Monday, March 20, 2023

How to Create a Calm Birth Space

 Labor will demand a lot from you. It is intense. It can push you to your very limits. One way to ensure you can endure what labor throws your way is to ensure you have a firm mental & spiritual foundation. Ensuring your space is calm is a huge way to ensure you are mentally coping well. As a seasoned doula, these are the tried & true methods I have seen work:

  1. Stay at home as long as possible: obviously this applies to those who plan on leaving their homes to give birth. Once you enter the hospital or birth center, no matter how homey it can feel, you will only be focusing on having your baby, which can lead to stress, especially if you are still earlier in labor when you arrive. Ideally, you are arriving when you feel you will have the baby soon after or if you planned on an epidural and seem ready to receive it. Staying home allows you the freedom to move and do what you want. Instinctively women know how to have their babies and being at home allows you to fully embrace that intuition. You will also not have to worry about navigating the staff and the stress that can come with that. When you are in active labor, the change of environment is less likely to affect your labor. But please know that it can take a bit of time to acclimate once you have arrived. Follow the steps below on how to establish the environment once you have arrived.
  2. Keep your space dim/dark: Even if you are in a hospital, the lights can still be kept dim. There are a few medical procedures that may require light, like having an IV started or an epidural placed. But otherwise, ensure that the staff and/or people present know to keep the lights dim or off. This will allow your body to know it is time to relax and sink into the work you must do. If the monitors or IV pump lights bother you, stack towels over them and turn them away from you. Pack a sleep mask  to make sleeping easier. 
  3. Ask everyone to keep noise & talking to a minimum: Privacy is key to relaxing during labor. And extra noise can make it hard to ensure you feel you have your privacy. Have it on your birth plan that you would like everyone to speak softly while they are in your room. And ask that they only speak to your partner and/or doula if questions need to be asked. Eliminating all extra noise, especially in a hospital, can be tough. If you feel the need, bring noise cancelling ear plugs.
  4. Play relaxing music and/or tracks: If music helps you relax or you have been listening to certain tracks during pregnancy, in prep for labor (like Hypnobirthing) you will want to ensure you have a way to listen to it. I suggest my clients either use a waterproof bluetooth speaker or waterproof bluetooth earbuds. You can build playlists on Spotify. Youtube also has a good selection of free relaxing birth tracks. I also have had Christian clients love the Christian Hypnobirthing App.
  5. Add in hints of yellow/amber lighting: Yellow or amber light is the light your body associates with going to sleep, as it what is natural in the evening, compared to the blue light of day time. If you are having a home birth, candles are perfect for this. But if you worry about the risk of fire or having your baby outside your home, these flameless LED candles are beautiful alternatives. Twinkle lights can also add to a relaxing ambiance, no matter where you are birthing. You will definitely want battery operated ones if you are in the hospital, as they may have policies about lights that can be plugged in. 
  6. Use essential oils: Certain oils can help you relax. Diffusing them is not a good option for everyone. I suggest keeping the oil in the bottle and smelling for a few minutes, to ensure it does not make you feel bad. If you would like to diffuse, I would suggest keeping it to small spaces, like your bath room or use a small diffuser right next to you, so the room is not filled with the oils. Not all oils are safe to be in the air once baby is born. You could also just put a few drops on a tissue or cotton ball to keep by you, that way you can throw it away if it does not work. I also had a client suggest putting it on a maxi pad and sticking it to a wall near you, that way it stays in place but can be thrown away if you do not like it. These are some oils I have found to be helpful:
    1. Earthley Calming Blend
    2. Plant Therapy Chill Out
    3. Plant Therapy Lavender
    4. Plant Therapy Tranquil Blend
  7. Affirmations: Reading or having affirmations, read or spoke to you can help crate a calm space. It can be as simple as you memorize a few that resonate with you & remind your partner and the other people in your space to say them to you. But if you want, you could write them on notecards to display. Or you could ask those that come to your baby shower to write their favorite affirmations down on a notecard and even decorate them. There are plenty of beautiful pre-made ones that you can purchase as well. And if you are Christian, you can get these scripture cards. And these lights help you display your affirmations. 
  8. Have a team that you trust: For you to fully relax & allow yourself to ease into labor, you will need be surrounded by people who respect you and that you feel you can truly trust. It is very important to ensure that you with the right people well before labor begins, so make sure you are asking the right questions during pregnancy. You will also want to ensure your birth place staff will be supportive. While you have a little less control on which nurses will attend know that you can get a new one. Simply ask for the charge nurse and request a new nurse. You do have control over who enters your space. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

How to Have a Christ Centered Birth


This picture is from a client's birth, in which her midwife prayed over her again & again. She asked groups to pray for her. The whole space was filled with God's word. There was so much love & protection in the room. If this is what you envision for your birth, please read on.

