*Welcome – Start Here!*

*I have limited availability for the fall of 2015, and I am open for 2016 - please contact me to find out if I'm open for your due date.*

Welcome, I'm Heidi! I live in Denton, Texas & I'm a doula and birth photographer. You may be here because you have a little one on the way - to the right you'll see some links for families to help you prepare. Over the last three years I've been fortunate to work with over 300 couples as their childbirth educator, doula, birth photographer, or midwife assistant. I've created a local online support group to continue helping parents as they navigate this wonderful journey!

I'm also a doula mentor, and I have over a hundred great Tips for Doulas posts available by subscription.

Whether you are a birth professional or a new parents, I hope my website will provide useful information for you. 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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Birthy Blog Round Up! Parents’ Version

BetterBirthDoula.orgAfter seeing several posts recently that I thought were so helpful I decided a blog round up was in order! I've not decided if this will be a one time or on-going thing, but I know you'll find these authors to have some great insights. This is the round up for parents, but there's another round-up for birth professionals that's available through my Tips for Doulas series.

Natural Childbirth is Not Just for Superheroes was written by Delilah Ray and shared on the Frisco Women's Health blog.

Midwife Abbie offers five ways to help moms work towards a natural birth.

Barbara Davis shares some great labor spots as an alternative to staying in bed. You may laugh at #1, but it really works!!

A review of Ina May from ThirtyOneStitches.com - I talk about Ina May's Sphincter law in the childbirth class I teach, and this post talks more about the book that comes from. I also love the beautiful quote from Ina May and image at the end of the post.

Sara Reimold writes a great argument for why we should rethink timing contractions during labor. She also includes an explanation of how hormones (oxytocin in particular) come into play and why those little timer apps may be counterproductive.

For you VBAC mommas - How to have a VBAC from the fantastic Maria Pokluda at GreatExpectationsBirth.com.

As a cesarean mom myself I really, really appreciated this beautiful post - Three Truths About C-Section Mamas.

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Mermaids & Birth

11703129_950301634991882_3262375096443407105_nYes, this is an actual discussion happening at my house today. There were strong opinions shared and someone yelled, "Look, no vagina!"

However, we did some polling and got suggestions from others. Do mermaids give birth to live young or lay eggs? Do mermen carry the babies like male seahorses? But mermaids have breasts so they must be mammals somewhat, even if they are fish from the waist below? We decided mermaids probably birth like dolphins? So here you go! A dolphin birth video.

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Nice Girls Book – Worth the Read! | Tips for Doulas

Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers

This has been a really, really interesting read for me. While it's geared towards women in the typical corporate work environment, it absolutely applies to us as business owners & doulas. Apart from a handful of suggestions that I think would NOT apply to birth workers (like never cry at work - we cry at work and in this field that's okay! I totally cried at my last birth, it was so overwhelming and amazing!) I felt virtually everything still would benefit birth workers. From interviews and first impressions to prenatal consults or setting boundaries with clients to how we handle potential feedback that may feel negative and critical of us. This book can help you!

My educational background is sociology (specifically I focused on sociology of gender and women's studies) so I was fascinated by this book from that angle. Our american society has some pretty strict expectations based on gender, and this book puts a few of those practices under a magnifying glass. As doulas we are obviously working in a field that is rather female focused, but we are balancing that with the very non-gender specific need to run a sustainable business. I like that this book starts with a quiz for you to assess areas in which you may be sabotaging or undermining yourself as a worker, helping you focus on the tips that apply best to you and letting you skip some that aren't an issue for you.

I read the whole book anyways because it was so intriguing for me! Not that women are the only ones making these mistakes, I know people have done these things regardless of their gender, but women are more likely to practice (or not practice) some of these behaviors in the workplace and experience negative consequences as a result.

