Photo – Rosemary Elizabeth Photography
There were never more true words spoken. In pregnancy and birth, if you don’t know your options, you really don’t have any. Knowledge equates options, and if you don’t educate yourself on your upcoming birth, you are at the mercy of what your care provider tells you.
My first suggestion is to hire a doula. Most of the time, women hire a midwife or doctor before they hire a doula, which is understandable because prenatal care is extremely important. This doesn’t mean that, if you are uncomfortable, you have to be stuck with the care provider you’ve seen once or twice or even 20 time.
Trust me when I say that just because there is a “Dr.” in front of his/her name, that does not translate to “knows everything about birth”. Most doctors know just know a whole lot about a medical birth, which it’s always what women want.
In the past couple of months, I’ve had two clients fire their doctor and switch to a doctor who was more compassionate and understanding that it’s her birth and her choices.
I bet you didn’t know that you could fire your doctor or even your midwife, did you? You can. As a matter of fact, you should. Nothing screams “interventions ahead” louder than a care provider who isn’t on the same page as you when it comes to your options.
If you and your baby are in good health, and your care provider (doctor OR midwife) does or says any of the following at your appointments, now is a good time to start looking for another care provider. (These are actual occurrences from my current and past clients as well as my own experiences.)
- Laughs at your birth plan
- “Well, you can try it your way if you think you’re cut out for it.”
- Does not look you in the eyes during your appointments
- “We’ll see what things look like closer to your due date.”
- “Let’s go ahead and schedule an induction.”
- Frowns when you mention you have a doula
- “You don’t seem like the kind of person who can have a non-medicated birth.”
- “I’ll be on vacation, but you’ll have one of the 8 doctors in our practice at delivery.”
- Makes you feel inferior
- “You’re baby is already so big. I’m not sure if your body will birth him.”
- Dismisses your questions and concerns as “normal pregnancy feelings”
- “I think a repeat section is the better option.”
If you’ve experienced any of the above, it’s very easy to switch care providers. Follow these two simple steps to help improve your labor and birth options.
- Ask your doula or friends and family for care provider referrals.
- Make an appointment with the care provider of your choice.
That is all you have to do. Once you’ve made an appointment, if you choose to stay with the new care provider, their office staff will (with your permission) request any records they need from the previous office you used.
Make sure you know your options when it comes to your care providers. You don’t have a contract with the provider you’ve chosen, and it’s never to late to switch if you feel you’re not getting the level of care or respect that you deserve.
As a doula, I find that one of the main concerns of couples wanting to hire a doula doesn’t always come from the mother, but stems deep within the father.
“Won’t a doula take my place at the birth?”
“If a doula is there, what can I do?”
“Why do you need a doula if you have me?”
“I don’t understand. You don’t want my help?”
These are all valid and extremely important questions for a dad to mull over when choosing a birth team. I love when dads ask these questions, because I know that they want to be involved, and they feel like hiring “labor support” is going to take away from their job as a father during labor.
Let me lay it out, before I go any further… A doula NEVER takes the place of anyone during pregnancy and childbirth. She is there to offer additional support, love, hands, nurturing, and knowledge.
It is often hard for a dad to know just what to do and when to do it during labor. On the other hand, even though you are partners, moms can’t always expect dads to know what to do during labor. It’s hard for a man to watch the woman he loves go through so much pain while he feels as if there’s nothing he can do to protect her.
A doula can be a guide to show him just how he can be of help to the mom.
For instance, if I see a dad standing beside the mom eager to do something, but not really knowing what, I will ask him if he’d like to massage her back. Most of the time, he has no idea what to do, but I don’t make a big deal of that. I show him where his hands should go and how he should rub, and I walk away until the mom is ready to move on to something else.
Other ways I help dad be involved:
- Ahead of time, prepare a gift for her to be given during early labor. It can be as simple as a focal point, small blanket, or even a poem.
- Understand the different stages of labor so that you can have a better understanding of what she is going through.
- Encouragement and positive thoughts are always helpful and important to a mother during labor.
- Be the messenger. Most friends and family members will want to be a part of the special time, but they’ll not be in the room. A dad can act as a messenger bringing the mom words of encouragement from the waiting area.
- Gently offer sips of water, a cold rag, or a warm blanket.
- If you sing… sing to her and for her.
- Hold her hand.
- Time her contractions, even if you’re just doing it for memory book sake.
- Ask the her what you can do to help her be more comfortable, and if she’s unresponsive, ask the doula
I love being a Houston Doula. I love attending births. I love how it makes me feel. I love how it makes the mom feel. I love making a difference in other peoples’ lives.