God is always with you whether you actively invite Him into your birth space. Although there are many ways to intentionally integrate your faith into your birth; it can help you feel at peace & cope better with what your birth demands of you. Below are ways that you can actively set up a Christ centered birth:

  • Hire a Christian birth team: Having like-minded people in your birth space can bring such peace of mind. Knowing that people share in your faith, that know how to help you with prayer, scripture, that can sing you worship songs, etc. can elevate your birth space to a whole other level. While it certainly is not necessary to have an entire Christian birth team, at least make sure they all know your wishes and feel comfortable in supporting you in these ways. 
  • Utilize the Christian Hypnobirthing app: This program is revolutionary when it comes to a Christ-centered birth. The app contains tracks for scripture, breathing exercises for labor, and Christian affirmations. The app does need to be purchased but it is so worth it! If you believe this would be a useful tool for you, I recommend starting it right away. Listen to it while trying to fall asleep at bedtime, it will train your body to recognize it, when you need to relax, which is such an important tool for labor. This app can create such an inspiring & relaxing birth space. 
  • If you are Catholic, the Made for This app, is amazing: This app also has an array of helpful tracks perfectly tailored for your faith. 
  • Write out verses on note cards & tape them up in your birth space: Affirmations & verses can be a powerful way to remind you that Christ is walking with you during your birth. You can use apps to make beautiful images that can be printed as photos. You can also purchase pre-made ones. Or simply write them out on note cards. I have even seen friends & family create beautiful, individualized ones together at a baby shower!
  • Organize prayer circles who can be contacted when you are in labor: While pregnant, you could reach out to family, friends, and church members to ask that they pray for you when you are in labor. You can organize them all into a FB messenger group or group text, that way everyone can be contacted at the same time. I have also known moms to send out packets at their showers, with prayer cards & candles, to be utilized by those praying for you. 
  • Play worship music during your birth: During pregnancy, organize a play list of your favorite songs. One client said she put together a mix of relaxing music for when she needed to rest & surrender to the process along with energizing music for times she needed the energy to go on. Make sure your birth team knows how to access your list.
  • Prepare by reading Christian birth books: This is a list of my absolute favorite books that I recommend to my clients.
  • Pray, Pray, PRAY!:As all Christians know, prayer is one of the most potent tools we have. Having people in your space who will continually pray for you can bring so much peace & power. 
  • Trust that God is with you, even if birth looks different than you thought: Birth requires strength & flexibility. It is a process that demands us to understand how little control we actually have. But birth is also an opportunity to feel God's presence & protection especially in times of uncertainty. Pray for the strength to deal with whatever birth throws your way; for the strength & knowledge to do what is necessary for the well-being of you & your baby. Pray for your team to have the expertise to support you in the unique way that you need. And pray that love & peace fill your birth space, no matter how your baby needs to enter this world. 
My hope is that you know how beautiful your birth can be and will be. That you trust that God is with you. That your team helps you create a space in which you relax & allow birth to happen, however it unfolds. And that you have a whole team of believers lifting you up in prayer. The birth of your baby will be one of the best days of your life & you will all be enveloped in perfect love & protection. 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Finding Your Perfect Doula


Way to go on considering hiring a doula! This post is all about ways to not only find doulas to interview but how to ensure they are a good fit for your birth team.

My recommendation, before you even start your search, you need to consider what is important to you when it comes to a doula, that way you can gauge if the ones you are interviewing fit the bill. Below is a list of things you could possibly consider:

