Want more blogs from Esther? Click here to check out her other posts on the Miami Mom Collective!
Why You Deserve Support
September 20, 2020
Women have complex needs during childbirth. In addition to the safety of modern obstetrical care, and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.” – Excerpt from DONA International, Position Paper: The Birth Doula’s Contribution to Modern Maternity Care
Why should we support you before, during and after childbirth?
Because research says when you have labor support you may: * Reach and maintain your healthy weight with accountability * Use less interventions * Actually achieve a vaginal birth * Have a more positive birth experience * Have a shorter labor * Recover quicker * Build more confidence in mothering * Reduce your chances of experiencing postpartum depression
And of course…Because our clients say so. We believe all women are different but every single one requires personalized and quality care. We also believe efficacy (confidence) in mothering begins with the fact that all women are created and capable, by design, of doing their best to care for their babies but are best able to do so with knowledge. We believe that our role throughout the entire experience is to support you during your decision-making in childbirth and beyond. As women, the more we know, the more confident we feel about taking the next step. Taking the next step is much easier if you have someone walking alongside you, bouncing off your feedback and filtering past your symptoms. We build confidence and trust when we encourage organic interaction with our clients, maybe over a cup of tea or coffee or even maybe over a shared meal. Wherever it takes place, we want clients to feel comfortable to be themselves, safe to speak up for themselves and certain that we are supporters of their family.
Not quite a “mommy” just yet? No worries! You can (and should) get ahead of the game! Consider our nutrition coaching to guide you on your wellness journey or our family support options to help your future pregnancy thrive.
We can customize the services for the Metro Mommy (or “Mommy-to-be”) as well. Check out our “Services” page for more info!
NEW Services that Value YOU
May 7, 2018
This Mother’s Day, Metro Mommy Agency is offering some amazing #ValueYou services to complement the amazing services we already provide.
Because this mom (@icandoula) chose ‘VALUE’ as her word of the year 2018! All year long I have been challenging myself to add value to my life in various forms of self-care routines and noticed when I did so, it added value to the lives of those around me.
So now I want to pass along an incredible way for moms to get self-care and not feel guilty about it.
#ValueYOU Services are for all women:
Breastfeeding Matters Workshop – Because if it’s your goal, I can help you prepare BEFORE you have the baby. This 2-hour workshop is taught by myself or a lactation consultant and can occur before birth or after birth in the privacy of your own home. Topics covered include: how to get the baby to latch, the science of milk production, developing a breastfeeding plan and more.*
“Mother-Me” Massage– Because pregnancy can be stressful. Relax into a deep rest as you receive a masssage by a trained massage therapist. Just 30 minutes will do wonders for your physical, mental and emotional state. You can book the massage to take place before birth, during labor or after birth.*
#MetroMommy Mindset Reset – Because mothering takes mental strength and self-control. When women book a 30-minute session with a mental health therapist they will be more prepared for pregnancy, labor or motherhood. I will personally follow up and offer phone support before and after the session to ensure your complete satisfaction.
*Book by 32 weeks to ensure a visit at the hospital or within the 1st week after birth.
As always, booking a free consultation can make it easy to understand, book one today.
Esther @icandoula McCant
How To Help Black Babies See Their First Birthday
January 18, 2018
Do you know any black families?
Are you currently pregnant with or adopting a black baby?
Did you know this FACT?:
**Black babies die before their first birthday 2-3 times more than non-blacks in many parts of America. **
This is very different from the dream that Martin Luther King wrote about. But many black moms don’t know about this during their pregnancy.
It isn’t NEW news either. It’s an ongoing public health issue that’s been going on for many decades. But it takes awareness on behalf of the parents and village that it takes to raise that baby during it’s first year to avoid this problem.
Tag a person who needs to be watch/share this FB Live. If you missed the event, you can still get the information. Would you mind letting your friends and family know about the video as well? You could hep save a baby’s life by getting timely information to it’s family.
Thank you for visiting!
One Stat That Proves Vaginal Birth Is Possible
September 28, 2017
So you want a beautiful vaginal birth experience? Do you desperately want to avoid a C-section? You’re not alone
Most women (more than 80%) want to attempt a vaginal birth but over 34% of them end up with cesarean sections (c-sections) in the U.S. If you are African-American, not only are those numbers significantly higher than your white and non-white counterparts but you AND your baby are more likely to die from complications.