Sections include: How you play the game, how you act, how you think, how you brand & market yourself, how you sound, how you look, and how you respond. Some chapters focus on money in particular (Denying the Importance of Money, Being Financially Insecure) and others focus on setting boundaries (Putting Work Ahead of Your Personal Life, Letting People Waste Your Time.) As a doula I feel that some of these tips don't apply because of the unique nature of our work, but they're still good to read about: Using Only Your First Name, Using Touchy-Feely Language, Speaking Softly, Feeding Others, Helping. Those are things we absolutely do (and should do) as doulas, and I was amused reading about how those same skills that are important to our doula work are viewed differently in a corporate environment. The doulas role is to provide emotional support and nurturing, but in an office those same behaviors understandably send a different message. Some things that are good for doulas includes the chapter Tilting Your Head, which the author says SHOULD be used in some situations to increase empathy and indicate your are hearing them.

For doulas struggling with viewing themselves as business owners, focusing on branding and marketing, networking, and creating healthy work/home boundaries this may be especially helpful. I think it was one of the most beneficial business books I've read, and I hope you'll check it out as well. I would love to hear your thoughts about it!

(Links in this post are Amazon affiliate, so if you purchase through them it provides a small percentage of financial support for this website - thanks in advance! This review was provide of my own accord, I have no connection with the author or publisher and all opinions are entirely my own.)

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Heat Pack Options for Birth & Beyond | Tips for Doulas

BetterBirthDoula.orgMany, many moms find that heat on their lower back is helpful during labor, especially if baby is OP and they're experiencing back labor. I've tried a few options for heat packs and wanted to review some of the pros and cons here. Ideally clients will have some time of hot pack they bring to the birth themselves but they may not have one, or may forget to pack it, so many doulas do provide one.

* Plug in heating pads. Easy to wipe down to clean, covers are washable, they can get extremely hot, but you're limited by the cord needing an outlet. They're not very expensive and easy to find. You also don't have to leave the client to heat it up at a birth. They don't cool down (though some turn off automatically after a set time, you can just turn it back on.) This one I have at home (I've not tried it for a birth) but I love it for warming my bed on cold winter nights. The cord I decided wasn't long enough to provide much mobility at a birth, but it's great if you know mom will be in one spot for an extended time such as her bed - Sunbeam

* Hot water bottle. Also easy to wipe down, covers are washable, they cannot get as hot, which can be a good thing. You can fill with hot tap water and if that's not enough, add a cup or two of hot water from the coffee maker, presuming the hospital/birth center has one. That may require you to leave the room/client. The cool off and require refilling, but that's a quick fix. I just purchased this one with the washable fleece cover - though some of those knit sweater type covers are adorable! Carex Hot Water Bottle with Fleece Cover

* Rick packs. These are trickier as they cannot be cleaned, though previously I had some with washable covers. I ended up gifting one of mine to the client after it got messy. You can easily sew these for clients, as they're lovely to have postpartum as well. After recent discussion on a doula board I agree that there is no way to ensure these are clean and shouldn't be shared between clients. (Despite keeping mine in the washable cover and wrapping in a towel at the birth, they can still get dirty.) They need a microwave to heat them, and at one local hospital to me that is only behind a locked door that requires staff to give you access. Depending on how busy they are at the nurses' station this may mean I'm away from the client 5+ minutes while waiting to be let in and for the hot pack to heat. It's not long, but when things are moving fast even that length of time away can be nerve wracking. They also need to be reheated relatively often, sometimes within the same hour depending on what mom needs. (They can stay warm for hours, but not hot.) I love this one, but new covers were almost as much as the rice pack itself - Earth Therapeutics - Lavender Chamomile

* Reusable instant heat gel packs get nicely hot, last comparable time to rice packs or hot water bottles, don't require you to leave the mom's side, and can be easily cleaned and reused down the line. However, they cannot be reused instantly as they have to be "recharged" by boiling them. They are also one of the pricier options. You can see some options online like this: Heat Wave

Currently I'm trying out the hot water bottle and my primary concern is getting it hot enough for mom's comfort. I'll let you know what feedback I get about it!

