Thinking Out Loud
Nicolle the Doula Blog Series
Nicolle the Doula Blog Series
In 1988, President Reagan, who was a bereaved father himself, declared October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. An entire month set aside to honor and break the silence about millions of lives that have changed the world. This life shattering experience that 1 in 4 women face is still often something delicately tiptoed around...leaving those women feeling very much alone. That's why awareness is so important! At Birth by Design, we recognize the depth of pregnancy and infant loss and are proud to be able to stand with women and families as they navigate the murky waters of grief. Whether it be through a miscarriage, life limiting prenatal diagnosis, or pregnancy after loss, our goal is to serve by holding space and honoring lives cut short. If you've experienced a loss, please comment below with your baby's name or photo and let us stand with you to remember. You are not alone!
-Jessa Lea Allinson BbD Bearevement Doula
Many of our wonderful clients and birth associates are inquiring about the safety of placenta encapsulation after a recent case of late-onset Group B Strep infection in a newborn. If you haven't read these articles but want to know more, here is the CDC statement on the case from September 2016. As with any highly publicized issue in the news, it is vital to equip yourself with all the pertinent information from reliable sources. This is a singular case where an infant was treated for early-onset GBS infection but returned to the hospital within a few days of discharge with a recurrence of the infection. The mother informed the physician that she had been ingesting her placenta, which was then tested and found positive for GBS. It's worth noting that no bacteria was found in the mother's breastmilk. Also, infection of other household members could not be ruled out, but due to matching strains in the capsules and the infant's culture and no other verifiable source of the bacteria, the end determination is that increased colonization of the bacteria on mother's skin and in her intestinal track could have facilitated re-infection of the infant. The CDC article also points out that it is possible that the placenta was not processed at a high enough temperature to guarantee eradication of the bacteria. GBS infection of an infant whose mother was treated with antibiotics during labor only occurs in 1 of every 4,000 births. Though it is rare, the infection can cause severe health risks to an infant including meningitis and sepsis.
Birth by Design feels it is incredibly important to address this issue and your questions head-on. It is actually quite encouraging that the medical field is paying attention to placenta encapsulation. This ancient practice is more common than many physicians realize and there is definitely a great need for evidence-based information regarding both the benefits and the potential risks. We have very few resources now, as it is difficult to raise awareness and funding for placenta research. It is our hope that this case will push consumers and medical providers towards research rather than fear and panic. The practice of ingesting the placenta holds thousands of years of testimonial experience from women around the world. This should not be discounted and Birth by Design honors the needs and demands of birthing families. In the same space, the safety and health of mothers and babies is the highest priority. Families considering placenta encapsulation are advised to read the information available to them, ask questions with their physician and/or midwife, their doula, and placenta encapsulation specialist before making a final decision about encapsulation. (This post contains links to information for you to review and a list of the links will be available at the bottom of the post)
Here are some things to consider as you and your family make decisions about placenta encapsulation. It is vital to find a placenta encapsulation provider who follows stringent food safety protocols and has appropriate bloodborne pathogen training. Birth by Design encapsulators complete a hands-on training course in a small group setting and provide ongoing training and support to each other throughout the year. They also complete bloodborne pathogen training and use special equipment for placenta processing that is cleaned and sanitized after each use. BBD encapsulators typically utilize the raw preparation method and dehydration of the placenta at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 10 hours. This method ensures the eradication of most bloodborne pathogens to a safe level for human consumption according to food safety standards. Some providers, including the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA), state that GBS bacteria must be exposed to “moist heat” of at least 130 degrees for a minimum of 30 minutes. The APPA has written a very informative response to this case as well. Taking these further precautions would require the steaming method of placenta processing. It is also important for our clients to know that it is and always has been the policy of Birth by Design that a placenta is ineligible for processing and consumption in the following circumstances:
Birth by Design is taking an active role in protecting you and your newborn while still providing vital services for an empowered birth and postpartum period. We strive to provide evidence-based birth and postpartum practices to our clients and lead the Central Arkansas birth community in making positive changes to the culture surrounding birth. The most important piece of that culture change is to remove fear and panic from our decision-making processes during pregnancy and birth. Empowered birth requires information, education, and support. Therefore, we will continue to encourage our clients to make choices for themselves about placenta encapsulation. We love our clients and their families and believe wholeheartedly that Birth is Better Together!
