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.

A Sibling Doula. The Perfect Support When There's Another Babe on the Way

When your pregnant with a babe that isn't your first making plans for baby means also making plans for your children during the labor and birth. Becoming a big brother or sister is an important transition for a little one and a Sibling Doula can help make it seemless, impacting the familial balance and sibling relationship forever in a meaningful, loving way.

Children do not bring to birth the society fed fears and concerns that we do. Their honesty, open hearts and age-defying undestanding of it all is a beautiful thing to be witness to. With the right support and care children are able to fully experience and share in the experience of their sibling's birth, whether they are present for the birth or nearby eagerly awaiting the moment that they can first meet their new baby.

Juliet crafts with Franki while mom labors nearby.

Juliet crafts with Franki while mom labors nearby.

Franki Batten is both a Birth Doula and Sibling Doula. As a Sibling Doula, Franki spends time getting to know these pint sized memebers of the family during prenatal visits that are all about them and their new role. When mom is in labor Franki is there to care for the child and help them participate in the birth of their sibling as is appropriate for them and their family. Sometimes this means making a card for mom and the new baby, working on some crafts at home while mom labors in the hospital, or being with mom and offering her a cool towel for her head.

Juliet meets Ava.

Juliet meets Ava.

One of the most rewarding parts of laboring with our second child was having our 2 year old daughter, Juliet, present. Our sibling doula, Franki, with Nola Nesting made this possible. We met with Franki on a couple of occasions in preparation for Eva’s birth; her calm sweet demeanor just captivated Juliet... they were instant friends. As an already experience doula, Franki was awesome at our birth. She kept Juliet involved by encouraging her to count while mommy pushed. Franki talked to Juliet about the sounds mommy was making and why. She put a positive twist on what may have been a worrisome situation for a toddler. Since Juliet enjoys coloring and crafts, Franki captured Juliet’s attention through these activities in our labor suite while waiting for baby to arrive. It was so sweet to experience Juliet’s excitement and curiosity as she watched her sister being born. She was able to bond with Eva (“Baby Eba” as she affectionality calls her) immediately after birth. A week later, Franki visited and brought a folder containing the art projects from that day along with an outline of events from her and Juliet’s perspective. I am so glad that we found Nola Nesting and Franki to enrich our family’s birth experience.
— Anne and Adam, parents to Juliet and Eva

Whether at home or in the hospital, a Sibling Doula allows you to concentrate on the hard work of labor with the confidence that your older child is well-cared for and ready to welcome their new sibling.

Read more about Sibling Doulas here or contact us for more information.


More New Orleans Birth Options are the Best! (a new midwife in new orleans)

So, here's the big news . . .

there's a new midwife in town!

How exciting is this? It wasn't long ago that hospital midwifery was virtually unheard of in our crescent city, homebirth midwives were only found by carefully listening for the whispers of others and VBACs were rare at best.

We were invited to meet Alison Clark, CNM and chat with her about her new home with Crescent City Physicians at Touro's Family Birthing Center. She has been practicing in Mississippi and is thrilled to be growing some roots in New Orleans. She's looking forward to supporting women in using water to labor and birth, encourages movement during labor and also offers pre-conception care.

Midwifery offers women care that includes a philosophy that

birth is normal.

This is different from the medical model of care ascribed to by physicians (although we are super lucky to have some amazing physicians in our area that have a great perspective of birth). Every woman, baby, pregnancy and birth is different and will have differnet needs. Options are what women need. Women deserve the ability to have a conversation with health care providers and choose what route, what provider, is best for them. In a city that is often (sometimes) endearingly slow, we are rapidly seeing more birth options and this is beautiful progress!

We are thrilled to have Alison Clark's midwifery practice in New Orleans and are looking forward to meeting the other midwives joining her. And we were VERY happy to hear that whether you are planning a natural birth or a medicated birth (epidural) she is available to support you. While cesareans are out of scope for midwives, this midwife will be supporting VBAC moms!!! (can you feel our excitement?) You heard me right ladies, bring on those healing births! She is bringing holistic care to women, is supportive of her clients inviting Nola Nesting Doulas to their births, loves Birth Boot Camp and she's working with some great OBs to offer women the care they need should medical reason arise.

"I look forward to working with Nola Nesting and providing childbirth options and being part of normal healthy birth designed to the mother and baby's natural abilities."

"I look forward to working with Nola Nesting and providing childbirth options and being part of normal healthy birth designed to the mother and baby's natural abilities."

Alison Clark, CNM

3600 Prytania Street, Suite 30 New Orleans, LA 70115