Suggestions for Your Birth Business Website

birth business website tips clients doula childbirth educator

Many expectant parents browse the Internet in their search for childbirth classes or birth-related services. Fortunately, the many website-building tools available make it easy for childbirth educators, doulas and other birth professionals to build their own website and provide instant information to potential clients. However, a poorly designed or incomplete site may hurt your chances of attracting clients. Often, basic information is omitted from websites that could make the difference in helping you generate more business. Here are some tips that we have learned along the way.

1. Include a brief summary of what you offer on your home page. Make it easy for prospective clients to understand your basic services immediately and provide links to additional information on other pages (like an “about me” page, “class description” page or “class schedule” page).

2. Describe (briefly) what makes you or your services unique. When writing this section, think about your personality, your experience and your passion. Be honest about your experience and specific about what you offer, how much it costs and why prospective clients should choose your services over others. You don’t have to go into great detail (such as sharing your 10 page birth story), but you should include information that you are comfortable making public, which can help prospective clients get to know you better. 

3. Put the geographical area you serve and your contact information in multiple places on your site. The omission of location is common on many of the websites we have seen, which makes it difficult for prospective clients to know if you are nearby. It is very important for you to provide a quick, convenient and easily accessible way for clients to contact you. You don’t need to put your home address and phone number, but do include the region you serve, have a “contact me” form or set up an email address just for your business that you check regularly.

4. Be prompt in returning phone call and emails concerning your services. Though this isn’t a website design issue, we have found that there are many birth professionals (us included on occasion) who get busy and end up waiting days or even a week or more to get back to prospective clients who contact them. In the meantime, most prospective clients will have continued their search and may have moved on. It can sometimes help to draft a standard email response for general inquiries that you can send out quickly. It also helps to keep track of clients using an app, spreadsheet or notepad, so you can be sure no one has slipped through the cracks.

5. Your design matters. Be sure your formatting is consistent; use the same font and font color throughout the body (main text) of your site. Make sure your font is not too large or too small. Use font colors that are easy to read with your background. Avoid fonts that are too ornamental and may be difficult to read.

6. Proof-read regularly! It is easy for errors to occur when you type, but it can give the wrong impression. Pay special attention to the accuracy of important content like the start dates of classes, course fees, your email address or phone number. Be sure to update this information on a regular basis as well. A class date from 2011 or a disconnected phone number will surely affect your business.

With a little planning you can easily create an amazing website that will make it easier to market yourself, help you attract clients, and be easy to maintain and update.

Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved

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Five things Childbirth Educators want parents to know

parents need to know about childbirth education birth classesMost people who teach childbirth education do so because they have a passion for helping mothers and families become informed and empowered through the pregnancy and birth process. We have worked with many different types of families with many different goals and desires for birth. We know that each family is unique and will make their own unique choices, but there are a few things we have learned from our experience that may benefit all families.

1. Any education about birth will help...

We have seen parents who became frightened during their birth because they had no idea what to expect and were caught off guard by the process. We know that a little education can go a long way and that the more prepared you are, the more confident you will be, and the greater the chance that you will have a smooth and healthy birth experience. If you don’t know where to start, check out books from your local library, read websites like babycenter.com or childbirthconnection.org and research local resources. Ask friends or your care provider for recommendations for childbirth classes and choose the one that is the best fit for you. Anything you do to prepare will be better than nothing at all.

2. ….but be conscious of the source of your information. 

Having affirmed that any amount of education is better than none, it is also important to consider the source. With so much content at our fingertips online, it is easy to get lost in a sea of information. It is usually best to navigate towards websites which offer factual information written by knowledgeable professionals and be cautious when using online message boards or social networking sites which can be filled with personal accounts, opinions and sometimes, inaccuracies. A friend, family member, or television show may or may not provide helpful or accurate information and may instead be “venting” or sensationalizing birth. Remember that these one-sided stories can affect your confidence, increase your fears and are not likely to be similar to your story. This is not to say that you should dismiss what you read online or what your friends and family tell you (sometimes you can hear encouraging, inspiring and amazing stories), just be cautious. If the information is not helpful, incites fear or feels incomplete, move on to another source.

3. Childbirth Education is about more than pain management.

We have sometimes heard mothers say,“Why would I need to take a childbirth class? I’m planning to have an epidural.” We want you to know that classes are helpful for any plan, and do more than teach you about pain management. Classes often provide education on all kinds of topics, such as pregnancy wellness, the typical course of events for birth, your choices, what to expect after the birth and often newborn care and breastfeeding. This information can relieve fears and help you enjoy your pregnancy, birth or postpartum time more than if you go through it blindly. You also have a chance to connect with other expectant parents, learn you are not alone in this journey and maybe even meet couples who turn into lifelong friends.

