and reference check can save an applicant much time and money — sometimes being a doula isn’t a good fit for everyone or it isn’t a good fit for a particular time in someone’s life. If it isn’t a good time or fit for the doula it is not going to be a good fit for their clients or the professionals they are in contact with.

I mentor newer doulas in our area who reach out to me and go through an application process and are a good fit. My view is the world needs more doulas. Experienced doulas should be available to help the newer ones where possible but one of my requirements is for my mentees to have completed a training through an approved certifying organization and either to have been certified or actively working towards that certification. Certification is for everyone’s benefit. It demonstrates the doula understands and is committed to a scope of practice and follows it. It gives any families and medical personnel a place to file a grievance should that ever be necessary. It gives the doula ongoing support through the certifying organization and continuing education. I myself trained and certified through CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association) and kept my certification active for many years. Eventually I moved my certification over to Hypnobabies once I became a Hypno-Doula but I still attend CAPPA conferences when I can and I was an ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) leader for 7 years and received extensive training, support, and continuing education through that organization as well.

So if you are considering becoming a doula, carefully consider who to train through. How long has the organization been around? What do they offer in the way of not only training and certification but also in ongoing support and continuing education? Their low training fee may not be a bargain if their philosophy does not mesh with yours or if you are getting an incomplete education. My advice is to always try to round out any training with local volunteer opportunities such as a Birth Network or La Leche League, etc, in your area.

If you are considering hiring a doula, how can you know if they have had a good training? Ask who they trained (and hopefully certified or are working on certification) through. Google the organization and see if there is a public scope of practice listed, if there is a grievance policy, if the organization has been around for some time. There could be a new organization that is wonderful and has just begun so also listen to your instinct! Was there any in person or hands on training or was it completely on line? Do they connect their trainees with any mentors? Do their trainees attend yearly conferences or continued educational opportunities? Are there clearly defined guidelines of how to achieve training goals (ex: a set amount of births in a set time frame with satisfied clients as well as satisfied medical personnel giving reviews). Do they do background checks or at minimum, call references? (you probably wouldn’t want a doula with an arrest record, for example).

Growth is good and at times it can be messy. For the first half of my career I usually had to explain what a doula was. Rarely do I have to do that now and I love that! Few people are going to go into birth work unless they have a desire to help families. I feel most of the newer organizations are trying to make it easier to have training easily accessible and are trying to bring in fresh ideas to improve on trusted outlines.  We just have to make sure there are some professional standards and that everyone is getting the training and the trained doula they expect and deserve. Happy doula-ing and birthing!

 

All Rights Reserved, 2017, Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula.

 

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Important information for every woman, whether you have given birth by cesarean or vaginally, whether you have had no children of many. Hysterectomy is the most common non-obstetrical procedure for women in our country. Approximately 600,000 are performed each year in the U.S. 1 in 9 women will have one. It’s time for us to focus on our pelvic floor health.

August ICAN of Knoxville Meeting — Pelvic Floor Health

Please join us to hear our guest speaker, Autumn Synowiez, OT, speak to us about our pelvic floor health. Whether you are planning to get pregnant, are pregnant, or have birthed your babies in the past — we can all benefit from good pelvic floor health. Those with diastasis recti, perineal repairs, and cesareans will especially benefit from this information.

Meetings are FREE, however we gratefully accept donations for our local 501c Non Profit Chapter. (suggested donation $1-$3)

Partners and children are welcome for most of our meetings. We respectfully ask that if your child is needing a quiet moment that you step out if needed.

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Knoxville Doula Is Growing

Knoxville Doula is growing! I will be joining a fantastic massage therapist and a fertility and pregnancy acupuncturist at our beautiful office in West Knoxville. I will still be at my current location through the end of this month. We look forward to serving the community as a whole for your fertility, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum needs! You can check out their info atTransformations Massage and Wellness Center and Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture. ‪#‎knoxvilledoula‬ ‪#‎doula‬ ‪#‎knoxvilletn‬‪#‎professionalsworkingtogetherforyou‬ ‪#‎fertility‬ ‪#‎pregnancy‬ ‪#‎reproductive‬‪#‎massage‬ ‪#‎acupuncture‬ ‪#‎childbirthclasses‬

