Day 2: Living the on-call doula life

On the Second Day of Doula School my trainer gave to me….

We’re doing our FUN 12 Days of Doula School again this year. Over the next month we’re going to answer 12 of your burning doula questions!

Day 2: Doulaing with young children

In this video blog, Stefanie goes over the most common issues with being a doula while your kids are young. She shares her own experiences and creative solutions to making it all work so you can follow your calling.

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

Day 1: Doulaing with Young Children

On the First Day of Doula School my trainer gave to me….

We’re doing our FUN 12 Days of Doula School again this year. Over the next month we’re going to answer 12 of your burning doula questions!

Day 1: Doulaing with young children

In this video blog, Stefanie goes over the most common issues with being a doula while your kids are young. She shares her own experiences and creative solutions to making it all work so you can follow your calling.

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

Certification Series: Should I Certify?

Why Certify?

In our Certification Series we’re exploring thoughts around certification, how to make it easier, how to get it done. Today I wanted to go back to ground zero and consider “why certify?”. See more of my video blog posts on the Doula School YouTube channel here. 

I always like to do a brainstorm before I write a post, and when I started thinking about why certify, it just flowed and flowed. Here were my thoughts. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

Certification Series: Filling Out Client Forms

In this video blog, Stefanie goes over the most common pitfalls and mistakes people make with their certification documents. She reviews the birth reports and all the terms included in them to help you fill them out correctly the FIRST time.

 

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.

Certification Series: Top 3 Most Common Mistakes

I had the privilege to spend time this past weekend with the amazing Jenn Fontaine. She’s a DONA Birth Doula Trainer, but also is one of THE busiest certification package reviewers for DONA International.

When you complete all your requirements and you send in your completed certification package, it gets reviewed personally by an approved ‘reviewer’. I thought I’d ask Jenn about the top 3 most common mistakes she sees so I can help you to avoid them!

Here they are:

1 – Arrive at the onset of active labour

DONA wants to make sure you’ve been able to spend enough time with your clients in labour to be able to gain some valuable experience. For this reason one of the rules for your birth experiences is that you arrived at ‘the onset of active labour’. What this means is that if you met your client at the hospital and they were 8-9 cms dilated, this birth won’t count. Now let’s say you met your client at their home and then you spent 5-6 hours with them there and THEN followed them to the hospital where they were found to be 7-8 cms upon arrival. There is a very logical assumption that you were with them at the onset of active labour, even though there wasn’t a vaginal exam performed at home. Most births are long, so this doesn’t usually occur, but don’t submit a birth if you weren’t with them during active labour. Do another birth for more experience.

2 – Perinatal Health Provider Form

One of the other requirements of certification is to sit down with a perinatal healthcare provider and chat with them about the doula role. Following this chat, there is a form to be completed by this provider. This is NOT to be filled out by a doctor or nurse at a birth you attend. The goal of this requirement is to give you the opportunity to sit down with people and chat about the doula role, scope, benefits, value, etc. Part of growing our profession is that we are getting out there and spreading the good word about doulas. This gives you a structured opportunity to think about what you’d say and practice how to do this. Examples of great people to sit down with are chiropractors, naturopaths, massage therapists, midwives (in their clinic, not at a birth), and anyone else who regularly engages with expectant or new parents.

3 – Watch a Business Webinar

It’s easy to miss this little bit. This requirement specifies BUSINESS but lots of people miss that word and watch another DONA webinar. This requirement is to make sure you’re also gaining the valuable business info that is necessary in running a doula practice. Be sure you’ve watched one of the DONA BUSINESS webinars that can be found here to fulfill this requirement.


Hopefully these 3 ideas will help you to accurately complete your certification the first time so that the first call you get from Jenn (or another packet reviewer) is to congratulate you! Good luck!

In our next installment we’ll discuss other great topics about certification including “why certify?”, “how to get births”, “filling out paperwork”, and much more.

