Friday, February 25, 2011

"Couples Who Pray"

I have an amazing husband. Once a month, when the Doula Connection meets at our house, he puts up with the estrogen overload. Whenever I have a new idea, he's supportive. When Couples Who Pray, my latest BookSneeze review book arrived, he sat down on the couch and read it with me.

I guess when we started reading Couples Who Pray, I expected something else. More Bible verses, more concrete suggestions. It's more theory and sales (selling you on the idea of prayer) than it is a Bible study or devotional book.

The book starts out with a somewhat lengthy introduction of the (mostly famous) couples who were the original "testers" of the program. The next chapter talks about how praying together improves relationships and actually gives statistics from research. For example, we learn that 92% of couples who pray together rate their marriage as "very good" versus the 76% from the no prayer group.

The authors make reference in the book to the "40 Day Prayer Challenge," but unlike other books with similar programs, the 40 Day Challenge isn't gone over in great detail. They give you the basics for the 40 Day Challenge, which are things like "Make time to pray," "Pray out loud with your spouse," and "Keep it short."

Reading what was my favorite chapter, "Six Steps to a Healthy Marriage," I realized that our marriage probably works so well because Tim and I have the things listed, at least most of the time. They give the acronymn LAUGHS- for Laughter, Appreciation, Understanding, God, Honor and Support. I think a big part of the reason that we've been married for almost ten years is that we do laugh together, appreciate each other and do those other things.

As far as the challenge goes, we have not embarked on the 40 Days. For the past couple of years, we've had the evening routine of Tim reading the Bible to the family before bed and us all praying together. We did pray together when we were reading the book, and we might do so more in the future, but we'll probably stick with our old routine.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


"I'm not going to have a doula because I'm having a VBAC."

"She doesn't need a doula; she already has an OB."

"That's like a midwife, right?"

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what doulas are and what exactly we do. One thing that probably contributes to this is that the doula's job description varies from doula to doula and changes depending on the needs of the family.

Birth Arts International describes the doula this way- "A labor support doula accompanies the woman in labor, providing emotional and physical support. The doula suggests comfort measures, provides support and suggestions for the partner. When possible, the doula provides pre- and post-partum education, resources, emotional support, to include information on practices and procedures, and information that can assist in the client making informed decisions about her care."

CAPPA answers the question, "What is a Labor Doula?" this way- "A doula is a person who attends the birthing family before, during, and just after the birth of the baby. The certified doula is trained to deliver emotional support from home to hospital, ease the transition into the hospital environment, and be there through changing hospital shifts and alternating provider schedules. The doula serves as an advocate, labor coach, and information source to give the mother and her partner the added comfort of additional support throughout the entire labor."

To answer the statements I quoted at the beginning, I would say that a woman having a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) would benefit from the support that a doula offers. Having an OB doesn't replace the need for a doula, as the OB and the doula have completely different job descriptions; and no, a doula is not a midwife (though some midwives serve as doulas and some doulas eventually become midwives).

Some people ask, what does a doula actually do? Here are some things that I've done and that other doulas do for their clients at a birth:
  • sit with them
  • bring a birth ball to the house
  • give mom sips of juice and water
  • suggest changes of position
  • heat rice socks for back pain
  • play Uno
  • explain procedures
  • give nurses a copy of their birth plan
  • help mom relax
  • give mom a back/leg/hand/shoulder rub
  • give dad a shoulder rub
  • look up information for the parents
  • suggest that mom try the shower/tub
  • get lunch for dad
  • encourage mom to keep going
  • suggest resting during early labor
  • and much more...
If you or someone you know lives in or near Syracuse, NY, feel free to come to the Doula Connection meeting to ask questions about pregnancy, birth and doulas. We meet every second Thursday from 6-8pm. You can also call me at 443-690-6212.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekly Wrapup

The kids did schoolwork Monday-Thursday this week. It was the usual relaxed/classical homeschooling. We're doing ancient Greece in history, so we've been reading a lot of books about ancient Greece (both fiction and non) from the library and also watching Xena the Warrior Princess on DVD (ahhh, edutainment). We took James to speech at the school on Monday and Friday morning. The kids had their art class Monday afternoon and P.E. at the Y on Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday night, doula Chris Herrera and I got to speak to a childbirth class about our doula group and what doulas are and do. I also did a little bit of work on this week. Those were my only real work things (aside from talking to doulas from the group about different things almost every day).