Knoxville doula is

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Q&A With A Mentee

For over a year I have been offering a mentorship program for newer doulas. Please enjoy this Q&A with one of them, Emily Gentry.
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Q:  Can you tell us a little about yourself and your services?
A: I have two great kids, an amazing husband, and tons of support to chase my dreams of being a doula from our family. I had two really amazing, empowering births which was a huge factor in becoming a doula. The services I provide are birth and postpartum planning assistance, labor support, postpartum doula services, babywearing education, mother’s blessing celebrations, and cloth diapering education. I also work with a local photographer to offer discounted rates for maternity, birth, and newborn pictures.
Q:  What made you want to be a doula?
A: When I first started, it was because I had a very strong desire to see women be empowered by their births. I had two amazing experiences with my births and I really wanted to help other women feel like I did. I believe that child birth is a crucial part of becoming a mother and how you feel about your birth can have either a positive effect or negative effect on the first few days, weeks, months, or even years of motherhood. For me, being empowered by birth meant achieving a completely natural childbirth. As a brand new doula, it was my opinion that the worst that could happen was that a mother would end in a C-section. That opinion quickly changed when the very first birth I attended as a doula ended in an emergency C-section. The mother understood that having a cesarean was the safest option for her and her baby. She was still empowered with her birth even after MY worst fear came true. Today, I still want women to view their birth as an empowering event in their journey into motherhood. But empowerment for women varies as much as favorite flavors of ice cream. Each woman is different, each birth is different, but each desired outcome is the same. Each woman deserves to be empowered by their birth, and that is why I want to be a doula.
Q: Who did you train through?
A: I trained through DONA International.
Q:  What inspired you to become an apprentice versus striking out on your own?
A: I actually tried striking out on my own when I was young and naïve and thought that I knew all the secrets to being an amazing doula. Like I said in an earlier answer, that perspective changed rather quickly after my first few births. I realized real fast that being a successful doula meant more than having achieved a natural child birth or two on your own. My experience with child birth is not the same as what everyone else experiences. I can still draw from my own experiences and help my clients. But using that alone really limits how I can connect with my clients. Even after training I still felt that I had a lot to learn and who better to learn from than someone who has been doing it for 16 years! I wanted to see first hand what it looks like to be a veteran doula and learn as much as I could so that I could better serve my clients.
Q:  What would describe as your birth philosophy and main area of interest?
A: My birth philosophy is that every woman deserves an empowering birth as defined by her. Some women are empowered by having a cesarean. Some women are empowered by achieving a natural child birth. Some women are completely happy not knowing what they want. My philosophy can be summed up by my business motto: “Supporting Women, Supporting Labor”. I support women in what they want out of their labor and child birth. My main area of interest is definitely hospital births. I feel like that is where women need the most support for their child birth choices.
Q: What has been your favorite thing so far about being a birth professional?
A: Honestly, my favorite thing so far is the look and feeling of a mother and her partner after birth while they are getting those first precious snuggles with their baby. The way she smiles as she is looking into her baby’s eyes, smelling their sweet little head, nursing or feeding her baby for the first time and just soaking in her perfect prize. It’s a feeling that is contagious. No matter how tired I might be from supporting a laboring mom, after that baby is born there is rush of adrenaline and suddenly I’m very awake!
Q:  Where can people find out more info or contact you?
A: The best way to contact me is by email or Facebook. My email address is blessedassurancebirthdoula@gmail.com and my busness page www.facebook.com/blessedassurancebirthdoula
Thanks, Emily! We know you are going to help so many women and families with all of your services and your desire to become a CNM (certified nurse midwife). I look forward to watching this journey unfold.
All Rights Reserved, Kimberly Sebeck AKA Knoxville Doula, 2016
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A Glimpse Into Postpartum Work

I have been doing quite a bit of postpartum doula-ing lately. More clients request my birth services but I really enjoy being hired to do postpartum work, too. Sometimes people are not as familiar with what a postpartum doula does, or doesn’t do.

My services are really quite flexible and dependent on what each family needs. Some moms have me come over and basically “pick my brain” about feeding the baby, newborn care, postpartum recovery, infant milestones,  etc., and that consumes the majority of my block of time. I choose to come over to a home for a minimum of 3 hours but it can certainly be longer. Other moms understand how important rest is and feel safe and relaxed enough with me watching over their new baby so they can go take a blissful long nap, with maybe a shower thrown in. Other families want to soak in every second of the newborn period with their baby and I do errands and simple household tasks. I also attend doctor visits like the first pediatrician appointment or a postpartum visit for the new mom.