Happy doulaing!
Stefanie Antunes

Doula School #WorldDoulaDomination #DoulaBusiness #DoulaSchool

 

Scholarship Fund Announcement

One of the things brought to my attention a few years ago was how “white” and “middle class” the doula profession was. It’s something I have spent a lot of time thinking about the past few years. As I learn more and more about the disparities within our own borders, I am sickened by the different levels of care women receive in our country, particularly women of colour.

Doula services have the possibility of being elitist by nature, given that there has been little funding for doula services. I have worked to create programs, systems and funding requests to remedy these issues. But I know that clients will hire doulas that they connect with, and having more diversity within the doula community is important to increasing the diversity of doulas clients CAN connect with.

In an effort to create more diversity, Doula School has launched a scholarship fund. Workshop scholarships are offered based on a demonstrated commitment to community service and financial need.

Priority is given to all applicants who increase diversity in the doula profession, specifically people identifying as LGBTQ and Women of Color.

We encourage aspiring doulas to apply and they will be notified of our decision within 30 days. APPLICATION can be found here.

Spread the word!

#WorldDoulaDomination

What I’d say to my younger self

Have you ever wondered what you’d say to your younger (or less experienced self)? I’ve had an amazing opportunity this past year to do something of the sorts. Here’s how my story begins…

A couple of years ago I was doing a birth doula training in Toronto. One of the participants caught my attention as she seemed very experienced. Turns out she was a Lamaze educator from India who had been attending births for some time. There were no doula trainings in India, so when she was in Toronto she was able to finally attend my DONA training. She mentioned at one point that I should go to India to do a training. I filed that comment under “yeah, THAT would be cool” and then forgot about it for some time. Months later I was creating my yearly vision board (which I highly recommend everyone do) to set my intentions for the year. I thought about some of the places I’d always wanted to go and remembered my dream to go to India (probably ever since “Eat. Pray. Love.” lol) A few weeks later I was looking at my vision board and that comment from the woman in my training popped into my head. I scoured my files to try and find her name and email and sent off a message. She was shocked to receive my email because she had JUST written on a to-do list to email me and see if I wanted to come. Planning began to bring me to India and 3 short months later I was training 10 lovely women to become Doulas.

During the training I had been asked if I’d be willing to chat with a doctor at a local hospital about the hospital doula program I run in the Toronto area. I thought that sounded super fun. But you can imagine my surprise when I arrived to see this lovely poster in the front door of the hospital, and in the lobby, and in the elevator! And when I walked into the room to have coffee with the doctor it was a presentation to about 40 people across 4 sites. I was pretty stoked.

What occurred to me was the status of “doula” in India now is very similar to when I began my career 15 years ago. But the difference is I didn’t have anyone guiding me or anyone to tell me how it could unfold and grow into an amazing profession. But this time I did! The doctors and hospital staff showed keen interest in our model and I’m excited to say they have since launched a hospital doula program of their own that is so popular they are sometimes turning clients away!

Because of the interest I was asked to return again to do another training. This time I was able to do a Lamaze Seminar as well as a Doula Training in Bangalore. Each course had 20 people in it! Another hospital in Delhi also brought me in to train all of their nurses! What a wonderful experience this has been and I am humbled and honoured to be part of this exciting movement in India.

Of course I was able to spend some fun time. I chose to recenter myself at a wonderful Ayurvedic Yoga retreat in Kerala. As Doulas, work-life balance and taking time for ourselves is absolutely critical to a sustained career.

What I know now that I’d say to my younger self is “yes, this career is sustainable and it will become something as special as you imagine now”.

If you’re interested here are some pics below.

This profession excites me to no end and I hope you’ll join me in the quest for #WorldDoulaDomination 😉

Stef

How to launch (or grow) your doula practice

How to launch (or grow) your doula practice

I’ve spent the past 6 months preparing a program to help doulas (and other birth workers) to grow their practice. After years of not making enough through my birth work, I decided to stop the excuses and just make it happen! And you know what? I did!

I’m so excited to be launching this program to help doulas learn the skills necessary to fulfill their dreams through this line of work. I’ve taken all the lessons learned from myself and others and brought it together in easy and simple lessons that don’t require an MBA to follow, and more importantly that are SPECIFIC to birth work.