4. This is a day you’ll remember forever, so put some thought into how you would like it to go.

It is extremely important to keep an open mind during pregnancy, labor and delivery, because things can happen that are outside of anyone’s control. Labor can be unpredictable and you may encounter surprises. However, it is important to realize that the day your child is born is a day you’ll remember forever, and it warrants some degree of planning. It is a good idea to give thoughtful consideration to your options ahead of time and establish your preferences, then be sure to communicate those preferences to your care provider and to the people who will be supporting and surrounding you during your birth. We believe this will help you have a happier and more empowered experience and be able to look back on your experience with fond memories. 

5. Your care provider can’t do this for you.

While in some ways it might seem easier to turn over decision-making to another person and be free from responsibility, there is no one else as invested in your birth experience or its outcome as you are. No one else knows your goals and desires, your likes and dislikes, your history or your plans for the future. No one else will be taking your child home and raising him/her and no one else will feel the emotional impacts of the birth like you and your partner. Some decisions made for you by your care provider may not make a difference to you or may be beneficial, while others may leave you with doubt, regret or even trauma. You may look back at your experience and wonder if that intervention or medication was necessary or ask yourself “what if...” questions. You may make major future decisions based on your birth experience, such limiting how many children you have or resigning yourself to a similar birth with your next child. As childbirth educators, we know that your involvement in the decision-making, regardless of the birth experience or outcome, can have huge benefits to you for years to come. You have the right to make decisions for your care after receiving all of the important information about your choices, such as the advantages, drawbacks, and alternatives, and you always have the right to say no. Childbirth Connection has produced an excellent compilation of your rights that might be beneficial to read.  

Every woman is different, every baby is different and every labor is different. Even in our own classes, we want to make sure parents know that there are no absolutes, no hard and fast rules that are one hundred percent sure to apply to every couple or mother. Education can’t guarantee a particular outcome or ensure that your birth is all that you desire, but it can help you feel respected and empowered - and all families benefit from that.

Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved

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I'm not sure... do I need a doula?

I'm not sure... do I need a doula?

Parents who consider hiring a doula often ask some of the following questions. In response, we are exploring and clarifying the doula role and some of the reasons for hiring one. 

1. What exactly does a doula do? 

The “textbook” answer – that many of you have probably already heard – is that a doula provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a laboring mother and her partner throughout the labor and birth process.

But what this looks like in practice spans a very wide spectrum of scenarios. Since a mother doesn’t often know ahead of time exactly what will be most helpful to her in labor, probably the most important trait that a doula brings is the ability to be adaptable and adjust her style according to the individual needs of the mother and of the moment; to read the situation and act appropriately.

Sometimes, a mother needs to be left completely alone to feel safe and secure – any noise or touch creates more stimulation than she can handle in addition to her labor. Sometimes, a mother needs to have continuous eye contact with her partner. Sometimes the couple is doing well on their own and the doula can help carry bags, fetch water, and take care of other errands so that the parents never need to be separated for a moment. Sometimes a mother needs to be held, massaged, loved and encouraged by another woman who understands what she is going through. At times, labor support requires some trial and error for the doula to figure out what is most effective and as labor progresses, the doula may need to adjust her role, style or technique based on the mother’s changing needs.

2. Why would I need a doula when my partner/husband is prepared and wants to support me?

This can be a tough question to answer. It is true that the partner knows the mother well and has a very intimate connection with her and the baby; however the partner is also very emotionally involved, most likely not an experienced birth attendant and may benefit from some support, reassurance and guidance him/herself. Many parents have expressed concern that a doula will take away from the partner's role or experience. On the contrary, doulas want the partner to be intimately involved and work to keep the couple connected throughout the labor. Ideally, the partner and doula working together create the ultimate support team.

It is also important to realize that there are some unique elements that a doula can bring to the birth that may be difficult for a husband or partner:

    1. Experience. A seasoned doula has usually attended dozens, sometimes hundreds of births and can draw upon those experiences to guide her support. A newer doula has read countless books and websites, attended a training(s), and/or watched birth films and is knowledgeable and eager to help. For the partner, the birth is likely the first or one of a small number, so it may be difficult for him/her to establish a helpful frame of reference. Situations such as a baby in an awkward position, a mother battling nausea, a mother who panics, or other unexpected events, are likely situations that the doula has seen in the past and has learned various methods that can help.