I don’t do heavy cleaning. It’s far less expensive to hire a housekeeper than a postpartum doula. I do light tasks: loading the dishwasher, laundry, running errands, sterilizing breast pumps and/or bottles, putting together infant gadgets like monitors and swings, making a snack for mom or starting a meal for dinner. Speaking of dinner, I actually love to cook for my families especially if I am going to be there for a good amount of hours for the day. I give them a list of recipes that I am familiar with and good at and let them send me to the store or give them a list of ingredients to pick up. Imagine how good it sounds to have a knowledgeable person come over to answer newborn questions, perform household tasks, and then be able to enjoy my now famous chicken and dumplings or a refreshing summer salad. If the partner has already returned to work they can come home and focus on bonding and family time instead of working all day and then coming home to a list of things to do.

Frequently the question comes up of: what will we do for 3 hours? Once I am there and a mom sees how wonderful and valuable a postpartum doula is they often request more hours in a day. It might seem awkward at first to have someone in your home but that feeling quickly dissipates. I can be the person you confide in when you’re having some “baby blues” or postpartum mood disorders and I have the resources of where to get help. I can be the person who helps you ease into motherhood without any judgment. I can give suggestions about trying to get enough sleep, how to soothe sore nipples, and also dispel some of the misinformation given out by family, friends, and online sites. Having trouble figuring out your K’Tan or Moby? I will help you practice so you feel confident wearing your baby. Those sheets you have been sweating in, bleeding on, and leaking breastmilk into? I can change those out for fresh ones.

I will help you find your way to being the best parent in the manner that suits your lifestyle. One day you will be the one telling me what the baby needs and that is exactly how being a postpartum doula works. I work myself out of a job as you grow into parenthood and recover through the fourth trimester.

doulakym 9116599

All Rights Reserved, Knoxville Doula, Kimberly Sebeck 2016

www.knoxvilledoula.com

 

 

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Cesarean Rates – With a Grain of Salt

Note: This post is not about your medically necessary cesarean, or even one you chose. The author of this post respects all births and philosophies.

As more education and advocacy spreads about high rates of cesareans many natural birth advocates will encourage women to ask for their doctor and/or hospitals cesarean rates. Sometimes it is hard or impossible to find these rates as they are not always maintained by each physician, hospital, or even in public records. It is usually easier to find your state or region’s cesarean rates.

What is a woman to do when she searches and cannot find anything but internet reviews and anecdotal accounts?  What if she asks her obstetrician and they say they do not know what their cesarean rate is? What happens when a woman finds out that the hospital she has chosen to birth at or the obstetrician she is using has a 30%, a 60%, a 25% rate of cesareans? What does it all mean?

Information is always useful. But consider a few things.  If your state or regions cesarean rate is 30% but a certain hospital has a cesarean rate twice that — it could give you pause. Or you may consider if they only accept high risk women and are staffed by all or mostly high risk women’s specialists. Perhaps your provider is a large supporter of women who are attempting VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and this skews their overall cesarean rate because there is always the chance a previous cesarean will result in another cesarean for the same woman. Large hospitals may not have accumulated statistics any more recent than a few years ago or even longer.

A rate will not guarantee you will have the information about choosing a hospital or provider.

Some suggestions for finding out deeper information are to ask these questions:

  • Ask your ob/gyn if they can provide a recent cesarean experience concerning their philosophy on birth. Was it due to a time limit? Was baby or mother not faring well?
  • If the birth facility itself has a seemingly high cesarean rate ask if this is due to specialists, high risk situations, hospital policies, or something else?
  • Has the doctor or facility implemented any measures since the most recent statistics that could help lower the chance of an unnecessary cesarean? Such as welcoming doulas, adhering to ACOG recommendations about reducing non medical inductions and considering active labor as beginning at 6 cm instead of the outdated 4 cm, utilizing midwifery care, and updating the tools provided to laboring women?
  • Does your hospital or doctor keep current on certain methods that can reduce unnecessary surgery by providing peanut balls for women with epidurals, having wireless monitoring for mobility, water labor options, etc.?
  • Does your hospital or doctor support VBAC?
  • Does your provider speak with compassion and understanding when you ask these questions or are they defensive or minimizing your concerns?

I hope some of these questions have helped to show that a rate is not always just a rate. Again, information is useful. It is a good starting point to ask more questions to make sure your provider or place of birth is in line with what you want for your birth options. Ultimately labor and birth is an unknown and you can only do the best with the information you have at the time.

Happy birthing!

All Rights Reserved, Knoxville Doula, Kimberly Sebeck 2016