2018: The Year of Change

If you had asked us one year ago what things would look like for Doulas of Orange County at the end of 2018, our vision would have been very different than our current reality. And while our vision came to fruition in many ways, something interesting happened towards the end of this year that changed the course of our business and in such an unexpected way!

At the end of 2017 we were deep in preparations for our Grand Re-Opening in Irvine. We were expanding our class calendar, adding new members to our team and were focused on big plans for the year. As always, we’ve have had big goals, lots of ideas, and great passion moving us forward.

2018 was a stellar year in so many ways!

It was full of the births of new babies, packed with endless overnight visits with growing families, and loads more sleep for parents and babies. Our team grew both in Orange County and Long Beach and we hosted some amazing events and classes. Some of our favorite events included our Open House in January, our New Mama Cafe Valentine’s party, the Spinning Babies Workshop in July, our monthly Confident Birth classes, and our Birth Professional networking events. This year, we had the joy to support over 300 families and were able to expand our network of birth professionals, parenting coaches, and prenatal care providers. The vibe in Orange County was amazing in 2018 as the doula profession as a whole became more mainstream and more people began to recognize the value of birth & postpartum support.

Our end of 2017 vision included growth and expansion… but maybe we should have been a little more specific when casting that vision! In August of this year, we began talking more seriously about the expansion of our business. We have two locations (one in OC and another in Long Beach) and were presented with opportunities to open more - one in the Pacific Northwest and another in Michigan. Countless hours were spent talking about the practicality of running businesses from afar and after a lot of research and even more soul searching, we made the decision to take a leap of faith and go for it. With that leap came about a lot of change in a very short period of time, the biggest one being the closure of our office in Irvine.

Ever since the founding of our agency, education & community has been a huge passion of ours. Even when things were slow, we stayed committed to keeping our office open for gatherings and classes. But leasing an office that size comes with a huge amount of overhead and a lot of behind-the-scenes work. It was a bittersweet decision, but practically, we knew that by letting go of our office we were freeing up more time, money, and resources to pour back into our community, our clients, and our team.

Anyone that runs a retail shop or education center will tell you how much work it is. We found that to be overwhelmingly true (and something that we were honestly, unprepared for). So much of our time and energy was spent on organizing the class calendar, marketing classes, and finding new classes to add, that we began to lose sight of what really mattered to us: relationships. Relationships with our clients, our doulas, and the people in our community. In the end, that was the biggest catalyst in making this decision. We wanted more time for connection and closing our office was the answer.

As creatures of habit, we don’t really like unexpected change all that much, but we were called to receive it and called to trust that the changes were positive ones - ones that were best for the future of our business and in turn best for our patrons and ourselves.

Doula work is hard. It requires a lot of dedication, strange hours, constant communication, continual personal & professional growth, and lots of flexibility. The burnout rate for doulas is 2-3 years and as an agency our mission is to improve that statistic. We want the presence of this agency to last a very long time. We are passionate about improving birth outcomes, reducing postpartum depletion, and creating sustainability for doulas. And we want to do all of this in Orange County and anywhere else we have the opportunity to do so.

This change is giving us the space to make our way back to our mission.

As we close out 2018 we are tremendously grateful for the lessons we learned this year. Some of them were really tough to swallow, while others were easy. It has been a year of immense growth and change not only in our business but in our personal lives as well. We are so thankful for each and every one of you that we have had the joy to know and work with. We cannot do this work without the support of our clients, our families, our team of incredible doulas, and our community. We recognize that this is a group effort and give so much thanks to you for the support and love. We are excited to see what this recent leap of faith brings in the new year. But most of all we are eager to get back to what truly matters: connection. That is our focus this year!

We wish you a very happy new year and pray that 2019 is full of abundance, blessings, growth, and positive change. Cheers to 2019!

The Pantry: Postpartum Pasta Salad

I really love cooking for postpartum clients - generally I make light and meals. This way I’m not spending the entire postpartum visit in the kitchen and can still help with breastfeeding, newborn care, and anything else the new parents need. Postpartum nutrition is incredibly important, especially for the first several months. Your body goes through a huge transition after giving birth and nourishing it with healthy, nutritious, and soul-filling foods goes a long way in supporting your postpartum recovery.

