*Welcome – Start Here!*

*I have availability from the end of summer 2015 forward – please contact me to find out if I’m open for your due date.*

I’m Heidi, I live in the DFW area of Texas, and I’m a doula & birth photographer. Whether you are a birth professional or a new parents, I hope my website will provide useful information for you. To the right you’ll see some links for expectant parents. I’m also now a doula mentor, and I have over a hundred great Tips for Doulas posts available by subscription.

Your comments and questions are very welcome, so please feel free to drop me a line. I can be reached at heidi@thadenpierce.org. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you!

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The Power of the Words We Speak | Tips for Doulas

After reading an article I loved about “Doulas Who Do Nothing” I was pondering the idea of doulas as pacers. (Go read the post, it’s wonderful!) The author mentioned a book – The Worst Is Over: What To Say When Every Moment Counts.

As my husband will tell you, I love books – I’m rather addicted, in fact, our home is filled with books. But it’s actually pretty rare that I buy a book – I’ll get it from the library or Paperback Swap if I think it looks really promising, but I won’t actually spend money on a book unless I’ve read and loved it already. For whatever reason, this one I decided to buy – and I am so glad I did. I started reading through the introduction while eating lunch, and I had to stop eating to grab a pen and start underlining and writing notes. Then you know it’s a good book! From the intro:

In so many words, every interaction is an opportunity for healing; emotional and physical. Whenever you interact with another being, you are touching the whole being and that interaction must be holy. And by knowing that, and treating all we encounter with care, you can move through life like an angel. Words, song, prayer – their effects can be myriad, profound, even, as you shall see – life saving.

The author of the pacer article said she got the book to help as a parent, which was also my intent. This will absolutely be beneficial for any and every doula – or anyone present at a birth – to read. I can immediately see for myself in hindsight how words are powerful in moments of intense emotion, physical challenge, trauma, or really any intense experience in life. How often as parents do we “doula” our children or a loved one through a painful experience, and how crucial are the words we speak in those moments?

Has there been a time in your life that the words spoken to you are embedded into your memory? For good or bad… words of comfort, or words that inadvertently hurt? Words that reassured or words that motivated and encouraged?

I’ll post more of the book as I go through it – I’m excited, and would love to hear your thoughts, too. Go read it!!

(Disclaimer, affiliate links are included in this post, so if you purchase through them you are helping this website continue being a great resource. Thank you!)

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Pre-Birth (and Conception!) Checklist

BetterBirthDoula.org(Written May 2011 and updated January 2015.)

When I landed on bedrest with our third baby still in our first trimester I was nowhere near ready to bring a newborn home. I had to get ready real fast, and while flat on my back. Bedrest meant I had LOTS of time to think and plan, and when your wonderful friend goes to the grocery store and calls from her cell to say, “Okay, what do you need??” it helps to have some clue. (I had no clue.) After not being able to do anything for myself when expecting that little one, it was really important for me to be as prepared as possible before we got pregnant with our next baby. Not that I’ll ever get through my whole list, but I started a “pre-baby prep list” a few pregnancies back and I just modify it when I know we’re starting to think about another baby. Yep, I am this obsessive about planning – but I’ve had lots of practice, and it’s getting easier with each baby. Plus I love that sense of being prepared and being able to relax a bit and focus on the kids and growing that little baby in peace. If I can get this stuff out of the way, I can put my attention on the important stuff.

I have a friend hoping and planning for another baby and we discussed this today so here it is – my list! I hope it helps! You know who you are. ;)
Continue reading

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Ina May’s TED Talk

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Gift for the Birth Professional in Your Life

http://www.yourdoulabag.com/products/birth-pins-holiday-gift-guide-pricing Oh, these made me giggle! You can get them on sale RIGHT NOW at YourDoulaBag.com if you order in bulk – you can mix and match which organs you get. (Unfortunately the holiday mix pack is no longer available but you can order the individual pins.) I think they’re adorable and the pins come on a funny little card. I immediately thought of a few birth professionals I wanted to gift these to, women who have inspired and encouraged me and helped serve our birth community this last year. Is there a midwife or OB you enjoy working with, a chiropractor that helps your clients with great adjustments, a breastfeeding educator or lactation consultant that’s supported some of your clients, or a placenta encapsulator that works in your area? Wouldn’t these pins make them smile?