    2. Instinct. Many doulas have had children of their own and have a love and passion for birth and helping other women have a positive experience. Attending many births and/or having given birth to her own children gives a doula a powerful personal experience from which to draw ideas and tools for support. Often, though not always, it is easier for women, especially those who have gone through it, to instinctively know how to support a laboring woman than it is for men.

    3. Objectivity. A doula will be able to maintain a bit more emotional distance in the midst of the passion and intensity of labor than a husband or partner. It’s not that she doesn’t care about the laboring mother, but rather that she is able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, keeping a more objective viewpoint. This will help her provide the information that parents need to make a decision based on evidence and experience rather than out of emotions or fear. Parents who are given tools to be at the center of the decision-making at every step of the labor and birth process are more likely to come out on the other side feeling respected and cared for. This will create a joyful and positive experience and get the family off to a healthy start. 

If a mother does not have a partner or other support person, the doula’s role possibly becomes even more critical, ensuring that the laboring mother will never have a moment when she will face her labor alone.

3. I get the idea of labor support, but won’t my midwife or nurse do that?

Maybe. Some labor and delivery nurses and midwives provide wonderful labor support, while others do not consider that to be part of their role at all or are too busy to have much time with the mother in that capacity. The problem with counting on the nurse or midwife for labor support is that no matter how wonderful she may be and no matter how much she may want to support her patient or client, that cannot be her primary concern. She has a job to do that includes monitoring, paperwork, and protocol. Ultimately, ensuring baby and mother’s health and safety is her primary focus, not providing comfort, support and encouragement to the laboring mother.

4. I’m not sure about having some stranger at my birth; wouldn’t it be better to have someone I’m already close to for support? Like my mom or sister?

Friends, moms, sisters, aunts, cousins and many other possibilities can make great labor support people. Anyone a mother chooses to invite to the birth that is going to enhance her experience, create a safe and secure space for her, and support her goals can make a great asset to the birth team. Doulas often work with family members to enhance their support or step in when they need a break. For a mother who finds companionship comforting, it is terrific to have a number of people nearby. With friends and family, it is important to keep in mind that some of the same limitations exist as with partners; it can be challenging for them to maintain objectivity, and without having attended many (or any) births, they may lack experience. In addition, your doula should not be a “stranger” by the time labor comes around. By then, she should have a well-established understanding of your goals, perspectives and personality, and the parents should be completely comfortable with her.

5. I plan to have an epidural or I may need a cesarean; is a doula still necessary?

No matter what your plans are for labor and delivery, it can be very beneficial to have an experienced, professional person with you whose primary task is to provide you with information and support. Sometimes suggestions, positions changes or a comforting face can make all the difference. 

These questions are great starting points for conversations that can help you decide what is best for your birth experience. If you agree, please share this with your friends! 

 Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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Parents: Six Things Your Doula Wants You to Know

To the expectant parents out there considering hiring a doula, there are a few things that we as experienced doulas think you should know.

1. Our job begins long before labor does.

When people think “doula” they think support during labor. We will certainly be with you for labor, but a huge part of our role is to be available to you in the weeks and sometimes even months before labor. We will answer questions, lend support, encourage you, give you information and offer suggestions to help you become ready for labor. You should never hesitate to contact us with your concerns and questions, day or night, nor should you ever apologize for doing so. We juggle a lot of different things in our lives and we may not be as good as we should be about touching base with you, but we always want you to contact us whenever you feel the need. Having a baby is a big deal, and especially if you haven’t done it before, it’s hard to know where to turn for guidance. We love being involved in your journey leading up to labor, so please, use us!

2. This is about you. Not us.

We are here to support your birth experience and your choices. We want your family unit to be strengthened and bonded through our presence, and it is always our goal to be in the background making things better for your experience, not in the center or forefront. We are aware of your goals and choices and we are going to be there to remind you of them and help you achieve them. But if circumstances prevent this, or if you choose something different during your labor than you had originally planned on, our support for you will not waver. For example, if you wanted an intervention-free birth, but you change your mind and ask for an epidural during your labor, please don’t apologize to us or feel guilty. It’s not about us and we are going to be there for you with 100% of our love and support. No matter what.

