Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to Be a Doula (as Demonstrated by Elf on the Shelf)

We are entering the season of yummy treats and silly elf antics, blinking lights and jolly white-haired guys. I thought it might be fun to explain what doulas DO in a fun and lighthearted way. 

Validate and encourage

Do you have a friend who loves Elf on the Shelf and faithfully sets up little schemes for that pesky elf to get into?

She is the most fun friend who has the coolest ideas. She is so imaginative and creative. She is making memories her kids will cherish forever.

Do you have a friend who hates Elf on the Shelf because he has a creepy little face?

She might have had an experience in her life that left her feeling very uncomfortable with the thought of dolls "watching" her and her children all day and night. Mind your own business, and don't pry into her past. Try to put yourself in her shoes and say, "I can totally understand that."

Support all choices

Do you have a friend that thinks playing "Naughty Elf on the Shelf" is the way to go?

Sweet! Maybe offer up a few other naughty elf ideas you have seen in the past.

Do you have a friend that wants to try Elf on the Shelf for the first time? Maybe she wants to go all out. Maybe she doesn't.

Sweet! Support her choice either way. Both choices are perfectly acceptable and valid and will provide a magical experience for her family.


Do you have a friend who wants to try Elf on the Shelf but doesn't know where to begin? A few simple blog posts may help. 

Do you have a friend who has no idea where to find an Elf on the Shelf? Share ideas of where they can be found and how to get the best deal for one.

Do you have a friend who thinks the entire idea is stupid and wants nothing to do with it?

Shun that friend. They are a lost cause.

I totally kid.

Perhaps they may be more interested in the idea of Kindness elves. Maybe they celebrate other traditions and can share their traditions with you. Be open to learning something new. 

Hold Space

Is your friend getting overwhelmed with the holidays with too much on her plate and just can't continue on with this whole Elf on the Shelf thing?

Hold space for those feelings.

Is your friend totally excited and wants to show you all the Elf on the Shelf things with daily pictures on Facebook?

Hold space. Click like. Better yet, try out all of the other buttons.

Help process difficult emotions

Did your friend work so very hard to create magical Elf on the Shelf moments but her kids just were not into it? Did they misbehave anyway? Did they stop believing in the magic of the season this year? Did things just not go as planned?

Listen. Lean into the uncomfortable feelings. Be ok with difficult emotions. Your friend trusts you enough to share her difficult emotions with you. Consider it an honor.

Avoid sentences that start with, "At least."

"At least you have an Elf on the Shelf."

"At least your kids have already made magical memories."

Help her find her voice

Do you have a friend who really doesn't want to do Elf on the Shelf, but feels tons of pressure to do it because that is what all the "good moms" are doing?

Help her find her voice to say, "No! I am enough. I don't need to do something I have no interest in doing, and that stresses me out, in order to be a good mom. I am totally a great mom! My kids can have a perfectly magical experience without Elf on the Freaking Shelf."

This is by no means an exhaustive list on how to be a doula, but it is a good start. After you take an amazing Birth Boot Camp DOULA training, of course!

Monday, November 28, 2016

5 Reasons People Don't Hire Doulas (And the 1 Reason Why They Shouldn't)

I have had many conversations with many women about my work as a doula. Most of the time they are seeking a listening ear for their questions or concerns. Often, these conversations end with some variation of why they can't hire a doula. Below are a few of the most common reasons. 

Doula performing a double hip squeeze
Image created using Canva

1. I can't afford a doula.

Most doulas are willing to make payment arrangements. Houston doulas charge very differently, so it is possible to find a doula to fit any budget. Some doulas will even barter. Some families include a doula on their baby registry.

2. My husband doesn't want a doula.

This usually stems from a misunderstanding of what a doula does. Doulas do not replace the partner nor take over. A woman's desire for a doula does not indicate that the partner is not good enough. Doulas support both parents in the way that they have decided beforehand. My goal as a doula is to make Dad the hero! I am an extra set of hands and ideas to help the experience become as wonderful a memory as possible. I am there for only one day, but Dad will be there forever! I want her to remember how amazing he was, so my biggest goal is to enhance what Dad can do-not replace.

3. I don't want a stranger in the room.

You will know your doula better than anyone in the room other than your partner and maybe your care provider. One of the foundations of doula support is relational support. By the time you are ready to give birth, you have likely spent several hours together. You've met and chatted at least 3 times. You have cultivated a trusting relationship together. You have shared intimate details of your life with your doula. You have shared your hopes and dreams for your upcoming birth. Your doula will be a familiar face in a sea of strangers on your birthing day. You will not know the nurses, residents, any other personnel that may be present. You may not even know your care provider should your normal care provider not be on-call that day. Your doula will not be the stranger in the room that day.

4. I want an epidural/am giving birth in the hospital/already have a midwife.

Doulas support any kind of birth. Doulas are great for women planning to have an epidural because they know techniques to help keep labor progressing. Most doulas attend births in the hospital because most women give birth there. Doulas and midwives make a great team together.

5. My care provider said I don't need one/doesn't work with doulas.

A care provider who wants to discourage a woman from seeking as much support as she can raises a red flag in my book. I get it. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I raised concerns that I wouldn't be able to have a doula. I was told I didn't need one because doulas are a luxury. I took that as an attempt to be reassuring at the time, but looking back, I wasn't given all of the information. A simple statement of, "You can find a doula to fit your budget if you really want one," could have been offered. Even adding, "But I think you are capable of giving birth without one," would have been more supportive.

Sometimes people give me these reasons because they truly believe that these are obstacles that stand in their way of having a doula. I am happy to help people find a doula if they really want one.

However, sometimes people want to tell me they aren't hiring a doula for the above reasons just to be nice. They don't want to tell me the real reason, which I believe is the ONLY reason people shouldn't hire a doula.

1. I don't want to hire a doula.

Wonderful! No one says you have to hire a doula to have a great birth. If you don't want a doula, it is perfectly acceptable not to hire a doula. If you are friends with a doula, it is ok to be direct and say you aren't interested. We are professionals and can understand. If you give us one of the other reasons, we will do our doula thing by giving options and trying to help you overcome obstacles. We will give you information about dispelling common doula myths. Because that is what we do. We will doula you until we get to the heart of the matter. And if that is simply you don't want a doula, then that is ok! You do you. Own that choice.