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A doula perinatal mentor is like your best friend.  Remember that love you had growing up with a friend that would listen to all your stories, ideas, and imaginary worlds you snail-mailed to each other?  Remember when you were sad, and she gave you a hug?  Remember when you had a question, and she'd help you find the answer?  A doula is your best friend through the childbearing years with an inside scoop about the modern birth industry and your amazing body.  Not every doula practices the same way, but an Esali Birth Perinatal Mentor strives to encompass all of the needs of the childbearing years through knowledge, skill, and networking.

What does a doula do?  What DOESN'T a doula do?

What a Doula Does

  1. Tells you her personal abilities to support YOU through whatever stage of birth you're experiencing
  2. Doesn't pretend to be superwoman, but offers you love and guidance through your personal birth experience
  3. Massages your feet, hands, face, and whatever will make you feel better
  4. Walks with you prenatally providing informational and emotional guidance
  5. Provides education and support that encourages you to make informed decisions
  6. Seeks to build your confidence so you can become aware of your personal power, knowledge of yourself, and capabilities as a mother or father
  7. Understands the birth industry and hurdles you may have to cross, and helps you navigate these paths
  8. Offers physical guidance to improve your overall health for a happy healthy birth
  9. Offers nutritional guidance to improve your overall health for a happy healthy birth
  10. Helps you find area professionals that can support you through happy healthy birth
  11. Helps you find area professionals that can support you through postpartum and parenting
  12. On call 24/7 (not just after 37 weeks and not just for active labor)
  13. Helps you find answers to questions and may perform many hours of research for clients
  14. Looks over your food journal to help see where you could improve from timing of eating to what you're ingesting
  15. Finds time for you and your family's needs
  16. Goes with you to the grocery store to help select healthy balanced food items
  17. Help you prep for postpartum by blending herbal baths, stocking your pantry, and packing your labor bag
  18. Reviews your birth guide (birth plan) for language, efficiency, and necessities to help you communicate with your birth team
  19. Networks with area professionals to help maintain a positive image in the community that will reflect on your birth experience
  20. Leads birth comprehensive birth classes that help you become aware of ALL your options for ALL births
  21. Leads perinatal comprehensive classes that help you become aware of ALL your options from pre-conception through postpartum and early parenting
  22. Can drive with you to long distance prenatal appointments to chat about what you want to talk about, and help you reflect on your prenatal appointment after it has occurred
  23. Provides consistent support prenatally, even when you are choosing to birth without a doula or with another doula
  24. Provides consistent support prenatally for mothers includes those experiencing PTSD from Previous Sexual Trauma while working with your therapist to ensure you have the best support team available no matter when you have your baby
  25. Supports #ALLthebirths because a doula is supporting YOU
  26. Supports the birth team's interaction with the laboring mother to improve her experience and memory of the birth
  27. Guides you and your birth partner on positive communication skills to improve your labor experience
  28. Provides physical support during labor for comfort
  29. Provides physical guidance during labor to help a baby move into a more comfortable position
  30. Provides emotional support during labor for comfort and birth progression
  31. Communicates with the staff about your needs for quiet and privacy during labor
  32. Doesn't flinch when your water breaks all over their shoes and the doula is in the middle of counter pressure for your comfort
  33. Helps you roll from side to side during a medicated birth and you have little feeling from an epidural
  34. Holds your baby on your breast during the first hours after a cesarean when you're a little in and out from the medication
  35. Cares for older siblings whether at a home birth, during the hospital, or when you need childcare during a scheduled cesarean
  36. Meets you at your home, in the woods for a walk, and at your labor facility to support you whenever you need support
  37. Watch your labor signs to help provide information that helps you decide when to transfer to your birth facility
  38. Encourages you to listen to your amazing body and all the signals it is providing you to move, breathe, and dance with your baby
  39. Helps comfort you through transferring to a birth facility
  40. Can drive you to your birth facility while your birth partner supports you during transfer to a birth facility
  41. Help setup a birthing tub for hydrotherapy
  42. Help tear down and cleanup a birthing tub after a water birth
  43. Get in the birthing tub with you to provide back pressure and position support
  44. Is comfortable with birth fluids near and on them
  45. Helps you find the labor noises that opens your cervix and brings baby down
  46. Reassures your birth partner that all these noises are expected and opening the cervix, bringing the baby down
  47. Help cleanup the house after a home birth
  48. Rotates and wiggles your hips to help baby move through the pelvis
  49. Dances with you during birth for emotional and physical support
  50. Offers birth ball use guidance
  51. Offers peanut ball use guidance
  52. Tells you how amazing you are to build your confidence, and oxytocin, in pregnancy and birth
  53. Tells your birth partner how amazing they are to build their confidence, and oxytocin, in supporting you through birth
  54. Takes the lead on supporting you as you desire
  55. Guides the direction of your birth partner so they can support you in a leading role
  56. Works alongside your birth partner
  57. Holds your hair back and a bag for vomit
  58. Provides support even when there are shift changes at your birth facility
  59. Turns down the lights to help oxytocin build to its fullest potential
  60. Encourages privacy to build oxytocin for labor progression and an enjoyable birth
  61. Encourages intimacy to build oxytocin for labor progression and an enjoyable birth
  62. Reminds you to listen to your body for positions and movement
  63. Reminds you to listen to your body for needs of rest and relaxation
  64. Reminds you to listen to your body for pushing birthing
  65. Reminds the facility of your birth guide
  66. Reminds you to speak up for your desires
  67. Reminds you of your human rights during labor and birth
  68. Reminds you that you CAN birth vaginally when others are telling you that you don't have a choice
  69. Reminds you that you CAN choose a cesarean when others are telling you that you don't have a choice
  70. Fills up your water bottle, adds a little cucumber and fruit for electrolyte balance
  71. Reminds you to take sips of water for hydration
  72. Reminds you to eat light balanced foods, broths, and fruit as desired during labor
  73. Reminds you to communicate with your provider and staff for your wishes
  74. Reminds you that, "No Thank You" and "Not Right Now" are powerful words in the labor space
  75. Gets cooling wash cloths for your face and neck
  76. Gets warm towels for perineal support
  77. Provide hip squeezes to allow comfort and room for the baby
  78. Uses a rebozo for comfort and encouraging baby to rotate through the pelvis
  79. Works with the rest of the birth team and the staff to ensure you have all the perspectives when needed
  80. Answers the phone at 3 am to help you find calm in the early hours of labor, and breastfeeding
  81. Shares area contacts for perinatal services such as breastfeeding or osteopathic therapy
  82. Makes you a cup of tea and a sandwich while you're nursing your baby
  83. Brings your family dinner so you all can rest during postpartum
  84. Listens to your birth story and encourages you to feel all the feels
  85. Helps you wrap your baby for a more hands-free and connected postpartum
  86. Guides you on breastfeeding latch and positions for more comfort
  87. Guides you on when to seek more support for any issues that may arise during postpartum or parenting
  88. Go-to for perinatal-related information and support
  89. Connects the dots between birth choices and birth experience to help you process and understand your birth experience
  90. Checks in on you in the days after birth to ensure you are holistically supported
  91. Offers LOVE - hugs, tears, laughter and love

