One of the best parts of being a birth doula is receiving photo updates from our clients.
Parenting certainly has it challenges but when you look in to the eyes of these little ones, your heart just melts and nothing else matters.
Simply put, babies are pure and beautiful.
I often have people say to me, "Wow, what rewarding work you do! I can't imagine being there to see a baby born!" And you know what? They're right! It is very rewarding work. Rewarding because a family has chosen me to be by their side through one of the most vulnerable and momentous times in their life. I am a witness to the miracle of birth....and it truly is a miracle! It is truly amazing work. But, it can also be exhausting.
Don't get me wrong I do LOVE my job, but as much as this work can bring you great joy it also take it's toll both emotionally and physically.
You see, doula's are a special breed. We didn't chose this path but rather it chose us. We are a compassionate, empathetic bunch that feel very deeply. And I mean deeply. We invest so much in our clients, caring for them sometimes for 48 hours straight with little sleep. Holding their hand through the trials of labour, assuring them the whole way through, building them up when the going gets tough, shedding tears with them when they're feeling weak and vulnerable and advocating for them when they feel they have no voice.
After a busy month of births, some of them very long and back to back, I was contemplating my line of work. Asking myself how much longer I could do this. I was feeling run down and had finished up with a couple of births that hadn't gone as planned. I was disheartened by what I perceived as hubris in our healthcare system and really felt for my clients. When you're a person that feels deeply, this hits you very hard. You talk it out with other doula's, your share with your family and you feel a bit better. But it's not until you receive testimonials like the ones below that you remember why you do this work in the first place. It's amazing how a few words on a page can turn everything around. How they can lift you back up and get you back in the birth saddle again!
Here's to birth! Here's to the amazing women that give birth each and every day! Here's to their incredibly supportive partners! And here's to the blessing of being able to serve these families!
From a Mama's Perspective:
As a first time mother all I can say is that Marlo is a godsend, she is compassionate, kind and determined. She was invaluable part of our birthing experience. For hours on end she was our coach, our friend and our number one supporter. Nothing in our birthing experience went as hoped or planned, exept having Marlo there with us. She helped guide us through unforseen events and choices all with a smile on her face despite the time of night and the long hours. She motivated me to keep going and push myself to fullfill my goal of labouring without pain medication. She stood up for us againt unwanted pressure and negative comments from the medical staff.
After our son was born, Marlo made sure to visit us at home. This is where her compassion shined as she listened to my transition into motherhood with understanding and support. She truly cares about the mothers, fathers and children with which she works. You can see it in her face and hear it in her voice. I cannot imagine going through this process without Marlo.
From a Papa's Perspective:
Marlo was incredibly vauable to have around during my wife's labour. I was prepared and enthusiastic but I couldn't bring the know how that Marlo provided as it was first time watching a woman go through labour. Her coaching and guidance were very helpful and, with my wife in her own world, I had someone to talk to and joke with. Her calm, confident and sure demeanor were reasuring in moments when I did not know if something was "normal" or "common place". At one point she actually went out to get me some food and many times told me (though I didn't listen very well) to sleep and take a break. She was there for both of us and it was very much appreciated.
My postpartum visits typically involve baby snuggles, assistance with breastfeeding and fielding a range of questions on newborn care. However, this past week provided me with a new first at one of my postpartum visits.
I have worked with folks from all walks of life and I'm always interested in learning about the traditions that each religious and ethnic group practices during and after birth. I have prayed with clients, been invited to many a bris, took part in First Nations naming ceremonies but this past week I took part in a Chinese tradition that I must admit did not appeal to me at first.
Called geung cho, this surprisingly tasty stew combines pigs feet, hardboiled eggs and chunks of roast ginger in a rich brew of black vinegar. Typically prepared by the mother or mother-in-law, this stew is prepared two months in advance and is believed to be warming, restorative and strengthening for the new mama. I think they might be on to something here.
Doula life is not for the faint of heart....never a dull day in the life of this doula!
