Welcome to the “Ask Her Anything” Series at The LightHouse Birth Collective!
(Spoiler Alert: It’s the most fantastic Interview Series you’ll ever read. I’m just telling you now.)
“Ask Her Anything” is the fresh, brutally honest cousin of ‘The Boring Old Interview.” In this unprecedented opportunity, The LightHouse is merging nearly three whole centuries of our Members’ combined birth experience with the chance for prospective clients to be brave and ask the questions that are really on their minds.
One by one, our Midwives, Doulas, and Birth Photographer are answering all kinds of questions that were submitted by our followers – real reader questions that deal with pregnancy, partners, childbirth, and beyond. The questions are intimate, they’re vulnerable, and they’re raw – much like the childbearing year itself – but if you know “birth folks,” you’ll know that they love a good challenge, and our Members didn’t hesitate to tackle even the toughest questions.
Y’all, have I got some ladies for you.
Birth in Full Bloom, LLC is a group of five professional and certified doulas – some of them are also Certified Childbirth Educators, Certified Bereavement Doulas, Postpartum Doulas, Certified Breastfeeding Specialists, Registered Nurses, Licensed Practicing Nurses, and Reiki and Healing Touch Practitioners. It’s every kind of care, all in one group!
They’re the only doula group in Delaware, and individually, each of them are among the finest in the state. We’re honored to have Birth In Full Bloom as Doula Members of the LightHouse, and honored to share their ‘Ask Her Anything’ interview, where they tackle the questions that I know many of our readers have been wondering quite literally for years, like ‘What IS the difference between a midwife and a doula, anyway?’ We also pitched them a couple of important questions that many readers often don’t consider until the third trimester, such as, ‘How can I help my partner be cool with the idea of a doula in the delivery room, too?’ Continuing education, crazy client questions, certification, you name it – Birth In Full Bloom is setting the record straight, and we’re coming with ’em.
- I see that you guys are a group of five! How did you all meet? Did you start out together, or did your practice grow one doula at a time? (And do you all have the same certifications, or are they different?) – CR
Katie and I attended the births of each other’s second children in 2011 and 2012. I helped her get through an intense induction without an epidural. If you know anything about pitocin, you know you need help getting through to the end without pain meds. I was 5 months pregnant at the time. A few months later, she and my husband got me through a 40 hour VBAC (and my labors are hard – when I say “got me through,” what I mean is they vigorously shook my butt through each and every contraction until my baby was in my arms).
After that, we both realized that we would need to continue doing birth work–that we were called to do it – and so we became doulas, officially. Katie began working as a doula for a while before I did; I wasn’t ready to jump in as quickly as she was – I wanted to wait until my wee one got a bit older. So when I started ‘Birth in Full Bloom’ a few years ago, it was just me for about the first month – I thought I’d just work on my own since I live in Maryland. I remember speaking with Katie on the phone, getting her opinion on the website I was creating (www.BirthInFullBloom.com, wink wink), and she exclaimed, “I want to be a Birth in Full Bloom Doula!” In that moment, it hit me – of course we should be partners! I think it was just the two of us for two-ish years. Katie would mention that maybe we should add a couple more to our ranks, but I wasn’t ready to share our ‘baby’.
Eventually, we got more births than we could really handle between the two of us, and we added three amazing women (Melissa, Tammy, and Darci) to Birth In Full Bloom! We are a family now – a sisterhood. ~Rachel
- What are some of the biggest differences between a doula and a midwife? I still get confused sometimes, and I know doulas aren’t midwives because lots of women have both and say it’s the best combination. Can someone please explain this for me? – MC
I once saw a sweet meme that said ‘the midwife is the one who catches the baby, and the doula is the one who holds the mother’s hand’. This is a simplified version of course, but on a basic level, it’s true.
The midwife is the medical professional prenatally and in the birthing room; she is there to do everything you’d expect a doctor to do. She will order tests for you throughout your pregnancy, she will palmate your belly, perform vaginal exams, and assist you in the delivery of your baby and placenta. She will also do any repairs necessary (if you have any perineal tears, for example). She examines the placenta, making sure it’s all there and checking to see if it may need further evaluation. She also will perform the first newborn examination, making sure baby is okay. Mothers check in after 6 weeks with their midwives to make sure they’re healed from the birth physically, and get the go-ahead to return to normal activities, if and when it’s appropriate. This is a very brief description of course, as I could go on and on about the deeper meaning of what it is to be a midwife… just imagine a combination of the most competent obstetrician/your favorite aunt/grandmother/wise woman of the community/fairy godmother/a real life angel in disguise. That’s a midwife.
