"You can't plan birth!" - the real reason we write birth plans...

"You can't plan birth!" - the real reason we write birth plans...

"You can't really plan birth, so there's no point in writing a birth plan." I've certainly heard this sentiment expressed before, and I'm guessing you have as well. There is an element of truth to it - we don't necessarily get to plan when our labor begins, how labor progresses, how our bodies or our babies' bodies respond to labor. I often tell my doula clients that there's a surprise in every birth. BUT! That doesn't mean there's no value in a birth plan! 

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Non-Generic Questions to Ask a Potential Birth Doula


The trouble with generic questions is generic answers.

It’s easy to find lists of generic questions for doulas simply by googling. The questions are usually very basic: “How long have you been a doula?”, “How many women have you supported?”, “Where did you take your training?” While this line of questioning is informative,  it fails to give you a clear picture of who you are hiring. It’s time to dig a little deeper, and get more from your doula interview.

Before asking the below questions to a potential doula, ask yourself what you’re truly looking for in a support person. What are your expectations of your doula? What characteristics are important to you in a doula? Someone who is strong and steady? Someone whose presence is calm, quiet, and peaceful? Someone who is immersed in the latest research, and can give you statistics and studies at a moments notice? Doing a little bit of self reflection will help you when it comes time to decide which doula you’d like to hire.

It’s also worth stating that there are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. They simply help you to facilitate conversation with your potential doula! The purpose of your doula interview is to get to know each other and see if you’d be a good match for birth and/or postpartum support. A doula may be incredibly skilled at her job, have tons of references and experience, and still end up being a poor match for you. Connection is key.

        "Why did you become a doula?"
This question will give you an better understanding of where your doula is coming from. Does she love birth and babies? Is she interested in empowering women? Did she have an enlightening experience that she wishes to share with others? 

        "How do you view your role as a doula?"  
This question will help you to understand your doula's scope of practice, and how hands on or off she gets during labor. Does she work to bring your partner into the birth in a greater capacity? Does she consider herself a substitute for childbirth education? Does she trouble shoot stalled labor and positioning issues? Will she facilitate conversation with the medical team? 

        "What do you think is the most important thing that a woman should know about giving birth?"
This allows the doula to explain to you her beliefs and philosophy regarding birth and birthing women. Perhaps she’s passionate about supporting you while you build the perfect birth team and create a birth plan. Maybe she thinks the most important thing a woman should know is that she’s powerful, and her work focuses on teaching you to advocate for yourself and use your voice. Perhaps she believes the most important thing you need to know about birth is coping skills, or education. There is no wrong answer, only more revelations about your potential doula!

        "What are you greatest strengths as a doula?"
Every doula has something they do exceptionally well. For some that may mean guided relaxation and and visualization. For others, they know all the tricks for physical comfort. Some doulas are awesome at helping to facilitate conversation with the staff, and helping you with decision making in labor. 

      “What have you learned from being a doula?”
Every birth a doula attends offers her an opportunity for growth. It’s nice to know that your doula is consciously reflecting on her own work, and is applying lessons she learns to the next birth she attends. 

        "What are your expectations of my partner and me?"
Your doula will likely expect that you take the birth and postpartum preparation seriously. This usually looks like reading lists, DVDs to watch, and childbirth education. Most doulas expect good communication from their clients, especially when on call. 

       "Do you offer any other services that compliment your work as a doula?"
Many doulas have a diverse skill set that adds value and individuality to their services. Some doulas are placenta encapsulators, birth photographers, childbirth educators, lactation counselors, yoga teachers, massage therapists, and more! What additional services interest you? 

Self reflect, contact a few doulas ( www.doulamatch.net is a great place to start ), set up the interviews, see who is out there, and meet your doula match!

Jessica Turner is a prenatal & postpartum yoga teacher, and a professional birth & postpartum doula living in Midlothian, Virginia with her tae-kwon-do loving husband and imaginative sons. She believes peaceful mamas create peaceful families, peaceful communities, and a more peaceful world. Visit her website: www.peacefulprenatal.com for more information on classes and services.

How Can a Postpartum Doula Help Me?

