It's World Doula Week!! Let's Celebrate!

Happy World Doula Week!

(I'm not running a sale.)


I'm happy this week is here, this doula and many of the doulas of Nola Nesting have had a very busy month and we are definitely deserving of a week  . . . .of call?  Yah, most of us are on call for some beautiful expecting families so we have our phones on us 24/7, every commitment we make is followed by a 'so long as I'm not at a birth,' and we our packed bags are never far.  We work hard for our clients even when they don't know it.  We are thinking about you and gathering a holistic picture of you in the days preceding your labor.  We answer our phones when you call us in the middle of the night and help remind you what's normal, to cherish this time and to honor yourself in the last days of pregnancy.  

We help you connect with your partner.  It's been said I've saved a marriage.  Now, I really hope that's not true, but we are there to support you in a way that you deserve to be supported every day of your life, but unfortunately probably are not because of our busy schedules and responsibilities.  We are there for you - pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum. Although we may try to catch a nap while you labor, you are our priority and we work hard to care for you and honor your wishes.  Our hearts are with you and they sing when yours does and they cry too with yours sometimes, but we help you find a positive place and keep going.  We help you navigate breastfeeding and the early days of parenting.

We give of ourselves mentally, physically and on a very personal internal level full of emotion and intuition.  

Doula week is a week to celebrate us.  I will celebrate my doula friends and thank them for all the support they give me.  The doulas of Nola Nesting are the most amazing women and I am infinitely blessed to know each of them.  I will celebrate the doulas who have made change in the birthing world and all of us who only want the absolute best for women!  Through birth work and activism we are with you even when you don't see us.  So, I won't be reducing my rate in celebration of my work.  A sale only devalues what we do, and what we do is priceless.  I'm thinking this is more akin to Teacher or Nurse Appreciation week!  Gifts aren't necessary and are not expected, but we do absolutely love to hear how you are doing and see pictures of your growing babies, and we won't be discounting ourselves in celebration of . . . ourselves.

Interested in becoming a doula?  Well, then here's a chance to win a discount you don't want to miss out on!  You could win a chance to come to Birth Boot Camp DOULA training for 33% off!

Amanda Devereux is founder of Nola Nesting, a Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, co-creator and trainer of Birth Boot Camp DOULA and mom of three breastfed babes.

I Am Your Doula. I Bring You My Heart.

Professional Doulas do a lot of things.  We drop our lives with a phone call, work with very long periods between meals and often with no meals at all, can take a nap anywhere, have both a clinical and sacred understanding of birth, our work is both physically and mentally demanding, and we have learned to manage all of this with very little or no sleep.  But I think the most important skill a doula can have is  the ability to establish an intimate relationship quickly. As I teach in Birth Boot Camp DOULA, it is this relationship, it is the heart I bring, my faith in your ability to birth that will enable me to support you in the best way possible.  

Unless you're in my childbirth class, we've probably spent a total of 5-6 hours together, including our interview, before I join you in labor.  Our meetings were casual, our time spent discussing your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period.  You were excited, anxious, nervous, hopeful and glowing with your round belly.  When you call me to your birth, you are your raw self.  You are exposed and primal, powerful and vulnerable.  You are likely naked or in some state of undress.  If you are uncomfortable being in this laboring state with me present, then I am an intervention who is in the way of your labor.  That is not good.  This could stall or slow labor.

We do carry a 'bag of tricks' as some of my clients have called it.  Really, there is nothing particularly magical in that bag and if I forgot it at home I can still do my job.  This is because I bring you my heart and this relationship that we build is love.  I have to make myself vulnerable to you in a way very similar to how people fall in love.  My own oxytocin levels are high and are rising as you progress through your labor.  Oxytocin is the love hormone.  

I read this article that has been circulating on facebook and I thought to myself, "THIS!  THIS is how we do it!"  If you haven't read it, here's the synposis: 

  • two strangers enter a room and sit near one another.
  • they ask one another a series of questions of an increasingly intimate nature.
  • they actively listen to one another.
  • they hold eye contact for a prolonged period.  Then, they fall in love.

(And as the author discusses, this experiment can be repeated in a bar - how New Orleans is that?!)

Now, here's the doula synopsis

  • We sit together at a coffee shop and talk about your birth, my profession and you ask me questions about my role
  • We sit together in your home, discussing an increasingly intimate number of things.  I am sure to make eye contact.
  • I listen to you and work to gain an understanding of who you are, your wishes and how I might best support you.
  • I join you in labor and  at some point, we have prolonged eye contact.

The rest is labor history. 

You see, they are very similar.  In the article it is noted that both individuals were open to participating and to love.  This is not very different from us.  You seek to be supported, unconditionally and wholly, through your labor and birth and I am making myself available to you.

I loved reading this article because this is one of my favorite parts of my job.  When this happens the best way it can, you feel supported and cared for even if your labor and birth are different than what you had wished and how you envisioned it.  When this happens in the best way it can, I will never forget your birth because it is in my heart and I am genuinely so proud and happy for you; I look forward to seeing pictures of your baby grow and it makes my heart happy when I run into you around town and see you as a mother and father.

