I'm a new doula and wanting to hear what others are doing in their prenatal meetings with the mother and partner. What are some of the key elements that you put into the 1st and subsequent meetings? I'd like to hear more about what videos and books you recommend or lend and what hands-on types of things you do.

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When I meet with a mom/partner first is the interview. We talk to decide if my doula services will be a match for the desires and needs of the couple(single). I have a sheet for Terms of Agreement that list the specifics role of my doula services, birth or postpartum, and the fee we agree on. I have a few extra lines to add special requests of mom. The Family Interview is the next meeting which takes 30m to 2hrs depending on how chatty the mom/parnter desire to be. I have found even though this maybe timely we really get to know specifics anon her/his vision of birth. It consists of family reg.(biographical data) the brief maternal medical history(illness,meds,smoking,alcohol habits) previous preg/outcomes. Next is birth vision. (EX.Tell me in one sentence what would be your best birth. What would be your worst birth experience) I find lots of information through these questions. Next what do you see me doing to empower your birth experience?? What do you do when you are stressed? This leads to much discussion on healthy/workable tools for stress relief.
I always end with is there anything else you want to talk about with me??? I do a lot of listening. Some moms/parners have different needs. I do not mind phone calls for question during daytime hours, M-F ,,all else is emergency only as agreed in Terms of Agreement. I have found things runs a lot smoother for me as a doula and in my family life and relationshp with mom/partner. I will get back to you on DVD, books, and other
items. I will loan birth balls. DVDs on overnight only(because I need the for childbirth class) and books rarely. I have a display of books in my home for moms to review and they usually want to buy their own(epec. on Breast feeding) I also recommend the library or used bookstore---our community has excellent resources.

Some couples want to review comfort measures for partners. (extra visit for about 1hour at 37/38 weeks)
I've been doing doula work for about 7 years and I've gone from having regimented prenatal visits where we targeted certain topics at certain times, to client led - and now I kind of do a combination. I know that I want to cover talking about their provider, values, fetal positioning, etc. in the first visit. I'm trying to think... most things come up with the clients and we flow from there.

I also teach classes and if the client takes my class that offers a lot of opportunity for more structure (even though my classes are anything but structured!), but it exposes the couple to many more topics.

I do as many prenatals as the client wants, they usually last 3 hours, and I spend a considerable amount of time 'teaming' with the dad/partner and strategizing ways we can work together as a team. I want him to feel that he has support so when he hits a wall where he doesn't know where to go, I'm *right there* and watching and sensing that and offering him the next helpful word or touch or energy to bring. That helps him to feel the 50% of this process that he is, rather than just ancillary, and this helps the woman to relax knowing she has people on her side who are also working well together. It's a big emotional boon for us all. :)
Forgot to incude this information. I have also been a doula for mom/dads without any prenatal vs. I do "on call" for a community free standing birth center. The center offers a birth doula to any mom on request. Moms are encouraged to preplan their doula, but does not always work out. Walking in without a clue at first was a little out of my comfort zone. I have quickly found out that mom/partners are just reasured to have a caring, encouraging person present. Sometimes the details just are not the most important. I still prefer to meet with parents-to-be.
Thanks you guys. I'm hearing a lot of the same important things and it is good to keep in mind that the most valuable thing I can give her is the basics- support and empowerment. I think I've got enough to go on from here. Thanks again for all the help!

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