A doula’s focus is on mom’s support – educational, emotional, and physical – before, during, and after the birth. During pregnancy, the doula shares a wealth of knowledge and research with the mother, so that she can make educated choices when it comes to her childbearing year. A doula will help guide mothers and their partners in making their birth plans, and assist in keeping the birth experience as close to the plan as possible. During the birth, she is there, by the mother’s side, suggesting positions, physically squeezing mom’s hips, rubbing her back, and helping the partner to do the same. She also gives the partner a break (because birth can be exceptionally long). After the birth, doulas are there for support and referrals in the postpartum period, and many times beyond.
Doulas and midwives work together with the family to achieve the best birth possible. It’s a team effort! ~Rachel
- Do Doulas have to be certified or licensed in Delaware in order to practice? -PL
No. Once you are trained, you can go out and practice as a trained professional doula. It is up to each individual doula to become certified or not. Just like with any continuing education program, the certification process involves a lot of logistical steps and paperwork, and some doulas aren’t into all of that. (In our group, though, we’re into it!) ~Katie
- I have a husband who’s super sweet and supportive and excited for our first baby, and he said we shouldn’t get a doula because he’ll be there. I feel like having a doula and my husband would be even better, though! What should I tell him? I don’t want him to feel like he isn’t needed. -KG
When partners express this sentiment, I hear “I’m afraid the doula will take over.” I completely understand their concern, but please know that it is never my, or any good doula’s, intention or position to be the Partner. I am a knowledgeable support person to both mom and her partner/family.
A big part of being a doula is educating and preparing a couple for labor, delivery, the postpartum period, and anything else that comes up during pregnancy. There’s a lot of information out there, and it can be overwhelming to sort through it all, so that is one area where I can come in and help out. As your doula, I’ll give you evidenced-based information so that you can make a decision that best fits your growing family’s needs.
We also go over hands-on techniques before labor begins so that both mom and partner feel ready and confident at the start of labor. Once labor starts, and you are ready for me to be there with you, I work with both partners, making sure you BOTH feel supported – sometimes that looks like refilling water, reminding Dad what normal labor looks like and how he can help provide comfort, or by providing a break for the support team. (I often have dads tell me that they’re especially glad I was there, because they knew that their wives would be taken care of, even when they needed to step away.) ~Darci
- What are the most common, and the most unusual, things a client has ever called you about? -HD
Here’s a pretty good random sample of some of the FAQs that come during prenatal visits with the families….
- If she sneezes too hard, could the baby just shoot out? (from Dad)
- Have you had more than one client go into labor at once? (Ironically, asked the week prior to having 5 babies born in 6 days.)
- Will I really poop when I’m pushing?! (I always tell them that I’m convinced that’s where the term “$h*t happens” comes from!)
- How will I know when “it’s time”?
- My baby seems to be “stretching” in rhythmic 10 minute intervals… what’s going on? (Most recently, it was Baby responding to early labor contractions!)
- Are there continuing education credits that Doulas are required to get, or does everyone go to workshops or conferences just for fun? As a nurse, I have to attend a certain number of outside educational and clinical workshops throughout the year, and I was wondering what Doulas have do in order to stay up to date with the most current or evidence-based practices. – TW
Continuing education/credentials and workshop requirements are usually optional, depending on the individual organization the doula certifies with (for doulas who choose to certify).
Most doulas take it upon themselves to enroll in additional workshops to further their education and skill set to provide the families they serve to the very best of their abilities.
Many doulas offer additional services, such as childbirth education, breastfeeding education, cloth diapering advice, baby-wearing information, placenta services, rebozo etc. …. most of which require the doula to attend educational workshops to become proficient or certified in the particular service provided. At Birth In Full Bloom, we believe in the importance of continuing education and all five of our doulas have a wide breadth of skill sets, certifications, licenses, and training experience, which you can read all about here on our LightHouse page, or on our business site!
The Birth in Full Bloom Doulas have over 50 years of collective birth experience and have attended well over 200 births. In addition to their wide range of doula care, they offer comprehensive childbirth education classes, both in-home and in a group setting. As a wonderful added bonus, if you need help with breastfeeding issues, their certified breastfeeding specialist even does home visits!
You can reach out to these multi-skilled, highly experienced doulas via their website, Birth in Full Bloom, on their Facebook Page (Birth in Full Bloom, LLC), or the good, old-fashioned way – by email (BirthInFullBloom@gmail.com) or phone (410-739-1359).