Here are some excerpts from my blog posts with links to the full text.  Please check out the Beltane Birth Services Blog for more posts providing information and stories about fertility, pregnancy, birth and postpartum life.  

"What is the difference between a Certified Doula, a Student Doula, and a Senior Doula?

A Certified Doula is a doula who has chosen an organization(s) to complete certification trainings and/or requirements with, and to adhere to the organizations Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.  Doulas are also likely to be required to pay fees for training as well as certification and membership dues.  Most certifying organizations require that doulas re-certify at specific intervals and usually require continuing education hours and/or client reviews.  Each certifying organization has its own set of guidelines and requirements for certifications, so if hiring a Certified Doula is important to you, it would benefit you greatly to familiarize yourself with the certifying organizations represented in your area as well as understanding what each organization expects from their doulas.  You can expect to Certified Doulas to charge slightly higher rates than Student Doulas, however there is no industry standard or regulation with what a doula may or may not charge for her services. 

A Student Doula is a doula who is working towards certification with a specific organization.  Student Doulas may or may not have previous birth or doula experience, as it is not required for doulas to be certified to provide labor support services.  Student Doulas with little or no birth experience may charge slightly lower rates than the average in your area, however it is very important to understand that studies have proven even doulas with minimal training positively impact birth outcomes.  Experience, training, and dedication to craft are all important traits when searching for doula services, however it is always worth looking at Student Doulas in your area who may be a better fit for your personal needs.  Students are just as dedicated and passionate as Certified Doulas! 

A Senior Doula is a birth or postpartum doula who has either chosen not to certify with an organization, or who has previously obtained certification and has chosen not to pursue re-certification.  Non-certified doulas may have decades of birth and labor support experience and are just as valuable as resources, if not moreso, as Certified Doulas.  Depending on her individual depth and breadth of experience, a Senior Doula may charge as much or more as Certified Doulas in your area."  

- From FAQ's About Doulas

"Chemical pregnancies can be a very isolating and profoundly life-altering experience for women, especially those who have been trying to conceive for many cycles or who are struggling with infertility.  Since this type of loss occurs before many women even have a chance to announce their pregnancies to friends and family, it can be very difficult to find the support one would usually receive during a miscarriage.  This means that the majority of women who experience a chemical pregnancy often suffer alone and in silence."

- From Chemical Pregnancies: The Silent Loss

"Pregnancy can be a stressful time in a woman's life.  There are so many differing opinions on what is "safe" and "healthy" while growing a person in your womb.  Add hormones, routine tests, conflicting medical advice, and sifting through all of your birth options and its enough to give anyone heartburn.  Birth doulas provide a safe, empathetic space for expecting mothers to vent all of their anxieties and concerns with.  They also give mothers reassurance, letting them know that their feelings are valid and their choices are supported.  During labor, women need a LOT of emotional support - especially if an unmedicated vaginal birth is the goal.  Birth doulas soothe and comfort the mother, letting her know that what she is going through and feeling is normal and that she is doing an amazing job with her labor.  They also support the partner!  Partners need the steady reassurance and guidance of someone who knows that what is happening to the mother, that she is not dying or in imminent danger, and who can calm them so that they are better able to offer their own unique (and much needed!) support to the mother.  Lastly, a woman remembers the emotional experience of every birth she has for the entirety of her life.  A woman who feels supported in her choices and nurtured through her birth experience will likely have positive emotions and memories, regardless of outcome.  A woman who has the "perfect" birth but who felt unsupported will probably have negative thoughts and feelings about her delivery.  Having a doula present increases the likelihood of having an emotionally satisfying birth."

- From  All About: Birth Doulas

"Perhaps the most important role of the antepartum doula is to provide her client with empathy, reassurance, and a sympathetic ear.  Antepartum doulas have special training and experiences that allow them to empathize with mothers in these unique situations and can provide a much needed and impartial ear for women who are going through less than perfect pregnancies.  There is a lot of guilt associated with "not enjoying" being pregnant - an antepartum doula accepts and respects this as part of the variations of normal when dealing with a pregnancy that may be unwanted, cause the mother extreme physical distress, or that may be the product of rape and she can help the mother as she navigates her way emotionally through her pregnancy."

