Choosing the best care provider for your birth is an individual choice. Having a friend or family member that liked a care provider won't tell you what that care provider can do for you. The best way to choose the best care provider for your birth is to interview at least one home birth provider and one facility provider. If you can get to know multiple providers to really understand the way they practice, this is your ideal. Trusting your provider for their skills and experience and feeling comfortable communicating with them as you would a friend will enable the highest levels of oxytocin flowing in your birth space, rather than nervous adrenaline suppressing your labor progression.
Why are You Hiring a Care Provider?
If your answer to this is, "Because I'm pregnant," or, "Because I need myself and my baby checked regularly to make sure nothing is wrong," then there is a chance you haven't dug deep into the understanding of birth physiology nor sought a provider that works for YOU. These two types of answers illustrate a belief that birth is risky and that any provider with a midwifery or obstetric related title provides quality care for YOU and for support of biological birth. Not all providers practice the same. They shouldn't, either. We're not looking for cookie cutter providers any more than we're looking for cookie cutter births. But we are at a time in history where we have access to a LOT of traditional and modern knowledge that can be (and IS being) blended to provide families with holistic support of the entire perinatal period.
Use the table below as a guide to help you find the best care provider, doula, birth team, birth location and birth environment for your #happyhealthybirth.
Thoughts and questions to ask yourself and to research about your chosen birth environment
Biological Birth Supportive
May want to seek other support
I am excited to see my provider at my prenatals
My provider listens to my questions and thoughts and engages in respectful conversation with me and is willing to provide me with the birth I desire, or kindly recommend I seek the care of someone else should our views not align
My provider encourages me to research recommendations and make informed decisions about my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum and does not push any recommendations as required
Many mothers birth in upright, forward leaning, all fours, or squatting positions with this provider
My provider knows how to use physical and emotional support including quiet, calm, and dark environments, water therapy, a peanut and birth ball and this is a standard part of their birth support
My provider doesn't use induction or cesarean as a treatment for "big babies"
Many baby's have their cord clamped and cut after the placenta birth with this provider
My baby will be skin to skin with me as a standard practice through postpartum
My provider takes all the time I need to answer all the questions I have, or schedules time for this specific purpose, and suggest holistic therapies to remedy any fears
My provider works with fetal positioning guidance during pregnancy to reduce labor and birth complications
My provider encourages balanced meals and provides information on eating balanced rather than prescribing a standard Rx prenatal to cover nutrition. If prenatal vitamins are recommended, they are whole foods (with folate, not folic acid) and test to determine specific areas of deficiency are encouraged to know what supplements would be beneficial for you.
My provider believes the body is capable of laboring, birthing, and healing during postpartum and doesn't use medical technology as a standard means of practice for normal pregnancy and birth during any part of the perinatal stages
My provider actively refers to other providers and specialists for areas they feel would benefit from another perspective or for care they are unable to provide
My provider does not get aggressive or sarcastic at the mention of home birth
My provider understands the influence of birth practices on breastfeeding
My provider uses emotional and physical guidance during labor to increase oxytocin, decrease fear, and naturally support the physical movement of the baby through the pelvis during labor
My provider ensures I am provided with (and know resources for) breastfeeding support immediately after birth and the first days and weeks after birth
My provider doesn't use "at least you have a healthy baby" as a justification for birth experiences
My provider checks on me, or has someone on their team that checks on me, multiple times throughout the first six weeks postpartum
My provider's backup, and any staff working with or for my provider, practices in the same way as my provider
Of course, the ideal is a YES to all of these, right? At least much more than the majority. Are these the only priorities? No, of course not... and there are many other factors that will play into the quality and care of a provider. These may not even be a priority to YOU for THIS birth. However, this is a general overview of how to get to the deep down of how a provider practices.
Gifts for doulas and midwives aren't just for the holidays but a lovely gesture to say, "Thank You" for their support. Doulas and midwives love hearing from the families they have supported and seeing where their new journey is taking them. Here are 10 extra thoughtful gifts for doulas and midwives that really show insight into the role a birthkeeper has.