Today we received an amazing testimonial from past clients and we are thrilled to share what they had to say. A few months back I wrote a blog post about my adventures with this family - The 3am Musings of a Nursing Mother of Twin Boys and Her Postpartum Doula. That was my take on them and this is their take on me.
Marlo is amazing! We had twin preemie boys in January, who came home when they were just 4 lbs each. Marlo provided post partum night support for over 4 months, several nights a week. She was absolutely wonderful! We trusted her completely with the care of our boys (and us!). Marlo did everything you could ask for and more; she fed both babies at the same time, rocked them to sleep, cared for them and played with them when they didn't want to sleep! It was clear she really loved our boys. We knew our boys were well looked after, which meant we could get some much needed sleep.
But Marlo did so much more than look after the babies, she came early to clean our kitchen, she folded our laundry, she made my wife a great salad dressing for her lunch the next day and she even organized our gigantic piles of baby clothes for us.. all in the middle of the night.
Marlo, is honest, direct, funny, and extremely knowledgeable. She helped us tremendously with all things related to baby and postpartum care. There wasn't a question we had that phased her or that she couldn't shed some light on.
Having said all this, some of my fondest memories of Marlo are just our random, silly, funny conversations we had at 3 am, while I pumped and she sat on the couch feeding the babies. Marlo has a gift for reading a situation and providing exactly what you need (even if you couldn't think of it yourself).
We can't say enough good things about her or recommend her enough. She was part of our team of angels. If you would like to contact us as a personal reference for Marlo, we'd be happy to chat to you. Please ask Marlo for our contact details.
Hiring a Postpartum Doula, sometimes takes a bit convincing for families because they may not realize the value of our service. And although we're worth every penny (and more), $28 - $32 an hour can be a stretch for some - we totally get that. So let us tell you why hiring a Postpartum Doula may very well be the best decision you make as a new parent.
Numerous clinical studies have found that a Postpartum Doula's presence can result in:
Now we hate to brag, but our team of doulas know how to hustle! It is so important to us that we bring our clients the best quality of care. Our goal is to walk away after every job and have our clients thinking that our service is the best money they every spent! Here's what a shift can look like....
Whatever your postpartum needs are, we are committed to surpassing your expectations. It is of utmost importance to us that we bring you the most well rounded, professional and compassionate care available.
All of our services can be personalized into a package that meet your individual needs so that you and your family feel pampered, supported, and that this major life transition happens with the greatest of ease.
Although the majority of my work is as a Birth Doula, I keep my days in between births busy with Postpartum Doula work.
My postpartum services can be personalized into a package that meet each clients individual needs so that their family feels pampered, supported, and that this major life transition happens with the greatest of ease.
Whatever my clients postpartum needs are, I am committed to surpassing their expectations. It is of utmost importance to me that I bring them the most well rounded, professional and compassionate care available.
In the photos above and below, I took brother and sister for a three hour tour around East Vancouver so that mom could catch up on some much needed rest. She was able to rest easy knowing that her little ones were safe in the hands of a reliable, qualified and nurturing doula. The sun was shining so we took a stroll around Trout Lake, played with a puppy in the park, visited some friendly backyard chickens and held some baby chicks.
♥ Life doesn't get much better than this. I love being a doula. ♥
Marlo was our doula for the home birth of our daughter, our first child. From our initial meeting through subsequent emails, texts, and conversations, Marlo was unwaveringly supportive of our birth preferences and was the perfect source for birth and new parenting advice. When our baby was two weeks “overdue,” Marlo helped us stay strong in our fraught decision to forego interventions and to let labor begin when my body was ready.
Having Marlo at our birth and in the early weeks of our daughter’s life was like the presence of a calming, trusted friend who is an expert in birth and parenting. Despite much research and preparation for birth, I had major doubts during labor about my ability to persist through a home delivery. I credit Marlo 100% as the reason our daughter was able to be born at home and why I have such positive associations with the birth. When I was anxious about pushing or my labor slowing, Marlo provided reassurance and homeopathic remedies that helped move things along. She made intuitive, non-invasive suggestions to my husband about how he could best support me. I learned later from my husband that Marlo also gently coached our midwives on how I wanted to be communicated with as a labored – this was extremely important to helping me relax. Marlo remains among the most intuitive people I’ve ever met – she truly brings out the best in other birth support people and keeps the parents’ preferences constantly at the forefront of her mind.