The kids got today off homeschooling because after leaving the Y today, I decided that missing my friends in Baltimore was more than I could bear, checked with my husband, then packed up the kids and headed to MD for the weekend. I don't have any doula clients due 'till the end of March, so I should be safe.

After a six hour drive, we arrived at my friend Allison's house, where I picked up friend Melissa's kids and went over to Melissa's house. My kids spent the last couple of hours playing with hers' and now I'm trying to get everyone to go to bed.

My big work goal for this weekend is to finish re-reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, write my book report about it and get it emailed to by BirthWorks reviewer. We'll see how much I actually manage to do while hanging out down here in Bmore.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Random Things for Valentine's Day

Random Things for Valentine's Day:

#1- Just Do It. Meet the author in the beginning of the book, talking to his wife about these poor men he's read about who haven't had sex for 100 Days and have even formed "100 day clubs." His wife responds by suggesting that they do the opposite and have sex for the next 100 days. Being married parents, there are days that they are tired or don't feel like it, but they do it anyway.

#2- The MDC "Parents as Partners" forum- While I've found that the ladies here tend to jump to "you should leave him" faster than I would like, I have seen good relationship advice posted before:

#3- Chocolove!- It's chocolate! It's love! It's Chocolove:

#4- BirthWorks- I'm working on my Childbirth Educator certification through BirthWorks. They talk a lot about oxytocin at the training, which we all know is the hormone of love:

#5- Mennonte hymns. A few months ago, our family went to a Mennonite wedding. They sand the song "Will you let me be your sevant?" and washed each other's feet. I got a little teary.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Becoming a Doula: First Steps

Tonight's post will present you with information and resources on becoming a doula. There are many paths one can take to become a professional doula, books to read, organizations to consider.

First, examine why you want to become a doula. Write down your reasons. Share them with someone. As you begin your journey in the field of birth work, your list of reasons can help you keep going.

Second, think about how being a doula will fit into your life. If you're in a relationship, is your partner supportive? If you have children, what will you do for childcare? If you're employed, will it cause a problem if you miss work to attend a birth? Do you have time off you can take? If you don't have the flexibility to attend births, perhaps teaching childbirth classes (easier to schedule!) is a way to get your foot in the door without causing scheduling issues.

Most people choose to read some books about doulas and birth before taking a doula training workshop. The Doula Book is on the required reading list of most of the doula organizations and it's a good introduction to the topic of doulas. (It's also a good conversation starter- read it in public when you're looking for clients.)

The next step is to look for an organization to take your training. There are several doula training organizations and each one has a bit of a different approach to doula training. Take time to browse the websites of each one and feel out what fits best with your own philosophy about birth. Before you sign up for a training, call or email the organization and ask questions.

Organizations for Training: (Offers several different certifications- labor doula, postpartum doula, antepartum doula, childbirth educator, lactation educator...) (Certification for birth and postpartum doulas, childbirth educators, midwifery assistants. Excellent website with lots of good links and resources.) (Birth and Postpartum Doula Certification) (Childbirth Educator and Doula Certification. They offer an amazing program as far as education goes; I'm currently taking their CBE program) (Doula, Childbirth Educator, Breastfeeding Counselor. Distance learning)

This isn't a list of all of the doula training organizations out there, but it's a good start. CAPPA and DONA both also offer yearly conferences, which are a great thing to attend no matter who you're trained through.

Another thing to think about is finding a doula networking group in your area. Networking groups are a good place to meet other local doulas, get information about getting your business going and learn more about birth work.

Doula Networking Groups Near Syracuse (CNY Doula Connection- the group I'm affiliated with) (Doula Cooperative of Rochester)

Feel free to email me if you're looking into becoming a doula and have questions I can help answer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Learning More Things- Week of 2/5-2/11

Another great week of homeschooling is wrapping up. James and Ben are in the living room playing with the Trio blocks from Grandma. Delilah is listening to Tim play guitar. Patrick is here somewhere...