How Can a Postpartum Doula Help Me?

    Postpartum doulas are specifically trained to support the mother during the postpartum phase (sometimes called the 4th trimester). They have expertise in all-things postpartum, like normal infant development and behavior, breastfeeding, emotional support for mothers and families, healthy eating habits, and so much more. You may wonder if you “qualify” for postpartum doula support. The good news is: yes! All new mothers deserve supportive care, and whether this is your first baby (congratulations!) or your eleventh baby (congratulations!), postpartum doula support can help you during this transitional phase in your life.

First Baby

    Many families are shocked by the challenges the first baby brings. Your family unit, which up until now likely involved just you and your partner, has to make room for a third member. The transition, while overwhelmingly positive for most, can add emotional distress to a couple who is already physically exhausted. The logistics of family life and child care have not yet been smoothed out, and many couples find themselves stressed and anxious in their new roles. A postpartum doula can help ease this transition. A postpartum doula will happily listen while a new mother processes her birth story (a life changing experience!). She can teach the partner how to care for the mother and baby in an empathetic way.  She can help the mother learn and practice self care, ensuring the mother is eating and sleeping sufficiently, and able to bathe and exercise to her desire. Infants are demanding, which can fluster over tired parents, but a postpartum doula will bring her calm, confident demeanor into the house and soon the new parents will be at ease with their own parenting abilities. Postpartum doulas are also experts of normal - and they can help with the common issues that may arise with new babies.

Second (or Third, or Eleventh!) Baby

    By now the family is comfortable with new baby care, and the framework of the family has already made space for additional children. But more children means more work for parents! The logistics of an added baby are challenging, and a postpartum doula (while not a nanny), can help with older children, can help with basic household chores, prepare food and snacks, and allow the new parents a way strengthen bonds with their children on an individual level. She will also perform her other duties (emotional support, ensuring the mother is taken care of, help with breastfeeding questions, etc.). It seems that the more children a family has, the more value the postpartum doula brings to them!

Having a postpartum doula to help with twins can be a sanity-saver for new parents! Simply having an extra set of hands available can be of help, but to include in the supportive care, expertise, calm, and confidence a doula brings can take a family that would simply survive the newborn period into a family that thrives in it! Mothers, especially, will need supportive and practical care to feed, burp, diaper, bathe two (or more!) infants. 

C-section birth recovery can take longer than vaginal birth recovery, and is associated with more health complications for the mother and baby (1). Having a postpartum doula can help the mother emotionally to sort through any feelings she has about the birth. The postpartum doula can also be of practical support, as many mothers are given post-op restrictions and guidelines to follow.


    Having a baby prematurely can cause an overwhelming amount of stress for new parents. The concerns are intense and complex (2): health issues, NICU stays, low birth weight, financial strain, feeding difficulties, and general worry over the future well being of the baby can wear a family down very quickly. A postpartum doula can offer her educated support, her community connections for resources, and practical help during this time. 

    No matter what your circumstance, as a new parent you deserve the very best care. The more well cared for, supported, and helped you are, the better you can care for, support, and help your new baby and growing family. So don’t hesitate to find a postpartum doula, and help your family thrive in the 4th trimester!

Jessica Turner is a prenatal & postpartum yoga teacher, and a professional birth & postpartum doula living in Midlothian, Virginia with her amazing husband and energetic sons. She believes peaceful mamas create peaceful families, peaceful communities, and a more peaceful world. Visit her website: www.peacefulprenatal.com for more information on classes and services.

(1) http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-section/basics/risks/prc-20014571

(2) http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premature-birth/basics/complications/con-20020050

Prenatal Yoga Photo Shoot!

Join Jess from Peaceful Prenatal, and Joy from Joyful Birthing Services for a fun and beautiful approach to maternity photography: prenatal yoga photo shoot! Celebrate your beautiful and strong pregnant frame, and take photographs that your children and grandchildren will treasure.

October 29th, 3:30-4:30pm
1801 E. Broad St, RVA 23223

Newbies welcome!
Follow and share the event on Facebook: Prenatal Yoga Photo Shoot

To register email jess@peacefulprenatal.com