  • Experience: How experienced do you want your doula to be? Are you ok with a new doula? Do you feel you need an experienced one?
  • Connection: Is it most important that you connect with someone, that they feel like a friend you can tell anything to?
  • Cost: What is your budget? And what type of fee schedule would fit your needs?
  • Proximity: How important is it that your doula be from your area? Do you need your doula to live close to you or are you ok if they need to travel a bit to get either to you or your birth place?
  • Personality: Are you looking for a doula that feels like a motherly figure? One that feels like a sister or a friend? One that feels more like a coach? One who has a calming voice?
  • Faith: Do you want your doula to have the same beliefs as you?
  • Training: Would you like your doula to have a specific training, i.e. Spinning Babies, self hypnosis? Be certified? Have used a certain organization to train/certify?
  • Offer Other Services: Would you like a birth doula that also offers lactation services, postpartum doula work, placenta encapsulation, etc?
  • Insurance: Some companies will cover doulas, they usually do have to be certified with certain agencies. If this is something you know you will need, research what the criteria is ahead of time so you can present it to any doulas who you could possibly interview.
  • FSA/HSA: If you plan on paying using these methods, you will first need to know if your company covers doula services & then the criteria for submitting claims/paying/getting reimbursement. You will also need to ensure your doula can provide proper documentation to help you submit invoices/receipts. 
  • Solo Doula vs. Group: Would you prefer to work with a doula who is solo, to hopefully have that doula attend your birth? Or would you prefer to work with a group of doulas in an agency/co-op/collective? 
  • How do you view their role: Are you wanting a doula who provides strong partner support? One who will loudly advocate for you? 
Once you have decided what you hope to find in your doula, you could try finding doulas using the following methods (Please keep in mind, you need to ask why certain people are referring to certain doulas. Their reasoning on why someone is good may not match your needs.):
  • Ask you family & friends who they have used. The key to this is getting referrals from people who are planning a similar birth to what you want. 
  • Join local FB birth groups & get referrals. Posting in groups can seem overwhelming, as you may get a lot of comments. Be specific with your needs. List the area you live in, where you plan on delivering, what your due date is, and what you hope to find in a doula. This could help limit the amount of comments you get to doulas who are available for your area and due date.  But sift through the comments and see which ones were made by actual clients & see if they list reasons why they liked a particular doula. You could even ask to private message some responders to inquire about their experiences. 
  • Go to This is an amazing resource that will fine tune a search based on your location and due date. The doulas must pay to be displayed on this site so it may not be an accurate representation of all the doulas in your area. But it lists a lot of information on each doula, like their experience, their training, pricing, etc. which could help shorten your search time. 
  • Receive referrals from your provider (but I caution you to not limit yourself to only their list). Not all providers will have doula referrals especially if they do not typically have patients who work with them. But some providers who do can be a wealth of information on doulas simply because they get to see them in action and are exposed to them on a consistent basis. 
  • Find "Meet the Doula Events" in your area. These events tend to focus on families getting to meet multiple doulas in one evening. These short meetings do not replace a formal interview but can help you get a short list of who you would like to interview further. 
  • Ask your other providers, like your Webster chiropractor. If you are seeking other pregnancy related services, those practitioners may have great insight into your area's doulas. If they are exposed to many pregnant women, they would have heard a few doulas' names. And they probably have networked with some too. 
Once you have a short list of who you may want to interview, I suggest you look further into these doulas. You can find a lot of information using the following resources:
  • Their social media pages
  • Their business websites
  • Local birth & parenting FB groups (search their name in the search bar & read through their comments on posts & see what info they may share publicly, to gauge if they seem to match what you are looking for). 
And once you have the interviews set up, here is a list of commonly asked questions that you can ask. Although I find organic conversation is always a good indicator of how you mesh with a certain doula while allowing you to get all the information you need on their services. I tend to find I get hired by families more when we just talk vs. the ones that feel like a traditional job interview.
  • How long have you been a doula? 
  • How many births have you attended?
  • What organization did you train through?
  • Do you have any additional training?
  • How do you support partners?
  • How many times during pregnancy will we meet? What will we discuss?
  • How do you help me advocate for myself in the birth space?
  • How do you work with medical staff & providers?
  • Do you come to my house while in labor, before transferring to my birth place?
  • Do you have a cap on how many hours you will provide support? Do you charge extra if we go over that time?
  • Do you work with backups? What happens if you are sick or at another birth?
  • How do you handle payments?
  • What kind of support do you provide? How would you describe your style?
  • Where do your clients primarily birth? Hospitals? Home? With doctors? Midwives?
  • This is my birth plan (insert whatever type of birth you envision). Do you support this often? How would you help me?
After each interview, it can be helpful to take time to decide how you thought it went. Many times, people know there is a connection right away. The conversation was effortless & felt like that doula checked all of their boxes. And sometimes, you feel you want to keep exploring options. When you find the right match, it will feel right. 

Good luck on your search!