Doula to Doula- Quick Tips for Attending a Longer Birth

Editors note: The CCDS Doula Collective blog was named by doulas who have trained with Capital City Doula Services to reflect the goal of the blog – to inspire readers with content and to highlight the doulas from the CCDS community.  I believe deeply in our ability to learn from one another, and today, new doula  Sharea Jenkins shares some things she’s learned in her first year as a doula.  – Melissa

By: Sharea Jenkins, pursuing certification with DONA International

Okay! You’ve gotten the call and your client is in labor, ready for your support.

Do I have everything? As a doula, that runs through my mind a few times before even leaving the house.

Labor is slow, but gradually progressing. Time flies as we go from one position to another, the tub, the peanut, walking, side lying, and nipple stimulation.

Sharea practicing counter pressure during her doula training. Also pictured, fellow doula Cimona Seagraves.

Back compressions and belly rubs.

Dad coming in and out.

Midwife reassuring and checking in.

Contractions slow down, everyone dozes off to sleep. Now, it’s just my client and me, both extremely tired; we’ve been up all night…

To say that at times we attend long births, is a TOTAL understatement. These experiences sometimes lead me to doubt,  to wonder.

Am I doing enough?  

Is my role valuable to this family?

Births are hard work and some are very challenging for moms and the team supporting herIn a recent longer birth I attended, I constantly darted back to my memory of everything I learned in my training with Melissa. The birthing scenarios, the information, the hands-on demonstrations; that learning along with going with the flow, helped get me through. So what did I learn from this experience as a doula?  Here are a few things I’d like to share.

FIVE tips for the doula

  1. Never underestimate the power of a good hoodie or cardigan! Yes, even in warmer months, moms get hot fast which leaves everyone else cold.  Also, hospitals are set on freezing! Lol.
  2. Don’t skimp on the snacks and water. Yes, pack more than one snack and a quick meal. You’ll need the energy when you take a break for a bite. Energy bars, pre-packaged oatmeal, noodles, sandwiches, and fruit are some things that are easy to pack. Try staying away from food that has strong odors. Moms are extra sensitive to smells during labor. Also packing a mint or gum just in case can be helpful. Bring a water bottle if you can. Water is essential not only to your client but to you as well, stay hydrated.
  3. Be the master of patience with others. There may be family and friends who are totally over the birthing experience and may express their thoughts. Remember mom is the focus and try to tune them out or involve them. Extra massaging and fanning, fixing a cool face cloth or a cool drink for mom or even helping in positioning can keep others engaged if they are open to helping.
  4. It’s okay to lay down and to take a break. I have rested right beside my clients so when she needed back compression it is easy to be right there. If you can’t lay down try to get the partner or family involved if possible, so you can close your eyes for a minute and recollect.
  5. Never ever forget your hands have all the love, care, and support that a mom needs. They are your best tools. The touch of your hands tells her “I am with you, I believe in you, Trust your body and you are not alone!”

There is no question that a moms body goes through tremendous work with any labor and delivery.

As doulas, our bodies do as well, with all the adrenaline rushing we might not feel the soreness and aches until the next day.

Some doulas have very busy lives to get to right after a labor, but aftercare is important for the doula. Take the time to rest, take vitamins, stretch (get a massage if possible) and love yourself.

There are lessons to learn from every experience but don’t be down if labor has been extremely long.  Taking care of ourselves makes it much easier to be there for the family and to be more prepared for whatever may arise during labor. What we do is not easy at times, but so worth it.

Sharea is originally from Connecticut but has been a Tallahassee resident for over 18 years. 32 years old, she is the owner of Supporting Hands Doula Care and is working towards becoming DONA certified. Sharea has a 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, together they cook, exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Along with being an active doula, she volunteers at women’s centers and shelters in the Tallahassee area.

Mamas Want To Feed Their Babies

Seven thousand and thirty.7030. Seven ZERO THREE ZERO. 

That’s an important number.  The number of days my oldest child lived under my roof until he moved to his first college apartment just a few short weeks ago. Full disclosure, we are lucky to live in a city that has three great colleges, so he didn’t have to go far, he’s a 27-minute drive from home, to be exact.

But as you can imagine, this move has forced us to reflect back on the early days, months, and years of parenting.

As we were planning and packing and moving, my husband and I started to talk about what kinds of things our dear son would need in his first apartment. The essentials, clothes, bedding, towels, rugs, shower curtains, dishes, kitchenware, you name it, we collected it.

And then there was food. 

At first, my husband was thinking that we would give our son his budget, and he’d buy his own groceries from the start…but…

Mamas like to feed their babies. 

An early feeding session with our oldest, the one who made me a mama.

I shared with my partner of 20 years, that I had the desire to help our kiddo stock up before the big move (and give him the grocery money too).  I spent the evening cooking freezer-friendly meals and making a list. By the next day, I had a dining room full of groceries before lunch hour (bought by none other than dad, himself).

You see, daddies want to feed their babies too. 

Lunch date with our college-age son about two weeks after the big move.

