It always feels great to get reviewed on my Birth Doula services! In the last month I've received two new reviews! You can check them out over on DoulaMatch or read them below!
I have openings for June and July Births so be sure to send me an email to schedule your consultation!
"Erika is one of those most competent, kind, emphatic and capable doulas I have ever met. She transformed every fear and anxiety we had into a reassuring, comforting thought to take with us into the birth. She visited with us in our home a couple times before the actual birth and always brought books, visuals and great stories. At the actual birth, she was unflappable and focused the entire time. I have no idea how but she never seemed to get tired or stressed! She was a great support for BOTH of us too - for my wife who was birthing our child and to myself as the birth partner. She was right there with us reminding us to drink water, eat a snack or take a break to breath. And she happily took photos at our request after our daughter was born. There is no one quite like Erika - her humor, her warmth, her energy are unlike any other doula out there. My wife and I both would recommend her without any reservations."
"Erika made me feel so supported and confident about my labor and birth. The birth plan she helped my partner and I craft, as well as discussions about what happens if things don't go according to plan, helped us make decisions easily during labor.
I would definitely hire her again and would recommend her services to anyone looking for an amazing birthing experience with a caring and competent doula."
The following snippet comes from a January 12th article about doulas from the Seattle Times. While I find some aspects of the piece problematic, particularly the assumption that doulas are women and that only women give birth, it does a great job at shedding a bit of light on the racial and ethnic disparities faced by people of color and the babies of those people.
"A week into my son’s life, he wouldn’t stop crying. I can still see his scarlet face and hear the alarm in his voice. Exhausted and new to motherhood, I was flummoxed and near panic myself.
Then my doula rang the bell. A no-nonsense woman, she swooped Malcolm up, whispered in his ear and massaged his little body. Identifying that he was hysterically hungry, she fed him a few fingers of formula — calming him down long enough to nurse.
She also asked me how I was doing and listened when I admitted: “Not great.” She was a lifeline in the chaos, and I still think of her with deep gratitude.
A person* is a woman who is trained to assist women during childbirth as well as in the pre- and postnatal period. It’s a tradition with roots around the world but a practice that has been resurrected in the U.S. as research increasingly shows doulas reduce C-section births and encourage successful breast-feeding."
Read the rest of the article here.
The topics of pregnancy and birth seem to be open season for anyone and everyone to give an expectant mother information; solicited or otherwise.
All of a sudden your mother, mother-in-law, Great Aunt Mildred, your barista, cashier at Whole Foods, and yes, your doctors and nurses and doulas have become experts on what kind of birth is best for you.
"Both you and your sister were big babies, it's genetic, you'll need a c-section too."
"I wanted a natural birth, too. But after 5 hours of labor, I bet you'll be screaming for an epidural."
"An epidural is safe, and it allows you to rest during your labor."
"The drugs are there for a reason!"
"Don't be a hero, you don't have to have a natural birth!."
With so many choices, how are you supposed to decide what's right and what's wrong? You use your B.R.A.I.N.
I've often seen the B.R.A.I.N acronym used in relation to the labor process when interventions are offered to a birthing mother, but I think it has merit in pregnancy as well.
So what is B.R.A.I.N anyway? I'm glad you asked :) When someone (anyone from your neighbor to your provider) brings a suggestion for your birth or pregnancy ask yourself the following questions:
B-What are the Benefits
R-What are the Risks
A-What are the alternatives?
I-What does your Intuition say?
N-What happens if you do Nothing.
It's my opinion that no one is trying to scare you or deter you from your wishes when you are pregnant. Most unsolicted suggestions come because some cares, or they want to share their story. It can get pretty loud with all of these suggestions coming at you at once. So, this Tuesday Tip is to use your B.R.A.I.N
What more information that's Evidence Based. Check out one of my favorite resources, Evidence Based Birth.
I pride myself on being a black, queer Jewish doula, but does that mean I'm the right doula for someone who, say, identifies as a white, heterosexual Christian? Yes, maybe.
According to an article about Black Midwives in the LA area, "Nationwide, black women are at the greatest risk of pregnancy-related death, have the highest rates of C-sectionsand, compared with whites, black infants are four times as likely to die of complications at birth and twice as likely to die before their first birthday."
This disparity in maternal care along racial lines is something that can't be ignored. When a woman of color in the hospital birthing system is possibly surrounded by doctors and nurses who don't look like her, having a black doula to help her advocate for herself can be the difference between a natural birth and an emergency c-section. I want to be clear that this isn't to say that a white doula couldn't provide a woman of color care that is just as comprehensive and caring, it's just different. A black doula shares a similar life experience as her black client, even if they come from two separate worlds.
So what about religion? Is it important that my doula matches my personal religion? Again, I can't say, though I've personally doulaed for couples who shared my religious background and those who did not. For some, the religious/spiritual aspect of birth is important. It can mark a new life cycle event that requires special prayers or affirmations be recited. Having a doula who is familiar with those rituals can be helpful. For others, birth is just a part of life that doesn't hold any specific religious significants, but has a spiritual element that a doula can help facilitate. Mother blessings, placenta burying, and similar are all rituals that a doula can help plan.