3. Please understand our position.

You have hired us and we have no obligation, loyalty, or responsibility to anyone else. You’re our client and you’re the boss. We do not work for the nurses, the midwife, the doctor or the hospital. We work for you. However, please realize that we are professional labor support people, not bodyguards, decision-makers or medical care providers. We are there to support you, not protect you. Therefore, we cannot throw ourselves between you and your care providers, interfere with anyone trying to do his or her job, or speak to medical staff on your behalf. If we did, we would not be welcomed back to support the next laboring mother and long-term consequences would impact many more women, as well as the doula community. We need you to take responsibility for knowing the policies and procedures in the birth place you have chosen, and understand that some things come with the territory (and we will discuss these topics at length in our prenatal meetings so you are prepared). If there are things about the hospital that you do not want (i.e. continuous monitoring, mandatory IV, confined to bed), please do not expect our presence to “protect” you from these things. We can discuss your options privately, remind you of your preferences, and suggest alternatives, but it is up to you to refuse or accept these things.

4. Align your goals and choices.

It is challenging to serve clients who have certain goals and desires for their birth, then proceed to choose a hospital and/or care provider who do not support those goals and desires. If, for example, you want an intervention-free, mother-centered birth with the option of a water birth, choosing to go to the biggest, most impersonal hospital with a 60% cesarean rate that doesn’t have birth or bath tubs and hiring the doctor with the highest epidural rate, may lead to disappointment, since these choices do not necessarily set the stage for the most effective support for your goals. If, on the other hand, you are not all that concerned with rates of intervention or plan on an epidural in labor, this setting and care provider may be perfectly appropriate, especially if this is the choice you are most comfortable with and we completely support your choice. Just be aware that you will be better off if you align your goals and your choices.

5. We cannot do this for you, but we can help.

Having a doula with you for your birth will help you be encouraged, empowered and will ensure that you have continuous support at every moment. We will make sure you are well cared for and that you have the information you need to make the best choices for yourself and your baby. But having a doula in no way guarantees you a birth without complications, and we cannot do the work for you. Labor is hard with or without a doula. We will do everything we can to keep you as comfortable as possible. We will suggest positions, use massage, heat, encourage you to use the shower and the tub, employ counter-pressure, squeeze your hips, have lip balm ready, keep cool washcloths on your forehead, and remind you that you are strong and capable. All of these things will not necessarily make your birth pain-free or easy. They will help, but ultimately, this is your body, your baby, your experience, and your mountain to climb and you can do it! You will look back on this experienced and be amazed by your ability. This is a gift that we want for you so much.

6. Our relationship is for a defined set of time.

It is not unusual for us to form strong bonds with our clients. By the time baby arrives we have a solid relationship and care deeply for one another. But please understand that we serve a lot of clients and it is very difficult to maintain a long-standing relationship with each one. Sometimes our good friends develop out of a doula-client relationship, but please don't take it personally if we neglect to stay in touch or cannot make it to a birthday party that you invite us to. We care deeply about you and your family, but this is a result of the time constraints of our line of work and the nature of the job.

Finally, we are honored to be with you for your birth and have a deep respect for the work you will do to bring your little one safely into this world. There is nothing more sacred and special than witnessing the birth of a child and we thank you for trusting us and hiring us. Happy birthing!

If you agree, please pin this image on Pinterest and share it with other.

Updated 9/6/12

Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved 

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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Big City Hospital vs. Small Town Hospital

Big City Hospital vs. Small Town Hospital

As we all know, a woman’s choice of care provider and birth place has a profound impact on her experience through pregnancy, labor and delivery. As doulas, we have a unique perspective, because we witness a wide range of styles, ideologies and philosophies in various settings. Every hospital has its own “culture” when it comes to labor and delivery. At times, traveling to an unfamiliar hospital with a client brings with it a degree of culture shock.
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Fostering the Father's Role

fathers role in birth and raising kidsGone are the days when fathers smoked cigars in hospital waiting rooms or waited at home for a call announcing their child’s birth. Fathers today are almost always present and engaged in some capacity helping the mother through the birth experience. The exact role a father may embrace varies depending on his relationship with the mother and their prenatal preparation. There are many ways that birth professionals can encourage fathers to be engaged during the pregnancy and birth, which often leads to lasting bonds between the couple and between the father and child.

Certainly there are situations when the father can not or does not choose to be present, but for most these ideas can be used by birth professionals to help fathers feel calm, confident and empowered:

1. Start early. The earlier a father becomes engaged in learning about and assisting the mother during her pregnancy, the more connected and invested he will be in her and the baby’s health and well-being. He can make a big impact by helping prepare nutritious meals, encouraging physical exercise (i.e. going for walks together), and planning for the upcoming birth.

2. Encourage the father to attend prenatal appointments with their partner. He will learn a lot through these visits with the midwife or doctor and the care provider will become more familiar with him (and will often communicate with and encourage him during the birth).

