Whoa! What a year 2015 has been for me. It brought me into some amazing people’s lives allowing me to complete 12 Doula Births – 7 girls 5 boys, 6 Birth Stories, 10 Fresh48/Newborn Sessions, and 56 Placentas!!
I’m a solo doula/business owner, and I’d say this was my 2 year, make or break mark with my doula and doula related services. What does that mean? On average, most doulas do not continue past 2 years. Either it wasn’t what they expected, realize they pay does not compare to the workload, or they find they do not have the time to commit with personal family life.
The start of 2015 was the end of my certification phase and the beginning of what I feel my “real” work began. I was no longer a trying to accomplish that initial goal of becoming certified, I was certified. This was it, I was the expert.
I grew exponentially as a doula, a business, and now venturing into being a mentor, not something I had ever envisioned doing. Not only did I complete my DONA, International certification, but I also obtained my APPA certification for placenta encapsulation.
Photography made a comeback appearance this year as well, the thing that started this whole mess 6 years ago ;), and I’ve fallen right back in love with it. When I am behind the camera, I see my environment in a completely different manner. I instantly become a documentarian and remove myself from the storyline. While I keep the same on-call schedule as I do with my birth clients, it is a completely different experience for me.
I’ve had the opportunity to make many new professional connections this year in my local birth community, as well as worldwide. I am so grateful for every single one of them!
2015 also brought some pretty amazing clients, all with such different and wonderful births. First time moms and VBAC’s; planned and unexpected cesarean births; medicated and unmedicated births. I was witness to them all, and they were all beautiful.
I expanded my knowledge through several workshops and courses this year, one being a very fun and interactive SpinningBabies workshop with Tammy Ryan… we had SIX of our local OB’s attened… SIX! We had such a fantastic group of providers and birth professionals from around the state. Doulas, midwives, nurses, OB’s, chiropractors, massage therapists… it was great!
I received a scholarship to StillBirthDay.com University, and starting next week, I’ll be starting their intense 12 week program. It’s never something we think of when we start this work, but it is our reality and we must know how to be there for our clients in the best way possible.
There have been highs and lows, sleep deprivation, happiness and sadness, doubt and certainty. I wouldn’t change it for the world. It was an amazing year and I hope 2016 brings me more challenges and growth!
Some things you can expect the first half of the year in 2016!
I hope you all had a fantastic 2015 as well!!
Happy New Year!!
One of the most intimidating things for a doula, a doula still in the beginning of their career, is being a doula for a fellow birth professional. Trying to help guide a mom through her labor when you know she has the knowledge can be nerve wracking. Recently, I was asked to do just that for a fellow doula. I was nervous, wasn’t sure what I should or shouldn’t cover, I didn’t want to unintentionally insult her. Walking into her birth, I just sat back and witnessed her labor and it was such an amazing raw birth. So much strength. So much beauty. The most honed in mom I’ve seen. She knew exactly where she was in labor and exactly when her baby was going to join us. About a week later, I had the pleasure of photographing Liv’s newborn photos.
May we KNOW them.
May we RAISE them.
May we BE them.
Oh, little miss Emerie Paige…. Her mama says she sleeps so well all the time… I again had a curious baby that just wanted to be involved in her session, hehe
Not only did I get the pleasure of photographing Emerie’s newborn session, but I also photographed her big brother Evan’s Fresh48 session a couple years ago!
I was able to visit with Lincoln and his sweet mama just days after he was born to capture his newborn photos. Lincoln was so precious to sleep though his whole session, something my newborns don’t do for me often.
It was 3:07am on August 13, 2015 when I realized I was having contractions. They woke me up. I tried to go back to sleep. Then I tried to get something to eat and then go back to sleep but I couldn’t. So I decided to get out of bed until Aaron, my husband, woke up. I went to lay down in our closet (it is the only place in our house that has carpet & I feel comforted in there; I know. Weird). Usually my husband wakes up at 4:45 to workout so around 4:30ish I couldn’t wait anymore. I went to lay down next to him. He asked me, “what time is it? I am not getting up early today to workout.” That’s when I said I think my labor is starting (I tried not to get to excited). He said “really? how far about are your contractions?” At that point they were around 5-6 minutes apart. We both got out of bed. I asked him what should I do? Should I go for a walk? So I went for a walk to see if my contractions would stop. Nope.