GBS Information/Resources for Clients
Our heart here at Birth by Design is for women. This month, we honor the women in our lives: the mothers, mother figures, aunties, sisters, cousins, grandmothers. The tribe of like-minded sister-friends. The women at work, the other mothers or mother figures at school pickup, dance class, summer pool. The solid group of women doulas, lactation consultants, nutritionists, chiropractors, massage therapists, nurses, doctors, and physical therapists we have the pleasure to work with.
We are a unique sisterhood of women supporting and serving women, and our support for each other overflows into our service for our clients.
We are honored to witness mothers being birthed. We are in a distinct position to laugh, cry, grieve, celebrate, comfort, endure with, sit in silence with, and empathize with the women we support. Our time with clients is short, but full! We love you and we see you.
We also know that Mother's Day isn't always easy, To those who experience loss, guilt or irritation, we hope that you find the support you need. We love you and we see you.
Happy Mother's Day from the doulas at Birth by Design!
This month, we’re featuring the lovely Jenny Knight. She serves women in Morrilton, Conway and Little Rock. Not only is she a certified birth doula, she graduated from Mills High School and earned a BS in Environmental Science at University of Central Arkansas. She lives and works full time as the Program Director at Camp Mitchell, the Episcopal Camp and Retreat Center on Petit Jean Mountain. Their biggest program is their 8-week summer camp program when she needs to take a hiatus from doula work. When she’s not busy planning for or recovering from summer camp, she enjoys camping with her family, farming, making kombucha, and amateur quilting. She is kind, patient, steady, and articulate. Her sister doulas love her for her honesty, no-nonsense approach, and the fresh ideas she brings.
This is how she explains what she does as a doula, “ A doula is literally a woman serving a woman. She supports a woman and her family during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. Doulas are not medical professionals but are extensively experienced with birth. Thus they often bridge the gap between mothers and their medical care providers, answering questions and providing additional resources that doctors don't always have time to do. Doulas are a constant and present support during labor providing physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual support. Doulas help ensure that the journey--pregnancy and birth--are just as valued as the destination--a baby.”
Her favorite part about being a doula, besides getting to know so many wonderful clients, is witnessing the empowerment of a woman during her birth. “No matter the drugs, potions, or prayers used during labor, the moment a mother and baby are united earth-side is breathtaking. There is so much triumph and joy and toil that it is overwhelming. A mother becomes the strongest, bravest, and most epic human being on the planet in that moment. And to witness such a feat is truly an honor and a blessing.”
Her story of becoming a doula is fascinating. She says, “When we were pregnant with Odessa we took childbirth classes with Birth by Design. My understanding of a doula was very naive and judgmental. I considered them birth cheerleaders and didn't feel like we needed or could afford one. After 30 hours of natural labor, I birthed Odessa via cesarean section. At the time I was ok with that outcome as we were just so ready to meet our baby. But after months passed I became more and more discontented with my birth story. All the “what if?” questions got me to thinking that if I had a doula there, she would have been asking those questions when it mattered. If I had a doula at my birth and it still ended in a cesarean, I would have the peace of mind knowing that we tried everything. The nagging feeling about my own birth story grew into a passion to help other mamas avoid this discontent. I found myself at Birth by Design training to be a birth doula :)”
More of Jenny in her own words...
Tell us about your family: My husband, Doug, and I met at UCA. We married our senior year and shipped off to Japan as soon as we graduated. We lived and worked at the Asian Rural Institute for a year as missionaries with the Episcopal Church. That year turned our hobby of farming and sustainable living into a passion and solidified our call to serve others. When we returned to the states we began our work at Camp Mitchell. Doug as the farm director and me as the program director. We got pregnant our first year home and Odessa is now 2 and a half. We also have a beagle terrier mutt named Nellie.