3. Teach him how birth works. By eliminating the “surprise” element as much as possible, a father will be calmer as he encounters the sounds, facial expressions, bodily fluids and other typical labor events. 

4. Give him tools to use to provide comfort. This may include things to do, such as massage techniques, words or phrases to say, and various physical positions he can suggest for the mother. These tools may also include what not to do, such as talking with a nurse or ignoring the mother during a contraction. A prepared father should know how to recognize and respond to the mother's changing needs throughout labor (maybe silence is all she wants) and be reminded that his calm and alert presence is almost always beneficial.

5. Remind him of the intimacy of birth. His gentle touch and affection can impact the hormones released by the mother. He can be in charge of creating or maintaining a peaceful and calm environment for labor, with dim lights, soft voices, soothing music, etc.

6. Empower him to be the mother’s protector. Give the couple time to talk about what their goals and desires are for birth, then teach the partner how to communicate those goals with the birth team. We love handing out the Thoughtful Questions pocket guides to fathers and doing some role playing, so they become comfortable asking questions and making decisions.

7. Help the father carry over his role for pregnancy and birth to the postpartum period. He should understand what to expect in terms of the recovery of the mother, newborn care, bonding, breastfeeding and warning signs. He should be encouraged to attend well-baby visits, get to know the pediatrician and ask questions related to newborn care practices. He should also be the baby’s protector in the event of medical complications or separation from mother. He should spend as much time as possible with the baby to bond and help in every way possible (changing diapers, holding, soothing, etc.) to care for the baby, short of breastfeeding. 

8. Talk about the changes a father may go through. Witnessing the birth of his child is an incredibly powerful and emotional time in his life. He should be encouraged to express his needs and feelings. When possible, have a new father share his perspective with fathers-to-be and remind them that though there is much focus on mother and child, their role and well-being is essential to the whole family.

9. Discuss the role of a doula as a enhancer of, rather than a substitute for, the father’s role during labor and birth. A doula can answer his questions, assist him to better support the mother and provide a break for meals, fresh air, phone calls to relatives, etc.

10. Motivate him with research. Remind him that his support during birth can reduce the use of pain medications and other interventions, improve the satisfaction of the mother and strengthen his bond with his child. His support and encouragement for breastfeeding will also impact the length of time a mother breastfeeds (and thereby affect the health of the child). For additional information on see: Fatherhood Institute: Including New Fathers, A Guide for Maternity Professionals.

Ideally, a father will learn all of these skills and face labor totally prepared and calm. In reality, it is difficult to completely prepare a father for all that he will encounter in the labor room or after the birth. Fostering the bond between mother and father will help them both face whatever birth and parenthood throws their way and is an important part of a birth professional's role. In all of your interactions with the couple, find ways to help them communicate with each other and show the father equal respect and attention. His role is vital!

Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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Avoiding burnout as a Birth Professional

Avoiding burnout as a Birth Professional

At one point or another everyone is at risk of burnout. Those that work in a high stress or high demand job are at highest risk and let’s face it: birth professionals fall into that category. Birth is unpredictable, highly emotional and can be long and complicated. It is normal for birth professionals to have periods of time when they question the work they do, the value of their services or feel like they are stretched too thin. For some, a different path or line of work is a better choice, but for many, burnout can be minimized or avoided with some of the following adjustments.  

A network of support - You will feel so much better if you can vent, talk about a difficult experience or get advice from other birth professionals. A little venting goes a long way. Be sure to listen when your fellow colleagues need that support as well, and share your positive stories too!

A more equal exchange of value - A long, difficult birth or difficult clients where you only profit a small amount after expenses is not an equal exchange of energy/value. What profit amount would feel more equal and make these difficult situations less draining? Would earning more (or bartering for more services) help balance out the tremendous amount of time, energy and heart that you put into your job? 

Time to process, let go of or heal from a difficult situation - Sometime a birth professional needs to take some time away from their work to heal, soul search or even seek counseling. You will likely return to the services you offer with a better attitude and perspective. For some this may only be a week or two; for others it may be months or years. 

Only bite off what you can chew - It is important to recognize your limits and say “no” occasionally. Yes, it would be ideal if every woman who wants a doula could have one at no or low cost, but it is not possible for you to be the one to do it all, nor is it going to benefit the women who hire you if you are burnt out, exhausted or disillusioned. Decide on the number of clients per month that work best for your situation (maybe 25 per month or maybe one every 2 or 3 months) and then stick with your limit. And be sure that there is an even exchange of value for most of the clients that you take on. 

