No Certification Births For Birth Boot Camp DOULAS
Tradition is wonderful, but sometimes it becomes necessary to question why a certain tradition lives on. In the doula certification world, there is a long tradition of “certification births” that must be finished before you are officially a doula. While there are good intentions behind the certification birth requirements for doulas, in truth, requiring certification births that meet strict guidelines only serves to devalue the doula profession as a whole.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the woman who cuts the ends off her pot roast before putting it in her (large) pan. When her mother notices, she asks why she is doing that. The daughter had never even thought to question why it was done, it was just something she’d seen her mother do all her life. Come to find out, the pan her mother cooked the roast in always seemed too small, so she cut the ends off the pot roast, but she should have just bought a new pan!
What does pot roast have to do with doula certification? Doula certification programs have always required certification births. To keep with tradition, we considered this requirement as part of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program. As we started asking ourselves hard questions about the purpose of certifying births, we determined that just because they have always been part of the process, doesn’t mean they are still useful. In fact, a strict certifying birth requirement can hold a doula back professionally. In effect, it is time that doula certifying organizations metaphorically “buy a pan that fits”. At Birth Boot Camp DOULA we do not require certification births to become a doula. We have found a better way.
Why Require Doula Certification Births?
What constitutes a “certifying birth”? First, some organizations require the doula to be at the birth for a set amount of time for it to count towards certification. Birth Boot Camp teaches that labor is variable and takes as long as it needs, so setting a minimum time is not compatible with what we know about birth. Second, at Birth Boot Camp, we feel that women don’t need vaginal exams to progress in labor. To require a doula to be present from an arbitrary dilation calculation is not supported by our philosophy and continues to promote the erroneous idea that dilation is the only way of measuring labor progress. A final concern is that the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program has a huge emphasis on relational - not just physical - support. We train our doulas to connect with their clients so that they can best serve them. A certain number of certification births does not give us information about a doula’s skills in this area.
Continuous Doula Accountability
If the purpose of certifying births is accountability and experience, there is a better way. Birth Boot Camp DOULAS are accountable, not only for the first few births they attend, but all of them throughout their career with Birth Boot Camp DOULA! Based on the number of Supporting Arms booklets they order for their clients in a given year, our doulas are required to fill out a Birth Summary for 80% of them. We aim for 100% but realize this isn’t always possible. Our doulas, like Birth Boot Camp Instructors, keep statistics to be transparent and measure their own effectiveness so we can make changes as needed. Accountability for a doula should last far longer than her three certifying births.
An evaluation form is sent to every Birth Boot Camp DOULA client so that they may evaluate the care they received from their doula This form does not actually go back to the doula, but to our Doula Certification Coordinator, who can then share the evaluation with the doula if the client gives permission. So, the two evaluations are coming from the doula and her client, not a care provider who may have spent only minutes in the doula’s presence. Care providers and nurses may be willing, but generally they have no relationship with the doula or any incentive to help her reach her goal of certification. The most important opinion is that of the birthing mother. We seek her views on the birth and role of her doula and value them highly. At Birth Boot Camp DOULA, certification births are not held over the doula’s head, and ongoing evaluations simply become a part of constantly striving to be a better doula.
Changing the Culture of “Free Doulas”
It is impossible to have a conversation about “certification births” without addressing “free doulas.” At Birth Boot Camp DOULA, we talk a lot about professionalism, scope of practice, and sustainability. Doulas being forced to complete certification births perpetuates the problem of couples always looking for a “free doula” and a culture that undervalues the unique supportive role of female birth workers. Birth Boot Camp DOULAS complete a heavy workload, followed by an intense 3-day workshop. They complete an exam at the end of the workshop, and upon passing, they are declared certified. They are ready to work! We recommend they charge a starting wage at their discretion, charging not below $300. A Birth Boot Camp DOULA will never be encouraged to work for free nor will she be so desperate for her certification births that she feels compelled to work for free.
Doulas Supporting Doulas
Birth Boot Camp DOULAS leave training with all the skills, knowledge and business savvy to be incredible doulas. She is not left to figure things out on her own, as she has a tremendous support team at Birth Boot Camp Headquarters and among her fellow Birth Boot Camp DOULAS. We have created an avenue to launch new Birth Boot Camp DOULAS to success and help them to reach their goal of having an enjoyable, profitable, and sustainable career as a doula.
