*In 2014 I will be taking a limited number of clients, but please feel free to contact me to find out if I’m open for your due date. When I’m booked I am referring to The Birth Group, though you will need to contact them to find out their individual availability. When looking for options I encourage you to also check out DoulaMatch.net and Doulas.com. The sooner you begin your doula search the better, as that helps ensure you can find the perfect fit for you.*
I’m Heidi, I live in the DFW area of Texas & 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 and new doulas!
Your comments and questions are very welcome, so please feel free to drop me a line. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you!
This little one arrived so quickly that I left home after my family was asleep and was back before they woke up! It was a sweet, loving, beautiful birth and I was thrilled to be part of this family’s journey.
I woke up on Friday morning, the 23rd, feeling really emotional. I was five days past my due date and I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions since I was 16 weeks. The Braxton Hicks were getting stronger and longer and the tightness was moving into my back for the past 2 weeks.
So that Friday morning I woke up feeling really anxious and lonely (Nick was at work). I was just moping around the house trying to keep myself busy but I finally just broke down. I started crying and Bennett came over to console me. He said, “Are you sad, mommy?” and I told him yes, I was sad. He took me by the hand and said, “Come here, play in my play room, you will feel better!” His tender heart immediately put a smile on my face and I went to sit with him in his play room.
The same place where I ordered my very cute doula bumper sticker recently had these coolers on sale. They fold flat, but pop up to a nice size and can hold your snacks as you head to a birth and/or be used to hold ice water for dipping wash cloths in for mom. It sounds funny, but moms in transition are often HOT and we are constantly ringing out wash cloths and trying to rinse them again in cold water to help mom cool down, whether she’s laboring in a hospital bed with the AC cranked (in December!) or sitting in a labor tub of hot water. They always seem to need those wash cloths, and I’ve spilled water trying to fill up large cups with ice water to keep the cloths cold. This cooler is the perfect answer, and I’m excited to try it out at my next few births. You can find it here – YourDoulaBag.com.
SO, things will continue to be quiet here but I wanted to give some explanation for what’s happening in my own family as background. We didn’t mean to be strangely vague. Our third child was born prematurely, arriving at 23 weeks gestation with his little eyelid still fused shut because he was so early. Because of an eye condition (ROP) related to his prematurity we knew he was going to have some vision loss, but we didn’t know the extent – it’s not something they can predict. We were warned with each growth spurt his eyes may lose more vision, but we already knew his acuity (how clearly he sees) with each eye was very different, he had some peripheral vision loss, and some other eye concerns. Continue reading
I’ve been asked where I got this great bumper sticker – it’s from YourDoulaBag.com and they’ve got a lot of fun stuff for doulas (or other birth professionals) as well as parents. A group of us put in an order for the bumper stickers and they arrived very quickly and combined with shipping they were inexpensive – and a fun way to advertise what you do. Here’s the direct link to the sticker.
This beautiful couple was introduced to me in the childbirth class, and I absolutely loved reading the birth story of their sweet little one. They’ve kindly allowed me to share it here, and I hope it makes you smile like it made me smile! Welcome to Baby Olive!
I’ve occasionally heard people say they would love to be a doula because it’s so fun to hold new babies. (Which makes me laugh and laugh… for so many reasons. There is so much more to doula work.) Sometimes I do have the privilege of holding a new baby – but it’s usually NOT at a birth. In fact I have a policy of not holding a baby at a birth unless the parents ask me to, either because the partner is helping mom to do something and they need an extra set of hands or because they’ve asked for a photo of me holding the baby. There are some times in which I was asked to hold the baby for longer than that, but it was in extraordinary situations – if the partner wasn’t present, if something was happening quickly and mom needed her partner’s care during a medical situation, etc. But immediately after birth that sweet new baby needs lots of skin-to-skin with ideally mom but if she’s not available, then with the other parent (also skin-to-skin if possible.) Grandparents or other family may be around and want to hold the baby for a few minutes and a photo, siblings may be there, but we try to get the baby back to mom for as much time as possible. It’s good for baby with regulating body temperature and adjusting to the world, it facilitates bonding, it helps with establishing breastfeeding. The doula should NOT be holding that new baby unless there is something else going on preventing a parent from holding the baby.
However, at the postpartum visit (which may be a few days to a few weeks after the birth) I may be asked to hold the baby. Even at postpartum visits I don’t ask – I wait for the offer. Parents may have hesitations about ANYONE holding their baby and that’s okay! I’m not offended if I don’t get asked. I know as a first time parent I was very cautious about sharing my baby. When I am asked I try to always get a picture, as many parents request that for their baby’s album and I love to have it for my own album.