I can't say that a doula is right for everyone.  I can say that when you have a relationship built with your doula, the ability for better support during labor grows.  A doula is that best friend willing to be by your side through every experience, day or night, weekday or weekend, holidays and spur of the moment.  If you're looking for labor options, a doula perinatal mentor can be a beacon of light through the childbearing years.

Let's chat about how you can be supported through pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.

new year 2018 esali birth

Well hello 2018!  It's been a glorious week.  We've seen glitter snow, went sleigh riding, and at my house we've started new community adventures.

What is new for you in this new year?  What are you adding new to your TTC, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding and parenting routine?  What new outlooks do you have for the year?

Here is what is new for Esali Birth in 2018:

Look for the topic of the week wherever you love to follow Esali Birth: Here on the blog and Newsletter, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Look for herbal wellness videos for holistic remedies for TTC, pregnancy, birth and the diaper bag.  Join in implementing these basic lifestyle choices that were once a common part of the childbearing years in every household.  Have a request?  Send it my way!

Join in building your confidence for healthy living with the just breathe Reflection Journal Prompts.  These will be posted weekly on FB if that's where you visit most often.  They'll also find their way to your inbox through the newsletter right here:

just breathe™ Reflection Journal Prompt - Week 1

Reflect: I trust __________ about myself. I trust _________ about my support system. I trust __________ about my body.

Building oxytocin means letting go of the anxiety and stress that causes adrenaline to creep up. Every action that relieves that stress will allow oxytocin to rise allowing spontaneous happy healthy birth. Join me weekly for reflection journal prompts geared to the childbearing year. This is #TheOxytocinMethod

 

So, I hope you have your reflection journal ready and are looking forward to 2018!  Know someone that could benefit?

 

Have a glorious #HappyNewYear!