When I speak to women about how they gave birth, very few know the ‘how’ and ‘why’ their c-section happened while others can remember vaguely what their birth was like at all. Some women end up wanting to forget about their baby’s birth altogether. (Want to know what women REALLY think about birth, read up here.)
These moms all had good intentions to achieve a vaginal birth and somewhere along the road, namely during labor, things changed and birth was NOT memorable, let alone a positive, experience for them.
What changed for most mommies during childbirth?
Their plan (if they even had one written out at all) went out the window and landed outside somewhere between a cloud and a dream deferred.
Their expectations were dashed by healthcare providers who did not respect their wishes or advised other medical treatment that may have increased their chances for a c-section. (Choosing a provider is critical so here’s an example of what it’s like to be respected. Surely the mother’s choice played a role in the statistic below.)
They did NOT know how to avoid the c-section to begin with and spent time listening to horror birth stories and conducting late-night Google sessions to understand birth. (see some resources on this site)
It has dawned on me that in just under 3 years of business, my clients have gotten what they wanted all along.
It’d take several posts to disclose to you the details of all of the ways I supported these moms to achieve the birth they wanted so for now, I’ll share ONE stat as of September 2017 that tends to hold the most weight in my field: birth outcomes.
(Don’t forget to read on below the pic to the end…)
What did these moms have in common?
Some were African-American, married, single, transitioning, moving and afraid of birth on some level and yet:
All of them were women who did not let their fear prevail over their faith to #birthbetter! They were empowered and determined to deliver full-term babies with normal birth weight.
All of them currently serve their families and their circles of influence as a #metromommy, advocating for birth options for all women and some considering becoming birth workers themselves.
If you know how my mothering journey began, you know it included me wearing my baby out often as I went on about my business in whatever city I was in. I’d wear my ring sling at home to get domestic around the house. I’d wear it (carefully) while food prepping. I would even wear it while caring for my 2 toddler boys. All this until my ring sling DIED! It died on me when two tiny tears in the fabric became two gaping holes that could potentially injure my jumping baby boy. Since, I got my money’s worth, I gave up wearing it and instead opted for a jersey knit baby wrap – a gift by a wonderful midwife (She recommended the ring sling in the first place).
*** BY THE WAY, I HAVE A SPECIAL GIFT FOR YOU….JUST KEEP READING UNTIL THE END…***
Now, I’m not one to turn a gift away but I could NOT get a good grip on the baby wrap and could NOT wear it often. It was too long, heavy and unbearable during a typical Miami summer. I also didn’t even bother wearing a hand-me-down, baby carrier that was worn out by my third son about a year ago. So what’s a #metromommy to do without a baby carrier and 3 boys under 6 running around?
Look for a more affordable ring sling! That’s where theBaby-Doo USA woven ring sling comes in!
Owner of Baby-Doo USA, Rubi Garcia, wearing Herba woven wrap and Owner of Metro Mommy Agency, Esther McCant, wearing Ocean woven ring sling
I am loving the ring sling I purchased just 5 weeks after having my 4th baby boy. The colors are neutral enough for me to carry my baby with pride. (I get a kick out of people asking if the baby is a boy… there’s NO pink anywhere to clue them in otherwise. Haha!) This ring sling’s 100% cotton fabric is JUST the right width and length and weight! Yes, it is very breathable!
The most important reason why I am a big ring sling fan is because I have #FREEDOM to breastfeed my baby in this sling. I couldn’t do that comfortably cover up while wearing a baby blanket. I’ve even carried a #breastfeeding baby while leaving a restaurant headed to the parking lot, under an umbrella and I did NOT skip a beat!
(Baby never lost his #latch either! BOOM! )
So….you know when a baby has fit and is screaming and crying and you’re stressed out as a result? Well, you can put this sling on with one free hand in under a minute and get your upset baby settled within a few seconds. You can try gently rock your baby to sleep as he listens to your heartbeat. Then when he falls asleep, hold onto your baby and simply adjust the rings to slide the wrap off your shoulders then ease your baby out onto a safe space to sleep.
I’ve since traveled all over the city (and in several states) with these ring slings – date nights, grocery shopping, malls, college football games(the Herba colors make it look like the “unofficial” ring sling of the Miami Hurricanes. I’m UM alumnus…so I can say that! lol.) -#younameit!
