I've lived in Long Beach for about ten years, and we are raising our son here.
In 2007 I followed my heart and left my work as a lawyer for abused kids and started helping families in a different way. My work as a doula started in 2007 with sleep training. I read a ton of books and did it with my son, then started getting calls from friends of friends to help them. I realized I could turn that into a small business, and then realized I could become like the doula I hired for my own birth in 2006. I trained for breastfeeding in 2008. Then I certified as a doula with CAPPA, and DONA, and Hypnobabies. I've been providing doula services since 2008, and I love it!
I completed a Doula Internship with a local midwife so I could intelligently discuss the differences between hospital births and homebirths. Many moms are curious about homebirths, but not sure it's right for them. My doula services are the perfect bridge for a mom who wanted some elements of a homebirth in a hospital, so that your hospital birth is more like a home birth. The reality is that most moms will give birth in a hospital, not a birthing center, and it just makes sense to hire a doula with the negotiating skills to help make that happen.
For a while, my background as an attorney led me to volunteer as the Co-Chair of the Coalition to Improve Maternity Services (CIMS) subcommittee on Informed Consent and Refusal. We published an article in the peer-reviewed journal put out by Lamaze International (I was listed as a contributing author): Journal of Perinatal Education. Sometimes I train other doulas on the specifics of informed consent and refusal so we can better educate our clients about their rights as patients.
For new moms, I recommend reading Ina May Gaskin: Spiritual Midwifery and Guide to Childbirth - lots of neat birth stories written by the moms themselves and the photographs of moms and dads from the 70's are priceless (can you say "free-bush?"). Almost all of my clients take a childbirth education class, and I really liked the Bradley Husband Coached Childbirth course - it is very comprehensive and prepares fathers to participate.
I recommend you fully investigate your options by reading Henci Goer's The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth.
Some moms DO NOT WANT INFORMATION. That's totally cool with me. I have guided moms through birth who read nothing, watched nothing, and didn't talk to anybody about birth. These moms have a specific approach to their birth and do not want any one or anything interfering with that approach. I respect all moms and their methods.
Happy clients have logged on to the web to leave messages for other mamas considering hiring me. Look for them here:
Endorsements in my guest book on this site.
Yelp - most of them have been hidden from view because my clients weren't regular Yelp users. You have to click on the link for "filtered reviews" at the bottom. It's hard to see, because it's in a lighter font.
DoulaMatch.com - if you really feel the need to investigate me, and,
Thumbtack - my newest discovery of where else to advertise my services!
Many prospective clients ask me about my own birth. You don't have to do what I did. Every woman is unique, and every one of her births will be unique. Part of what makes my advice during labor valuable is that I've attended so many births in so many different hospitals with different doctors and nurses. I also read everything I can get about pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.
However, since my job is so intimate, I am happy to share my own story with you. Briefly, I had a hospital birth with an obstetrician and a fabulous doula. Though I planned a medication-free birth, I got an epidural so I know how birth plans change and I think every mom and baby has to do what's right for them. I support my client's choices completely.
I keep track of my birth statistics so I can know if I am meeting my clients' goals for themselves. Many mamas ask me how many of my clients went "all natural" (and by this they mean no epidural). So far, about half my clients have given birth without epidural anesthesia. It is important to realize that this is not an important goal for some women, and understand that my job is to support your choices, not change them for you!
If it is your intention to seek an "all natural" vaginal birth, my track record is excellent and I would be delighted to help you achieve your own goals. If you are "open" to the idea of an epidural, prenatally I will double check to make sure you are aware of the possible risks to yourself and your baby, and when you get the epidural, my most important job will be to help you have a vaginal birth by overcoming any possible side effects or complications. That is where my experience and my training come in very handy!
One last thing is important - how I feel about western medicine, doctors, and hospitals. I think we are lucky to live in a country with so much scientific knowledge and access to improvements in care. I also think we have to be careful about intervening in an essentially normal process. Every intervention has possible benefits and risks. As long as you know them, you should be free to make choices from a wide range of options.
My hope is that you have a caregiver you trust, a birthplace you love, a partner who supports you, and a beautiful, healthy baby. I believe all women are smart enough to make their own choices. There are many ways to have a beautiful, healthy baby!