Supporting mothers in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship is one of our most important roles as doulas.  

When we talk about the first hours after birth we often tell expectant mothers to trust the baby, they know exactly what to do and the less we mess with the process, the better it goes.

The following YouTube videos show how the slow, gradual process occurs.  We all just need to be patient and let nature take its course.  You and your baby are amazing magical creatures.  If anyone tells you otherwise, come back and watch these.  

The first is a quick highlight reel video by Entrust.  
The second video is from Raising Children Network and has interviews with two mothers.
This third video posted by Jennifer Pitkin is the whole process.  This mom and baby have had immediate skin-to-skin and it seems there has been no interference.  Oh the suspense!!
I taught myself to knit and crochet in high school.  MANY moons ago!  My favorite time spent knitting and crocheting was during my pregnancies.  There is something special about knitting baby outfits for your little one.  Each of my littles had a wardrobe by the time they were born.

I also made a blanket for each of my babies while I was pregnant. It kept my mind occupied when I was nervous about giving birth.  It helped keep me sane when I was still pregnant at 42 weeks.  It helped me connect with my baby before the birth.  While I crocheted, I imagined what their personalities would be and what they would look like wrapped in my creation.

Being pregnant in New Jersey during the winter made me feel isolated.  I found a little knitting group that met at the Barnes & Noble so I would have actual human interaction.  I kept up with them after the baby was born, too. It helped pick me up during the baby blues. They were a great postpartum support group of wise, experienced grandmothers.

As a doula, I continued knitting to occupy the "waiting time".  I always have a baby hat in progress in my doula bag, sometimes finishing them in time for the birth.  Clients sent me pictures of those babies wearing their doula hats.  My creation on their creation.  Nothing better than that.

My Stained Glass Blanket above is a version of the Granny Square found here.  It was a stash buster project and I love how it turned out.  It isn't quite a beginner project though, so this link will take you to the Yarnspirations site for an easy Beginner Baby Blanket Pattern.  I hope it inspires you to try yarn crafting!

I admit, the Royal Family fascinates me!  According to Life & Style Weekly, Kate is expecting baby #3 with Prince William.  If it's true, congratulations to the growing family!

Like many of us regular non-royal moms, Kate has had rough pregnancies dealing with hyperemesis and bed-rest.  I was sick through the entire duration of pregnancy #2.  It was horrible.

However, Kate is a future Queen.  She is provided unending support by nannies, midwives, Ladies Maids and chefs...(ahhhh Downton Abbey season 6 starts soon in the US!)   

While I may be Queen of my Castle here in Morganville NJ, the staffing is sadly inadequate. If this was a Vlog, I would pan the camera.  You would see, my maid sucks and the chef did not show up again today.

So how can we get the royal treatment for our pregnancy and early days after the baby arrives?  Here are my 3 quick suggestions:

1.  Plan ahead for time to rest.  Kate has planners and schedulers whose sole purpose is to plan her day.  I have my datebook.  It's sad we have to plan to rest, but we do, so learn to use the crock-pot, follow-our Menu Monday Blog and sign-up any older kids you have for some activity that takes them out of your space for an hour or two.  We all benefit from some child-free time and they benefit from some mommy-free time.

2.  Surround yourself with people who are positive support.  A good friend who just agrees because she know it's what you need to hear, and then gently nudges you in the better direction.  ie:  Me:  I am going to eat this entire box of Ghirardelli chocolates and follow them with a bottle of wine! Friend: Sounds AWESOME!  How about I take you for a milkshake and a pedi instead?

3.  Plan for "after birth support".  If you can afford a nanny, hire one.  If not, this is the time to put some cash aside for a postpartum doula.  Kate has them, we should all have them.  A Postpartum Doula comes to you and does all the things that Kate's staff does for her. She helps mom with self-care, she helps care for baby, she helps you spend time with older siblings, she makes sure you are eating and showering, she listens to you and makes sure you are healthy in body and mind!  She gets it.

Most importantly she treats you like a queen.  