I also think that this exercise, similar to how it is done at the bar, can be a very powerful thing for couples to do when preparing for birth.  Take the opportunity to share eye contact and really focus on one another.  Talk about nothing and let it build to sharing your intimate feelings and experiences, especially those concerning your pregnancy and birth.  It may not be over a beer, and you're no stranger to one another - but doesn't everyone love falling in love?  

Amanda Devereux is founder of Nola Nesting, a Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, co-creator and trainer of Birth Boot Camp DOULA and mom of three breastfed babes.

What does a doula bring?

One of the most common questions I'm asked in interviews is what I bring to a birth. What you find in my bag might disappoint you. It's all pretty normal stuff. In fact, you probably have much of it around your house.

What I want you to know is this: You aren't hiring me for the tools in my bag, because what I bring goes beyond my bag.

Birth brings you to places in yourself you have not been. Others may question your journey, you may doubt yourself and your way may seem unclear, but I know that you hold within you the wisdom of the women before you, power you are just beginning to discover and a mother's intuition.

Amanda Devereux is founder of Nola Nesting, a Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, co-creator and trainer of Birth Boot Camp DOULA and mom of three breastfed babes.

Are You Prepared for Your Best Birth?

I've been watching a bit of this cute mom's youtube channel. She has a great sense of humor and is fun to watch, but when I saw this video of her second babe's birth, well, I just had to jot down some thoughts. . . .

First off, let me just say this - aren't they a sweet family?  What a cute little baby and big sister!  Like any birth, this one had me shedding a tear.  Congratulations to them on their new addition and to this mother for breastfeeding their sweet babe in the NICU.  

Wanna know what else I see?  A family that really could have used the support from a comprehensive childbirth class and a doula.  How so you ask?  Here goes!

1.  Rather than arriving at the hospital early, the information and confidence gained in a childbirth class like Birth Boot Camp and having a doula would have enabled them to stay home longer, hydrate and rest.  Laboring at home helps to decrease cesarean risk by limiting interventions and allows a woman to make greater progress in labor by feeling safe and comforted.   Our bodies and brains have only one way to interpret lights, noise and distraction during labor - risk.  When our primitive selves perceive it is not safe to have our baby in this time/place birth does not progress.  

2. Movement!  This beautiful laboring mom finds that she feels better standing and then later we see her in the bed again.  Lying in bed is a terrible labor position as it restricts movement and is very painful.  When women move in labor they help their baby come down and are more comfortable.  With a doula present dad would have been encouraged to walk with her and help relieve her discomfort using movement and touch techniques.

3.  The Epidural!!!  An epidural that doesn't work is the WORST!  This is why EVERYONE, even those planning medical pain relief during labor, need childbirth education.  Really, my heart goes out to moms that experience an epidural that only works on half or not at all.  When you have only prepared for an epidural and don't have the support of a doula and skills learned from a class to help you labor, this is torturous - far far more painful than a natural birth with support and education.

4.  Oy!  An infection.   Now, who knows why this sweet mom had an infection or why she ran fever.  We do know that epidurals and fluids can cause a maternal fever and that vaginal exams and artificial rupture of membranes (breaking your water) increase risk of infection.  She also said she hadn't slept in quite some time and was likely dehydrated.  It's hard to stay well hydrated at the end of a pregnancy.  Again, a doula and class would have helped her be informed (potentially decreasing vaginal exams, the need for an epidural and interventions) and stay hydrated.

This mom is no wimp.  She brought her child into this world full of love and desire (and with a half-functioning epidural! ouch!).  I do not know her or any details of her pregnancy and birth that are not shared in this video.  Congratulations, Elle and family!  Give us a call if you'd like some more support next time around!

Amanda Devereux is founder of Nola Nesting, a Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.

Hiring an OB or Midwife: 10 Things That Are NOT Deal Breakers

1.  The office/hospital is beautiful.

A beautiful office sure makes for a nice place to sit. I'll give you that.  But, are you going to labor and birth in that office? Are you moving in? Is there a correlation between wonderful, respectful health care providers and new/modern/spa like space?  nope.  This might be a great way to choose a nail spa or even a spot for dog grooming, but not your health care provider.  This is NOT important.  Bring a book and take off on a fictional journey while you wait and snack on raw nuts.  

You want to birth in a beautiful space? Who can blame you.  But you know what - when the day comes you won't be aware of the color of the walls or how fine the linens are.  It's a wonderful bonus if you get a beautiful birthing space and an awesome motherbaby friendly provider in one birth-perfect package.  But, a well designed room won't matter much to you if you're not happy with how things go down.  Your provider has a greater impact on this than a room color and fixtures.

2.  The staff is so nice!

So, the office staff isn't making the calls on game day.  It sure is nice to work with pleasant people, that's for certain.  I prefer to eat at restaurants with great wait staff and stay in hotels with amazing service.  When it comes to making the big calls concerning your health and birth - it's the provider that matters.  However rude or nice the staff, ultimately they make up a very small part of your pregnancy experience and none of your birth experience.  

