pregnancy, birth & lactation services… at home
A dear friend of mine has recently begun a non-profit organization aimed at supplying food for the weekend to children who normally receive breakfast and lunch at school during the week. She asked friends to donate baskets & services to be auctioned off to help raise funds for the charity. I, ever excited to help, immediately said I would provide a basket for the auction. The next several weeks proved interesting as I pondered what to offer. In the end, I realized that my basket reflects the doula’s calling. Each item explains a bit about the doula’s mindset and spirit. In the end, my basket looked like this:
Item 1: The Framework- I purchased a sage green wicker basket with a cream-colored liner. The liner folds over the sides of the basket and has the word ‘Love’ is embroidered across the front. Much like the doula herself, the basket is beautiful, neutral, sturdy and ready to serve. Love is the vanguard of the doula. We love parents and babies, mothers and fathers, siblings, grandparents and friends. Love is the first thing that can be read about the doula as she offers herself to serve the family.
Item 2: The Support- The bottom of my basket is filled with natural recycled raffia, there to hold up the other items in the basket. Like the raffia, doulas hold to what is natural what is simple. We believe in the power of women’s bodies to bear their children and in their bodies to nourish their children after birth. We also believe in the necessity of supporting that woman and her family no matter how natural her birth experience is. Whether embracing a vaginal birth at home or opting for a surgical birth in the hospital, doulas uphold the fundamental right of women to have their birth choices supported.
Item 3: The Knowledge- My basket holds several items including two books; the first is The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears and the second is Breastfeeding Made Simple by Mohrbacher and Kendall-Tackett. Doulas believe in knowledge. We offer evidenced-based information to our clients, knowing that when families have the best education concerning their birth and parenting choices, they will make better decisions. Families deserve information. They deserve the facts concerning their birth choices and their parenting styles. Doulas serve as an informational resource, but we do not make decisions for our clients nor do we judge their choices. We stand to serve families as they navigate through what works for them, in their home at that particular time.
Item 4: The Attachment- Carefully folded and then rolled into a travel tote, is a hand-crafted baby wrap. Baby wraps are folded and tied around a parent’s body to allow an infant to be carried on the chest, warm and close to the heart. Doulas believe in the power of touch as a necessary component in the attachment process between an infant and her parents. A doula’s primary concern is the health of the family she is serving. A powerful tool in establishing emotional health for both baby and parents, baby-wearing allows parents to provide constant love and reassurance while at the same time allowing them to incorporate the baby into regular family activities. Some doulas assist families during the ‘4th trimester’, those early postpartum months when the entire family is adjusting to this beautiful, new little person. As the wrap facilitates this adjustment, so does a doula’s support and presence.
Item 5: The Touchstone- Also included in my basket is Milkmaid Tea and Natural Nipple Butter both by Earth Mamma Angel Baby. Both items are there to support nursing and to help if some difficulty- like unsatisfactory milk production or painful nipples- occurs. Doulas are there to support the family both when things are going well and when they are difficult- during pregnancy, labor/delivery and the postpartum time. Sometimes, new parents can be experiencing an ideal labor or ‘4th trimester’ and still feel like they are in way over their heads- their doula is there to offer reassurance that things are progressing as they should. Sometimes new parents may have a complication- an unreassuring test result, an unexpected event during labor, illness of the mother or the baby after delivery, nursing difficulties, a postpartum mood disorder- and their doula is there to help parents understand their options and to make decisions that are best for their family.
Item 6: The Gift- The final item in my gift basket is a gift certificate for complimentary doula service. This service is free to the charity auction winner, but a doula symbolizes a different kind of gift, a different kind of freedom. A doula is there to free women from isolation and fear during their labor & delivery and in the early weeks after their baby’s arrival. The gift of expert companionship- warm, soothing, capable- frees the new family to explore options and embrace confidence. A new baby, regardless if he’s the first or the fifth, means huge changes for a family. Especially in first time parents, a rite of passage has occured and an amazing transformation into ‘father’ has happened, a lovely new ‘mother’ has blossomed. A doula offers the gift of recognition of this new phase in the family’s life and freedom to explore and fully experience what this new experience and new role means.
As I walk the doula path, I am humbled at what items are in my basket and I am so blessed to share those gifts with the families whose lives I touch.