Manage your time efficiently - When possible, carve out work time that is strictly for your birth services and then use the rest of your time for your other responsibilities (spouse, children, other work, etc.). Schedule classes, appointments, or phone calls for this time. Only return clients emails/texts/calls during this time. Your clients won’t mind if you reply to them with recommendations for pediatricians in the morning instead of at 11 pm when they send you their request. Setting up time management boundaries will have you feeling less stretched and more focused on your family or other responsibilities (rather than constantly feeling like you “work, work, work”). 

Resources at your fingertips - Make and keep an updated list of resources for common topics you encounter with clients and a list of contact information for professionals you recommend. Plumtree Baby has online resources with links to our references. Having resources at your fingertips will save you a lot of time searching for the same information over and over again. 

Stay organized - There are some easy ways to manage client information and paperwork. Find an online tool for client management that is easy to use and helps keep track of your schedule, manage clients, accept payments, etc. If you are keeping medical records, be sure to use a HIPPA compliant app. Spend time updating your records each week during your designated work hours. 

We hope this article helps you realize you are not alone and this happens to everyone at some point or another. You can avoid future burn out or get through it if you are in the thick of it now, and become an even better birth professional.

Copyright 2012-2019 © All Rights Reserved

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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Five Tips for Marketing Your Birth Business

marketing birth business doula cbe childbirth educationWhether you are a new birth professional or just going through a dry spell, it never hurts to evaluate your marketing strategies and try something new to attract clients. There are many ways to reach expectant couples, but here are a few tips we have learned over the years:  

1. Word of mouth. One of your best advertising resources is your current friends, students and clients. Encourage them to tell others about you, and give each of your clients a stack of your business cards and/or brochures to give to their expectant friends.

2. Network with care providers and other birth professionals. It will serve your business well to deliberately reach out to area care providers and other birth professionals, and earn their respect as a peer. This may take some time, but if a local doctor or midwife begins to see a noticeable difference between your prepared clients and those who are unprepared, you may soon have that provider sending you referrals. Other birth professionals can send clients your way if they are too busy, in another part of town or taking time off.

3. Be an amazing doula. Your client is always your first priority, but as best you can, take advantage of opportunities to talk with and get to know your clients care providers. Introduce yourself, be respectful, and show them what an asset you are to the birth team. 

4. Be easy to find. List yourself on national directories, local networking sites or make your own web site (an easy thing to do with many of the free hosting sites). Be sure to keep your current schedule posted and be prompt about replying to phone calls or emails. After you have established a relationship with one or more local providers, ask if you can leave fliers, brochures and/or business cards at their offices for patients. You can try to do this before establishing a trusting relationship, but some providers may not be willing to refer to someone they don’t know. Try to balance what you know (does this provider encourage their patients to use a doula?) to determine the most appropriate method and timing for approaching him or her.

5. Think local. Place posters, fliers and other marketing media in the local public places where pregnant women may happen upon them: fitness centers, grocery stores, libraries, community centers, day cares, or even restaurants.

What other marketing strategies have worked for you?

Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved

Plumtree Baby, LLC 

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"The Dark Side" of a Doula's Job

"The Dark Side" of a Doula's Job

If you are a doula, chances are you have heard statements along these lines from your non-doula friends and family: 

“You have the best job ever.” 
“What you do is so cool! I wish I could do that.” 
“You’re so lucky you get to see miracles all the time.”


All of those things are true: being a doula is a blessing and an honor. Sharing in some of the most powerful, profound, intimate and influential moments in the life of a mother and her family is not something any of us take lightly. It is sacred and beautiful. The emotions that go through us as we are walking away from a glowing mother who has just discovered her inner strength, fallen deeply in love with her partner and her baby, and is now happily nursing skin to skin, well, there just aren’t words for those emotions. Knowing that your presence made a difference, hearing her say how wonderful you were and how she could not have done it without you are moments that remind us of why we do what we do. But there is a lesser-disclosed side to doula work: ”The Dark Side”, the messy side, the not always beautiful or fun or sacred side.

For example, you deal with a lot of bodily fluids as a doula. Babies come out in the same general area and in the same general manner as a bowel movement, and it is not at all unusual for a mother in labor to pass gas, sometimes loudly, or to clear out those bowels to make way for baby. Sometimes, this happens in a pile on the floor or bed, or with some serious force. This has the potential to fill the room with a strong odor and the professional doula’s job is to completely ignore this occurrence and display absolutely no awareness of the odor filling the room. She may, however, need to quickly and discreetly throw a new chux pad or towel on top of the pile when no one is looking and alert the nurse or midwife. If the mother is laboring or pushing in a tub, the doula will look for a fishing net or another object to scoop any “floaters” that may appear and continue to act like nothing is amiss.  