This week I've been thinking a lot about why we homeschool and why we've continued to for years. We started out when Patrick (the oldest) was three and we made the decision to "home-preschool" rather than signing him up for preschool somewhere else. I wanted the flexibility and freedom that not having an outside school schedule to worry about offered. I still enjoy that. I also wanted to be the one who got to see my kids learn new things. I still love that too. It's been thrilling being the one to teach Patrick and Delilah to read (working with James on it now). I love when the kids get into learning about a new thing and I get to be the one who's helping them find information on it. I'm their facilitator, their tutor. sometimes their bossy mom, but mostly their tour guide through learning.

On Saturday, Delilah went to the kids' workshop at the Home Depot by our house. She made a heart shaped shelf for Valentine's Day at the store and painted it when we got home.

Bible- Tim has started reading to the family from the book of Luke in the evening. Patrick did four lessons in Bible Elective 1, Book 3 (and finished the book). Delilah did three lessons in Bible 105 and has been practicing the Lord's Prayer.

Math-  Patrick did three lessons in Saxon Math 6/5, spread out over four days. Delilah finished Math Practice 1A and did three lessons in CLE Math 205. James didn't do any math other than playing board games, but that counts, right?

Lang. ArtsWriting With Ease 3 is going well so far. I had Patrick do "Week 1, Days 2-4" and "Week 2, Day 1" this week. He doesn't seem to mind the narration and dictation as much as he did creative writing, so I think he needed the help. He also read the graphic novel "Hamlet" this week. Delilah did two pages in Writing Skills 2. James did Funnix Reading, lesson 3 and played Alphabet Bingo.

History- We did what felt like a lot of reading in history this week. On Monday, I read the kids chapter 17 from Story of the World while they colored the picture that goes with it. Patrick read a graphic novel on Wednesday called Lords of the Sea: Vikings Exploring the Atlantic. Then today, I read them the first section of SOTW ch. 18 and Theseus and the Minotaur by James Ford. Patrick also read The Librarian Who Measured the Earth, about Eratosthenes.

Science- We read about slugs, snails and beetles and the kids made notebook pages about it. The kids also watched videos online about snails.

Latin- Patrick worked on ch. 26 in Latin for Children A.

Spanish- All of the kids watched the lesson for chapter 8 in Spanish for Children A.

Music- Listened to Greek music to go along with our Greek history studies.

Art- Art class with Miss Donna at the library:

 P.E.- Wednesday- 1/2 hour swim lesson, 45 minute gym class. Then Patrick went to the teen raquetball league for an hour.

Momschooling- "Confident Nutrition Counseling" class with Gloria Lemay.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pregnant in Syracuse? I'm your doula!

Are you looking for a doula in Syracuse (or nearby) and wondering what exactly you get for your money?

My standard birth package includes:

- 3 prenatal visits
- labor support
- 1 postpartum visit
-  telephone and email support for breastfeeding for as long as you need it
- assistance with applying for insurance reimbursement

The families that I have worked with would tell you and I go above the call of duty.

Now, this would be bragging if I'd written it myself, but since clients wrote it for :

"My experience with Elizabeth as my doula was positive in every way.  She supported my decision to have a natural, low intervention childbirth experince.  Elizabeth came to my house while I was in early labor and helped time contractions and helped us decide when to go to the hospital.  She helped me and my husband during all 14 hours of labor and delivery!  She was a critical component to my wonderful experience at the hospital and the birth of my baby.  She helped me through the pains of labor and helped keep me calm during contractions.  I did not want or need any pain medications or IV during labor because I had such a great support team.  I highly reccomend Elizabeth as a doula and am proud of my birth experience."

"My experience with Elizabeth as my doula was positive in every way.  She supported my decision to have a natural, low intervention childbirth experince.  Elizabeth came to my house while I was in early labor and helped time contractions and helped us decide when to go to the hospital.  She helped me and my husband during all 14 hours of labor and delivery!  She was a critical component to my wonderful experience at the hospital and the birth of my baby.  She helped me through the pains of labor and helped keep me calm during contractions.  I did not want or need any pain medications or IV during labor because I had such a great support team.  I highly reccomend Elizabeth as a doula and am proud of my birth experience."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Trucking along... (homeschooling when it's freezing out)

All week long, I've wanted to sit on the couch drinking hot chocolate and reading. Or maybe order pizza and watch a movie. It's been tough to get myself (and thus, the kids) to accomplish anything while it feels like we're hibernating here in the house. Fortunately, we did manage to get things done:

Bible- Tim is reading through the book of Mark with the kids at bedtime. Patrick has done four lessons in his CLE Bible workbook and Delilah did one. I read the kids two stories from Bible Stories to Read.