I went back inside and took a bath. A bath is the most relaxing place for me. Contractions kept coming. We decided to bring Lillian, our 3 year old daughter to school. I gave her a big big hug and kiss because I didn’t know when would be the next time I would see her. Then we headed to Baton Rouge. I texted Jen, our doula, on the way to give her a heads up. We didn’t hit much traffic and the change in scenery didn’t stop my contractions (something I discuss with my clients). When we arrived at the hospital, I didn’t know if I wanted to walk a little outside or go inside yet. I called Jen, our doula, to see what she thought. We walked outside for a little bit but I was getting too hot. We decided to go inside and get admitted and they put us in a triage room. I was checked at 9:46am and I was 90% effaced and 3 cm. Since I wasn’t checked at any of my midwife appointments they said I would have to stay in triage and get checked in an hour or two to make sure labor was progressing.
So for the next hour or so we walked the halls. They checked me again, I was 3.5-4 cm. Still not enough in labor to give us a room. They didn’t want to send us home since we lived so far away. We kept walking. At this point my contractions felt like they were back to back. The midwife came talk to us & saw that I was in LABOR and she decided to give us a room. Thank goodness. I knew once I was able to get in a room that I would truly relax. I felt like everyone was watching me as I walked the hallways. Once we got in our room, they gave me penicillin since I was strep B positive. Since my contractions were back to back, they checked me again. At this point, I was 6cm & 100% effaced. I started crying with joy.
Jen suggested that I go into the shower to help manage my contractions. I did and it helped get in tune with myself & my contractions. I am guessing I stayed in the shower for about an hour to an hour and half. Then I moved to the bath tub. As soon as I laid down I totally relaxed. At my next contraction, I felt the urge to push which was very shocking to me. I didn’t think I was that far along. I pushed in the tub for a while on my back, then hands & knees and then squatting. During squatting, my water broke around 4:00pm. It had meconium so they had to get me out of the tub. I had to push in the bed. I tried pushing on my side, then my back and ended up giving birth on my hands & knees in the bed. I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl at 5:08pm. She weighted 7lb 1oz and 19 inches long. I had a successful VBAC which I couldn’t have done without the support and encouragement of my husband, Jen and staff at Ochsner!!!!
Little miss London has been born into an amazing family. Her parents hired me as their birth doula before the summer started and I thoroughly enjoyed driving out to Lafayette for their prenatals. Why in the world were they driving into Baton Rouge with the risk of bridge traffic? Brandy, London’s mama, was seeking to have a natural, unmedicated VBAC and her options were limited in her area. In her first labor, her midwife insisted she transfer care and be induced at 41 weeks. Providers labeled her failure to progress, when really it was a failure of induction.
As her pregnancy progressed this time, she expressed concern of not going into labor on her own. I encouraged her to stay positive and confident that she would go into labor in time. At 6:21a on August 13th, I received a text that she’d been having contractions and they were going to be dropping big sister off to making the treck to Baton Rouge. Not the ideal time with traffic on a Thursday morning. I got all my peeps informed and on alert for when they decided to have me meet them. We checked in a few times over the next few hours, but when dad started replying, I knew my time to go would be coming soon.
I arrived around 10:30a and observed Brandy through contractions while still in assessment. They were coming quick, but she was managing so well!! Brandy asked if she should go walking again and I thought it would be a good idea, but we could do whatever she wanted. I suggested doing a few lift & tucks through a few contractions beforehand and then power walking. Aaron mentioned that they didn’t make it to the end of the hallways the other times they had tried walking. I suggested she make a goal of power walking to the end of one hallway and then to the other (the labor/delivery and mother/baby unit at this particular hospital is kind of shaped like a horseshoe), then rest.