Talk to your postpartum doula about your nutritional needs, any allergies/sensitivities and cravings. Ask for her favorite crockpot recipes or snack ideas, I guarantee she’ll have tons to share!

Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite postpartum meals: Postpartum Pasta Salad.

What Does a Postpartum Doula Do? - Part Three

Today we’ll share our final thoughts on the role of our Postpartum Doula. This is Part 3 of a three-part series on the ABCs of Postpartum Doulas. If you haven’t read through the whole previous parts you can check them out here: Part 1 and Part 2

What Does a Postpartum Doula Do? - Part Two

Last week we shared Part 1 of our three-part series on the role of a Postpartum Doula. And today we are continuing on with the ABCs of a Postpartum Doula with Part 2!

J- Judgment Free Zone - There are so many different ways to parent and the needs of every family vary. Your doula will never question your choices and will always offer her support and expertise without judgment. We believe having a judgment-free doula is imperative. Read more about why here.

K- Kangaroo Care - Bonding is crucial for your baby and for you. Your doula is there to facilitate and encouraging different avenues of bonding. From skin-to-skin, to baby wearing, to bath time - there are lots of ways to enjoy your time with your baby. Bonus - it helps balance your mood and babies too!

L- Listening - To be frank, there are some postpartum visits where we just sit on the couch with some tea and listen. Pregnancy, birth, & postpartum are transformative moments in a person’s life and there is a lot of change in a very short period of time. Sometimes you’ll just need to talk things out and you will have a compassionate listener there to do so.

M- Mental Health - Postpartum Depression is taboo. It’s a scary thing for people to think about. It’s also only one piece of the wide spectrum of postpartum mood disorders. Not only does your doula know what signs to look for she can bring them to your attention and get you connected to resources and treatment. Postpartum mood disorders do not discriminate. No one is immune. And support is crucial. There is no shame in getting help and your doula will be there for you throughout the process. Additionally, some studies show that having postpartum help can reduce the risk of postpartum mood disorders.

N- Normalizing - Babies do random things. They make weird noises and breathe differently than we do, especially the first few days of life. If you’re new to this baby thing seeing some of these random things may cause panic or fear. But your doula has seen it all and will be there to remind you that it’s normal and nothing to be concerned about. If she cannot reassure you that it’s normal she will encourage you to reach out to your pediatrician.

O- Organization - Diapers, creams, wipes, onesies, socks, swaddles, clothes from 0 months to 3 years… so many baby things all in one small nursery! As an expert in baby care and pros at finding nursery solutions she can help organize things so they make sense and are quick to find in the dark at 2am. During her regular visits she’ll make sure that all of your supplies are stocked and alert you if anything needs to be purchased. She can even do a Target run for you!

P- Privacy - Our doulas do not and will not share personal information about any of our clients. Ever. Read more about our Privacy Pledge here.

Q- Quiet - Babies cry. Sometimes more than you might expect. Crying is a babies way of communicating but deciphering WHAT your baby is trying to communicate can be tricky at first. During your postpartum visits your doula can offer you some respite from the crying. She can take over care of your baby and send you to your bedroom with earplugs so you can sleep without interruption knowing full well that your baby is being beautifully cared for.

R- Reality - She won’t sugar coat stuff for you (unless that’s what you really need). She’ll tell you the truth about the realities of parenting and help you finds solutions for things that are challenging. And she’ll do it with grace and humor. Your doula will keep it real because we believe that you deserve to know the truth about parenting so you’re not blindsided by the unknown.

We’ll finish our series with Part 3 next week - stay tuned!

Scientific Reasons to Sling Your Baby {Guest Post}

It’s no secret that we are all huge fans of babywearing here at Doulas of OC. There’s nothing sweeter than having an adorable baby snuggled into your chest and babywearing makes that possible and easy for parents to achieve day in and day out! Today we are joined by Neve Spicer at We The Parents, a parenting & lifestyle blog. Neve shares our love for babywearing and is providing more information on the scientific side behind this ancient parenting practice.