Houston has a great selection of professional doulas, and I am proud to be among some of the best in the business.
Have you ever asked yourself, “why do doulas charge so much?”
Aside from the cost of education, books, workshops, continued education, and advertising (website, cards, brochures), we also take into consideration the time that it takes for all of these as well as out of pocket expenses.
Let’s just break down one of my Houston doula packages in terms of time that I spend with my clients during the course of their pregnancy, labor, and postpartum:
Pregnancy and Labor Package
- Initial consultation meeting – Approximately 2 hours
- Two prenatal meetings (One can be at a prenatal appointment to meet your caregiver.) Approximately 4 hours
- Birth Plan Assistance – Average, off and on, 1-2 hours
- ASAP telephone, text, and email support during contact hours (8am-8pm) Average 4 hours
- 24/7 on call within 2 weeks of your estimated due date -
Can you really put a time on that?
- Around the clock Labor and Birth support once labor has begun – 10+ hours
- Pictures of labor and birth with my camera as well as yours
- Immediate postpartum support of approximately 2-3 hours, or until the baby has nursed successfully and the family is settled – 2-3 hours
- One postpartum visit to discuss your birth, share photos, dote over your new arrival, discuss options for additional support (breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, etc.) – Approximately 2 hours
With these approximations, we’re looking at about 25 hours, in the least, just for interaction with my clients. If you add in another estimated 3 hours for research, paperwork, etc., that goes into setting up each client, we’re at 28 hours.
The average trip I make to meet with clients is approximately 30-40 miles one way. These estimates are based on this Miles Per Dollar Calculator and my vehicle.
- Trip time (based on 5 trips) – 7.5 hours
- Gas costs (based on 35 miles one way – 5 trips) – $53.75
Childcare & Food Costs
- Childcare – Approximately $100 per client including visits and birth
- Food During Birth – Approximately $10 depending on the length of birth
- Hospital Parking and tolls – Approximately $10
- Materials for Clients – Approximately $5
- Credit Card or Paypal Fees (if you accept this form of payment – Thanks Robin!) – Approximately 2%-3%
Total Time and Out of Pocket Expenses
- Time – 36 hours
- Childcare – $100
- Food – $10
- Gas – $54
- Misc – $15
Let’s do the Math
Remember the Taxes
Don’t forget that you’re looking at state or federal tax (depending on where you live and what bracket you fall into) and you also the 13.3% Self Employment Tax (that’s the state of Texas – 10.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare). Thank you, Susan, for reminding me!
This is figured for the State of Texas and DOES NOT include Income Tax because that would depend on your tax bracket.
Again, this is based on my time and expenses. Of course, over the duration of my time with a client, I can spend more or less one on one time. This is all approximations.
In the grand scheme of things, you’re paying for an invaluable service during your pregnancy, labor, and birth. The difference a doula can make during this time is often priceless. The least that can be done is pay her asking fee.
Do you think that an OB or midwife would lower his/her costs if a mom told him/her that the fees just are not in their family’s budget? Doulas are a valuable asset to a mom’s birth team. Our time is also valuable – just ask our kids (and the electric company who won’t waive our monthly bill because it doesn’t fit into our budgets!)!
After a very, very long hiatus from attending births to have my fourth (not so) itty bitty, I have decided that it is time to for me to get back into the swing of things and start interviewing potential clients! If you’re looking for a doula in the Houston/East Houston or Beaumont area, I’d love to hear from you!
Although I have continued to be involved in the birth and natural parenting community while I’ve been away, I have missed being able to nurture women and support them during labor and birth.
All that to say:
I’m jonesin’ for a birth, already!
I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things!
Please take a look at my calendar for availability for interviews. If I show unavailable on the calendar, please contact me to see if my plans have changed.
It’s been said that singing during labor helps in several ways.
When you sing, your breathing is in tune with what oxygen your body needs to deliver the next few notes. Knowing when to breath is just as important during labor to keep your body and your baby oxygenated for a more smooth labor.
While breathing correctly, singing a familiar song helps women in labor to relax better because their mind is on the song, and not what their body is going through.
Because she is more relaxed, a laboring mother’s cervix will open with more ease.
Here are my two favorite videos of a mothers singing while in labor. The first one is not only beautiful, but empowering and awe inspiring. I love how she and her husband are harmonizing. It is so peaceful.
The next one, of course, is me. This video isn’t one of my favorite because I’m being vein. It’s simply one of my favorites because it’s something I never dreamed I’d be doing during an un-medicated, natural childbirth. (I don’t have nearly the voice that Temple has!)
This video was taken about an hour and a half before the birth of my fourth child.