But even more than the pins, write them a note and let them know how much YOU appreciate them! I know when I receive a note from a client or colleague that it absolutely makes my day, I treasure those cards and keep them in my doula binder to remind me of how blessed I am through this work.

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Cesarean Rates & Information

www.BetterBirthDoula.orgI’ve read through many of the posts on The Unnecesarean Blog and I’ve linked to some of them before. It’s a fantastic resource for moms and birth professionals. (Hint, hint, doulas – you really should go check it out.) I was thrilled to have a chance to meet Jill Arnold at the SouthWest Birth Round-Up earlier this year. Jill also created the website CesearenRates.com which is where I go for stats when I was doing some guest lectures at a local university. What are some other great cesarean & VBAC resources you share?

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Tips Testimonial!

Thank you to Allie for your feedback and sweet words!
(Allie’s website can be found at CaymanDoula.com)

I am SO grateful to have stumbled across this website. As a newly certified doula the blogs you post, and the tips you give are invaluable. One of the best things I have done in the last few months is subscribe to the ‘tips for doulas’ page.

Setting up your own business is a challenge, especially within this realm of work. However, having your website to refer to is a comfort and a great source of relevant and sensible information. I look forward to each new post and feel very lucky to have this resource at my finger tips!
Thanks Heidi!

Allie Campbell CD (DONA)

Interested in subscribing to my Tips for Doulas? Learn more and sign up here.

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Babies x 2

BetterBirthDoula.orgHow adorable are these little guys?? That big boy I think has been smiling since birth – every photo & anytime I visit him in person he has that grin that can light up the room!

I suspect that this family will be experiencing many adventures as these brothers grow & explore the world together. I’m thrilled I was able to be part of their welcoming party!

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Big Bro

BetterBirthDoula.orgDoes that big brother not look absolutely giddy to be welcoming his new baby? Despite it being 3am he was bright eyed and giggling and seemed enthralled by the precious new arrival. Two years ago I was blessed to witness the big brother’s birth, and I was honored to be invited to share their journey again. They’re such a beautiful family!

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Doula Myths | Tips for Doulas AND Parents!

Originally written April 2011, updated August 2014.

Doula Myths & TruthsI’m sharing some of the myths listed in my coursework (ones that I’ve heard) and my personal response:

Myth: A doula will discourage pain relief/not work with you if you have an epidural/only attend out of hospital births.

Fact: A doula will help you learn about a variety of non-medication pain relief options IF YOU WANT THEM. If you want the anesthesiologist to meet you at the door of the hospital to get that epidural started then that’s absolutely your choice. (Our job as a doula is to make sure you know your options and we support YOUR choice.) I have personally used an epidural in one of my births and if I could have gotten out of bed I would have hugged the anesthesiologist!

And doulas work with mothers wherever they choose to deliver, though ideally not in your car en route. ;)

Myth: A doula will interfere with medical advice/tell you to ignore medical advice/argue with the hospital staff/hates hospitals.

Fact: Hospitals are life saving in emergencies and I am so, so thankful for the technology they provide. I chose to birth in a hospital three times, and I’m incredibly grateful for their care. Many families are most comfortable birthing in a hospital and a mother’s comfort and sense of safety are crucial to a positive birth experience.

As a doula I do not speak to the hospital staff for you, I simply remind you of any questions you may have or wishes you expressed. If you are otherwise engaged (i.e. distracted from labor!) then I’ll encourage your partner to speak on your behalf. I can help you learn more about medical options and explain terms to you, but I do not make decisions for you, I do not give medical advice, and I do not speak to the staff for you. I am your guest at the hospital and it’s in my best interest to ensure a peaceful relationship with the hospital so I can better serve you.

Now that I’ve been a doula for a few years I have heard from care providers about some troubling encounters they had with doulas who did interfere with medical care, were confrontational with staff, or in other ways contributed to a negative situation rather than focusing on supporting the mom. I better understand now why some hospital staff especially may feel hesitant when they hear a couple has hired a doula and I am trying very hard to make sure my interactions with staff are always respectful. My personal reputation as a doula is important to me, but I also know that MY behavior impacts how they feel about all the doulas to follow.