Not in the creepy "smoking in the alley complaining about uppity nonsense" way.  In the "I will listen and support you without judgement" way.  It's time we all got treated like Kate.  
It takes a special kind of person with a great deal of patience and compassion and training to support a new mother.  And we have plenty of them!

Call us now at 732-754-9551 to see how we can treat you like a Royal.

Found this on social media today!  I could seriously watch him do this all day.  Thanks for the tip Dr. Bob....whoever you are.
And now we are seeing the follow-up videos.  From NJ 101.5 FM radio personality Jeff Deminski....OMG it works!
DoulaJill on Location - A visit to Peekslkill and conversation about certifying processes between doula organizations leads to a great video with the fabulous Debbie Aglietti!
First episode in our new video series "DoulaJill Dillner On Location".  Thanks to the Rock and Roll Doula Randy Patterson for being my first interviewee!
15_min_chicken15 Minute Chicken
This recipe comes from an expectant dad named Aaron.  

"This is a great recipe for a quick and easy entree. My wife, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, had chicken thawing and asked me to cook since she was exhausted. She didn't have any plans so I just threw some things together and came up with this recipe. I'm sure it could be improved upon, but in a pinch it was easy and delicious."

We love "Easy and Delicious" in a pinch!!  Toss in a bag of 90 sec rice and some steam-in-bag broccoli and you have a meal in 20 minutes. Make a bigger batch, and freeze the extra for a future microwave meal.

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken tenders (or boneless, skinless breasts and cut into 1/2" thick strips)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 teaspoon garlic powder

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. 
  2. Add chicken to the pan and stir into the sauce mixture to coat.
  3. Place cover on saucepan and simmer until the chicken pieces are cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove cover and spoon sauce over chicken pieces; continue cooking until sauce thickens, about 4 minutes more.
  4. Plate the rice and broccoli, cover with the chicken and sauce.  Enjoy!!

Sourced by the Fabulous Doula Renee Hennings (who admits, she doesn't cook, so if she can do it, you can do it!)  Original post can be found at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/228774/emergency-chicken/

PictureI don't LOOK like a wolverine....
I had my first baby when I was 36.  Now he’s 11 and we are good, but when he was a newborn my son and I didn’t mesh so well….and we sucked at breastfeeding!

We don’t have any beautiful images of us looking into each other’s eyes while he nursed and played with my nursing necklace.  I don’t have any warm memories I can recall that make my heart swell and my eyes well with emotion.

I nursed a wolverine(click here for clarification image)

Nursing my son felt like taking a Brillo pad to my boob every 1.5 to 2 hours.  He never slept.  Ever.  His naps were only 15 minutes long.  I was crazy sleep deprived.  While looking through a box of photos from my son’s first year, I found one of my husband holding a baby I didn’t know.  I asked him “whose baby is this?”   to which he replied. “yours”.

Let that sink in.  I didn’t recognize my own baby.  Ugh!

Now 11 years ago, there was no Lip Tie/Tongue Tie groups on facebook.  (Was there even Facebook?)  I read everything and nothing helped.

I reached out for help and was told over and over, “breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, if it hurts you’re doing it wrong.”  I HATE THAT PHRASE!  It makes me want to throw things and do other worse things that I will never put in print. (howya doin NSA)

I asked my OB for help. She told me “don’t be a hero”.  I fought on, in agony.  My husband begged me to stop and just use formula.  I fought on, in agony.  I asked my pediatrician for help.  She told me to supplement because the boy wasn’t gaining enough.  I fought on, in agony, and now supplemented.

Supplementing was the biggest slap to my motherhood self-esteem.  Maybe they were right. I was too old to be having my first baby.  (Yes they used to say stupid s**t like that to every woman over 32)

I still fought on, nursing and topping off his tank with formula.

There is good news.

Around 6 weeks postpartum  (yes 6 LONG PAINFUL weeks. I am a stubborn mule) we sat down to nurse.  I did my natural childbirth relaxation/meditation to prepare for the pain. (yes that still comes in handy throughout life so take a real class) and it didn’t hurt.  It was sore, but not agonizing. IT. WAS. GLORIOUS.