As a doula, I have conducted prenatal and postpartum visits wearing my sling. New moms just love to see my baby and I together. I often encourage these moms to try breastfeeding as a result! I recently started #homeschooling my boys and teaching a class of 3-4 year olds while babywearing (baby usually sleeps in class…he’s excused because I know he’s learning! ;-))
If you’re concerned about how “dress-appropriate” it is, I went to a fundraising gala and a doula client’s wedding with my Ocean colored ring-sling. My baby and I had a blast and got lots of smiles the entire time we moved (and danced) effortlessly throughout the ballroom (People ALWAYS get a kick out of watching me babywearing! We heart the positive attention and affirmation!)
Babywearing with the Baby-Doo USA ring sling has been a tremendous lifesaver now that I have 4 boys to care for and “my hands are really full”. I don’t know where I would be without this special gift that has made mothering and nursing my babies much more enjoyable and functional.
Now… my gift to you…
Good news! You can start wearing a baby out beautifully AND affordably too!
Get a 15% OFF your woven ring sling or wrap now with my coupon code.
Just type in esther_15 in the coupon box when you order on the Baby-Doo USA website.* Your purchase will help further my work as a community doula AND help me reach a personal goal to donate my time, talent and treasure to serve my community.
*Coupon is not valid for sale items.
TALK TO ME: How do YOU keep it moving? What circumstances lead to you wearing your baby out? Comment below!
Thank you for reading my thoughts about #lifebetweenthestatuses and just know that I hope #icanmotivateyouifyouwant!
Esther (@icandoula) McCant
An attitude of Gratitude…
Special shout outs to: Janice Heller (Owner of Conscious Childbirth) and Rubi Garcia (Owner of Baby-Doo USA) for spurring me to “mother-on-the-go” by babywearing. Thanks to Martha Avila (Heartbeat of Miami) for supporting my vision as a childbirth educator & doula and allowing me to babywear while I do it! *** Don’t forget to fill out the form below for more info if you are interested in booking a free consultation to speak to me about how you can get support for a pregnancy, birth and/or family. I’d love to keep in touch!***
How I Became A Doula
March 22, 2017
They say, “Hindsight is 20/20, right?” Travel back in time with me to some thoughts from a day in April 2015:
Something EPIC has happened today. I woke up on my own will at 6:30am and started my day. I have done this before but never with the great desire to process where am in life right now. I was able to sleep quite a bit the night before. I think I fell asleep around 10 or 11pm. I feel rested but also like I have a lot on my mind. I feel like I cannot keep up with the events of my life.
Where do I start? I guess I will go back to the last few days. Yesterday, I picked up my car. I did not purchase it. It was a gracious and FREE gift to me by my brother. He just so happened to be getting two new cars and figured, hey, Esther could use this one. It is a 13 year year old car with less miles than my 10 year old car which was purchased new. I other words, this car is running very well and it can get much use out of it. The car was gifted at about 1:00pm on two Sundays prior. Let me tell what happened between that time.
I finally registered for the DONA Birth Doula certification training at a local business in Pembroke Pines. I was so excited to do it and had plans to do so for over a year now. I had to confirm 2 different sitters to be sure that I could attend and not waste my $450 training fee. With my sitters booked, I began to prepare meals and snacks and meal plan (as if I was going to stay on track with dinner after going to training for 3 days from 9am-6pm. Yeah right!) I still ended up eating out a everyday.
Anyways, I was just going by faith, believing I would attend the entire training and actually had not even worked out the details on my ride there. My husband and I had been sharing my car for almost a year. He usually gets his work schedule around 8am and has to travel in same general direction I would be headed in. In my mind, I though we could even sneak in a mini date or two. Yay! (We only got one off in time. See the love below. *wink, wink*)
A quick selfie with a great man & my date for breakfast! My husband supported me through it all!
I still managed to get there in time to sit, read and chat with the staff. Day one was amazing and went by so fast. Even though I only got 4-5 hours of sleep, I was totally into it and felt energized all day. The information was intense and very comprehensive. I found myself clearly in the right place at the right time. The second day, I arrived even earlier because I missed the detail that we would start a little later. I was greeted by the owner and she let me into the training area. Interestingly enough, she did not return to her regularly scheduled programming but sat on the couch opposite mine. And we just talked. I got to know how she brilliantly created a company that is highly respected and she got to know how my crazy trials and transitions led me to this point. (More on that in another post.) I explained to her my background in health education and state government.