In the two weeks after birth, having Marlo sit on our couch and patiently listen to us obsess over our baby’s every move was the best form of postpartum ‘therapy’ I can think of! She provided empowering advice on how to deal with the early days of figuring out our daughter’s sleep, eating, and diapering needs.
We cannot recommend Marlo highly enough!
My job is to nurture the mom and her family as a teacher, role model, friend and provider of unconditional support. It is my goal to help you better understand pregnancy, the birthing process and your baby's needs. I encourage families to birth and parent through instinct and guide them into creating a positive experience throughout labour, birth and in your role as a new parent.
I recently attended a beautiful home birth and I left feeling pretty high - all that oxytocin does a number on ya! I always do my very best to meet my clients needs by ensuring that everyone on the team is aware of their birth plan and by advocating for them every step of the way. I want to walk away knowing that they are feeling fulfilled with their birth experience.
I received this lovely testimonial a couple of days ago and it brought tears to my eyes knowing that I was able to give this family the support they needed to see their birth plan through. It was an honour and a blessing to be there with them on that most special day.
As a part of World Doula Week, doula's far and wide have been encouraged by the organizers to let the world know what a doula carries in her birth bag. Although the best tools of the trade can not be bought, there are many other things that can aid a woman through the many stages of labour.
I carry my birth bag with me to home births, hospital births and pretty much every where I go. You never know when it's contents might come in handy and be put to good use.
So let's get started with my favourite.....homeopathics. These can be used throughout labour to treat a variety of issues that might arise including anxiety, restlessness, shock, fear, weakness, exhaustion, bruising, spasms, excessive bleeding and labour progression/irregular contractions. Homeopathy has an excellent safety record and its remedies are non-toxic and when correctly chosen, stimulate the body to heal its own health problems.
If you're looking for non-medical pain relief, then you're in luck with our TENS machine. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This little machine gives out pulses of electrical energy. These pulses prevent pain signals from reaching your brain. The pulses also stimulate your body to release its own, natural, feel-good substances called endorphins.
That piece of folded green fabric shown in the photo above is know as a rebozo. A rebozo is a traditional Mexican shawl, which is long enough to wrap around a woman's body. It is used in labour as a comfort measure in reducing back pain, pelvic tension and it can aid in keeping labour moving along. Check out this Pregnancy.com to view videos of rebozos in action.
Essential oils play a large role in labour and childbirth. They can be used to calm a nervous mom or dad, to alleviate back pain, to soothe tired and ached muscles and to lift your spirits when you're feeling discouraged. Essential oils can be applied topically but can also be inhaled.
Massage is a key element to labour. Some moms crave touch while others would prefer to be left alone. A gentle touch using massage tools, my hands and my favourite arnica massage oil can soothe and relax a mother during intense contractions and while resting in between.
Meditation magnets are gentle reminders that can be held in your hand while facing one contraction at a time. I'll often slip one of these in to the palm of the labouring mom so she can read messages that include words like patience, love, trust, surrender and breathe.
Both home births and hospital births often require a pooper scooper especially if you're birthing in a birth pool or tub. It's not easy to hold it all in when you're pushing out a baby so the least I can is keep the water clean so that mom can focus on the task at hand instead of worrying about the dirty bits.
Another wonderful addition to my birth bag is the Labour Link. The Labour Link is a rope device approximately three feet long with clear, vinyl handles. This handy piece of equipment has great potential for shortening second stage (the pushing phase) by helping mom focus her pushes and get the most out of each one.
So now you know it all. My tricks of the trade are out on the table. There is however a handful of things that a doula brings to a birth that can not be bought and stuffed in a bag....patience, knowledge, experience, empathy and trust in the birth process.