Hand Written Card
You can't go wrong with a card. Whether it's an e-card or purchased one, the words you add on the inside mean the most. Tell your doula how much she meant to you and talk about how you and your family are doing. Add in a family photo or photo from your birth and give permission (from you and the photographer) to use the photo in an album shared with future clients.
Plants, with Roots
Flowers are lovely, but flowers and plants with roots are lasting and make great gifts for doulas and midwives. Whether it's a cutting flower, window herbs, potted plant for the clinic, grape vines, cherry tomatoes or a bag of heirloom seeds - plants make any space charming and some can live on for years. My great grandmother had plants that were gifted to her and they always told a story. What story will your plant tell?
Box of Honey Sticks or Healthy Snacks
Think birth bag. Honey sticks and [healthy] snacks are compact items to carry to any birth. If your doula or midwife used this in your birth, you know how helpful they can be. Healthy no sugar no soy low processed snacks, like the Go Raw line of products, can be really pricey (but so worth it) and as a gift they can really help a doula that is logging a lot of hours and needing energy along the way. Great addition to a hand written card!
Think adrenal and stress support. Maybe the right gift is the doula's favorite roasted coffee from the quaint shop down the road, but let's go less caffeine here and support the adrenals. Doulas and midwives work a lot of long high-energy-need hours and often at night. The stress that comes along with birth work is real. Don't get me wrong, it's a good kind of stress - but it is taxing on the adrenal and nervous system nonetheless. Include a glass-lined tea and fruit infusion cup to go with it for easy on the go infusions. Whether you blend your own herbs, check out the adrenal support blends and infusion glasses from the Esali Shop, or visit your local herbalist - teas, bath blends, and tinctures make a very useful option for gifts for doulas and midwives.
Audible Gift Card
Doulas and midwives log a lot of miles traveling to and from prenatal appointments, births, and postpartum appointments but don't always have time to cosy up with a good book. Audio books make great gifts for doulas and midwives for the car rides for both entertainment and self improvement. Another great compliment to a hand written card.
Music Gift Card
Doulas and midwives love music just as much as you and I, and also love to have playlists ready to go for birth. iTunes or Amazon Music gift cards can make a simple gift for personal and professional use for doulas and midwives. Another great compliment to a hand written card.
House Cleaning Gift Certificate
Doulas and midwives are sometimes away from home for days at a time. While their families must be supportive of this lifestyle, and many have routines to fall into to make this kind of thing work, there are a lot of prenatal and postpartum visits between the birth that fill up even more time away from taking care of the basic tasks of running a house. Having a gift certificate to cover cleaning the main areas of the house can make those days of resting, and time spent with their family, so much easier to attain.
Handmade & Homemade
Do you have a special skill? Share it! Handmade (or gathered from your farm) items make very thoughtful gifts for doulas and midwives. Everyone loves knitted scarves or lathe-turned bowls. Maybe you gather grapevines in your woods and weave them into table centerpieces. A painting or even a pot of soup once you're into a groove with your new family and you know your doula is resting up from attending another birth.
Charm to Remember Your Birth
You've probably seen the cute stamped pendants that say, "Got Midwife" or have a pair of baby feet chiseled beautifully into a silver circle. But let's get a little more personal with these options for gifts for doulas and midwives. Think of the grandmother birth stone rings that were once ever so popular, and jazz it up a bit. Get a pandora charm, bangle dangle, or gem stone that has your baby's name or birthdate or gemstone on it for your birth team's memory. Maybe your doula doesn't have a charm holder - start one special just for her client memories! Floating charm lockets make great birth bag flare or beautiful keychains.
Testimonials and Reviews
Word of mouth will go further than any sales tool for bringing in new clients. There is still no better platform for business growth beyond a positive review from happy clients. Providing permission to share your thoughts or taking a few moments to add a review to Facebook or Google can be a tremendous help to the doula or midwife, as well as providing insight for future clients as they choose the birth team that is right for their family. Providing thoughtful words and insight into the skills of your doula or midwife is one of the best gifts for doulas and midwives. It is encouraging to their heart and useful in so many ways. Providing them with these thoughts helps them in ways tangible gifts can't compare.