The next time her nurse and midwife came in, they felt she wasn’t in a good active phase of labor yet and suggested going home. I saw something different. She was laboring with very steady contractions coming quickly, she was just managing so well it was difficult to see. We discussed the different options: walk more at the hospital, walk more at a local mall, rest in assessment, or get a hotel room until labor progressed further. Brandy decided she wanted to power walk the halls one more time. This time was different. She had changed body language, vocal sounds, and focus with each contraction. We got to the end of the mother/baby unit and just past assessment before she wanted to turn back to the room. At this point, about 2 hours after my arrival, Brandy got her birthing room!
After getting through all the admitting mumbo jumbo, I suggested Brandy take a shower with the ball. She’d been up for quite a while without rest and it’s a good refresher. Before getting in, she asked to be checked and was 6cm!! When they told her, at her request, she started to cry. I couldn’t tell if this was good or bad so I made sure to check in with her. It was a happy cry! Brandy made great progress while in the shower, I think she may have even gotten a short nap 😉 While in there, a nurse and I got her birth pool filled for when she was finished with her shower.
I had to fight back tears several times. Brandy had some beautiful and calming spa music playing through the built in speakers, was laboring with what appeared to be peacefully, staff was quiet and respectful of her, it was absolutely beautiful. She was getting the birth she desired with her first and it was so powerful to witness! She was only in the pool for about 10-15 minutes before she had a sudden urge to push, and about 10-15 minutes later her water broke at 4:00p. At that time she got out of the tub and made a move to the bed for suspected meconium. After trying several positions, utilizing rebozos tied to the bed while pushing, and some super sweet encouraging words from Aaron (really, more moments of me trying to keep it together on my behalf), she gave birth to a beautiful 7lb 1oz, 19″ baby girl at 5:08p! As a fellow VBAC mom, I know that extra feeling of triumph after a vaginal birth when you’ve hit doubt and road blocks, I was so proud! (sappy, I know)
Congratulations to Brandy, Aaron, and big sister Lillian, thank you for allowing me to be your doula!
*shared with permission from client*
The birth mom has, the birth dad is a part of, and the birth I witness will always be a different story. Before any stories are shared from my perspective as their doula, the client and I have discussed their birth and are requested by the client when they are ready. Clients always share their story first before I share from my experience. It is important to not alter a woman’s perspective of her birth. All clients see their blog post for approval prior to public posting.
This is a scary word for many, because postpartum goes with depression, right? Wrong.
You CAN have a happy and healthy postpartum period with the right preparation and support. We are meant to be doted on and helped after we give birth, however, our society has drifted far away from this. With your partner, create a Postpartum Plan and include ways family and friends can help out. Here are some ways you can achieve that before baby arrives.
Visitors can be a help or a hindrance. A way to get a little use out of them is to give a task when they come over. Anyone that has issue helping out, really should be waiting until a later date when you’ve gotten a bit more of a schedule and baby is a bit older to visit.
Invite some friends over for a day of cooking freezer meals! Or, create a meal train online and appoint a friend or family member to activate it once baby has arrived. Ask friends and family to bring a small bag of groceries with your staple items when the come over to visit with you and baby. These are simple and easy ways to make sure you are getting good nutrition without worry or hassle.
IS SO IMPORTANT! Having a baby is an amazing and wonderful time, however, we can sometimes lose ourselves while taking care of a newborn (and siblings). Make sure to carve out time in your day for a shower. Wash your hair, brush your teeth, wear something comfortable yet new and clean (you can sometimes find yourself in the same yoga pants on Wednesday that you put on Monday), maybe even put on some light makeup. Seriously, you’ll feel like a new woman and more importantly, YOU.
Yes, the house can get a little messy, but if this is something that will induce anxiety, come up with a chore list to help keep up. Ask visitors to pick a small task when they come over. Move clothes from your washer to your dryer. Load or unload the dishwasher. Wipe down counters. Again, anyone that has issue, really should be waiting until a later date when you’ve gotten a bit more of a schedule to visit.
“Sleep when baby sleeps!”