(Affiliate links are included in this post - if you purchase through them you help support this website as a resource for families!)

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My Mini-Doula

Mini-DoulaMy 8 year old daughter has been fascinated with all things birth, and begging for a chance to attend a birth as the photographer or "mini-doula." She was present at my 5th and 6th births and thought the entire process was awesome. Afterwards she shared with her entire Sunday School class all about how her mommy pushed a baby out of her vagina and how babies grow in your uterus. (The teachers were laughing so hard when they told me about it afterwards.) We've also talked about momma's scar from my c-section and how sometimes babies come out that way if they need some extra help. Both of the girls in these photos are VBAC babies, the youngest born in the water. I love that my kids are comfortable with & know about birth, in all its varieties!

Mini-DoulaIt will be a few more years before I think she'll be ready, but I've had friends and clients say they would love to have one of my kids help at their birth with caring for younger siblings. I know for my own births that childcare was a huge concern, and having a care taker present who is so comfortable with birth would be a fantastic resource. My oldest daughter and I are already talking about what types of doula packages I could offer clients that would include her services as a babysitter (she's a young teen.) Once they are 16+ and if clients were interested I would love having either of them attend births to help in that role. As a laboring parent, would you be comfortable with a teen sitter caring for siblings at your birth?

The photo is my 8 year old, she told me she's "playing doula" with her younger sister and she packed her doula bag: rice pack, massage tool, essential oils, and her camera (a hand-me-down of mine.) She's apparently been paying a lot of attention to what I do. The little one is our four year old - she stuffed a pillow up her shirt because she said she's the momma having the baby. (She's calling her doula on the pretend cell phone, she said.)

I love it!

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Birth “Plan” Tips

Things to Consider PDFCreating a birth plan helps convey to your care team what your priorities and concerns are during your labor and with your new baby. While birth plans are less crucial at home or birth center deliveries, they're important to have for hospital births. Generally there's a standard protocol for hospital staff to follow, so having your wishes in writing can help facilitate communication about your requests. Plus in the middle of your labor you're not going to want to be answering questions repeatedly - having your wishes already typed up helps ensure everyone is on the same page. Continue reading

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Getting Started | Tips for Doulas

Originally posted 2011, updated February 2015

I've recently had the chance to visit with a couple people interested in becoming doulas, and I love being able to pass on the tips I've gathered from my own doula mentors and from experiences over the last few years.

BetterBirthDoula.org* There are several options for certification programs, with varying requirements and prices. I went with Birth Arts for a variety of reasons, and I've been very happy with the program. I've learned more recently about Birth Boot Camp Doulas training program and I'm impressed with all I've heard and read about it thus far.

Doulas are trained and certified, but they are NOT licensed. There is no one governing organization for doulas, and multiple groups offering certifications. Their programs vary so it's up to you as the doula to research those options and find the best training program for you. Some doulas have been around for years & are fantastic, but they began certifying with one group but no longer maintain certification. Their reasons vary - some have developed a different philosophy than their certifying organization, some no longer want to pay the annual fee and deal with the paperwork and proof of ongoing education (though they are still doing the ongoing training.) Others have such a strong reputation in their area and are mentoring other doulas are don't feel that they need to stay certified officially to be offering their services. However, this is ENTIRELY different than some of the new doulas I'm hearing about beginning their training & quitting without completing it but presenting themselves as certified doulas. (I'm horrified I need to even include this but I've been hearing about it happening more and more.) Do your training, and then be completely and entirely honest with parents and your birth community about whether you are trained, certified, etc. Honesty should be assumed, I'm sad that it's even a discussion about whether doulas are being dishonest about their training. Continue reading

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Reading List for Birth Professionals

While I have a lending library and Pinterest board for my doula clients, I realized I should have one for doulas and other birth professionals. Training programs have required reading books that cover birth in general, but there are other books not always required that are incredibly important. I am pinning those titles here. I would love to hear what you think of them, and if there are titles you think I should include.

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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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