Our doulas are enrolled in a mentorship program where they receive ongoing guidance and continue their development in several ways including a one-on-one consultation with one of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA creators and trainers, Amanda Devereux or Maria Pokluda. Our mentorship program is designed to develop each Birth Boot Camp DOULA’s relational support skills, business model, support them through their early births, and enhance what they learned through Birth Boot Camp DOULA training.
At Birth Boot Camp DOULA we have aimed to create a unique and superior doula certification program. We are not afraid to break tradition in order to make better doulas who can have lasting careers where they are compensated for their efforts. There is no doula certification program that offers the training, materials, and ongoing support that Birth Boot Camp DOULA does. Join our ranks today!
Preview Of "Supporting Arms," Birth Boot Camp DOULA's Client Booklet
Every Birth Boot Camp DOULA client receives the incredible "Supporting Arms" booklet from their Birth Boot Camp DOULA. We are so proud of this little book and our doulas love it. The "Supporting Arms" booklet contains wonderful and useful information for both the doula and her client. What is in "Supporting Arms"?
Information on when to contact your doula.
A coupon for an online Birth Boot Camp childbirth class.
A place to write down local resources recommended by your Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
Information you will cover in your 1st and 2nd prenatal visits with your Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
Tips for birth and relaxation for you and your partner.
Useful information and pictures about what happens in labor.
A relaxation practice exclusive to Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
Incredible breastfeeding and postpartum information.
All in full color, gorgeous pictures!
How does "Supporting Arms" benefit the doula?
Our two doula prenatals are unique and structured to build relationships. As explained by Amanda Devereux, a program developer and trainer for Birth Boot Camp DOULA, "The focus of the prenatal appointments is on relational support, not on education. This really creates an incredible doula-client relationship and that moves into some amazing births!" With Maria Pokluda, Amanda worked hard to create a training that teaches doulas how to do this. Together they created "Supporting Arms," a beautiful, full color book that provides information that you would otherwise spend a lot of time going over. "Supporting Arms" goes hand in hand with the structure of the prenatal appointments. Conducting prenatals, and the postpartum visit in this way contributes to sustainability within the profession, so that our doulas can have long and fulfilling doula careers and clients who they have excellent relationships with.
What do doulas say about "Supporting Arms"?
At Birth Boot Camp our mission is to help prepare couples for amazing natural births. One way we strive to do this is by supporting our instructors and doulas with the best training, preparation and materials we can possibly offer. We love that all of our doulas can take materials with them to their visits and interviews that look professional and that provide information that is above and beyond. They love that they don't have to photocopy dozens of papers from various sources and staple them together for each new client.
Nancy Rebarchik, a Birth Boot Camp instructor, doula, and administrator for the doula program says, "The Supporting Arms booklet fills in the gaps for my clients between the end of their Birth Boot Camp class series and D-Day. My clients find it so reassuring in the last weeks of their pregnancy. Their confidence translates into more peaceful end to their pregnancy, and fewer panicky phone calls and texts to their doula. It's definitely a win-win!" You can find Nancy in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at www.empoweringbirthdfw.com.
Hailie Wolf, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Abilene, TX notes the focus on postpartum baby care and mother wellness. "One of the things I really love about the "Supporting Arms" booklet is the great breastfeeding and postpartum support information. Moms always laugh about the pictures of what to expect from baby's first poops, but they always end up finding them helpful! The mental health self check list is also a wonderful tool." You can find Hailie in Abilene and at www.countrybumpkinbirthservices.com
Andrea Winn, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Spokane, Washington, says, "There is really nothing else out there like the Supporting Arms booklet. It is complementary to a thorough childbirth class, but it can definitely stand alone as a great reference as well! In addition to a comprehensive childbirth class and a supportive birth team, the Supporting Arms booklet is another amazing tool to have in your toolbox!" You can find Andrea at www.firstcomeslovebirthsupport.com.
Maria Pokluda, co-creator of Birth Boot Camp doula and the "Supporting Arms" booklet describes why this material is designed the way it is. "I love that our Birth Boot Camp DOULAs are walking into prenatals and interviews with this beautifully designed booklet. It immediately shows that our doulas are professionals and prenatals done using the Supporting Arms materials ensure that the client and doula develop a strong relationship which is a huge step towards working together perfectly during labor." You can find Maria in the Dallas are of TX or at greatexpectationsbirth.com.
Our format is organized, simple, and polished. We love it, our doulas love it, and we know their clients love it! Already we hear our doulas reporting that in interviews their clients ask, "How can I get that booklet?!" The answer- Hire me! So, without any further ado, here it is!