It may seem like the idea of feeding a college-age student is way off from the idea of feeding an infant child, but at the end of the day, we want our offspring taken care of, no matter if they are a few hours old or senior citizens.

Did you see this news story for this year old mama who wanted to take care of her baby? She moved into the same retirement home as her 80-year-old son, so she could look after him. How heartwarming.

For many, it starts with pregnancy and birth…and it never goes away. For a lot of parents, especially in the early days, “taking care” of an infant is internally measured against the ability to successfully feed the baby. Time and time again, I see parents with feelings of accomplishment when their babies are well fed, and feelings of defeat when faced with feeding challenges. Mamas and daddies want to feed their babies.

Okay, so, what’s the connection here to our work as birth professionals?

Today, with great excitement, I want to discuss the recent accreditation of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital as a Baby-Friendly Hospital. What is the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), and what does it mean, you ask?

It means a lot, a whole lot.

According to the Baby-Friendly website, “The BFHI assists hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or safely feed with formula, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.”

As a labor doula, childbirth educator, and lactation counselor, I have been working with birthing families in this facility since 2003, and in that time I have seen a major shift in the way that providers care for new families.

From moving away from the newborn nursery (separating moms and babies for hours at a time), towards routine skin to skin after birth and “rooming in” to keep moms and babies together, (a Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice); we’ve seen a BIG change in policy and practice!

In becoming baby-friendly, facilities must educate, promote, and adhere to the Ten Steps of Successful Breastfeeding, AND agree to the International Code of Marketing Substitutes to Breast-Milk.

The Ten Steps are endorsed and promoted by maternal and child health authorities in the United States, including, the AAP, AAFP, ACNM, ACOG, The CDC, The Surgeon General and more.  Adherence to the code of marketing is a big commitment, as it has a significant financial impact for hospitals.

Becoming baby-friendly is a commitment of time, resources, continuing education, and it’s an investment of MONEY. This investment will lead to more support to new families as they transition to parenthood.

Baby-Friendly hospitals support practices that are more, well, friendly {read: healthier} for babies.

The benefits of breastfeeding are well studied and documented.  We know it’s healthy, safe, and has the potential to save lives. Take for instance the almost 20% lower rate of childhood leukemia for the baby who’s breastfed for six months, or the lower rate of sudden unexpected infant death (SUIDS, formerly SIDS) for the breastfed baby.

At the end of the day, the BFHI supports breastfeeding as well as a more family-centered approach to the transition to parenthood, which will absolutely lead toward better health for moms and babies.  While breastfeeding support is a cornerstone of the BFHI, many other baby-friendly practices come along with it.

More skin to skin time, delayed cord separation,  and delayed newborn bath are a few we see being implemented as standard care. It’s a mind-shift, from the days of checklists and getting things done quickly after a newborn arrives, to understanding the importance of The Magical Hour after birth, and honoring the transition a baby and family make from living in utero to in the world around us.

Baby-friendly accreditation is another step in the right direction and shows that our hospital has made great strides to shift with the times, and ultimately support better and better care for families. 

The accreditation is something to be proud of, as it shows families and the birth community that the hospital is committed to healthy, safe, practices for new families.

Successful feeding is not only essential for a healthy baby, but for many, it makes a difference in the emotional health of the family.

I am grateful for those who made this shift happen. It means that we as a birthing community have an eye on the future, and in collaboration, we can make big changes for the betterment of maternal and infant health.

To the TMH lactation department, the nursing staff, the midwives, the doctors,  and admins and others, thank you for your part in making birth better for families in Tallahassee.



you are making a difference for families in our community.

Well Done, My Friends.

Thank you.

And to my own college-age child now living on your own, wanna come over for dinner?  

Always growing, ever learning, much loving,

Melissa Harley, AdvCD/BDT(DONA), CLC, LCCE, FACCE is an advanced certified birth doula, approved birth doula trainer, lactation counselor, and certified childbirth educator.  She is the owner of Capital City Doula Services (CCDS) and this blog.   While working as a doula led her to the childbirth profession, mentoring families and professionals is one of her greatest joys.  To contact Melissa, please visit our contact us page.


New Blog, New Name!

How do you decide what to write for your FIRST blog post? You want it to be good, engaging, entertaining, AND educational. You want to set the tone for your new blog and you want to connect with your readership. I don’t know about you, but these are all things that have been running through my head  as I contemplated what to write about first.

Like many writers, or writers at heart, I have a running list of blog post ideas. I’ve been thinking about starting this blog for some time after all! So all week long I’ve been thinking, planning, STRESSING (can you relate?) about how to make my first post meaningful and important. We live in an era where everyone is an author. The internet has changed the landscape; social media has become one of our major news outlets, our magazines, an avenue for entertainment. In business, blogs are a useful and prevalent tool for increasing SEO, marketing, and overall web-presence.

But for me, it’s more about the connection. It’s communal, it’s about highlighting the awesome people that I live life with(in my house, and in this world). THIS blog will be more collective, it will be more collaborative, it will be different….I humbly hope.

Continue reading