Everyone says it, yet sometimes this can be difficult because it may be the only time you have to yourself, but sleep is so important to your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can contribute to PPMD (Postpartum Mood Disorders). If needed, feed baby and then hand him/her off to a family or friend so you can get a few hours sleep uninterrupted.
You really should spend a minimum of six weeks snuggling with your baby. Even though you may feel recovered by week two or three, really take it easy and relax as much as possible. Relaxing can be lying on the couch, or it can mean taking a light walk with baby in the sunshine. Sitting or napping outdoors is also a wonderful way to relax, all while still getting a good ol’ dose of vitamin D. (make sure to keep both you and baby protected from the sun to avoid sunburns)
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let your guard down and allow your ‘village’ to come in. People love to help out and you can use it, whether this is your first baby or your fifth. Recruit those that will help you with your needs, but not tell you how you should be doing something. If you ask them for advice, will they be able to give you good information that aligns with your beliefs? Postpartum doulas can also be a great help in this time.
If you create a plan, have great support, and still experience symptoms beyond baby blues (lasting between days 3-10 in approximately 80% of women), do not hesitate to seek professional help. You are not alone with the feelings you may be experiencing and there IS help available.
If the “Baby Blues” persist for two weeks or longer and/or if symptoms of the blues intensify, it is then considered to be a “Postpartum Depression” (PPD). 10-20% of postpartum women will experience PPD. Onset of PPD can be anytime during the first year after delivery, with the highest incidence of onset between 4 and 8 weeks postpartum.
PPD may last from 3 to 14 months or longer, if left untreated. Though most women recover within a year, the condition may become chronic if it goes untreated. Chronic depression may have significant effects on mother-baby attachment and bonding.
Symptoms of PPD include:
- Frequent crying
- Appetite changes
- Difficulty concentrating/making decisions
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Racing thoughts Agitation and/or persistent anxiety
- Anger, Fear, and/or feelings of guilt Obsessive thoughts of inadequacy as a person/parent
- Lack of interest in usual activities
- Lack of concern about personal appearance
- Feeling a loss of control
- Feeling disconnected from the baby
- Possible suicidal thoughts
Although most symptoms of PPD are similar to those in a Major Depressive Disorder, many symptoms are unique to PPD, including feelings of anger, fear, or extreme feelings of guilt, obsessive thoughts of inadequacy as a parent, extreme exhaustion yet difficulty sleeping, agitation, feelings of disconnection from the baby, and feeling a loss of control over one’s life.
Read more about PPMD’s: http://psychotherapy.com/mom.html
PPMD Resource Guide
Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center
24-hour Crisis Counseling and Emotional Support Line
National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Website
Baton Rouge Resources
Cathy Figg Gaston
7920 Wrenwood Blvd, Suite D
Baton Roouge, LA
Trauma and PPMD Counsling and IBCLC
Victoria S. Benton, LPC
10985 N Harrells Ferry Rd #200
Baton Rouge, LA 70816
Onnie Perdue (Christian Counselor)
Murphy Toerner & Associates
17170 Perkins Rd
Baton Rouge, LA 70810
Birth Center of Baton Rouge
Healing Birth Circle
3rd Monday of each month at BCBR, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Free, but please RSVP http://birthcenterbr.com/healing-birth-circle
New Moms’ Hope: A Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Group (FREE)
2nd Thursday of each month, 7-8:30 p.m., in the Staff Development Classroom
Lane Regional Medical Center
6300 Main Street
Dana LeTard Vicellio, Ed.S., LPC-S, NCC, NCSC
Baton Rouge General
Behavioral Health Services
8585 Picardy Ave
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Louisiana Postpartum Depression Support Group (must be invited in)
Life Line Crisis Chat http://www.crisischat.org/chat
Ochsner Baton Rouge
17000 Medical Center Drive
Jan Floyd, CNM
Bethanie Genre, CNM
Amanda Lewis, CNM
Melanie Weaver, CNM
Sharon Hedges, MD
Juan Vargas, MD
100 Woman’s Way
Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Ryan Dickerson, MD
Louisiana Woman’s Healthcare
Elizabeth Buchert, MD
Associates in Women’s Health