Often a woman in labor belches and may vomit, sometimes repeatedly. Similar to when she passes gas, a doula pretends she didn’t hear or smell a thing, even when face to face with the mother. If she vomits, sometimes with little or no warning, a doula will need to be quick on her feet to get out of the line of fire. The quick-thinking doula will grab a nearby container of some sort, but it may be too late, or sometimes the mother misses. Sometimes a doula may be holding a bucket or basin with one hand and applying counter-pressure with the other, potentially for hours at a time. A wise doula always keeps an extra change of clothes in her bag and scouts out the vomit containers well before the nausea arrives! 

When the laboring mother gets hot toward the end, as most do, many a doula will adjust the thermostat, get a basin of ice water, a couple of washcloths and repeatedly apply them to the mother’s head or the base of her neck. It does not take long for her hands to go completely numb or for her to go retrieve the extra sweater she packed in her well stocked “doula bag” before her teeth start chattering. 

Then there may be the client who gets to a point in labor where she does a 180 from her original birth preferences and a doula has to consider whether this mother needs support in her new choices or encouragement to remember her original goals. If needed, the doula switches gears and make this new plan as positive as possible for the mother. She reminds her that her labor is not something she can control and that she is going her best to give this baby the safest start to life. 

Another challenging situation arrives when the doula has just poured herself into bed two hours ago following a long birth and then her phone rings at 2:00 in the morning. Another client is in labor and asking her to come. She will curse herself, desperately wish for just a little more sleep, then drag herself out of bed and try to find some ways to look alive before she heads out the door. She may have to figure out who she can call or text to come over in a few hours and get the kids up, then review the plans she had for the day and figure out how to juggle and rearrange, and more importantly, how she will reach the people she needs to if she cannot get away to call at a more decent hour. Then she will meet her clients looking perky and happy as she gives all she has to this mother. 

Doulas take the birth experiences of their clients personally. If there are any problems or concerns with the baby after the birth or if the mother is upset or traumatized by the events that unfold, a doula will feel those feelings along with her client. She will cry, she will question and she will grieve the experience in her own way. Often a bond is formed that goes beyond the birth experience 

Yes, being a doula is wonderful. It is amazing. It is beautiful. It can also be, at times, messy and thankless and down right hard. But those messy moments fade and we hold onto the incredible times when we know we made a difference. We want to give a special shout-out during World Doula Week to all the doulas who work hard to make birth better. You are appreciated!!! 

What have you experienced on the “dark side” of doula work and why wouldn’t you trade it for any other job in the world?

Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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Offbeat Parenting Milestones

Offbeat Parenting Milestones

We cover a variety of serious topics on our blog, but every once in a while it is nice to lighten the mood. Today we are exploring the humorous and real side of parenting. It is wonderful when you hear your baby giggle for the first time, when she takes her first step, or utters her first words, but here are 12 milestones that you never knew you would LOVE: 

