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!
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.
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
I’ve had to read lots of books on my doula journey. (and I totally geeked out on the book reports!) This book wasn’t on my official reading list, but it is one of my favorites and the methods and advice are my first choice when talking about how to care for newborns. Today I’ll be reviewing The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp, M.D.
This book is everything that I tell my clients! There are two main components to this method of babycaring- the concept of the fourth trimester and the method of triggering the calming reflex through the 5 S’s of soothing.
The reason I like the way these two ideas work together is because they work on an intellectual and physical level- which is vital for parents in the first months of caring for a new life. Intellectually, there is information and good scientific reasoning behind why babies cry and fuss. They’re born underdeveloped, and need their caregivers to understand that they need a womb-like fourth trimester to continue to grow. I think that giving parents science and reasoning behind baby behavior helps so much more than saying, “Well… babies just cry.” Yes, they do just cry, but knowing the reasoning behind some fussy behavior can help parents deal with it in a calm and gentle way. Then, physically, there is something to do! Use the physical methods of the 5 S’s, and figure out what works for you and your unique baby.
Let’s talk about those 5 S’s! You know that old saying, “All babies do is eat, sleep and poop”? It can be so true! Except that sometimes they cry. And sometimes they cry a lot. And sometimes they cry a lot when all mama wants to do is sleep for at least three hours, please.
So what do you do when baby is crying? Are they hungry? Do they need to be changed? Are they hot? Cold? Sleepy? Need to poop? If the answer is none of the above, The Happiest Baby on the Block recommends moving through these five steps: Swaddling, Side/Stomach positioning, Shushing, Swinging, and Sucking.
Even though the steps seem self-explanatory, and lots of good info on them can be found online, I highly recommend reading through this book. (There’s even a DVD, and a toddler version of the book!) There is so much good info in here- from history and cultural differences in how babies are cared for around the world, to explanations and reasoning behind colic, safe sleeping tips, a great “When to Call the Doctor” chapter, and a section on self-care for new parents.
Did you read this book or try out any of the baby soothing methods? Did it work for you?
Tell us your experience by commenting below!