I had tamed the wolverine!  (click here for clarification image)

I became the queen of breastfeeding!  I started nursing ALL OVER in public. I was that mom who could whip out a boob and latch a baby on before you even saw that rouge and always controversial nipple.  I would tell the host at restaurants to make sure we had a server who was going to be ok with breastfeeding, cuz we were gonna be throwin’ down.

But, I still was supplementing.  I tried everything to increase my milk supply and nothing was working.  Nurse on demand, blah blah.  Check.  Co-Sleep, blah, blah.  Check.  Oatmeal, blah, blah.  EEW, not checked.  You need to sleep more, blah, blah….did you read paragraph 3????

And finally one day a wonderful little herbalist lady gave me fennel seed to make tea.  She told me this would increase my supply and he would get enough milk so we could all sleep.  So I made fennel seed tea and drank it at every feeding that day.

IT WORKED!!!  I drank 6 oz of fennel seed tea at each feeding for a day and my milk went BOOM!  My supply was suddenly amazing.  This simple little plant was able to do amazing things for my boobs.  He started to extend the time between feedings.  He finally started sleeping for 5 hours straight at night.

I was finally able to stop supplementing with formula.  I continued using fennel seed tea for the rest of my breastfeeding career.   I didn’t have to use it every day, but I used it a lot.  I used it with my daughter who came along 2 years later and didn’t have to supplement with formula at all.  Now she is a whole other blog post…

PictureDoulaRenee and her beautiful babe!
My husband and I had our first son in September 2005 in a small hospital in Massachusetts.  With his birth also came postpartum depression.  I was finally able to admit that I felt awful, scared, stressed, and very lonely about four months after he was born.  My recovery took multiple therapists, prescription anti-depressants and relocation back to New Jersey where most of our family lived.   I spent over two years digging myself out of that fog.

I wanted to find anything I could to avoid that demon again.  In the course of raising our first child, and coming out of the depression, I became a birth doula.  I learned so much about pregnancy, birth and the postpartum time that I was able to prepare myself against the possibility of having the depression return.  When we decided to have another child, six years later, the fear of the depression returning was difficult to bear.  However this time I was going in prepared with new tools; and a different perspective on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care.

When I became pregnant with my second child, I found the Midwives of New Jersey of Hackettstown NJ.  I chose them because I wanted a home birth and they were able to help me accomplish that wish.

In my prenatal visits to the midwives, I told them about my previous postpartum depression.  One of the midwives suggested placenta encapsulation. My first reaction was “ICK!”, followed quickly by curiosity and wonder.  I immediately beganresearching the benefits, found a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (PES) close enough to my home, and decided that this would be the best thing for me.

Our second son was born in December 2011 and the fear of depression was strong and heavy in my head from the moment my water broke.  I contacted my PES the morning after he was born and she had my placenta pills delivered to me within 72 hours after the birth.  I began taking them immediately and quickly felt a difference in my state of mind.

Our new baby began to develop eczema serious enough to crack and bleed.  We learned it was due to food allergies.  He also wouldn’t sleep!  He didn’t sleep through the night until past two years of age.  He still does this occasionally at the age of 3! Mommy and Daddy were not getting much sleep.  If this baby had been my first, we would not have had any more children.

The placenta pills were my life saver and sanity keeper during those first few months.  Even though I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I was able to function and take care of myself and my family.  I truly believe if I hadn’t taken those placenta pills, I may have been committed in the first few months postpartum.  The difficulties that we went through trying to figure out his issues, (colic, silent reflux, multiple and severe food allergies, severe eczema) how to cope with them, and how to help him overcome them, should have sent me into depression. My family would be in a much different place right now, had I not taken advantage of the amazing organ that my body made for my baby.

The reason I wanted to have my placenta encapsulated was based solely on the fear of going through postpartum depression again. The rewards I got were that and so much more!  The amazing benefits that I experienced from placentophagy included improved mood, I felt no familiar signs of depression creeping back in.