As a midwife assistant I do hold the babies at times, but it’s very brief and only for things like weighing the baby or demonstrating diaper changes or swaddles if there’s a question. I check baby’s vitals while they are being held by a parent or grandparent. There have been a few occasions when I’ve had the unique honoring of helping pass a brand new mom to their mother’s arms when the position they birthed in made it tricky for them to reach down and get their own baby and the midwife needed an extra set of hands, such as mom birthing on all fours and the midwife passing the baby up to mom between her legs. But those situations are so rare that I can recall vividly that experience of holding a baby only seconds old and passing them onto mom’s chest as she gets settled. It is extraordinary.
HOWEVER, as a doula I do not hold babies unless I am invited, and then they need to go right back to momma’s arms! While I know how sweet those little snuggles are, as a doula my job is about encouraging and supporting a new family. The first couple hours of the baby’s life pass in the blink of an eye, and as much of that time as possible I want the baby to be bonding with their parents. If I’m lucky I’ll get a cuddle at our next visit.
(Photo is me at recent postpartum visit with precious new arrival.)
This little one caught me off guard by deciding to arrive before I was even officially on call! Thankfully his mom had been giving me some warning that something may be happening and I was able to get out the door quickly when I got the call. He was just eager to come say HI and meet the world!!
While every birth I doula-ed involved me being handed a camera, I really wanted the chance to focus sometime on JUST photographing the birth, and Kelley and Jeremy were kind enough to give me that chance. I met Kelley through another community activity but they attended the childbirth class I help teach, after which I asked them if I could be a silent observer for their birth to get some photo practice. (I admit it – I ended up being not silent at their birth, but I think they forgave me for my little insertions and cheers!) You can read their story and see some of the photos from one of the first births I photographed here.
As you may have just read above I am closing my calendar for 2014. I was already keeping my schedule light for a variety of reasons, but after much pondering and discussion with my husband and due to family circumstances I’ve chosen to not take any additional clients beyond those I have currently scheduled through June. I’m making exceptions for repeat clients, as some have already given me a heads up that they are hoping for 2014 and 2015 babies and I absolutely don’t want to miss those! There are some special situations also for which I am happy to work with families.
I’ll be referring on any inquiries to this amazing group of doulas whom I know well and trust – The Birth Group, though you will need to contact them to find out their individual availability. DoulaMatch.net and Doulas.com are also good resources but proceed with caution – anyone can post there, they may or may not be certified or accurate in what they have posted, information may not be updated, etc. Please exercise your judgement when determining where to meet a doula – or client – whichever side of the consultation you are on. And ask lots and lots of questions! Start your search early, too.
While I anticipate having fewer than 10 doula or photo clients next year, I’ll still be working as a midwife assistant, teaching the childbirth class, moderating some online parenting groups, mentoring new doulas, as well as serving with the Denton County BirthNetwork as a chapter leader. I’ll continue to be active in the birth community I love! Posting here will be quieter, but as always please feel free to contact me by email with any questions – email@example.com.
We just watched this and what struck me is that these people are strangers agreeing to pose for a photo together, but as several of them said – through the intimacy of the experience they came to care for the person, to feel a connection with them however fleeting the moments they shared.
It actually made me think of doula work! I am asked by a stranger to be present for one of the most intimate and enormous days of their life. While we get to know each other through our prenatal visits they are so brief, relatively speaking. I’m then invited to participate in such a sacred, private experience and to physically touch and care for them in a way many people in their lives may not – rubbing their back or feet, brushing their hair back from their face, holding a cold cloth on their neck, supporting them through those first breastfeeding attempts. I’ve applied lip balm to laboring moms, spoon fed them meals, squeezed hips, held legs during pushing. Birth is such a close, tactile experience!
And I admit I sometimes struggle to find that balance as some people want and need that touch and some do NOT want touch during labor (and I always hope I provide the hands on care some need while respecting their space for those who don’t want it. Any other doulas struggle with this??) While I try to ask in prenatals if they find touch comforting, ideally their partner is providing that hands on care while I support in other ways but sometimes they need their partner right in eye contact giving emotional support and I’m on back massage duty, which is why a doula is such a good idea.
All of that to say – this video was interesting and touching to me because I have felt this care and connection with relative strangers when I become their doula. However brief our visits and their birth may go, whether I am able to continue seeing them as their little one grows or they are far away and we don’t see each other again, I love that I can share these moments and connect with them.