Social Media Tags
Similar to a testimonial and review, social media tags are wonderful ways of sharing the love and attesting to the skill and wisdom the doula or midwife provided you. If you're sharing a birth story, photos, or videos be sure to tag your doula or midwife (remember their business page and commonly used hashtags) so others can link back to those services and let the wisdom sharing continue. If you received a lot of support through education, mentoring, guidance, and love - tag that person when sharing those thoughts with friends, family and social media followers. If you have a photo of the doula or midwife you're sharing, be sure to tag the image with their business or personal profile.
Photo (or video) of the Doula or Midwife Providing Support
One of the best gifts for doulas or midwives is a digital copy (with usage rights from you and the photographer/videographer) to photos and videos of your birth - especially when they contain the doula or midwife within them. A visual image of the doula at work can be used for marketing material, website imagery, social media sharing, and providing potential clients with an insight into how that person practices. These imagines are personal providing tools that are more impactful than stock images that anyone can purchase and use.
If you're a doula or midwife, what were some of your most memorable gifts received?
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
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).
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.
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.
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?
Well, hello there! While we've seen a lot from each other through "Esali Birth," I wanted to take a moment to say a personal hello from me, Danielle from the Mid-Ohio Valley, and share a basic service and price list for all of you looking for perinatal support through the childbearing years in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
If you're new to Esali Birth you may not know my story which I love sharing throughout the many times we may meet on your journey. Mostly, I am a modern gal living in rural WV that loves to intertwine instinctual, historical, knowledge with only the most beneficial parts of our modern world. I wear many hats in my family and life and love the diversified options I have in this beautiful world. I also love supporting families during the childbearing years from the most basic loving hug to the scientific ins and outs of childbirth. Whatever you need in this moment is what I strive to provide. Sometimes that is advice, sometimes it is research, sometimes it is nutritional guidance, and it is always understanding of your personal journey which is ever changing.
My services range from pre-conception counseling to childbirth education and doula support. I have a variety of herbal blends available and custom blends that can be created for your specific needs from soothing foot soaks and beverage tea blends to body balancing while transitioning from medicinal birth control and perinatal support. See my service menu below for a basic list of options in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
While I do require services be paid in full, I provide my NPI number and guidance for my clients to submit claims to their insurance to help cover doula education and support fees upon request.
Want to learn more? See me chat with Marilee Marrow on Moms Everyday and visit my Support Page. Find me on Skype @esalibirth for my online [free] "Office Hours."
Have questions? Get in touch!
Yes, Dad, you're included!
Cheers! You've got this!
I know you have questions and concerns. Let's get those fears released
so you can simply enjoy pregnancy.
From family health and wellness to "Doula 101" tips everyone is included in an Esali Birth class
and webinar options make distance a non-issue.
There are a LOT of great herbs for the childbearing years. Ones that are nutritive, ones that are calming and, like yarrow, ones that have a great place in the medicine cabinet.
Yarrow has an intoxicating smell when dried. It has beautiful dainty white flower clusters with 4 petals each and feathery alternate leaves. An easy identification and is abundant in the wild.
Yarrow is the herb for menstruation, birth, and accident-prone children. It can be used as a styptic powder or fresh poultice to slow and stop external bleeding - like a cut or nosebleed. It can be blended with nutritive herbs like nettles and red raspberry leaf for a moon-time tea, especially for someone experiencing menorrhagia (heavy menstruation), and also as an after birth tincture (along with cramp bark) to reduce postpartum "after pains" and reduce bleeding... even stopping a hemorrhage.
So, if you're looking for an all around useful herb - go outside and you're bound to find some yarrow. Dry it, and keep it in a cool dry place out of sunlight. If you're birthing at home start an infusion when you start labor and let it infuse while you labor for use after the birth if needed. It's medicinal value increases the longer it infuses. It will be bitter, but taken spoonfuls or 1/4 C at a time every 15 minutes (or in tincture form) it can be very useful.
A lot of people have a very skewed perspective of what a professional doula is and how this differs from other birth support. This is because doulas, like all birth professionals... and humans, are different. Their perspective on birth is different, their practice is different, the locations that they work within are different. This doesn't make one way right or wrong... just different. A lot of hype has come up recently about a doula's ability to "really help" a birthing mother.
I wanted to shed some light on one perspective of this...If someone is a part of certain doula certification organizations - those organizations limit what their certified doulas can or cannot say/do. It is different for each one. It is a liability for the company if a doula starts telling moms "no, you don't need that medicine. No, there isn't anything wrong...etc...etc." It is also an issue for the women when the doula should not be providing medical care... that isn't her experience or area of expertise (as a doula). A doula is support NOT a care provider or nurse. An independent doula *can* say whatever she wants without risking her certification... but if she starts giving medical advice, she risks issues from the hospital or care provider regarding that... and possibly lawsuits depending on what her suggestions affect. It will be her personal business if she offers that service or not. (Esali Birth mentors are completely independent and accept their own personal risks for how they carry out their services. They should, however, practice logic and understanding).
A doula can't tell a provider or hospital staff what to do... but neither can her husband. In the end, it is the MOTHER's choice to do or not do anything until she is in a position of not being able to make a decision for herself - in which case she has already signed her rights over to the care provider to make decisions on her behalf in the moment. If a situation is not "in the moment" then a living will provides someone else rights to make decisions for her - that is, if she has a living will. Esali Birth mentors encourage birth students/clients to make their wills when they're pregnant if they haven't already.
However, in the US, we do have laws protecting people from abuse... any abuse... and anyone can speak up about that. We also have programs like Improving Birth that shed light on various maternity related issues which also include birth abuse. A lot of people (doula or not) won't, however, because it can be an awful feeling to have a bully come down on you for speaking up against any form of abuse. Right or wrong to not speak up, it is one of the reasons it doesn't happen when it could. Additionally, not many will say when... or if... medical staff are abusive; they just go along with it believing a birthing women has to "listen to her doctor." What can a doula do in this situation? A doula can *remind YOU* of your rights and unbiased options. They can speak up against #birthabuse. If they will is individual. What your responsibility is, as with all birth responsibilities, is to interview your potential doula and ask what THEY will or will not do for you. Every doula is different, just like every care provider is different. An OB is not the same everywhere. A midwife is not the same everywhere. Hospital birth is not the same everywhere. Home birth is not the same everywhere.
All this being said - the reason women hire a doula is FOR the emotional and physical support because even with a hospital that supports birth plans, there is usually not enough staff to provide continuous support to the mother - and because birth is *mostly* an emotional event (OXYTOCIN gets the baby out AND provides mom with a satisfying experience... when its natural oxytocin) - moms NEED to feel safe. For most moms, feeling EMOTIONALLY safe is often only attainable through a doula.... like a mother that *really* understands birth.... not understands birth in the past 50 years... but real, raw, birth. Some of us have this, others don't. This doesn't mean a doula replaces a mom or a husband... it is just a different, often incredibly beneficial, style of care.
Doulas rates on increased positive outcomes (both emotionally AND physical health of the mom and baby) are because of their *continuous* emotional and physical support.... NOT because of medical or perceived medical assistance.
That being said. If you NEED someone telling you your provider is lying to you.... then you NEED to hire a new provider. If you NEED someone whispering that the nurses at the hospital are lying to you... then you NEED to birth somewhere else.
[heading type="h3" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="center"][color]Whether a doula can or cannot say things doesn't fix a choice that should have been changed because you know you're not birthing in a supportive environment. [/color][/heading]
Most doulas I know don't provide on the spot childbirth education... they either recommend/require childbirth education before taking on a client, offer classes themselves and/or won't take clients unless they've proven they're educated or taken a class from that specific doula. This isn't just for the doula, it is also so the mom... family... can have the best birth (health and happy) possible. It is so that the client isn't expecting the doula to be a superhero during the birth. They can certainly seem like superheros, but they want to enjoy their job, too... and they want to be able to do their job to the best of their ability.
We wouldn't have so many issues in births as it is if providers *required* .... offered... excellent perinatal education. Unfortunately, again, most classes that are scantily recommended are "how to be a good patient." Or, "you can have a great birth if you don't have an educated birth philosophy or wish to do things 'out of the norm' - just do what we say, and here is #whattoexpect." At Esali Birth we share how to make choices and why they're important.
Knowing your options and making choices that support your birth beliefs comes *before* hiring a doula. The doula then supports you AFTER you've chosen a supportive environment. No matter what a doula can or can't say - if the mom hasn't chosen an environment (provider/location) that supports her wishes - the doula can't magically create a positive experience. It might happen (because doula support can make that big of a difference) - but it isn't the best situation for anyone. If anyone has to fight for the mom's rights - even though that's a legal option - it makes the birth space an intense place to be for someone... often the mother or the father... and neither of them need to be doing anything other than bonding with each other and their baby! We're trying to build oxytocin, right? Not just because its safer for mom and baby... not just because it progresses the birth process... but also because oxytocin builds in everyone in that birth space. This is an event from a higher power that knew that mom and baby will need a lot of love and support during the postpartum period.
[heading type="h3" margintop="28px" marginbottom="28px" bordered="no" align="center"][color]Make birth as simple as it can be by understanding that birth is a profoundly intricate transformation.[/color][/heading]
Believe this, make the choices that support it, and birth is (in most cases) incredibly simple.
In an environment (location/birth team) that SUPPORTS biological birth AND a mom that has a birth partner (her husband is wonderful when they're relationship is connected and respectful, or mom, or friend...etc....... a midwife)... that truly understands biological birth and the need to be quiet and let mom instinctively do her thing... a doula might not be necessary. Or, a doula might be that birth partner that is quiet and lets mom do her thing - and giving her the confidence to do so.
You have to understand that [color]BIRTH IS EMOTIONAL[/color]. Almost all complications with birth these days stem from an incredible misunderstanding that humans can or should meddle with birth. If you don't believe that you can #freebirth (birth unassisted... birth alone... birth without a care provider) - then I would encourage positive continuous support... which is exactly what a doula provides. Someone else on your birth team may already provide that, I don't know... but it isn't a black/white "a doula does this" kind of situation. It depends on what you need, what you want, and where you're preparing to birth.
A montrice on the other hand is often a midwife who is providing doula services. They can do limited provider care for the mom because of their midwifery background.... but they don't intend to catch the baby as a provider nor take responsibility in that manner. Once they get into a birthing facility or hospital, their ability to act as a sort of care provider stops because of liability with the hospitals and providers in that location. Their role moves towards that of a doula.
I hope this clears up some of the issues regarding if you should really save/spend the money on a doula. What have your experiences been? Can you add to this?
There are so. many. reasons. why I am rarely ever impressed with a medical team – because they completely disregard one of the most important factors of the birth experience – the LONG LASTING emotional affects of birth. The emotional affects of the way a mother is treated on her milk supply, her postpartum experience, her parenting experience, and her empowerment.
We see change when people speak up. Right now, mothers are speaking up for giving up their responsibility to someone else and having induced and medicated births. When the majority of the society is birthing that way, and the majority of the other (1%) mothers are lying about it… how in the world do you expect to change the face of birth?
We are now in a time where the majority of births are medicalized. They are often induced (synthetically started) and we have gone so far beyond where the medical system helps the natural system that we don’t believe the natural system even exists. It wasn’t until Ricki Lakes’ The Business of Being Born that released in 2008 that families started to realize that a natural and very different method of birth did exist, and this was often not in a hospital setting. Even though the home birth rates did increase since this new natural birth movement, they still only account for less than 1% of births in the US.