I also saw a huge difference in my milk supply.  With my first son, he never seemed to be satisfied and I was never able to pump more than 2 ounces.  This time around, whew! What a difference!  I was able to pump an average of 5 ounces, and my son would actually pull off my breast because of what may have been over supply.

I had increased energy, shortened lochia, accelerated uterine recovery, weight loss, and a quicker return to well-being.  I did have one dose give me jitters and one dose gave me heartburn.  I only had those two days of discomfort, out of the two months that I took the pills.

In the middle of my sons first year, the woman who encapsulated my placenta offered a course to teach other women how to do the amazing work of Placenta Encapsulation. I jumped in and took the course.  Now I am pleased to be able to offer this gift to other moms.  I also have begun to offer classes to teach the process of encapsulation through Wise Birth Choices.

I hope that the practice of placentophagy increases, and that new mothers begin to realize that we have within us the power to heal ourselves.   All the nutrients and vitamins and minerals and hormones that went in to building and growing a beautiful baby should be given back to us! The one responsible for making it.

Women – we can give that gift back to ourselves!

Hit Google Search with interview questions for a potential doula and lots of lists appear.  As a Doula in NJ for the last 10 years, I have answered them all.

Last night my friend asked me for pointers on interviewing a doula.  She doesn’t live in NJ anymore and I didn’t have an associate to recommend in her area.   She had set up some interviews with local gals and was getting excited to start the process.  She found a standard list of questions online but wanted my ideas as an “insider”.  I thought about it for a few seconds and replied, “scrap the list”.  Here are 5 better questions.

Better Questions to Ask a Potential Doula.
In your initial conversation you should cover the following: 
Are you available for my EDD?  Do you cover my delivery location?  What is your fee? What does that include?  Do you come to my home when I’m in labor or do we meet at the delivery location?  If these are answered satisfactorily, then schedule an interview.

 Which brings us to the list!

Scrap:  Are you Certified?  There are so many ways to certify and so many certifying organizations with differing criteria, this is becoming irrelevant (cue the negative doula comments below).  Some doula trainings are in-person, some are online.  Some doula trainings are 1 day, some are 4 days.  Some require 3 births, some require 5, some require none!

The Better Question Is:  How did you train to become a doula?  How did it prepare you for this work?  Think in advance about what answers will make you feel confident in her skills.  My birth doula had never attended a birth.  Except her own.  She had given birth 3 times and was a massage therapist.  This met my criteria.

Scrap:  How many births have you attended?  I have mentored doulas over the years and now have a great group of women working for me.  Everyone of us had our first birth client. I have worked with doulas who have arrived at their first birth and ROCKED IT!  I have worked with doulas who have attended 25-50 births and when they arrived it seemed like they had never seen a woman in labor before.

The Better Question Is:  Can you give me examples of how you would support me if these scenarios happened?  List your own scenarios, because those are the scenarios you will manifest. Yes, it’s true.  Didn’t you read The Secret? (and a BIG you’re welcome! to The Secret on amazon)

Scrap:  How many clients do you take each month? Do you have back-up?  Every doula will answer with a number and ideally a “yes” to the back-up.  Who cares?  I have had clients with due dates 4 weeks apart give birth within 24 hours of each other!

The Better Question Is:  If I am in labor at the same time as another client, who is my secondary doula?  Will she know she is on call?  This one is critical!   I am the doula who got a call from a client in labor, who wasn’t my client.  The couple told me I was their back-up doula.  I had no idea I was their back-up doula.  Fortunately, I had declined an invite for drinks with my hubs and his BFF, just 2 hours prior.  (I wanted to watch ER).  Many doulas have informal agreements to back each other up.  Make sure yours has a formal one.

Scrap:  What is your philosophy about birth and supporting women and their partners through labor?  Who cares what her philosophy is? If she is a good interviewee, she already has a set answer for this.  You are hiring her to provide a service.  A VERY PERSONAL SERVICE.

The Better Question Is:  Can you tell me about a time that a client made a decision you didn’t agree with?  Gauge her response carefully.  Is she able to separate her own feelings?  Does she sound judgmental or disappointed?  She shouldn’t.  This is your birth and her primary role is to provide emotional, physical and educational support.  If you are making an informed decision she is being paid to support it.