As I was speaking, I could see how all the dots were being connected. I was doing health education with a local non-profit while in college so that I could appeal to my gift in public speaking and whet my appetite for health education. I was able to work full-time in state government so I could see how red tape bureaucracy can affect policy and get to whet my appetite in grant writing. I realized that many of my trials had nothing to do with me but rather the people who have and will be affected by my experience of those trials.
In a sense, I realized that my life, as self-centered as I am, is bigger than myself. It is part of a bigger picture, a grand design.
In regards to my vocations as stay-at-home-mom and doula, it is a a design that is meant to mimic the renewal God has done in His family. He has done the work and He has promised me a new life. This new life means I have new motives and dreams.
I would have never dreamed of sacrificing my sleep for the sake of a woman whom I had no familial ties to so that she could deliver a baby. Where’d that desire come from? I mean I had no sisters, just brothers, so growing up, women were more like acquaintances and friends. Even then, I couldn’t imagine wanting to see them exposed in a manner like childbirth. Same parts and all.
So what is the thrill for me? The utility of my mind and experiences to help a mommy get a great start at mothering so that she can see the beauty in how she and her family are designed. Period.
No, really, that’s about it, nothing more (well there’s always more in future blogs of course!) but certainly nothing less. It amazes how much I still didn’t know about childbirth after having my first 2 sons and in actually delivered them naturally (I guess I knew what I needed to know to have those births that way! Go Janice, my midwife and Nayeehma, my doula & childbirth educator!) It was no fault of my support team but my own. I didn’t really search for answers because I didn’t feel the need to at the time. Back then, I had all the support in the world’s financially, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. I was in a great place mentally and it showed! It was truly a miracle that every birth was an extremely positive experience. I want to pass the wisdom I’ve gained to achieve those birth along to as many mothers as possible no matter their support system or birth outcome- whether they desire a medicated birth or not.
I had to move forward and pursue this calling. I knew I could do it. I had already done it before with my cousin when she was pregnant with her first just 10 months after I had my firstborn. I didn’t even realize it but I was supporting her emotionally and informational throughout her pregnancy. So when I got the call on Thanksgiving 2011, after I had dinner of course, I didn’t hesitate to assist her during her birth. She was able to achieve a vaginal birth to a healthy baby girl with my support.
My tools at the time were simply: peaceful demeanor, gentle reminders to breathe, humor, eye contact, silent prayers, my smile and squeezable left and right hands! I can only imagine the impact I will have on births now that I have some training under my belt.
Who would have known that the care I was innately offering her would be considered real heart, life-giving work?
Oh, what a joy it’s been to begin this journey as a doula- to support moms throughout their pregnancy whenever they are ready to have me tag along! I’m so grateful to have the means to make it to any birth or prenatal visit with the provision of a new albeit used vehicle! I look forward to encouraging many more families have a healthy start into parenting. I hope you can join me for the ride!
TALK TO ME: How did YOU begin YOUR career/job/calling? What circumstances lead to you putting “your passion into action”?
Thank you for reading my random thoughts about #lifebetweenthestatuses and just know that I hope #icanmotivateyouifyouwant!
Esther (@icandoula) McCant
Special shout outs to: Janice Heller (Owner of Conscious Childbirth), Nayeehma Jones (Retired doula who does childbirth education and placenta encapsulation) and Marlo Robinson (Owner of A Mother’s Care Doula Services) on being wonderful birth professionals and an integral part of my story.
Meet Esther McCant
February 8, 2017
PHOTO CREDIT: @THEREALPAULMORRIS
My name is Esther McCant and I am from Miami, Florida. My family immigrated from Port-au-Prince, Haiti over 30 years ago. I consider myself to be Haitian-American although my husband and Florida native, Donnell, would beg to differ. I speak fluent Haitian-Creole and understand some French. We have four rambunctious, naturally-birth boys, ages 5, 3 and 2 and a newborn born June 2016. I USED to say that “… at this point in mothering, I am more interested in helping mothers have babies than to have more of our own (especially since the odds of having a girl next are CLEARLY bn against me so far!).” But now I know, I am called to do it, pregnant or not! Some of my hobbies include spending quality time with my family, my friends at church, cooking, pinning recipes on Pinterest, reading (mostly online), karaoke, spoken word, and working out when I have a chance (my main workout consists of running after my 3 boys and breastfeeding my newborn below!).