What is the last book you read? Phantom of the Opera in preparations for seeing the live performance at Robinson
Favorite color: burnt sienna
Favorite food: fried okra, tiramisu
Favorite holiday: thanksgiving
Favorite smell: Odessa’s morning breath
Favorite season: autumn
Favorite way to de-stress: I want to say something healthy like go running but really Doug and I veg out watching something shameful like Desperate Housewives and eating chocolate :D
It is officially World Doula Week! All month we've been posting video testimonials from our beloved clients, but this week, check out your doula friend's profiles. We'll be publishing our favorite things about being a doula, and how our sister doulas and clients have influenced us.
I know it's still March, but we do have a very exciting event coming up on April 1. We're hosting an event to kick off Cesarean Awareness Month! Sign up is available exclusively on our website. Click here!
World doula week is March 22-28! The date is chosen because it coincides with the spring equinox, which represents the return of fertility in countless cultures. It also happens to coincide with Spring Break Week, so we here at BbD have chosen to celebrate all month instead of just one week!
We're celebrating by celebrating our accomplishments and our clients. We love to see you achieve your birth and postpartum goals, and we are honored to be a part of your motherhood journey! Keep an eye on our Facebook pages all month. (Conway) (Little Rock) Every day we'll be featuring one of our clients, their success stories, and the role that a Birth by Design Doula was able to play in that success. .
We've got other events coming up this month, too! Events where you can see us in person!
We'll be at Rhea Lana Conway all week. The doulas will be rotating in and out, manning (womanning?) our booth. Come and say hi!
We've also got another fun Freezer Meal Group happening March 25. I've been to the last two, and they are so much fun! You'll have other mamas to talk with, and several doulas in attendance, too. After last month's group, one of our clients went into labor and delivered her beautiful baby girl that night. So.... just do with that information what you will..
Registration deadline is March 11, so grab your spot!
Welcome to our next installment of Meet the Doulas, Daspri Swymn edition!
Daspri is a birth AND postpartum doula serving in Conway and Little Rock for birth support, and Conway and surrounding areas for postpartum support. She is not only an amazing and overachieving doula, she also holds a BA in Writing and Rhetoric with a minor in Management Information Systems. We here at BbD love her reliable, steady, and entirely energetic presence; not to mention her sense of style!
When asked how she personally explains who a doula is and what a doula does, she answered, “ A doula is a support person for a women during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. A doula is the perfect combination of girlfriend and coach all wrapped into one.” Her favorite part of being a doula- helping women have the experiences they desire in birth and the care they need during postpartum. She decided to become a doula because she’s always loved helping her friends during their pregnancies and labor. At one point she was asked by a sweet lactation consultant if she was a labor and delivery nurse years ago because of the way she handled mommas and babies when visiting family in the hospital. She loved the thought of being an L&D nurse, but not exactly… then she found out what a doula was by having Nicolle at her first daughter’s birth, and he new that being a doula was IT, exactly!
Daspri in her own words...
Tell us about what you do when you aren’t doula-ing: All the things. I love physical activity and outdoor sports, home reno and design, sewing, making jewelry, and the list goes on.
Tell us about your family: I have an awesome husband that is in love with the Lord and gets me and helps me get to do the things I love. I have a 6 year old daughter that is smart and silly and so fun to be with. I also have a 19 month old that is the most loving little thing and the most honery little thing all wrapped into one.
The last book you read: Children’s books...all the children’s books.
Favorite color: Teals, blues, royal purple, and greens...I can’t see in a single color there are too many out there to pick just one.
Favorite food: Most all things Mexican.
Favorite holiday: Most all the holidays are fun but I love summer break when we get to visit the beach, that’s my holiday.
Favorite smell: Clean
Favorite season: Spring
Favorite way to de-stress: Exercise, a nice hike, or a good long bath.
Welcome to February!
We've got some fun things going on this month to brighten your life...
Doula Little Dance! Make a little Love! If you have loved our February shirts, you can now purchase your own. Click here!
