It's been a couple of weeks since the most recent Comprehensive Postpartum Doula Training ended and I have to say that I'm really missing the wonderful students that we were privileged to spend 5- 5 1/2 days with! I might be going through a bit of withdrawal.
So what better time to reminisce about the wonderful time we had with 12 exemplary doulas, while giving students interest in training with us a glimpse into how we do it here at Parenting Resources.
The day before our training officially started, we hosted BLS for Healthcare Providers. We do require our Postpartum Doula students to have this certification in order to certify with us.
They all did a great job and are now all fully equipped to respond quickly and effectively in an emergency.
You could feel the excitement and nervousness as students entered. No one was quite sure what to expect and many students expressed a bit of anxiety about passing the course. The day started with introductions and ice breakers as well an orientation into the program and our center. We then dove right in to what Postpartum Doula work entailed, scope, and what graduates would be doing during both day and night shifts.
Daisha Smith, our resident RN and Doula expert gave an in depth presentation about maternal health, postpartum physical healing and recovery, the psychological adaptation to new parenthood, and taught students how birth impacts the postpartum period.
Angie Merriken, our Holistic Health Coach/Doula/Lactation Counselor/Childbirth Educator/Yoga Instructor (Yes she wears many hats!) spent the afternoon teaching students about postpartum and breastfeeding nutrition requirements, how nutrition impact the postpartum body, and provided meal planning strategies and guides. She even taught students how to make an easy-peasy nutritious smoothie. It was quite tasty!
This day was ALLLLLL about babies, our favorite subject! Primarily taught by our Co-Owner and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner/IBCLC, Kathy Loughren, the content covered everything you could ever want to know about baby care. Swaddling, disposable diapering, cloth diapering, cloth diapering laundry, soothing, Happiest Baby on the Block, cues, crying, common ailments, common concerns, newborn assessment, colic, gas, what to expect in the first weeks and months, holding, cord care, intact care, circumcision care, bathing, cleaning, infant massage, and more were covered. It was a full day of in depth baby fun! Students who brought their babies even had the opportunity to learn these skills on their own kiddo. Unlike other training programs, students were tested on their skills each day.
This was my hands down favorite day because I had the opportunity to teach babywearing to the students. In my practice, I find that while many people have used a carrier to some extent in their child rearing, they are often not aware of the many benefits of infant carrying, the vast selection of carrier available to them, that they can nurse in a carrier, but most importantly most don't know the safety guidelines to keeping a newborn safe. The students were naturals and mastered ring slings, stretchy wraps, woven wraps, ring slings, and soft structured carriers.
In the afternoon, we were fortunate enough to have 4 guest speakers. First, Dr. DiAntonio, Director of the Women's Reproductive Mental Health and Wellness Program at St. Louis Behavioral Institute provided a glimpse into what she sees in her practice and how Postpartum Doulas can identify, refer, and support clients who are struggling with Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. It was an eye opening presentation, as many students realized that they knew someone close to them who may have exhibited certain warning signs, specifically of Postpartum Depression or Anxiety.
We then had the pleasure of listening to Michael Adrian and Donn Herring of Lathrop & Gage LLP speak about business entity formation, what legal concerns students should look into when starting a business, insurance considerations, and how to protect themselves and their business legally.
To finish off the day, we had a highly educational presentation by Dr. Gray- Swain of West End OBGYN who presented on the 4th trimester and all of the physiologic concerns that doulas should be aware of for their clients. She provided an in-depth look into topics such as what happens in birth, cesarians, episiotomies, hair loss, skin changes, fluid and swelling, pelvic floor rehabilitation, vaginal healing, limits on exercise and intimacy in the postpartum period, and showed many ways that doulas can support the physical needs of a parent postpartum.
One of the most important things we do for babies is to feed them. So we spend almost an entire day teaching every feeding option. We specifically focus on breastfeeding. It's important that Postpartum Doulas are versed in current feeding recommendations, the benefits of breastmilk, supply and demand, the physiology of milk production, the nature of breastmilk and how it changes over time, positioning and ergonomics, hand expression, breast massage, identifying improper latch, troubleshooting problems, understanding the common challenges that nursing parents face, when to contact a Lactation Consultant, as well as being familiar with other nursing options including SNS use, co-nursing, induced lactation, and chestfeeding. The most important aspect of breastfeeding for a doula is to understand how to support the parent live and in person, so we brought in a nursing Mom who shared her journey, experiences, and allowed Kathy to demonstrate how to assist her in positioning and making her as comfortable as possible while she fed.
Setting up a breastpump was demonstrated and students learned about proper breastmilk storage, collection, use, and plans for going back to work. Students also shared their tips in pumping. Proper formula preparation and use was also covered, as well as a demonstration and skills check on the upright paced feeding method.
Students also learned about safety from Kathy and myself. I am a Child Passenger Safety Technician and have found, over the years, that few doulas know even the basics about car seat safety, making it impossible for them to convey information about keeping a baby secured while driving, which is the most dangerous thing we do with our children. Students also learned how to set up a safe sleep environment, risk reduction methods for bed sharing families, and took an in depth look at car seat safety including recommendations and how to secure a child correctly, so that that they could educate parents accordingly. Students even got to practice how to correctly secure a child.
The last day is all about cultural competency and business. These topics were two of the biggest areas that we found was missing in all other doula training programs that we reviewed. So doulas leave 1.) feeling less than equipped to work with families of color, other religions, of LGBT families. 2.) not having even the bare basics of how to start, build, and grow their business.
The fabulous Daisha presented a dynamic lecture on cultural competency and working with families of color. She even brought in another Postpartum Doula of color who is also muslim to share her experiences and her advice for working with diverse cultures and religions. I then presented about working with LGBT families and how to provide respectful, inclusive care as well as how to effectively market to LGBT parents.
We finished the day with a business workshop covering everything from business formation, business planning, marketing theory, startup and operating costs, contracts, welcome packets, print marketing materials, online presence, social media, search engine optimization, outreach, networking, pitching to providers, creating an elevator pitch, and nailing the interview. We're confident that our students now have some fundamentals that they need to consider when getting their new business up and running.
We closed out the class with the final exam, which we are happy to report that everyone passed with flying colors!
Congratulations to the Class of March 2016! We can't wait to see what you do with your business, your practice, and the impact that you will surely have on new families!
Ready to jump into your new Doula Career?
Or maybe you want to hear more about why you should?
Kate Schnetzer, MHA, CPD, CBE, CLC, CPST
Co-Owner- Parenting Resources
Co-Owner- Parenting Resources Professional Network