Lighthouse Birth Services

Roots-N-Bush Online Birth Conference

Ahhh, what an amazing weekend it has been. I spent almost 12 hours feeding my mind and spirit attending the Roots-N-Bush Online Birth Conference. It was honestly beyond anything I could have imagined but was what my soul had been seeking. I attend dozens of events annually, so it was wonderful to have the occasion to attend a conference in the comfort of my own living room. No plane, no train, no hotel fee: just a pen, notebook and my computer.

If you follow the Doula on Duty/Lighthouse Birth Services page on Facebook, I often share about the alarming statistics of the infant and maternal mortality rates among American women of color. As scientists and community health activists try to decipher why our babies are not making it to their first birthday and why Black women are 3.2 more times likely to die than their white counterparts relating to pregnancy and birth, I’m starting to think that the answers are right in front of us – hidden in the wisdom, skills and understand of those who came before us as teachers, healers and midwives. As a woman whose family is from Jamaica, I find that I reach back to our own indigenous traditions for my physical and spiritual healing. Mama was right; all that processed food is bad for you! The Bible says in Hosea 4:6a, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” How many of us have lives evident of that? Too many communities are lost because we don’t have the information and support to do what’s best for our families. The time is now to be about the work of healing ourselves completely. The blessing of this conference was that the health and wellness of moms and babies of color was addressed holistically. Because we are mind, body and spirit, any means of wholeness must have the entirety of our being in mind. The work doesn’t begin at birth or even after a positive pregnancy test but months or even years before conception. We all must be intentional about our parenthood as we are in other areas of our lives. Future generations are dependent on it.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for the wisdom that was shared from ALL the presenters this weekend. This information is for mothers, mothers-to-be, fathers, fathers-to-be, grandparents/caregivers, doulas, midwives, educators, lactation supporters, other care providers and everyone else who cares for expectant women of color in the childbearing years. Still in the beginnings of my calling as a birth worker, it became clear to me that a culturally sensitive & relevant support team is imperative for healthy birth outcomes, especially for women of color. The Roots-N-Bush Online Birth conference showed us how to go about making that a reality. If you missed it, don’t fret. I encourage you to purchase the entire conference recording at this link. I promise you, your spirit will be fed! There is a lot of work to be done but together we can heal a nation.

Keisha

I Know the Kind of Birth I Want But Can I Afford It?

It’s still hard to imagine that just 3 years ago this month I attended my first birth as a doula. I think back to that day and wonder if my clients were as nervous as I was. Today, I do feel like I have been doing this forever and am grateful for every family that said yes and honored me by including me on their journey into parenthood.

In those 3 years, I have been fortunate to acquire a tremendous amount of experience, training, tools and connections, allowing me to serve a diverse number of birth experiences and circumstances. I want the families to be blessed by my experience as well as have access to an abundance of resources for the kind of birth they desire and/ or need. As I learn and grow, so does my business, allowing me to offer more services and provide more information. Over time, that will mean that doulas like myself may charge more than a family believes they can afford. For some families, that will mean that they will forgo the support they desire, which should never happen. I believe that every woman who desires labor support should have it. So let’s talk about some ways you can get the support you need in a budget you can afford.

Know What You Want and Need

Each doula has a unique set of skills, training and experience. You and your family will have unique goals and desires for the birth of your baby. The key is to find a doula whose skill, talent and ability complement your lifestyle, wants and needs. Find the doula who you feel comfortable with. This could be a new doula, fresh out of training or a seasoned doula who has attended hundreds of births. Be honest and upfront about likes, dislikes, fears and expectations. If you need guidance about your choices, ask a doula or childbirth educator for input. She can speak in specifics of what options are available in your community.

 Be Intentional, Plan Ahead

If you know you are planning to conceive in the near future or are in early pregnancy and would like a doula, start your research now. The average cost for a labor doula in Northern NJ ranges from $600 to $1200. Create a baby fund that will allow you to cover the cost of a doula.

Money Matters

You know what you want. A little money has been put aside but you’re still not sure you can afford it now that a new baby is really one the way. Here are some options:

Community Doula Groups

I was a part of a community doula group and got valuable training while agreeing to serve, at no cost to the families. Each group has their own set of requirements but if you qualify, you may be able to be served by a doula at no cost to you. Keep in mind that such groups may require a certain number of home visits and paperwork to be completed. If the doulas in the program are working towards their certifications, be sure to assist them with this so they can go on to serve other families.

Volunteer Doulas

Some doulas specifically volunteer for low income families, partners who are in the military or teen moms. Some doulas may individually volunteer one free birth a year to support a family in need. Volunteering is totally at the discretion of each doula.

New and Training Doulas

For my first two births I charged $150. Some new doulas may only ask for gas money or for you to complete the paperwork for certification. As with volunteering, it is totally up the discretion of the doula as to whether or not she will charge a reduced rate during training if certifying or for her first few births. Remember, each doula has a unique set of skills, training and experience. Just because she is new to labor support does not mean she has little knowledge of birth. Maybe she is a mother of six. Perhaps she entered the birth world as a childbirth educator. She may even be a former labor and delivery nurse. I know 4 such women.

Insurance

Some insurance companies have paid some if not part of the cost for labor support. Contact your insurance company to see if you have that option. You may also be able to pay using a flexible spending account through your place of employment. With insurance company, the doula will have to be paid up front. After the birth, she can provide you with a receipt for her service which can be submitted with any other required paperwork to the company.

Payment Plans, Bartering and More

Most doulas will have no problem working with families that want to hire her for labor support. Don’t be afraid to explain your circumstance. Some doulas offer payment plans. I offer 3 payment plans. This is a great option when a doula is hired in early to mid-pregnancy, allowing parents the time to pay for services without having to put out large amounts of money at one time. Bartering is another great option. Do graphic design? Is there a mechanic or landscaper in the family? Maybe a doula need some sockets re-wired in her home and your dad is an electrician. Family members, friends, and co-workers are always looking for ways to bless you when a new baby is on the way. Instead of a new stroller or crib, folks can chip in for the doula. Set up a doula fund or registry. Ask colleagues to purchase gift certificates from your doula. They will be glad to do it!

So what’s the take away from all of this? You can afford your doula! Know what you want, find the person who can best support you and the rest well come together. I believe there is a doula for every mother who wants one.

New Beginnings

If you have been following this site, you will notice that a lot has change. We still have our blog but have moved to a website format.

Be sure to change your bookmarks! Lots of goodies coming your way.

Updates, Updates, Updates…

Ah, so much is going on that I want to share with you! Just briefly, I am now an ICAN chapter leader and I have started doing community doula work. I will explain more of that later but I just wanted to reach out. I’m still around, just busier than ever. Grateful for this gift that I am giving back to the world. So be on the look out. I want to share about the work ICAN is doing and my community partnership. Till later!

Smooches!

 

 

Why Birth Matters…

This is in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month. As it swiftly draws to a close, I have been left to contemplate all that I have learned over the last 30 days. Let me tell you that attending the International Cesarean Awareness Conference (ICAN) has not only changed my life but has perhaps changed my birth work forever. So without further ado…

 

Part I

Part II

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