Lastly, what about sexual orientation. Would it be weird to have a lesbian doula at my birth if I'm not a lesbian myself? Again, I can't answer this question for anyone. However, I will say that all of my clients to date have been straight couples or single women and it hasn't been an issue. Like race and religion, having a doula who understands differing pronouns, gender presentation, language, and processes can be helpful for couples and singles in a hospital setting, where awareness and sensitivity may be limited.
So what does this all mean? Should I only accept clients who are like me? No, not at all. I love that my client base has been an incredibly diverse mix of single women, couples, friends and strangers. I love that I've been able to whisper tehillim (Psalms) while a woman labors and mimic "Thank you, Jesus" when an exhausted mother holds her baby for the first time. I always encourage clients that I meet for consultation to interview at least two (or more) doulas to find the one that "fits". And if the one that fits happens to be similar to you, great. If the doula does not, well, that's great too.
My sister was an addict, so the word "junkie" has always had negative connotations for me. It indicates that someone is powerless to a substance; whether it be drugs, food, alcohol, or anything else that is harmful or does harm.
So, to put "junkie" behind birth? It's just not for me.
I love birth. I remember my first birth like it was yesterday. I was with the mama for almost 48 hours, it was a long induction followed by a long labor followed by quick pushing. Her little one needed to be placed in the NICU for observation so I stayed with her even longer and visited her baby boy.
When I finally got home I was exhausted but alive. I even mentioned to my partner that I smelled like birth. It was then, that I knew I was hooked.
Hooked. There's another possible triggering word, a word with some negative connotations as well, and I used it.
I do have a strong desire to get back into birth work. The move to the Pacific Northwest has been a transitional one and while I have a full time job that is fulfilling me financially, it's not fulfilling me as a person. Only birth work has done that for me.
So am I addicted to birth work? Am I hooked on it? Am I "birth junkie"? I think not, I'm just a woman who wants to live to help other women experience the blissful pleasure that is birth.
Head over to Maiden to Mother to read an article by another doula and the term "birth junkie"
One of my favorite births was a dear friend of mine. She had a hard labor that totally veered off of our Birth Vision. Low fluids followed by an induction and a strong reaction to Cervidil followed by epidural and Pitocin and a lovely, healthy baby boy. Through the hard times and the bliss that an epidural can sometimes bring, I felt like I was a witness to the birth, rather than a participant. Which sounds strange as a doula.
What I mean is that this mother and her husband were so connected, so in sync, so in their own world that much of my role was to support them.
A doula doesn't replace the role of husband or partner or birth partner, our role is to enhance and support. And yes, sometimes to stand watch while the partner takes a nap.
What About The Father’s Role When Using A Doula?
The role of the doula is never to take the place of husbands or partnersin labor, but to compliment and enhance their experience. Today, more husbandsare an active role in the birth process. However, some partners prefer toenjoy the delivery without having to stand in as the labor coach. By havinga doula as a part of the birth team, a father is free to do whatever hechooses. Doulas can encourage the father to use comfort measures and canstep in if he wants a break. Having a doula allows the father to support his partner emotionally during labor and birth and to also enjoy the experience without the added pressure of trying to remember everything he learned in child birth class!
Read the rest of this article outlining the benefits of having a doula.
02/5/14 by Crystal Azul
I grew up hearing stories about births and deaths from my mom, who was raised in a poor, evangelical home in Mexico. My mom would tell me the story of her nephew Esteban’s birth. It happened during the middle of a hurricane, the water had risen a foot into the tiny house, and my mom’s cousin was in active labor. Baby Esteban, nearly having a water birth, came out of his squatting mother like a slippery fish, caught by my mom’s capable hands.
When my friends started having babies, I became actively interested in birth justice work, especially after hearing their stories of unnecessary interventions, lack of communication from hospital staff about procedures, and the feelings of being too overwhelmed to make an informed decision during labor. As a feminist, womanist, and queer POC, I understood all too well the importance of advocacy during times of medical vulnerability. In 2011, I finally trained as a doula in Arcata (Humboldt County) and had my first client – a 17 year old woman who found me on a volunteer doula list through the Family Practice Nurses who worked with mothers on WIC. After this first experience of working for my client and representing her wishes, I knew that would never want to work for a hospital or similar institution and began searching for ways to be a doula in community.
Last August, I attended SQUATfest, a conference for people working in birth/reproductive justice and held at the Women’s Building in SF. As can be expected, the conference was predominantly white and cis, though some effort had been made to offer scholarships for low-income/POC birth workers. For many (qt)poc folks, accessibility with regards to affordability is one of the biggest obstacles to becoming a doula or hiring a doula. (There is a movement to include doula services through Medi-Cal, and there are volunteer doula programs in select hospitals that provide doulas for those who qualify as low-income.) During SQUATfest, I spent time in the Doulas & Midwives of color circle. There were many conversations about working in mostly white and privileged spaces, bringing services and support to communities of color, and burn-out being a major issue for (qt) POC birth workers. Some of the newer birthworkers discussed finding it challenging to “connect with birthworkers of color for mentorship because they are too done, tired and are moving on, have too much risk/responsibility already on their plate, or are homophobic/transphobic.” I had the privilege of hearing the wisdom of such birth justice workers as Midwives Makeda Kamara, Claudia Booker, and our local Certified Professional Midwife Laura Perez from Sacred Birth Place in Oakland.
Hi there! I'm Erika Davis and I'm a doula working in the Seattle and South Puget Sound area.