EDUCATION & PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND
I graduated with a BS degree in Biology on a Pre-Med track from the University of Miami. During college, I assisted high school students by developing and coordinating a summer science educational program. Before graduation, I obtained an internship with Miami-Dade Area Health Education Center serving as a breast cancer and dental health educator. I got off the Pre-Med track after I began falling in love with my husband so after graduation, I commenced pursuing an MPH in Health Promotion & Disease Prevention only to pause and start a family instead. I worked full-time for 3 years with the Department of Children & Families as an Administrative Assistant to the Program Manager and briefly as a Family Services Counselor for the Child Care Licensing Office. I gained on-the-job knowledge on what it takes for children to thrive in a safe, healthy and clean child care setting and at home with their parents. I have experience in creating and presenting educational materials and information for various audiences. I aided in procuring grant funding that has helped at least 200 child care centers in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties improve their menus to include more nutritious items and reduce childhood obesity. I currently serve on a local community committee that address health issues for children. I am constantly participating in continuing education, training, webinars, researching and learning about childbirth, health issues and nutrition. I have read multiple books on childbirth, breastfeeding and have been trained to be a DONA certified birth doula. I plan on continuing my education in these areas as time allows. Mostly recently, I completed a birth assistant training in order to assist births in my community and get closer to my goal of becoming midwife.
WHY I WANT TO BE A DOULA
I decided to pursue becoming a doula because my midwife for my third natural birth recommended it as a way to fulfill my need to share my passion for childbirth with women who are in need of assistance. It made total sense to me at the time because I could not refrain from talking about the wealth of knowledge that she shared with me. After two children, I thought I knew enough but clearly l did not. She presented information that I had never heard in such a concise manner. It was truly revolutionary! I truly understood the sayings, “Knowledge is power” and “And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.” I am passionate about sharing my services with the populations that are deficient in childbirth education. I found that becoming a doula would also fulfill my desire to teach and encourage other women as they embark on this journey of motherhood- whether they are a first-timer or not! Because I am a mother, I simply love supporting mothers so that they can have the best birth experience ever.
CERTIFICATION & LICENSING IN CHILD CARE
I am in pursuit of continuing education in the area of Childbirth Education, Lactation Consultant & CPR. I am proficient in assisting child care providers and parents find quality child care in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. I have over 6 years of experience supporting my own children’s lives in a healthy and safe manner. (I’ll post about how they are thriving in a later post. Stay tuned or contact us to be in the loop for that release.)
My philosophy is not only are women capable of delivering babies but they are best able to do so with enough knowledge as labor progresses on its own. I am a firm believer that with the proper knowledge base, you can build whatever picture of birth you’d like- God-willing of course. I also believe that God is in complete control over the entire experience and I am only called to encourage and inform you about what you can do to have the birth experience you desire. If there is any alteration of the picture of birth desired by a client and interventions are necessary, it should be due to circumstances completely beyond her control. As women, the more we know, the more confident we feel about taking the next step into motherhood. Taking the next step is much easier if you have someone walking alongside you, bouncing off your feedback and filtering past your symptoms and fears. I believe that those interactions happen best organically, maybe over a cup of tea, coffee or even a meal. Wherever my client decides to give birth, whether in the hospital or out-of-hospital birth settings, I want my clients to feel comfortable to be themselves, safe to speak up for themselves and certain that I am the doula for them, an advocate for the baby’s well-being and helper for the family they are building.
As a doula, I serve women in labor to help ensure a safe, satisfying and positive birth experience. I draw on my knowledge of birth, as a physiological (natural) process and personal experiences to provide emotional support, physical comfort and, as needed, communication with the staff to make sure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions during labor. I can provide the comfort and perspective to you and your partner, make suggestions for labor progress, and help with relaxation, massage, positioning and other techniques for comfort. I am an independent doula. As your doula, I am working for you, not your caregiver or the hospital. I believe that you are in charge of the experience of your own birth and that I am the supporter throughout your decision-making. I am there to serve you to help you have the type of birth you have envisioned for yourself. I am also there to help your partner transition your family thru a very tender time. I believe partners also have a “birth” of sorts when they watch or participate in the birth of their child/ren. I love to empower partners to be the best fathers to their children by encouraging them to use their voice throughout the entire process.