 

Doulas can have a challenging job and networking is vital to a positive imagine throughout the community.  Speak up for the families, and you're bound to get some negative perspectives on your work in the birth industry, depending on the perspectives of the birth professionals where you work.  Lay low and you may not be meeting the needs of the family's that really need your empowered educated voice.  Remember in most births, even if your job scopes and perspectives differ - the family is hiring all the professionals involved to be in their birth space.  Acknowledging their choice and respecting the differences of birth experiences is empowering to the doula industry.  Here are five ways doulas say thanks for positive networking in the birth industry.

Doulas Say Thanks with Thank You Cards

Recently attended a birth?  Send a quick note to the provider that you worked alongside during the birth.  Tell them you appreciate their willingness to receive you in their work environment.  If there is something really specific that made your job more enjoyable, mention this.  If there is something interesting about the way they work with the family, make that known.  Build up their strong points with praise and let them know you respect their position in the family's journey to parenthood.

Doulas Say Thanks with Goodies

Some thank you gestures from doulas happen during the birth.  Bring a bag of fruit, healthy snacks or even a box of donuts and cookies to the staff at the birth facility.  Nurses will be working with the doulas more than many care providers, and showing them your appreciation can go a long way for positive experiences for families. Bringing a healthy snack or a little sugar pick me up now and then can bring a smile to the face that might be at the end of a long week of long shifts.

Doulas Say Thanks During the Holidays

A holiday card can make a wonderful addition to a provider's holiday wall - whether it is National Day of the Midwife, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Valentine's Day.  A handwritten card portrays thought and energy spent - not just a gesture of marketing.  Send a quick note to the teams you're working with and just say hello.  Keeping your image in front of them let's them know you exist and keeps your name fresh on their minds.

Doulas Say Thanks to the Family

Don't forget the families you serve.  Thank the families for allowing you to be a part of one of the most transformative times in their lives.  What an impact a doula has on the future of the family.  This doesn't have to be a gift - though a pot of soup during a postpartum visit or a dozen eggs when the chickens are laying can be a kind gesture.  An e-mail, a phone call, a message, a birthday card and checking in after a few weeks of the birth.  Think about what each family needs individually that you are able to provide and share.

Doulas Say Thanks with Empathy

Understand that your job scope differs from all those around you.  A doula is not a nurse, not a care provider, not a midwife, not an obstetrician.  You have been requested into the birth space for your perspective, experience, and differing job scope - along with everyone else.  Be empathetic to not only the job scope of others, but why they have chosen that profession and ultimately each individual has the same goal - even if the approach is different.  Remember the journey of each individual and know that one experience can result in many varied paths.  A quick thank you as you're leaving the birth can mean the world to someone that might be just as tired and have more bosses to please than a doula.  Building these relationships now can improve birth choices for families later.

 

What is your favorite way to show appreciation for the other birth professionals in your area that you work with?

Audible Books for Doulas Esali Birth

Audible books for doulas are a great way to add depth to professional doula training, continuing education, and pleasure reading for birth pros including midwives and birth educators.  I'm a fan of Kindle books, digital books, and other ebook options and we use our local digital library regularly for homeschooling and general reading.  However, it isn't often I want a digital reference book for herbalism, midwifery, or birth wisdom where I can't hold it in my hand, easily share, and have when the batteries run out.  I have on many occassion chosen to have both digital and physical copies for a sort of the best of both worlds for bookmarking content or sharing with clients, but Audible books for doulas and birth professionals brings a whole new level to these busy callings.

One amazing thing Audible books for doulas can do is free up our time and get us moving.  Having a job where you do a lot of bending over and sometimes driving can be taxing on the alignment of the body.  Driving many miles and hours to reach clients for prenatals, postpartum appointments, and start and stop births can give you a lot of listening time for not only educational literature, but motivational and entertainment reading as well that you may otherwise not make the time for during your down days.

Here are Audible books for doulas you can start listening to on the way to your next birth.

Audible Books for Doulas, Midwives, Childbirth Educators and Birth Pros

Call the Midwife Trilogy

If you've enjoyed watching the highly popular BBC series, Call the Midwife, you'll really love listening to the memoir trilogy as it was originally written (plus an additional fourth book not yet available on Audible as Jennifer Worth recounts her post-midwifery days, doulaing those at the end of their earthly life as many birthworkers go on to hold space full circle and other paperback gems).