  1. When he wipes his own bottom. Sure, it is exciting when your little guy shows interest in the potty, and even better when he starts using it consistently, but did you realize you’d continue to accompany him on those trips for a long time to come? The day he can successfully tackle that task independently from start to finish is party-worthy.
  2. When she learns to pump on the swing. When this clicks for your little one, you get to say goodbye to hours of standing there pushing her back and forth, over and over and over. You just may hear music from the heavens and feel like jumping onto your own swing beside her to celebrate.
  3. When he can buckle and unbuckle his own seat belt. You’ll recall how fun it is to mess with straps and buckles (sometimes for two or three kids) every single time you stop to run into the store, or post office, or library. And then do it all over again when you get back out. Well, no more! He’s got this now! Your errand-running just became a thousand times easier.
  4. When she can get her own breakfast without waking you. Even though you are thrilled to wake up to: “Moooom! Daaaaaad! I’m huuuuuungry!” the day will come when you’ll wake up all on your own, rub your eyes, and wonder why she is sleeping in, only to find her happily munching on breakfast that she got all by herself. Yes, there may be some cereal scattered on the floor or some milk on the counter, but you’ll still want to do a cartwheel.
  5. When he can get across the monkey bars all by himself. No more holding his weight as he struggles, trying not to get kicked in the stomach. Your little monkey is growing up!
  6. When life no longer depends on the blankie. Or pacifier, or beloved stuffed animal. She has that one thing that is her lifeline, and if you’ve ever misplaced it, you know you’re in a world of trouble, and there will be no peace until it is found. The day will come when it is still loved, but it’s not critical.
  7. When she can handle her own bath or shower, and actually get clean, including washing her hair. Yes, she may flood the bathroom for the first little while, but eventually, she’ll be able to get the water started, suds up, rinse off, get a towel and dry off without any help from anyone. Oh the rejoicing!
  8. When he gets up in the middle of the night to go potty without waking you. The night will come when you’ll half-way wake up and think you hear feet, then hear a flush and little steps heading back to bed. In the morning, when the fog clears and you realize what happened, give that kid a high-five and some stickers.  
  9. kid painting self portrait messTheir first self portrait. You have never seen a more perfect and beautiful stick figure in your life. Your heart will melt when you see her fingers are as long as their arms, her smiling face has no nose and her spaghetti string hair looks almost like hers does when she wakes up on the morning.
  10. When he realizes the toilet is not a garbage can or useful for storing toys. It’ll suddenly dawn on you one day that you haven’t fished anything out of there for some time. At last, the phase has passed. Breathe easier.
  11. When she names her first boyfriend. There are fewer things cuter than a 3-year-old preschooler letting you know she has a boyfriend, or better yet, pointing out the boy she plans to marry (in about 30 years, your brain will add). Of course, the next day she may want to marry her grandpa, but it’s still a fun day. 
  12. When he shows you that he is clearly growing up. This can come in many forms: his first basket, goal, cartwheel, the first time he sounds out a word, or the first time he writes his complete name and it is readable. Perhaps he will reach out to a friend who is hurting, or stand up for someone at school who is being picked on. He may show you that he can be trusted alone for a while, or get up and let the dog out without being asked. Whatever this looks like, you’ll have a moment when you realize your baby isn’t a baby any more. When that happens, cry, laugh, and give him a big hug (while he will still let you).

We could go on and on, but you get the idea. Now it is your turn: what are some of your favorite parenting milestones?

Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved

Plumtree Baby, LLC

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Thoughtful Birth Professional of the Month - Alice Turner, LCCE, CD(DONA)

Our Thoughtful Birth Professional of the month is Alice Turner, Doula, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and owner of YourDoulaBag.com and YourDoulaBiz.com. Alice is an extraordinary woman who works tirelessly to support other birth professionals and her clients through her many roles. We are pleased to share more about her philosophy and her company.

Alice has been a birth professional for the past seven years. After having two children and assisting a friend during her birth, she realized her passion for birth could be used in a professional capacity and became a doula. Her roles have evolved over the years as she recognized the needs of her fellow birth professionals for more access to quality products and business tools. Alice started YourDoulaBag.com three years ago and provides tools, such as pre-packed birth bags, birth ball covers, jewelry and other birth-related items. Her latest venture, YourDoulaBiz.com, is an online doula client management tool that brings a new level of organization and ease to any doula’s busy life.

Through our interactions with Alice, we can see that she is a passionate problem-solver who wants to elevate and support her clients and fellow birth workers. She incorporates thoughtfulness in her work, both with her CBE and doula clients, through her desire to “closely consider how to express an idea to [parents] so that it will be well received” and with YourDoulaBag.com customers, whom she recognizes as essentially small-business owners. Her business’ supplies, tools and time-saving program seek to truly benefit birth professionals and their clients. 

Like many others, Alice struggles to find time for all of her passions and to avoid burn-out from difficult or exhausting births. Her belief in her work and her passion keep her going. Her advice to other new birth professionals is heartening: “Go for it! Don't be scared away by seasoned professionals or the know-it-alls of the world. There isn't a shortage of babies in the world and until every mother has a childbirth educator, lactation consultant, labor doula and postpartum doula then there is plenty of room for more!”

We are so pleased to have such a warm, caring and passionate woman featured this month. Thank you Alice, for all that you have done and are continuing to do to support parents and birth professionals, alike!

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Breast Milk Sharing and Banking

Breast Milk Sharing and Banking

Sharing, donating, receiving and buying breast milk are becoming mainstream issues for mothers and birth professionals. A widespread recognition of the tremendous benefits of breast milk, as well as the availability of numerous organizations who support these issues, have made giving or receiving breast milk a more common and acceptable practice of late. Given these numerous resources, mothers wishing to donate excess breast milk or those who need breast milk to feed their own child can often become overwhelmed by information and many not know where to turn or how to go about it.
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