Preview Of "Supporting Arms," Birth Boot Camp DOULA's Client Booklet
We have all heard about breastfeeding and the benefits it can have for baby. There are posters in hospitals and waiting rooms and WIC offices. Yet when it comes down to actually breastfeeding exclusively for the recommended six months (and six more after solids are started), success rates are low. Why is it it that something we all know we should do seems so hard to accomplish?
There are lots of reasons to love breastfeeding and strive for success. It is great for baby, has health benefits for mom, and helps promote bonding as well as encouraging mom to sit down and relax multiple times a day. But one of our favorite things about breastfeeding is that no matter how your birth goes, breastfeeding matters. Whether you have a natural home birth or a scheduled cesarean, the breastfeeding relationship can be healing and joyful.
Here are five secrets to breastfeeding success that can help you be successful in reaching your nursing goals.
1. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful.
While it is true that some pain is a little normal some for the first few days of nursing, this isn’t universal. In addition, the excruciating pain that many women experience is decidedly not part of properly breastfeeding. There is a lot to be said for breastfeeding preparation.
Let’s talk about the difference between pain with a problem and slight pain that will disappear. What can be normal is a little bit of pain just when the baby first latches on and milk lets down. Some women describe letdown (when the milk begins to eject) as painful, others as a tingling sensation. Also, the first few days some women describe pain just when the baby latches on but this goes away after a minute or so.
It is not normal for the entire breastfeeding experience to be painful, excruciating, stabbing, or otherwise unbearable. Many women are incredibly dedicated to breastfeeding and will try to “push through” this pain. This is not the solution and will only end in things getting progressively worse. Seek help immediately. This brings us to point number two.
2. People you think can help you with breastfeeding often can’t.
While it is very helpful to have friends, sisters, and mothers who breastfed and are supportive of your decision to breastfeed, this isn’t always enough. Many women who nursed their own babies can’t necessarily teach you how to resolve basic breastfeeding problems.
Let’s say that nursing happens to be painful for you, who will you call? The internet and our friends and relatives can be full of advice, but it is not always good or correct advice. This can range from, “It is supposed to hurt,” to “That never happened to me.” Women even get terrible advice from pediatricians and obstetricians because these medical experts are not necessarily experts in breastfeeding. So who SHOULD you call? Check out number three.
3. Prepare for breastfeeding with support people.
Breastfeeding is often more successful when women have properly trained breastfeeding support at their fingertips before they even give birth.
First- find an IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant) who you can call or visit after the baby. If you never use her, great! But if you need her you won’t be searching. Note that there are many people who call themselves lactation consultants but an IBCLC is the most trained lactation consultant or specialist you will find.
Second, find a good community support organization that trains their volunteers. La Leche League is often the go-to in this situation because their leaders are well trained and their meetings are free and throughout the country. The women attending are often at all different places in their breastfeeding journey from nursing the newborn to adding solids to weaning a toddler or tandem nursing. Seeing this can help gain perspective and learn from their experience. There are other national breastfeeding organizations as well as local groups. Search for those in your area. Your IBCLC should be able to help.
Having phone numbers of these people on hand before the birth is great. Having met them or attended a meeting prior to delivery is even better. This gets introductions out of the way before you have any issues and when you can schedule things more easily. Plus, if you happen to be someone who has no family or friend support, you will be building your future parenting community.
4. Common procedures can interfere with breastfeeding.
Some of the things that are often done to a baby just after the birth can actually disrupt the breastfeeding relationship. Because these interventions are so widespread and so soon after the birth we often don’t see the correlation. What do you need to know that can help you have a successful breastfeeding relationship?
Hold your baby immediately and put them to the breast- That first nursing session shouldn’t begin 5 hours after the birth but as soon as possible. The bath can wait, as can the weighing and grandma holding. Mother and baby and breastfeeding come first.
Beware of shoving things in the mouth of the baby. Many believe that invasive oral procedures can cause infants to reject the breast. They are programmed to want to nurse- don’t distract them, or worse, hurt them, with foreign objects in their mouth. This can include pacifiers in the early days.
While not documented with studies, some also believe that circumcision can disrupt breastfeeding. You can read more about circumcision here.
5. Your birth experience often influences the breastfeeding experience.
A labor or birth that involves pain medication, cesarean section and even pitocin can have a negative impact on breastfeeding.
Studies have found that pitocin can increase the chances of jaundice in the newborn. This matters for breastfeeding because jaundice can cause a baby to be lethargic and tired, so much so that it can make breastfeeding problematic.