3.  Appointments are always on time or have short wait times.

How is it that some providers always run on time or close to?  I'll tell ya- they're not at their births and if they are their induction and/or cesarean rate is likely high.  Health care providers who are patient enough to allow labor to start and continue as it is intended and attend their clients' births rather than relying on the on-call doc and scheduled births, have clinic-scheduling difficulties.  Add to this the fact that they are told how many appointments to take/hour, appointment scheduling is out of their hands, and this amazing provider is probably spending more time with you than the 5 minutes you are truly allotted.  When it's your time to labor and push you're never gonna feel bad for those people waiting and you will be gratful to have your patient, skilled provider caring for you.

A caviat to this is that it's unfair to compare those in private or shared practices to those working for a group/hosptial and midwives to OBs.  Midwives, by the nature of midwifery, allow for longer appointments and have fewer patients.  In shared practices it's easier for the person not attending births on a given day to keep up with clinic appointments.  This is great!  But a provider's ability to run an on-time office is in no way a measure of his/her quality of care. 

4.  He/She makes me laugh.

Laughter is the best medicine, of course! While bed-side manner is awesome and definitely a plus, being funny and/or super polite does not equate to being an awesome health care provider.  This is just not reason enough to hire someone. 

It's great to have a connection with your provider.  But ultimately this is a professional relationship and you aren't looking for a bestie - you are looking for someone that you can trust to leave you alone when it's appropriate and to only intervene when needed.  You need someone that will be there for you when you are ready to birth your baby.  Someone who will trust your own ancient birth wisdom and support you while you labor and push as your baby and body tell you - not to say "sure you can do whatever you want so long as you and baby are safe" then procede to flip you over to a standard stirrup position to "make things easier."  If and when this person looks in your eyes and says "I think we need to move to an induction/augmentation/cesarean" you know that all else has been exhausted and you can move forward in this direction with confidence in the decision and respect and honor for your birth.

5.  My sister/friend/cousin/mom/friend's-cousin's-mom uses him/her.

This is probably a great way to choose a hair dresser.  A health care povider, not so much.  Unless of course your sister/friend/cousin/mom/friend's cousin's mom and you have a lot in common in regards to your motherbaby care birth plans. You may like the same jokes, love the same music and read the same books, but have very different ideas about optimal motherbaby maternity care.  Take a good childbirth class and look for red flags.  Hire a doula and listen to what your doula has to say.  What care providers are doulas choosing?  Who do her clients see?  You hire a doula because of the knowledge she holds, because of what she has seen - this person has had far more experiences with birth than your sister/friend/cousin/mom/friend's cousin's mom (unless of course that person is also a doula).

6. I don't want to cheat.

There is no cheating in health care. If you feel uncomfortable with the care you have received in the past, with the suggestions your doctor or midwife is making and the conversation that takes place there after, if you find you and your provider have different comfort levels with pregnancy gestation, baby size, natural labor, inductions, pitocin, skin-to-skin contact, vaginal breech birth, etc. . . this isn't a reason to cheat - it's NOT cheating. It's your RIGHT. Get another opinion, transfer care to another health care provider, you have options! It's important you are a good match with your provider. This will allow you to trust this person's suggestions and decisions regarding your care rather than questioning him/her the whole time, which, truly, is frustrating for everyone involved.

7. The office/hospital is so close to my house.

Okay, if you live in the woods and have a history of precipitous labor, this might be important. But for the average woman with an average labor there are at least two hospitals within a half hour of her, even in traffic. Proximity to your house at a place with a 50% cesarean rate vs. drive 30 minutes further for a care provider with a much lower cesrean rate . . . even in transition this mom of three would choose the 30 minute drive.

8. He/She says "whatever you want to do" when I ask questions.

See number 4 above. Be sure you are actually hearing what is said and what isn't said, not what you want to hear.

9. My partner says this is best.

YOU are a strong, intelligent and capable woman. In a perfect world you, your partner and provider will have an actual discussion. You CAN and SHOULD BE making decisions about your health care and while your partner may have valid input and legit concerns, ultimately you are the one going through this and your input and concerns are not invalid. It is you that will labor and birth this baby and you are capable of that AND choosing your provider.

10. I NEED my toes painted in the hospital the day after I've had my baby.

It's no secret, postpartum isn't always when we look our best. New moms are tired, swollen and sore after a vaginal birth. Add a major surgery on to that and yah, some pampering might be nice. A pedicure is a great way for mom to grab some alone time and treat herself - but let's revisit that section rate, your birth options, your provider's availability for your labor and birth and faith in your body to grow and birth a healthy baby - would you give all that up for pretty toes? Maybe you work it out where you get it all. Maybe not. But don't let some polish, even organic formaldehyde-free polish, be the deal breaker when chosing a health care provider.

Amanda Devereux is founder of Nola Nesting, a Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.