Language Arts- The mail lady brought Patrick's new Writing With Ease book. I've been feeling like he needs some help with writing and I'm hoping this will do the trick. He did Week 1, Day 1 today. Earlier in the week, he did two lessons in Reading 402 (left over from last year). Delilah did lesson 14 in Language Arts 102 and two pages in Writing Skills 2.

Math- Patrick managed to do five lessons in Saxon Math 6/5 and Delilah did three lessons in CLE Math 205. James did three pages in Counting With Numbers. The kids also did real life math at the grocery store today when I had them compare prices and figure out things like what the price for chips would be if they were on sale for 2/$5.

History- We read chapter 16 in Story of the World together and the kids answered the review questions in the activity book. They also colored the picture page from the activity book. On Wednesday, they watched an hour of a special from the History Channel about the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Science- Nothing, unless you count watching Kratt's Creatures on PBS, in which case they did something.

Latin- Patrick did all of chapter 25 in Latin for Children A and watched the lesson for chapter 25 on the DVD (all of the kids watched it). Delilah did all of lesson 8 in Song School Latin and listened to the CD that goes with it. Both kids also practiced their Latin at

Delilah doing Song School Latin

Spanish- All of the kids watched lesson 7 on the Spanish for Children DVD and Patrick did lesson 7 in the workbook.

PE- On Wednesday, the kids went to the gym & swim class at the Y, then Patrick participated in the raquetball league from 4-5pm.

Momschooling- I read A Bite to Remember by Lynsay Sands (trashy vampire detective romance novel). I also managed to survive another week of the Extreme Sculpt class at the Y with Maggie and Dina.

Work Week

Monday (1/31)- Watched Academic OBGYN Grand Rounds on delayed cord clamping. This is something that I got to hear Karen Strange speak on last May and it was great to hear an OB talk about it.

Tuesday- Left the house ar 11am. Stopped at Wegman's to grab dessert for lots of people; went to OfficeMax and copied Doula Connection materials. Visited with the ladies at Dr. Berry's office during their lunch break. Blogged about visit.

Thursday- Went out to Auburn Memorial Hospital and talked to their childbirth class about doulas.

Friday- Fielded emails with questions about birth plans, ruptured membranes, and birthing options for someone in Maryland (where I'm from). Decided I need to look into setting up consulting fees.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Birthing in Syracuse: Cathy Berry's Office

I just got back from visiting with the ladies at Dr Cathy Berry's office here in Syracuse. For moms who are planning to give birth at Crouse hospital, theirs' is a practice to consider.

The birth attendants in their practice are Dr Cathy Berry, Charina Carissimi, and Janet Ortolani. I wasn't able to meet Dr Berry today, but her staff spoke highly of her. Her bio on the practice's website says: "Dr. Berry strives to provide quality care to her patients while empowering women to be proactive participators in their own health care. Her holistic approach to medicine includes developing a unique treatment plan for each patient that incorporates traditonal medicine, alternative therapies or combinations of both."

Charina and Janet, the certified nurse midwives, seem very caring. They both talked about how they are hands-on and like to spend time with their laboring clients.

I have had the opportunity to see Janet in action at one of my clients' births and I can attest that she was in the room for most of the labor. She has a very calm presence and said the midwifey things, like "Your body is doing just what it's supposed to do" and "You're doing a good job." Also, she was respectful of the wishes that my client had expressed in her birth plan.

Their office staff demonstrated a holistic view of the pregnancy and birth experience as well. We talked to two ladies who work there about their "Centering Pregnancy" program: They said it could be some months before they get another group together, but it looks promising.

If you're someone who is planning a hospital birth and wants a practice that will respect your choices (and won't mind you bringing a doula along!), give them a call to learn more: