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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?

Gifts for Doulas Esali Birth

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!

Herbal Blends

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 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?

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