Scrap:  Do you get along with my caregiver?  Have you worked at my delivery location?  This should have been asked in your initial interaction.  The doula should always ask where and who in the initial phone call.  If it is a provider or hospital they have chosen to stop working with, they should be up front about it.

The Better Question Is:  I am with MW/OB “X” and delivering at “Z” Hospital.  Do you have any positive or negative experiences you can share?  Doulas love to share.  A LOT. Gauge her response and decide if it is cause for concern about your provider or cause for concern about her. Is she offering evidence-based information? If you are with a notoriously bad hospital or provider, she should be able to provide evidence.  You should then do the research and come to an informed decision.

After she leaves check how you feel.  Are you both excited? Do you both feel empowered?  Do you both feel ready to share the most personal experience of your lives with her?  Remember, the most important thing about your doula is how she is going to make you feel and provide support for you and your partner.  


I have had an amazing response to this blog!  Thank you all for your compliments.  I have also received requests to reprint.  If you would like a pdf to include with your promotional materials, you can purchase the pdf with permission through this link.  http://mkt.com/wise-birth-choices-llc/scrap-the-list-pdf-with-permission

23 thoughts on “5 Better Questions To Ask A Potential Doula: Scrap The List!”
  1. Jennifer Rivera on March 11, 2015 at 1:05 am said:
    Great job! This is by far the best one of these lists I’ve seen to date!

  2. Elizabeth Luke on March 11, 2015 at 1:38 am said:
    Great blog! Finally, someone who gets it!

  3. Kimberly on March 11, 2015 at 4:20 am said:
    This is a great list for clients! I will be sharing and I *hope* that anyone considering a doula for their birth/postpartum period will read it! Pure perfection!

  4. Melissa on March 11, 2015 at 4:43 am said:
    excellent list! These are all really great questions that promote meaningful dialogue between a prospective doila and hiring couple/individual.

  5. DoulaLouise on March 11, 2015 at 5:12 am said:
    Great list of questions! I especially like thinking about different scenarios and how they would be handled and how you’d like to be supported. (Plus, I know the author of The Secret, so yea for the bump!!!)

  6. tracy hartley on March 12, 2015 at 12:19 am said:
    Best list ever. I hope you will keep this online forever so we can link to it! I’ve been a doula for 18+ years and I couldn’t have come up with a better list of questions. Great job!

  7. San Antonio Doula on March 13, 2015 at 12:20 pm said:
    Thank you for this! The other “how to hire a doula” lists are so out dated and don’t actually tell the client much of anything valuable. I will be passing this on!

  8. Rachel on March 13, 2015 at 8:45 pm said:
    How dare you say doula certification isn’t important?!?! Okay, just kidding. But I thought you needed at least one response. As a doula who started certification in a very in-depth correspondence program but chose not to complete it after a year of apprenticeship with a midwife and getting way more experience and education then any certification program could offer, I appreciate the respect. Sure, I could have jumped through the rest of the hoops and finished but I decided those letters at the end of my name weren’t worth it to me. I appreciate that my clients are happy with me and my level of experience despite not certifying. And given the number of new doulas who come to me for help before and during births I think I’m doing okay 😉

  9. Lea Garner on March 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm said:
    Awesome blog post! I’d love to repost on my own website and share on FB!


    -Lea Garner

  10. Barrie Glasscock on March 23, 2015 at 9:27 pm said:
    Yes! Great list!!

  11. Angela on March 24, 2015 at 1:28 am said:
    This is a fantastic list! I will definitely share it with others. Happy Doula Week!

  12. Christine on April 24, 2015 at 9:30 pm said:
    Thank you for this list. I was trying to decide between 2 doulas and the one I selected met the criteria on this list, among many other great attributes. I feel even better now about my selection. I can’t wait to start working with her!

    • DoulaJill on April 24, 2015 at 10:12 pm said:
      That is fantastic news Christine! I am so happy to hear that this helped you in your decision making. Good luck with your doula and your birth! I would love to hear your story afterward.