- From All About: Antepartum Doulas

"Like most mothers, Lindsay spent her pregnancy envisioning the beautiful experience she was about to have welcoming her son Greyson into the world.  Mothers are told how beneficial and easy it is to breastfeed, and Lindsay was told nothing different.  So when things did not come as naturally or easily as she was led to believe, Lindsay found herself faltering.  This is Lindsay's story."

- From Postpartum Stories: Nevertheless She Persisted (Lindsay's Story)

"While there have been studies showing that circumcised males are at less risk for UTIs, phimosis, and for certain cancers none of these studies have shown significant improved outcomes.  The American Academy Of Pediatrics issued a statement that while the benefits of circumcision may outweigh the risks of the procedure, they do not recommend the routine circumcision of all infants as a preventative measure, while the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published a statement that circumcision is an elective procedure and that parents should weigh the risks and benefits before making an informed decision about circumcising their sons."

- From The Big Cut: Circumcision Information

"Provided that the mom and baby are both in good health and a "crash" c-section is not being preformed, there are simple changes to the routine procedures normally followed in the Operating Room (OR) to make your delivery a more natural experience.  Talking with your provider prior to your scheduled procedure will help ensure that you both are on the same page regarding care during delivery and immediately postpartum and will allow you to have realistic expectations for your birth.  It may also help to talk with your anesthesiologist as well, to see what they are or are not willing to do to help you achieve your ideal birth." 

 - From Cesarean Sections: You Don't Have To Miss Out On A Natural Birth Experience

"Many women may ask, "Why do we need a Black Breastfeeding Week?  Isn't it enough to be celebrating Breastfeeding Month in August?"  The simple answer is, no.  It is not enough.

Women of Color face unique challenges and hardships when it comes to breastfeeding.  The cultural barriers alone make the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding for Black mothers much more difficult than for White or Hispanic mothers.  Some of the barriers specific to the Black community are:

 - From Love On Top: Celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week

"Do Your Homework

The key to being able to advocate for your ideal birth (and stick to the most important aspects of your birth plan) is to do your research.  Being informed about the risks and the benefits of possible interventions during your birth allows you to feel confident in advocating for yourself when a provider may offer - or worse, insist - upon something you aren't comfortable with.  It is also worth looking into taking a real childbirth education course, even if this is your 2nd (or your 12th) baby.  By real, I mean a class that is not offered by the hospital you are delivering at.  Look into childbirth educators in your area who offer private or group classes.  This type of class really explains all of your options during hospital births, the nitty gritty of the natural birth process, and almost always provides hands-on practice for labor positions and physical comfort measures.  Think you won't need those comfort measures because you plan on getting your epidural the instant you walk in the Labor & Delivery Ward?  Think again.  Most providers and hospital policies require that the mother be a minimum of 4 to 5cm dilated before getting the drugs, so you are looking at several hours of labor before finding relief through modern medicine."

- From Birth Plans 101

"So how can you best prepare for this time in your lives where you will need the most support, and yet where the majority of new parents are found most lacking in it?  The solution is simple; change up your registry.  Instead of asking for outfits and teethers, have guests sign up for postpartum help like vacuuming or laundry days.  Request a simple meal that can be easily frozen and then re-heated in lieu of a cute card.  Register for a birth and/or postpartum doula and ask guests to consider donating the amount they would have spent on a baby gift towards their fee(s).  Instead of games, set up a meal-prep station where guests can help you fill ziplock bags full of healthy meals and snacks that you can fill your freezer with."

- From Preparing For Postpartum: Not Your Typical Baby Registry

"Here's your hall pass.