Book 1 - Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

Book 2 - Shadows of the Workhouse

Book 3 - Farewell to the East End

Book 4 - In the Midst of Life (paperback)

Correspondance Letters to the Midwife (paperback)

The Midwife's Sister (paperback) - by Christine Lee, Jennifer Worth's sister

The Midwife of Hope River

Patricia Harman, West Virginia author and former midwife, takes you on a relatable journey as you travel to your birth clients with real life inspired stories and a series of books enjoyable by all birth professionals.

Other Audible Books by Patricia Harman:

The Midwife of Hope River: A Novel of an American Midwife

The Reluctant Midwife: A Hope River Novel

The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir

Beautiful Birth Meditation Guide

This one is for the audio device during a prenatal or birth.  When you or the rest of the birth team need a little break, or mom is simply relaxed in the birth tub - play this softly in the background if it feels desireable to her.  This is also a good guide to listen to on the way to a birth to remind you of the meditative guidance you can use for your clients.

Supernatural Childbirth

Author Jackie Mize writes to inspire families to trust God in their body's design for pregnancy and birth.  This positively motivational and scripture-supported audible book is a great option for doulas and parents to inspire and encouraging for the perinatal stages.

If you're traveling near and far you may be running low on time spent cozying up by the fire for your next down-time-book.  Audible books for doulas are great when you don't have extra time, but drive a lot or as movement motivators to anticipate your daily walking habits, or while you're prepping snack bags for the littles when you're on call.  So, whether you're taking your doula agency to the next workshop or soaking up the personal time on your way to a birth, you'll love these audible books for doulas.

Looking for other book shelf items?  Take a look at this book list for your birth book shelf.

What books have you enjoyed listening to as a birth mentor?

5 Books for Childbirth

Birth books never get old at my house.  Are you looking for some great reads this winter?  Here are five birth books you can cozy up by the fire with and really start digging deep into birth practices, their influences on maternal-fetal health, and how to get started now helping your mentoring clients or making your pregnancy more holistic and comfortable.

Safer Childbirth? by Marjorie Tew

This book is a hard look at the history of maternity practices - from cultural and anthropological influence to studies and evidence completely disregarded and twisted - that literally changed the way we believe about birth and the misconceived perception of safety that runs rampant with many providers and birthing facilities, with research to back.  If you're new to the birth scene, definitely grab a copy of this!  If you're seasoned, especially if you have formal education and find birthing practices and helping women intriguing, definitely grab a copy of this!

Tew tells us, "Action to reduce losses in childbirth still further would have to concentrate on improving the health of the neediest mothers.  In the light of past performance, there is not the slightest reason to believe that the desired objective would be achieved by increasing the medical input into maternity care. On the contrary, fewer losses would result if the medical input into maternity care were greatly restricted, while access to, and uptake of, healthy diets and social support became universal."

Hear, hear!

Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman, M.S.

Many of you may have read Katy Bowman's interview years ago about the negative impacts of kegels (read: mono-movement) and importance of [proper] squatting (though, in reality - it is movement she's getting at - not just squatting).  You may not have realized that within that time, that interview exponentially increased her traffic and in addition to her amazing Nutritious Movement website, she has many amazing books that are an absolute must read for any... modern human!  What I love most?  She further instills my annoyance over "exercises" and instead encourages fun and functional balanced daily movement.

Movement - rather body alignment which is created from healthy daily movement - is crucial for the body's biological ability to birth smoothly.  There's only so much healthy eating can do for you.  While not a perinatal-specific book, this is a foundational look into some of the most common health conditions of our modern cultures which directly relates to many common birth and breastfeeding complications.

Bowman urges us, "I want you to keep exercise and movement separate in your mind because there are many movements we wouldn't consider exercise that are essential to the tissues of the body.  For example, the workings of an infant's mouth while feeding at the breast are different than the workings of an infant's mouth while feeding off a bottle.  In the end, the task of getting milk is accomplished no matter if you take a boob or a bottle, but the process of milking the breast, it turns out, is important to the optimal formation of the jaw and face bones.  The structure of the face bones and established motor patterns of the face muscles end up affecting other processes, like breathing and swallowing, as ell as the space available for tooth eruption."

mmmmhmmm.... I know - all you mommas out there that have ever interacted with me for breastfeeding support are probably hearing my voice in your head repeating my caution of things like pacifiers, am i right?  This is a great lead into the next dig-deeper book recommendation.

Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding, 2ed. by Linda J. Smith and Mary Kroeger

Still one of my most absolute favorite books.  Period.  If I could quote the entire amazing information here, I would.  It is just so good and I am constantly astonished by the persons that work within the maternity industry that not only haven't read this book, but are completely unaware of the information within.  This title is a picked apart, intensely researched, look at birthing practices from the big ones - like cesarean and pain relief - the seemingly insignificant ones with big impacts - like IV fluid and mother's position at birth.  I mean, wow!  It is worth every single penny and I do so hope that if you're a perinatal mentor, that this is already on your bookshelf.  If not, please add this one soon!