Update: since this original post the course is up and running and you can find lots of info here.

How to end the doula-client relationship

How to end the doula client relationship

I’ll start by saying that I suspect if you asked 10 different people this question, you may get 10 different answers. But here are some thoughts for you to consider around setting appropriate boundaries and ending the doula-client relationship.

Setting appropriate boundaries

When doulas find themselves getting calls and text messages from clients 8 months after the birth, I always ask the question if they set appropriate boundaries from the beginning and the answer is inevitably ‘no’.

Having healthy boundaries is SO much easier when you set them at the BEGINNING before any awkward moments have come up. For example, here’s what I say “to help with my own life-balance I work regular business hours for non-urgent issues. So, feel free to email or text me your questions or concerns any time and I will get back to you when I can in normal hours. If ever you need me urgently be sure to call and I’ll always stop what I’m doing. If you happen to get my voicemail, it could just be that I’m on a call with someone else, so leave me a voicemail and I WILL get back to you soon.”

I am setting the boundary of how and when I’ll be available. We discuss this much more in-depth as well when we talk about early labour contact. For example, during the day I need notice that they’re in labour to reschedule appointments, cancel meetings, etc. But at night I don’t need a phone call to say that someone has felt two cramps. A text is fine for that and a call when they actually need me. I also explain that my phone is silent except for calls. That way I’ve made it clear that text isn’t for urgent things.

By setting these boundaries and making expectations clear, everyone will get what they need.

Reviewing what we offer

doula with pregnant clientBetween the first few phone or email interactions and the last postpartum visit, I suspect there are at least 10 moments to discuss how doulas support clients. In that time, I will have discussed what type of support I provide at each stage. For example, in our last prenatal visit we discuss the postpartum timeframe. I talk about what they might expect in general from their baby, their recovery, and from ME. I let them know that if at any point they feel they need extra support that it can be done at an hourly rate and that I’ve included some package options in their folder that I gave them in our original consultation.

How else could you be letting people know of how to support them? Jot down a couple of moments throughout the relationship that it would be appropriate and other ideas you might have. (eg. include extra postpartum in your packages? Offer add-ons at great rates for birth clients? Discuss who you refer to for postpartum services? Remind them of your resource list?)

Always anticipating

I’m a pretty assertive person but I still don’t like confrontation, awkward or uncomfortable moments, and I’ll admit a BIG part of how I now work as a doula comes from learning things ‘the hard way’. When a client calls you over for a third postpartum visit and your package only includes 1, it may feel awkward to charge them for it. But if you’d mentioned all along that you can offer more than 1 visit if they need for an extra fee, then they won’t take advantage or it won’t feel weird for you to say “have you had a chance to look over my postpartum packages to see which one might make the most sense for what you need?”

Becoming friends with our clients

Once in a while you will worsmiling friendsk with a client that you can imagine being friends with. I once had a doula on my team call me to sheepishly ask “that client and I have so much in common and our kids are the same age, do you think it would be ok if we continued to hang out?”. Of course! If you have made your boundaries clear and following the end of the doula-client relationship, you both have a desire to see each other, why not continue!? As we age, it can become tougher to make new friends. I think we should take every opportunity we have. If the boundaries have been clear all along and the relationship has indeed ended (no longer a power dynamic of one person being seen as the ‘expert’) then two people who mutually want to be friends can do so.

If a client wants to be your friend and you don’t want that, then perhaps the boundaries weren’t set early on or the client is misunderstanding your kindness? Using words that set your expectation can be helpful “it was so nice working with you and watching your little one grow these past months. I’d be happy to get a pic and hear from you every few months if you think of me”. They will likely pick-up on the subtlety of what you’re communicating.

Social media

Some doulas ask if they should accept friend requests from clients. I encourage you to consider how you use social media and how you feel about your privacy. Some doulas create a work profile to connect with clients and colleagues, and a separate one that is private. Only you can answer this question for yourself, but I do encourage you to think about it and be deliberate and thoughtful in your decision.

Good luck my lovely doulas.