Many different types of pain medication have been associated with trouble with breastfeeding and have been correlated with weak suck in the infant which makes it harder for them to empty the breast and nurse appropriately.
Cesarean section has a significant association with lowering breastfeeding success also. It is clear that common birth interventions can have a negative impact on breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is about as natural as life gets. That doesn’t mean that it always comes easy or can’t benefit from some preparation and knowledge. Arm yourself with support, knowledge, education, people, a great birth and nursing soon after the birth to make your transition to parenthood that much easier.
We are excited to share this guest post today from Megan Hughes, BBCI, about four reasons dad needs a doula. We often talk about why the birthing mother needs a doula, but the truth is that a doula can benefit dad just as much. There are many reasons a couple can both benefit from the presence of a doula, here are just four of them.
4 Reasons Dad Needs A Doula
My Name is Megan Hughes and I am a Birth Boot Camp childbirth educator in Fort Worth, Texas. I teach a 10 week intensive course for natural childbirth that’s geared towards moms AND dads. My class schedule and location can be found on my website at www.birthhigh.com along with my musings and rantings over all things birth and pregnancy related.
A couple weeks ago during one of my natural birth classes, a colleague of mine came as a guest speaker to talk about the function of doulas in labor and birth. It got me to thinking about my own pregnancy and my husband’s response as one that may be fairly typical – and thus worth addressing. Many of the points she brought out were too good to be left alone and so I have included them within my ponderings.
There is a lot of information out there expounding on the virtues of doulas. A decent awareness of how important a function they serve to a laboring mother has been raised and is continuing to gain more attention all the time. What I want to concentrate on in this particular post is why doulas are important to DADS.
Statistically speaking, births where a doula is present are generally shorter, less complicated, and many mom’s report, less painful.
This is all well and good when considering birth in general terms. No dad wants his partner to be in more pain and for longer than she has to be. I have found, however, that in many cases, Dad’s enthusiasm for doulas may wane in view of their price point. Rates for doulas can vary drastically. Some may charge nothing or only the cost of their expenses. (Usually these are working on their certification) The tradeoff is a lack of experience. Others may charge very little, $100-$200 while still others may charge from $700-1000+. Location and experience all factor in to the price of a doula.
In today’s society, with health costs rocketing ever higher, having a baby can get quite expensive – especially if mom is planning to stay home with the kids. The financial stresses placed on the father as a sole income provider can be severe. At this point many dads feel that while a doula would be nice…ultimately doulas may be a luxury and therefore an extra expense that bears considerable scrutiny before diving right in.
It is not my intention to beat up on Dads for perhaps having this mindset. After all, yes, moms CAN have babies without a doula present. My real purpose is to highlight why doulas are important to Dads in particular and why they also have a personal stake in determining a doula’s value.
REASON #1: Doulas Are Personal Birth Encyclopedias
This is especially fortunate for those couples who have not taken childbirth classes or where mom took a class but Dad did not. During labor and birth questions and concerns may arise, especially for first-time parents. Depending on the couple’s birth location and care provider, staff may not have the time (or frankly the inclination in some cases) to sit down and fully explain exactly what is happening, why is happening, and what (if anything) needs to be done. A doula's role is different than that of a nurse. This is where doulas come in handy for Dads as they are able to explain and translate the medical and technical jargon. They are also versed in offering different alternatives to choose from when considering options for any given situation. i.e. labor is stalling out. Instead of going straight for the Pitocin a doula may offer some suggestions to try first such as changing positions, getting upright, walking, calling a chiropractor, etc.…
This sort of knowledge and experience can be tremendously helpful for Dad as labor wears on and mom makes the trip to “labor-land.” As is common, mom withdraws into herself, concentrating on what she must do. Dad becomes mom’s advocate and possibly defaults into making some decisions for her and the baby. How much of an advantage would it be to have the knowledge and resources on hand from an objective party whose SOLE interest is the well-being and healthy outcome of the birth? Doulas do not work for the hospital, the birth center, the nursing staff, the grandparents or extended family. They work for YOU! They work for Mom and Dad. They are thus enabled to provide options and alternatives as an unbiased party.
Even if the couple HAS taken childbirth education classes, it is sometimes easy to forget things you’ve learned in the heat of the moment. Having a doula there to remind both mom and dad of the choices available or just offer general encouragement to help keep both parties emotionally and mentally grounded.
REASON # 2: Doulas Call Time-outs
Some couples may consider hiring a doula because they are unsure of themselves in the face of medical opposition and feel like having a doula is kind of like hiring their own personal referee. And while it’s true that a doula can be useful in helping mom and dad express their wishes, she is not a gladiator. She does not fight your battles for you. She is not your voice. She does remind you that you HAVE a voice.
