March 22-28 is World Doula Week, a worldwide celebration and recognition of doulas all over the globe. In honor of this week, I thought I'd share a little about my role as a doula (I wear many birthy hats!), as suggested by the World Doula Week 2016 Photo Challenge on Facebook. The Facebook challenge asks for a new photo every day of the week showcasing a different aspect of your career as a doula. For blog purposes, I'll post a photo and some background info with each one -- oh, and I added an additional topic. Enjoy!
Of course, this isn't my look going into a birth! I always wear glasses (contacts and long births don't go well together) and have my hair pulled back. But since I never take a pre-birth selfie, this shot will have to do!
This is the question Kim asks when helping parents understand how to make medical decisions that are context-specific, for example, how do you work toward the feelings (empowered, joyful, secure, actively participating for example) you want to achieve when the hoped-for route and outcome of your baby’s birth (low intervention, vaginal, for example) needs to change. This question helps parents keep a realistic perspective on how birth can unfold, realizing there are certain elements out of control (like premature birth, very long labor, medically-necessary induction, etc.).
Tool I Use Most
My knowledge and my hands. I chose two, because they're both too important not to have with me! My training, experience, and continuing education helps me know how best to help parents before birth, during labor, and postpartum. My goal is for the laboring mom to be as supported as possible in a way that serves her best. Many times, this means I am helping a partner figure out how best to support their laboring loved one.
"Now that we have been through the entire process, I am officially a doula-vangelist! I don't understand why anyone would choose not to hire a doula. Cara was great at helping us explore our expectations, create a birth plan and consider all possible outcomes. She gave us suggestions, like Hypnobabies, and went above and beyond with encouraging emails, texts and educational information. She was an invaluable resource with supportive information and contacts before and after the birth." -Brent, a first-time dad
My Doula Bag
Believe it or not, the most important things in my doula bag are for me! A thirsty and hungry doula does no good for anyone, so I pack lots of easy-to-eat refreshments. And Altoids. For birthing clients, the tools I pull out most include my plug-in heating pad, battery-operated candles, honey sticks, and a cooler for ice to keep a cold soaked washcloth available to cool mom down during pushing. My dog, pictured here, does not fit in my bag nor does he come with me.
My Doula Mentor
Sharon was one of my doula trainers (along with the amazing Teri Shilling), is a fellow Lamaze blogger, and an all-around amazing person to know. She's the person I call during a birth to seek seasoned, professional, and sound advice when I'm stuck, and the person I call to process a birth that was difficult. Sharon also is a dynamic childbirth educator and speaker, loves coffee, and hates bad grammar. I am so thankful for Sharon.
City & State Where I Work
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where I have lived for 2 years. Prior to that, I began my doula career in Atlanta, Georgia. It's so interesting to have seen two very different landscapes for birthing families!
What I Enjoy Most About Doula Work
I really enjoy the connection I form with a couple or expectant parent. It's such an honor to be invited to support a person during one of life's most sacred times. I also love seeing the connection and partnership that occurs between a mom and her partner leading up to birth and in labor.