Myth: I don’t need a doula because I’ll get support from my partner/midwife/OB/nurse/mother.

Fact: While each of those people provide support to you, their roles are different from that of a doula. Your midwife or OB is your medical care provider and with few exceptions, they will not be in the room with you while you labor. Generally in a hospital setting they arrive in time for pushing and catching. Your L&D nurse is monitoring you medically but again, she does not remain in the room with you continuously and she is also monitoring other laboring mothers and performing job related tasks (charting, etc) that take her away from your bedside. While many L&D nurses are fantastic in the role of doula, she may have very little experience with women seeking a non-medicated birth and won’t have the same tips and options a doula has learned, such as position changes, massage, etc. Your partner will ideally be your primary supporter during birth, but their experience with births may be limited! Your doula can help explain terms to your partner, remind them of your birth wishes and goals, demonstrate ways to provide physical support to you, and give your partner a chance to run to the restroom without leaving you alone! Mothers (sisters, aunts, friends) can also do an amazing job of playing doula, but may not have the same knowledge base to draw from to help you cope with labor. Those closest to you are also going to be unable to remain objective and may lovingly but unintentionally interfere with your birth goals.

I’ll use the wedding party analogy again:
mom & dad – bride & groom
OB/midwife – officiant
nurse/birth assistant – assistant to the officiant
grandmoms – mothers of the bride/groom
(At a birth they’re often distracted by their concern for you and want to get their hands on that baby! :) )
doula – your maid of honor. We’re here to make your day go more smoothly, to smile and reassure you, and to remind you of how beautiful and amazing you are.

As a mother working with a doula, my already incredible husband was able to focus even more closely on caring for and reading my needs in labor when we worked with a doula. Our doula was able to focus on the logistics and reminders so my husband could focus solely on providing the emotional support I needed. We both benefitted from hiring a doula.

Doulas can provide support in varying ways. Primary support is when you are laboring without a partner and your doula provides all of your emotional and physical support. Secondary care is when your doula works alongside your partner, both providing emotional and hands on help. The third option is that the doula provides “invisible” care, providing support to your partner to benefit you through quietly assisting with reminders, providing drinks, and warming rice packs.

Myth (Sort of!): You can always find a student doula willing to work for free.

Fact: While this is true in some circles, as a doula community we are really trying to change this belief that someone should provide such a valuable service for free. Doulas in training have invested a great deal of time, energy, money, and knowledge into becoming doulas and they are valuable. While most offer a discount for their certification births, please don’t ask doulas to work for free. Doula work is worth the financial investment. I chose to work with a student doula and she was phenomenal, but I’ve also heard some worrisome stories from parents about student doulas who were either not helpful or even hurtful. Be diligent about your interviews and find the right fit for you, recognizing that a doula with many births and years of experience will bring something else to the table than a new doula with just a couple births. Not to discount the value of student doulas, but if you have any types of special concerns then consider finding a doula with the experience you need.

Any other myths you’ve heard??

(Image provided courtesy of Jessica Rockwell photography from a birth we attended together.)

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Happy Birth Day Cupcakes!

BetterBirthDoula.orgIt was almost two years ago when I got a phone call from a laboring mom. She wanted to let me know things were happening, but she didn’t feel like it was time for me to come yet. Her husband, however, disagreed – he thought she was further along than she realized and asked me separately to head their way. Not wanting to ignore her opinion but wanting to also respect his input I suggested I would come by to check in with them and if it was early and she wanted privacy I would head home. Also feeling like I shouldn’t show up empty handed for this reconnaissance mission I decided to bake her some cupcakes for her baby’s birth day. They turned out to be a hit, and I’m so glad I listened to the dad because she was laboring so calmly that I don’t think she realized she was closer than she thought to meeting her baby!

Last month I received a similar phone call but this time the mom asked me to go ahead and head her way. (Honestly, I probably would have snuck over even if she didn’t feel ready yet, remembering last time!) Knowing she had been warming up we had baked some cupcakes again because now it was tradition! Not long after I arrived we were welcoming another beautiful baby boy. I was thrilled to share in their journey.

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