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.
Hi, Everyone – Sarah here. As cliché as I know it sounds, I really do remember the first time I met Teri Ayoub like it was yesterday. Every time I’ve seen her over the years since, those same ‘first feelings’ return – those of being in the presence of a woman who can really make things happen. The simple truth is that I feel safe around her, and protected. Her touch, her tone, and her compassionate heart are all part of her Doula care, because, quite simply, that’s just who she is.
In this “Ask Her Anything” interview, Teri shares with us a little bit more about what goes into her fantastic doula package – and even more importantly, she gives us a peek at the warm, steady heart behind it….
1. What are some of the biggest misconceptions about Doulas? I am sure there are lots of things that people think you do that you don’t actually do, and vice versa!– PL
One misconception is that a doula will replace your partner. In fact, one of my objectives is to include your partner from the very first interview. I remind husbands and partners that I don’t know you as intimately as they do, that we are a team, and that I count on them to help. I am able to show your partner ways to help you; each partner is different and participates to their comfort level.
Another common misconception is that doulas only attend home births, or un-medicated births. WE SUPPORT ALL BIRTHS. No matter the method: home, hospital, birth center, epidural, scheduled inductions or c-sections – every mother can reap the benefits of a doula.
Lastly, many expectant mothers and families do not realize that doulas provide continuous, uninterrupted support. We do not work in shifts in the same way that nurses or other hospital staff do – we do not leave you. Since we are present the entire time, we are able to offer continuous support to your partner, too! (Doulas know that partners need to eat, or might need to take a pet out, get some rest or a shower, whatever it may be.) A doula will be by your side the entire time!
2. Have you ever had to break a contract with a client? What are some reasons that might happen? – DC
Good question! I have never had to break a contract. During our initial meeting my philosophies are made clear to determine if they are in line with my clients’ expectations.
Reasons that might cause me to break a contract would be if I discovered that unethical or illegal activities were taking place within the home or place of birth, or if any activities were taking place that would put the mother or baby at risk. Additionally, I might consider breaking a contract if someone was not being forthright with information. Even then, I wouldn’t leave anyone ‘high and dry’ – I would help her seek another support system.
3. Do you have experience in serving same sex couples? -MS
Part of that ongoing experience that has been so positive for me is that it’s taught me to never assume that your ‘partner’ is a husband or a boyfriend. A great memory from the very first same-sex couple I ever served comes to mind – the birthing mom had called me up and wanted me to know right away that she was in a committed same-sex relationship, and she didn’t hesitate to make it clear that her partner would be attending the birth. There was such an abundance of love, compassion and joy in the room that day that I will never forget it!
That birth also stands out for me, as it was my first transport from a birth center to a hospital. The great outcome was the birth of their beautiful baby girl, and I’ve been a better doula because of it ever since.
4. How many visits do you usually have with clients before my birth? I want to know my doula well enough that I’m comfortable with her for birth, but I want to know she’ll be more professional than a fiend or family member. – SD
Typically, I’ll meet with you two to three times before your birth, and this includes attending a provider appointment with you in your third trimester. (I say “typically” because each woman has their own specific needs.) For instance, one of my clients had to go to the hospital for a test, and her husband was away, so she asked if I could meet her at the hospital. Having her doula there eased her fears, and I didn’t consider that as a second or third meeting – I was happy to be with her there.
In our professional relationship we must genuinely like each other – enough to share the most intimate time of your life together. We are friends in the sense that we are sharing mutual goals, we become familiar, and we are genuine with one another. Ultimately, this type of relationship is about helping you get the best service from my profession.
As your doula, I will not lose sight of the fact that you hired me for my professional services; I am not your family member, or personal friend. A doula does not replace your family or friends, just as those loved ones do not serve you in the same nurturing ways that a doula does.
5. What is your favorite local hospital (in Delaware) to attend births? Are there one or two whose staff seems kinder to mothers than others? – BH
Each hospital is unique and provide different services – for example, some have a NICU, while others don’t. Some don’t allow VBACS, some have showers, others have labor tubs. I can’t say that I have a favorite hospital, or that one has a staff that is kinder to mothers than another. You and your provider will select the hospital that will provide for your individual needs, and I’ll be there to help you get those needs met along the way.
In that vein, I’d like to share that with every hospital and birthing center experience that I have, I am constantly heartened by the reality that nurses, nurse-midwives, and physicians are almost always happy to have the assistance of a doula in the room. They know that birthing woman will have constant, nurturing support, and that helps make their job a bit easier, too!
6. Have you ever attended a birth where the baby did not survive? How did you support the mother and family at the time, and how did you heal from it yourself. Does it ever get easier?-RF
Yes, I have.
Every grieving mother and family handles loss in a uniquely personal way. As a Doula, I purpose to support them according to their needs, without letting the gut-wrenching emotion overcome me in their presence.
In past experiences involving perinatal loss, my support of the mothers and families were entirely dictated by the circumstances surrounding their loss, and that family’s personal needs. Some parents just want you to sit with them, to be present, and to hold space for them. Some need physical contact, to be held or rocked. Others needed a ride home, or for me to clear their living room of all baby items before they walk into it. One family hired me again to assist the with the birth of their second child, which was so beautiful, and therapeutic for all of us to go full circle together. Once my professional service is complete, I go through my own grieving process.
I understand that there are no guarantees in life, and I genuinely treasure each and every healthy birth.
Balance. I try to keep clarity and balance.
Does it ever get easier? I suppose that my ability to handle a loss ‘in the moment’ has become easier, but no – the loss of a child never gets easier.
I can tell each one of you reading this that Teri’s warm and gentle energy will melt your heart like wax – she is reassuring, she is genuine, and the minute you meet her, you’ll know you’ll be taken care of better than you ever imagined you would be. With a background in Neurology and the medical field, Teri will not only stay right by your side, but she’ll also provide the invaluable service of helping to ‘translate’ those medically-driven or in-hospital conversations, and she’ll be sure that you truly understand what your options are.
Learn more about Teri’s professional experience, her philosophy, and how you can get in touch with her here, on her LightHouse Profile! Teri lives at the Delaware Beaches, but she serves our whole state, and parts of other states, too.
Sometimes I reach out to Teri just to bask in that warm energy she puts out, so if you’re looking for a doula, and you actually have a reason to call her, then geeze, don’t hesitate! (And tell her you loved her interview!)