The authors explain in the chapter on Effects of IV Hydration on Maternal Stress, Breast Edema, and Lactogenesis, "Postpartum breast engorgement is a major barrier to establishment of effective and comfortable breastfeeding.  Only recently have clinicians differentiated between onset of copious milk secretion (lactogensis III) and edema... Many mothers have left birth facilities by day 2-4, and may not have access to adequate professional support in the critical first week postbirth."

Then the snowball just keeps rolling.

Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding, Revised Ed. by Dr. Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman

Dr. Jack Newman has some of the most thorough and equally the most effective - simple - breastfeeding information available.  There are a lot of great resources out there, but if you're looking for that one title to add to your shelves, this is it.  It is great for expecting mothers without having to filter through a lot of opinions or outdated support techniques to get to the basics of breastfeeding and likewise a great flip-through reference for perinatal mentors.

Have you experienced this yourself?  Newman explains, "A baby who 'latches on just fine for the first few days' and then cannot latch on when the mother's milk comes in and she becomes engorged probably didn't latch on in the first few days: he pretended to.  If a baby breastfeeds well in the first few days, the mother may feel full when her milk 'comes in,' but she should not be so engorged that the baby cannot latch on."

Did your mentor share this information with you?  This is only the tippity top of the iceberg of information contained within these pages dispelling myths - even in the birth support community.

Herbal Healing for Children by Demetria Clark

You know I couldn't do a list like this without some recommendation of herbal wellness.  Many new mentors and parents are looking for compact information that makes their lives easier and healthier.  This is a great book for the shelf that does just that.  Not limited to children, despite the title, it is great for the whole family by offering pages and pages of whole-family safe recipes and basic herbal care knowledge sharing.  Everything from cradle cap and diaper rash remedies to infestations, infections, and fever support - this is a great go-to for feeling more confident in parenting (always helpful) and having resources available for mentoring clients.

A little excerpt encourages, "Treating a child with herbs can be an effective way to fortify the body and cure illness.  Herbal medicine is the right choice for kids because it blends modern medical research with ancient practices and remedies.  Children generally respond well to herbal remedies, even when they are administers in tiny doses.  Children's bodies are sensitive and react promptly to an herb's synergistic, efficient, gentle effects."

This was one of the first books I ever bought on herbal wellness when my littles were tinies and it just fed my obsession of obtaining herbal awareness.  I still reference this at times for my personal mentoring clients when time is of the essence.

BONUS!

Man's Guide to Birth by Danielle Bergum

Last but not least, a little bonus book - and free with Kindle Unlimited - though I may be a little biased on this title, is Esali Birth's Man's Guide to Birth which is a pocket-guide style summary of the holistic knowledge shared from Esali Birth Mentoring.  From conception through pregnancy, into birth, and during postpartum and early parenting - each page is a tip to follow with a quick summary.  No new parent should be without this guide, and every mentor should have this in their lending library.

Merry Christmas from Esali Birth

Another year coming to and end - which means another beginning is soon to follow as well!  So many cycles happening here with Esali Birth... the joy and amazement is never ending!

If you're looking for a great stocking stuffer - or a quick last minute gift for a childbearing family in your life - Esali Birth mentoring gift certificates (which can be used on the website or locally) are available in multiple increments to cover digital classes, web-based mentoring sessions, complete series, and local doula support.  You can visit my mentoring page for more details on all the services gift certificates can cover and purchase certificates there or here:



Be sure to check out the Man's Guide to Birth... a digital pocket-style holistic guide just for dad (that moms can certainly benefit from as well) for the childbearing year.

Baby Basket Subscriptions are great for a stocking stuffer AND a gift that keeps on giving.  The Esali Baby Basket subscription box is a holistic hands-on craft style prenatal prep plus birth education and knowledge for years to come!  Single boxes available, too!

 

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this journey and looking forward to a beautiful holiday spent enjoying what matters most in this world!  Wishing you an amazing Christmas... and amazing whatever holiday it is that you may be celebrating... and a wonderful New Year!  No matter what it is you may be intentionally celebrating this time of year across the world - it is a time for so many to reflect on traditions and times long ago - and some still very prevalent - especially in the childbearing circles.

Tell me... what are you remembering this season?

Love and Blessings,

Danielle

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