Many Dads may be intimidated by the fact that they are their partner’s advocate; some prefer to entrust any responsibility for their partner’s care to the medical “birth professionals.” I don’t believe this is done out of indifference but rather out of fear that some preference they should push for or decision they should make could somehow end up harming mom or baby. (Much of this fear can be taken away though education, which is why it is so important for dad to attend birth classes with mom.) This attitude doesn’t just occur in hospitals but in every location from hospital to homebirth.
It is at this proverbial ‘fork in the road’ type decision where Dad has that ‘deer in the headlights’ expression that a doula may pipe up with a simple, “Can we have a few minutes to talk this over privately?” It’s a simple sentence but the effect can be profound. Even just a quick timeout where everyone takes a breath and a step back can give a couple a chance to regroup and decide for themselves what their voice will sound like.
This also applies to the over defensive Dad that just isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with a provider. Having someone there to call a timeout may help Dad to regroup and possibly come up with a better way to communicate his partner’s needs and wishes in a manner that will be more likely to see them filled.
REASON #3: Doulas Share The Heavy Lifting
For those Dads who have never participated in a birth before- labor support can be a very intensive manual labor job. Depending on how long mom labors, DAD may need a chiropractor before all is said and done! With the possibility of hours of continuing contractions in which Dad may bear mom’s weight partially or wholly, applies hip squeezes and counter pressure…or the myriads of other physically taxing comfort measures that are so helpful. Having a partner to share the physical burden can make the difference between a tired but still functioning dad, and a stressed out, exhausted, and overwhelmed Dad. Remember, the attitude and energy in the room affects how mom labors as well.
Even if Dad doesn't do much of the physical labor support, having someone there to tap him out so he can run to the bathroom or get a quick bite to eat, or even just a small break to gather his energies can be extremely helpful. After all, it’s not like mom can hit pause on the contractions so Dad can take a pee break or because his arms are sore and cramping up.
REASON #4: Doulas Shine UP Dad’s White Knight Armor
I think it’s safe to say that pretty much every man wants to be a hero in his partner’s eyes. One of the great things about this period of time between partners is that it is an opportunity for Dad to shine in his capacity as protector and care-giver. And doulas can provide that extra spit to make Dad shine like Prince Charming.
The thing is, in 20 years a woman may or may not remember the name of her doula. She will ALWAYS remember her partner’s attitude and actions at birth. Therefore it is not the doulas place to horn in and replace Dad as mom’s anchor but rather to help in whatever capacity she can to enable DAD to be mom’s rock and anchor.
For example, she might suggest quietly a comfort measure that Dad could do – maybe mom needs a cool rag on her forehead. Of course a doula could just do it herself but by enabling Dad she has enabled the one person with whom mom has the strongest, most personal connection, to show how much he loves and cares for her by being her comforter.
As much as a mom my like her doula, ultimately it will be the tender touches and enduring constancy of DAD’S support that will mean the most to mom. And that is as it should be.
So for the Dads that want to help, want to be there for their partners, and just aren’t quite sure how to go about it, having a doula to be your trusty squire will make being the White Knight an easier and more assured role.
So when considering a doula, Dads, consider your personal stake in her and get involved! They aren’t just a luxury or an extra expense. They are an asset to YOU! Go with your partners to meet and interview them –you will be working with them quite closely so it would be a good thing to have a hand in the selection process.
After all, every White Knight needs a trusty squire in a fairy-tale ending!
If you are looking for a comprehensive natural birth class in the Fort Worth area, then check out Megan. She can be contacted via e-mail at mhughes (at) birthbootcamp (dot) com. Visit her at www.birthhigh.com for more musings. She teaches a 10 week intensive course for natural childbirth that’s geared towards moms AND dads.
We are so excited about all the people who participated in our "Why I Loved My Natural Birth" contest. So many wonderful videos with touching, amazing, funny stories. Birth does matter and you all showed us why it mattered to you.
We are especially grateful for the instructor or doula program hopefuls who entered. Thank you! We so look forward to having you join us soon!
And the winner is...
Kacy's ingenious video was more than an entry. She channeled her inner Vanilla Ice, she danced, she sang, she actually rapped. No surprise that Kacy WON! If you haven't seen her video, go check it out now!
Kacy teaches natural birth classes in Houston, TX. We love our instructors!
Thanks for playing and participating. More contests coming soon!