The one thing expecting fathers tend to appreciate most about their doula is the fact that they can take breaks during their partner's labor.  Having a doula allows you to be able to go to the bathroom, take a quick nap, go grab a bite to eat, or simply take a break from the excitement in those long hours leading up to delivery.  A doula also offers peace of mind to those who like to have a plan laid out if there is an emergency - fathers can safely and guilt-free leave their partners in the trusted care of their doula while they are able to go with the baby after delivery if an issue arises."

- From The Crash Course Guide On Doulas For Expecting Fathers  

"1. Ask us where WE would want to deliver.

Doulas are placed in a unique position in the birth world.  We often get to stand silent witness as different obstetricians, nurses, hospitals, and yes even midwives question (or worse, flat out ignore) a mother's choices in the delivery room.  We have seen it all, from beautifully supported births down to horror stories where the mother's consent is violated repeatedly.  Doulas have to be careful about how and what they say in regard to hospital and care-giver practices when speaking with their clients, however if your doula says she will not attend births with a specific provider or at a specific location there is probably good reason for that.  The same goes if she tells you that she would deliver her own baby with a provider or hospital/birth center."

- From 5 Things Your Doula Would Like You To Know

"Why would I want to eat my placenta?

While there have been no studies showing the benefits of placentophagia in humans there is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence to be found from women who have ingested their placentas in the form of capsules, tinctures, edibles or even raw.  The most commonly reported benefits of placentophagia are:

- From Placenta Encapsulation: You're Going To Eat Your What Now?

"The best way to resolve engorgement is to empty and soften the breast by nursing, pumping or manually expressing your breastmilk.  Nursing frequently and on-demand can help resolve moderate engorgement fairly quickly.  If the engorgement is moderate or the baby is having trouble latching, manually expressing some milk into a towel or a burp cloth, will help to soften the areola and nipple area.  If you are exclusively pumping, simply try pumping more often.  You should be pumping as frequently as your baby would be nursing, so every two to four hours within the first few weeks of life."

 - From Breast Engorgement

"Folate acid is vital in the development of your baby's nervous system, especially during the formation of the neural tube.  This tube is the building block for your baby's spinal cord and brain.  Folate acid is so important for fetal development that women who are planning on or actively trying to become pregnant should also be taking a folate supplement.  This is critical because neural tube defects occur between the third and fourth week of pregnancy which is well before most women even know they are pregnant. Taking the minimum of between 400 and 800 micrograms (mcg) of folate acid daily prior to conception helps eliminate the risk for neural tube defects."

 - From Folic vs Folate Acid: What's In Your Prenatal Vitamins?

"Doulas have the specialized training and skills to help a mother achieve a completely natural birth at home or to support a mother who has a planned cesarean section scheduled for her baby's birthday, and everything in between.  A doula differs from a doctor, midwife or nurse because she is completely devoted and focused on one mother, one baby, one family, one labor.  She is not there for medical support or care; she is there to help the mother achieve a satisfying birth experience by honoring her choices and providing the physical support, resources and emotional support to achieve them."

- From Why Choose A Doula?

" Studies have shown that most women actually go into labor closer to 41 weeks gestation versus the traditional 40 week model.  Because of this, I encourage expecting mothers to try and not to get hung up on a specific date; instead mark off the two weeks before and after your EDD as your "Birth Month" vs a single day circled on your calendar. "

 - From Estimated "Guess" Dates

"I labored for several hours while she gently suggested positions to try to ease the intensity of the contractions and to help move the baby down.  I could hear her murmuring to my husband to touch me or press on my hips or snuggle in next to me, her offering to get my ice chips or a cool washcloth for my forehead.  Her presence was soothing and reassuring. 

When transition hit I lost my footing, lost control of my reserve and was unable to get back to a place where I could manage the pain.  My fear and anxiety crept in again and I broke and begged for the epidural. 

After it was placed I felt ashamed, like I had let my doula down.  Here she had worked so hard with me so I could have a baby without drugs and I caved!  I started apologizing to her and she was shocked.  Why would I apologize?  She was there to support me no matter what I needed or wanted. 

She told me how well I had done, how well I was still doing."

-  From My Journey On Becoming a Doula: Part 1