DIFFICULTIES AS A BIRTH DOULA
I think the most difficult part of being a birth doula is the physical strain that it may potentially take on me (i.e. long, arduous hours in labor physically supporting the couple. Longest birth to date: 29 hrs!) as well as the mental work it will take to provide accurate information with references in a timely fashion. I plan to exercise and fuel my body and mind even more to be prepared to tackle this at every birth.
DOULA SUPPORT OFFERED
Pregnancy Support: * Determine your priorities for childbirth and expectations of me and my expectations of you. Initiate or continue conversations between mother and partner about birth. * Role play for labor and delivery, discuss your birth plan, complete childbirth education (breastfeeding, nutrition, etc.) * Risks and benefits of interventions applicable to your place of birth, and supplies necessary for birth. * Assistance finalizing arrangements, addressing any potential postpartum concerns and newborn care.
Labor Support: Jobs I will be performing at each birth besides supporting the laboring mother (comfort measures, breathing, hydration, suggesting positions, etc.) will include but not be limited to: making meals, preparing/retrieving ice chips, running bath water for mother, fielding phone calls, preparing/retrieving towels, massaging father’s shoulders, assisting father, photographing/videotaping, keeping visitors to a minimum (and only those authorized by the couple to enter), informing the family of progress of birth process.
Postpartum Support: * Remain with you for one or two hours after birth, until you are comfortable and your family is ready for quiet time together. * Help with initial breastfeeding, offer any pain relief massages, run errands, cook meals, and light cleaning, if necessary. * Available for phone and email contact to answer questions about the birth or your baby * Follow-up with you within one to two weeks to see how you are doing, to review and process the birth, to admire your baby, and to get feedback from you about my role.
IF I COULD…
If I could do anything in the world, I would still choose to be a doula. I find fulfillment and joy in helping families get off on the right foot whether it is conception, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting or meeting wellness goals. I have learned that a woman having a positive birth experience is so critical to the establishment of her family, her role as a mother and relationships with family, friends, affiliations, community and society at large. Mothers matter and therefore, mothering mothers matters, too. Why would I ever want to work a job that did not support that premise? Mommies are ALWAYS worth it!
If I could offer one piece of advice it would be to never live by any expectations other than the ones outlined by the One who matters most. If you apply that even to childbirth, you would do the following: * Learn what you need to know to gain wisdom to make the best choices before, during and after childbirth from reliable resources available and God’s Word. * Birth in full confidence that the Creator, who made you, knew the outcome of your birth. * Decide and embrace the fact that you cannot force your birth experience to be exactly like anyone else’s experience.
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT USIF ANYTHING WRITTEN ABOVE RESONATED WITH YOU OR IF YOU, A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER ARE LOOKING FOR A DOULA, CHILDBIRTH EDUCATION, NUTRITION COACHING, OR FAMILY SUPPORT.
MY AVAILABILITY: PLEASE INQUIRE & CONTACT US FOR AVAILABILITY. FOR CHILDBIRTH EDUCATION, NUTRITION COACHING, AND POSTPARTUM DOULA CARE.
*PLEASE NOTE: I AM NOW ACCEPTING BIRTHS FOR BABIES DUE BETWEEN MARCH 2017 AND BEYOND.
Why I understand your frustration, mommy…
August 8, 2016
After experiencing my 3rd move while pregnant with my 3rd son to Alabama (Yes, I actually moved 3 times in ONE YEAR- twice while pregnant, once 2 months postpartum due to my husband’s job changes.), I found that acquiring the resources necessary to make a sound decision for birth was very difficult when you are new to a state like AL. I only had out-of-hospital births in Florida where I lived previously. It also didn’t make it any easier because we LITERALLY lived in an AL hotel for a month or so before moving into our apartment in late December 2013. I had to improvise and implement a clean-eating lifestyle while we made ends meet. I couldn’t afford to NOT eat healthier because I wouldn’t be able to receive any type of healthcare until I was approved for Medicaid. Meanwhile, the wait to hear back from Medicaid was estimated to take about 45 days or 6 weeks. I found out that if I was granted Medicaid, it could only cover a hospital birth so if I opted out of a hospital birth, I would have to come up with the funds out-of-pocket.