#WorldDoulaDomination #DoulaClients

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About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program at the Scarborough Hospital.

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula membe

How to provide great postpartum support

How to provide great postpartum support

As birth doulas we provide two types of postpartum support. That immediate support right after the delivery and most of us also provide10th day of Doula School at least one in-home visit as part of our package. We’re going to discuss the in-home support we provide as birth doulas, but I’d also like to share some thoughts around continued postpartum support for those of us who offer bigger postpartum packages, and for postpartum doulas specifically.

Processing the birth

As a birth doula, one of the main goals of our postpartum visit is to process the birth. Depending on how things went and how soon after birth our visit takes place, our client may have varying degrees of ability to really discuss and process the birth experience. Regardless, we can review our client’s memories of the birth and take the opportunity to plant seeds of accomplishment and show their strength and resilience in dealing with whatever took place. This is an opportunity to share some notes so we can be sure our client’s memory is both accurate and positive. Remember our goal is always to ensure that they have as positive a memory as possible, so all of our feedback should be with that in mind.

Depending on how things went, clients may need therapy from a professional at a later time, when they’re better able to deal with their feelings around their experience.

Answering questions and providing resources

Of course, part of our visit will revolve around some baby care/behaviour questions and perhaps around our clients’ physical recovery. Do your best with that based on your own knowledge and scope and always defer back to the care provider when in doubt. Another thing that is helpful is to keep a list for yourself of things you can send in a follow-up email. Providing resources and referrals is a great way to ensure our clients have continued support and the help they need (it takes a village).

Postpartum visits of longer duration

If you’re a postpartum doula or a birth doula who provides a bit more postpartum support, here’s my list of goals for every shift:

Always ASSESS (questions and observations) before you ASSIST (do, say, suggest)

  • Start with a check-in: I like to start by seeing how things have been going and asking my client how I can help them best that day
  • Prioritize: asking clients to prioritize what matters most to them. I’ve realized by working with hundreds of clients over the years that one client may need their dishes done but doesn’t care about the general chaos going on in the rest of the house, while some people need clean floors but don’t stress about dishes.
  • Always bring a wrap. I always bring a wrap so if my client is needing a nap, I can put baby in the wrap and still do everything else to help get chores done
  • Goals: my typical goals for a day shift include dishes and kitchen (put away clean dishes, wash dirty dishes), sweep the floor, do a couple loads of laundry, and make a meal. I find I can almost always get that done in a 4-5 hour shift, even with twins!

Cooking meals

Cooking can be tricky whether or not you cook in general. If you do, you may find clients have different spices than what you’re used to, and if you don’t cook, you may feel intimidated about what to make.

It’s always best to ask your client what they’d like you to do. Sometimes they have very specific things their families like and will be very clear about how they’d like you to cook. Some clients just ask for help with meal prep so they can do it themselves more easily later. I have a few recipes that almost everyone likes that I will often make if my client doesn’t specify what they want me to do. If you don’t cook often, try a few things at home so you become comfortable with what to do and how to get it done. In today’s day and age there are so many great recipe websites that can help guide you as well. Most people are just happy to not have to make it themselves! If you have a great recipe that is easy and nutrition, feel free to link to it in the comments below!

In the doula spiritFamily supporting new family

One of the most important parts of supporting families postpartum is to remember the doula spirit of non-judgment and compassionate care. Remember a tired person can be a grumpy person. As Penny and Phyllis always say “you won’t always understand why a woman behaves the way she does, but she has a darn good reason”. Remember that just like we support whatever our clients plan for their birth, so do we support however they choose to parent their babies. If ever you see behaviour or parenting decisions you don’t agree with, it’s not your place to try and ‘sway’ a client to another behaviour. Instead, offer education and support WHEN REQUESTED, but then simply provide support in whatever way will help them best in their transition to parenthood.

Good luck my lovely doulas.

#WorldDoulaDomination #PostpartumDoulas #DoulaGoals

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About the Author

Stefanie Antunes and familyStefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it is to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program at the Scarborough Hospital.

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.