Keep an eye out for photos and video of your
And what better place to wear your dancing shirts than at our Dancing for Birth classes. New series starting soon, click here to sign up!
As the doulas have welcomed in the new year (with a few babies, as well!), a look back at the year 2016 was necessary in order to create new goals for this year! We are beyond honored to serve so many women in pregnancy, labor, postpartum, lactation, education through classes, and placenta encapsulation. Each year, we like to look back and see what we have accomplished, and hope to improve and create better ways to serve the women of our communities. So here’s a look back to Birth by Design’s 2016!
Overall, we served many women in 2016 and welcomed 112 babies with the help of our birth doulas! (Birth by Design hopes this number will grow in 2017, as we have several more students who have completed their certification and have already started filling their calendars!) Of those 112 births, 90 of them were vaginal. (That translates to 80% of our clients!) Some were home births, some were drug-free, some were with pain meds, some were inductions, and some were VBACs! (Did you know that of our clients that decided to labor for a VBAC, almost all were successful!! That is huge!) We also served at 22 cesarian births. Some of these c-section births were elective, some were because of medical issues, some were twins, and some were just silly babies who decided to not come into this world head first. There is a great joy seeing a woman achieve her goals both as a birthing mama and as a birth worker! We were honored to serve all kinds of women with all kinds of birth plans!
Did you know that we now offer postpartum doula care with certified postpartum doulas? Those doulas finished their training in 2016 and began their work in serving mamas! Overall, albeit new, they were able to serve 16 mamas, 17 babies, all for a total of 230 hours of postpartum care! We are positive this number will grow even more in 2017!
Our goals for 2017 are being set even as this is written! Already our calendars are filling up with more babies! Already, our office space in Conway has grown by moving locations to a bigger space! Already, we are looking for ways to better serve the community! Our hope is to serve even more women from all sorts of backgrounds and with all sorts of birth plans- there is no right or wrong plan… just what works best for you and your family!
Thank you for making 2016 a great year for us and here's to making 2017 even better!!
-Mekelle and the rest of the BbD team
Please meet doula Mekelle Daniel!
She is our sassy, Disney obsessed, VBAC queen, and bilingual (English/Spanish) birth doula serving Little Rock, Benton, and Hot Springs.
Not only is she a certified birth doula and certified childbirth educator, she holds degrees from Ouachita Baptist University in Biblical studies and vocal music.
Her favorite part about being a doula is that she loves being able to help families achieve their goals and seeing women realize how strong they are. She started her doula journey because she wanted to be able to help women as she had been helped, she wanted to change how birth is viewed, and she wanted to be a voice for the hispanic women. This is something we love about Mekelle- her huge, loving heart for birth and women. Her life and doula philosophy can be summed up perfectly in her favorite quote (from Christopher Robin, of course!), “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” In Mekelle’s opinion, whatever life brings, these words are great to remember in achieving goals!
Mekelle in her own words...
What are your interests… besides doula-ing? I love to do all things crafty but I really love to paint. I also really love to teach and plan vacations, especially Disney ones….doesn’t matter if they are mine or not! I also adore cooking and creating great nutritious food!
Tell us about your family? I have the goofiest, kindest, hottest and most passionate husband on the planet. He is my soulmate, best friend and fellow adventurer. He is a professional Spanish interpreter for the state of Arkansas. We bred the craziest, most creative, cutest kids on the planet. Isaac (11) is a problem solving, salsa eating lego builder extraordinaire. Isabelle (8) is a brainy, very artistic, Tinker Bell loving twirler. Gabrielle (5) is a singer, salad and sushi loving cuddle bug. We love being together and love, love Disney!
What is the last book you read? Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere
Favorite Color- toss up between daffodil yellow and emerald green
Favorite food- too many to list but top 3...salsa, Rice Krispie treats, thai food
Favorite holiday- Christmas, hands down
Favorite smell-depends on my mood but anything coconut or pumpkin spice but never together! Ha!
Favorite way to de-stress- laughing with friends!