Ready to start comparing costs, I was unable to determine the costs of birth in a hospital because no one at the local hospitals could tell me the estimated cost. When I requested a guarantee that I would be able to labor as I please, no promises were made. My husband’s insurance would not cover midwifery costs or an out-of-hospital birth. It didn’t matter after all because we couldn’t even enroll in any plans because the premiums nearly tripled once Obamacare kicked in 2014. Needless to say, all of this was necessary for me to highlight the gaps in the American healthcare system that someone like myself can fill during a temporary transitional period. You just can’t afford healthcare when you are strapped for cash paying for rent in an effort to avoid breaking a lease while paying for hotel stay for an entire month because your partner’s job is subject to random changes in scheduling.
Hoping to find someone who understood the type of natural, low-intervention birth that I was accustomed to, I contacted some local doulas who could only tell me so much. One doula had little to no experience with births. Another doula could not recommend a doctor that was natural birth friendly. Too many doula support groups were tailored to a hospital birth. Some doulas were assigned by the doctor or hospital. I wanted to have choices but found that there were none. So I was stuck… a very unfamiliar place for me when it came to birth choices.
I had to “take matters into my own hands”, did my research and initiated self-care by purchasing the diagnostic tools necessary (my own urinalysis strips, a fetoscope, glucose monitor and blood pressure monitor) while I waited to hear from Medicaid and decided on an out-of-state midwife. I chose a Tennessee midwife with 20 years+ of experience, a wealth of knowledge and professional support in her practice that included a local AL midwife for some of my prenatal visits (my AL midwife has and continues to fight for legislation to change AL birth laws!). All I could do was just pray and hope that labor could wait until I arrived safely to my midwife’s home, my birth place.
I experienced pre-labor cramping that had me questioning what I felt and remembered from my previous 2 births. I thought I was in labor…but I wasn’t progressing. (Later as a doula, I would learn that it was termed “prodromal labor”). But back home to AL we went after 3 nights of walking down the baby, homeopathic interventions, and getting to know my midwife a whole lot better. (We met at 28 weeks so we had a lot of catching up to do!) Words cannot describe to level of care and support I received. At first I thought, “What kind of midwife hands over a book about her services to her clients and tells them to read it?” (no really it was a book, at least 40 pages long or so and she was serious about everything being in that book!). The kind of woman who provides the most extensive natural childbirth website (I think) as a resource does such a thing. I am forever grateful for it! I experienced the water birth of my dreams in my TN midwife’s home specifically set-up for home births. (More on that birth story coming soon!)
She’s the kind of midwife who asked the right question to ignite my desire to pursue this career as a doula. She could easily note at 5 weeks postpartum my need to be a fulfilled mommy. (I spent the first 5 weeks nursing all day and night but found room to get out to the playground for my kids sake. I absolutely loved talking to the moms there and couldn’t stop sharing knowledge and birth stories with them!) My TN midwife already thought that I was doing a “good job” but she knew what I knew – that if a “GREAT job” would continue to be done, I’d have to have all of my faculties and interests being fulfilled as well. That meant I must fulfill my desire to encourage and educate other women on childbirth.
It was a sheer miracle to have a positive birth outcome my 3rd time considering I was an uninsured, Haitian woman. Yet I did not become a statistics and received amazing support even though it was very late in my pregnancy (2 midwives for prenatal care, one very observant and relaxed midwife, a doulaing midwife assistant and my husband supported my pregnancy and waterbirth). When I think about the obstacles I overcame, I have to agree with her. I want other mommies to do great things with their mothering and feel great about doing it. Hence, why I began my quest to become a doula!
Let me know: What is/was the toughest part about being pregnant? How did you overcome your circumstances?
Thank you for reading my random thoughts about #lifebetweenthestatuses and just know that I hope is that #icanmotivateyouifyouwant!
One mommy finally had enough! Too much misinformation and too many hard times led her to do the opposite of what was expected of her- reach out for help and admit that it is too hard to do this “Mommy” thing alone.
So as she began her search for help, she found it even harder still to get exactly the help she needed.
She asked, “Why can’t I birth my baby the way I choose?”, ” Where are all of the natural birth friendly hospitals?”, ” Who is going to support me during birth so I can avoid unnecessary procedures?”, and “Who is going to cook for me postpartum so I can recover quickly?”
Burdened by these questions, anxious and stressed about the birth of her 3rd baby boy, she sought out the answers and found them! Several books, sites and conversations later, she found out that women need more help than what’s available for them.
It’s enough! Too many women are left with the burden of navigating thru the Healthcare system and still end up with adverse birth outcomes. That is what led to our mission and vision!