Long Beach Doulas

Save the Date :: Doulas of OC Grand Opening!

It is our extreme pleasure to announce that we'll be having our Grand Opening event on January 20th from 1-6pm. This "Open House" style event will be fun for the whole family! We invite you to join us for food, drinks, hourly giveaways, and a raffle in our new and improved space in Irvine, CA. 

Friends, family, clients, community members, care providers, and fellow birth workers are all welcome! The first 75 people in the door will be gifted a curated swag bag full of items to support pregnancy, birth & postpartum. Each attendee will be automatically entered into our hourly giveaway and given additional chances to win prizes and gifts during our event-long raffle. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase at and prior to the event and 50% of the proceeds from our raffle with go to benefit Postpartum Support International. PSI provides resources for those struggling with postpartum mood disorders, as well as comprehensive training for therapists and practitioners to better treat new parents. We are honored to partner with PSI to shed light on the importance of mental health and access to resources during the postpartum period. 

As we prepare for this special event, we are seeking sponsors, food vendors and giveaway partners. With varying levels of involvement, we invite you to join us in sharing your business or your service with our community.

Not sure what you could contribute? Here are just a few ideas!

  • Gift certificate for your service (Massage, Photography Session)
  • Tickets to your venue (Symphony, Playhouse, Movie Theater)
  • Gift card for an amount of your choosing (Restaurant, Retail Store, Service)
  • Pregnancy or postpartum products (Skin Care, Breast/Bottle Feeding Support)
  • Baby products (Swaddle/Blankets, Skin Care, Toys)
  • Healthy & delicious treats 

Whatever your unique product or service, we welcome your collaboration! More information and a sponsor application is available on our website. Please contact us directly at hi@doulasofoc.com with any questions. 

We eagerly count down the days to share this joyous occasion with all of you!

In the Spotlight: Ashley Mullen, Doula

We have a special place in our hearts for this month's spotlight feature... not only because she's an indispensable member of our team, but because prior to becoming a doula, she was first, a DOC client. Orange County, we're delighted to introduce you to Ashley Mullen!

I (Lauren) first met Ashley in high school. She was a new freshman member of the sorority I was president of (yes, high school sororities are a thing in Long Beach... don't ask me why!) so we got to spend a decent amount of time in each other's company. Fast forward many years when I went to a consult with Ashley (not knowing it was her) where we became reacquainted and where I was hired as her doula. 

Let me tell you something about this woman: She is one of the strongest people I know. Not only did she handle her birth like a freaking rockstar, she managed the many challenges of the 4th trimester with grace and humor. She'll tell you herself, she got everything thrown at her once her baby arrived and it was not an easy journey. But she found her way through the darkness and in doing so became inspired to become a doula and help other new moms through similar challenges. 

Ashley is an incredible teacher, not only in her Babywearing 101 class but at in-home postpartum visits as well. She's well-versed in baby gear, has extensive knowledge of breastfeeding and babywearing and has such compassion and empathy for new parents. Her organization and insight will help you prepare your home, your nursery, and yourself for the days, weeks & months after birth. Believe me when I say that you want her on your postpartum team

We are super excited to share her light and passion for postpartum work with you in this months "In The Spotlight!"

Decision Making & Using Your BRAIN

You've taken the classes, you've read the books and you have created a birth plan complete with your personal preferences for your baby's birth. But as we all know, things don't always go as planned. And while we are big proponents of doing your research to establish some expectations, we also recognize that birth can be unpredictable. 

Because of this unpredictability, we believe in the importance of being aware of your options as well as your right to informed consent and refusal.

What is informed consent and refusal you ask?

Breastfeeding Ain't Easy

We hear a lot about how wonderful and magical and beautiful breastfeeding is. We hear about the benefits to mom and baby, the cost effectiveness, and the incredible bond it can form. 

What we don't often hear about or talk about is how challenging it can really be. We don't hear about the sleepless nights, the cracked nipples, being attached to your kid 24/7 through a growth spurt. 

We believe and amplify the glamour, but shy away from the messy.

Well, I'm here to tell you that if breastfeeding was or is a challenge for you, you are not alone!

Doulas of Orange County recently posted the following picture on our Instagram feed and the response was surprising to say the least. 

Honor Your Limits

Being a Doula is hard. Like, REALLY hard.

It’s stunning and beautiful and profound and core-shaking and magical and fascinating. 

It's also gut-wrenching.

When a client hires you, they are hiring you to support them through some of the most intense moments of their lives. They are relying on you to be there in the thick of things... not only when things unfold as they envision, but also when things begin to fall off the rails.

When they hire you, they know that they can call you at 2am when their gassy baby is screaming her head off and nothing is working to soothe her.

When they hire you, they know you will answer an urgent text in the middle of family dinner.

They are depending on you to be the calm amongst the storm.

But what happens when you can’t be the calm in their storm?

What happens when your own life is an emotional roller-coaster? When you’re tapped out and literally have nothing else to give? When you’re so emotionally empty that the thought of attending a birth or going to one more postpartum visit leaves a pit in your stomach or brings you to tears?

TELL ME YOU HAVEN’T BEEN THERE. 
TELL ME I’M NOT ALONE.

 

There’s a reason the typical burn-out rate for Doulas is 2 years, people. 

And it’s not because we take on too many clients or because we don’t have enough help from our spouses or because we don’t take good care of ourselves (although those factors may definitely be true for some!).

It’s because being a Doula is really freaking hard. It’s also because typically in “Doula School” we aren’t taught our worth. We aren’t taught that self-care is important. We aren’t taught that our gifts have value. And we definitely aren’t taught that it’s ok to say no.

The expectations put upon Doulas is BANANAS. 

Advocate. Therapist. Midwife. Massage Therapist. Lactation Consultant. Sleep Trainer. Super Woman. All rolled into one.

This is what some Doulas claim to be. This is what is projected onto others even if the claims aren’t made by the Doulas themselves. This is what a society that doesn’t really know WHAT a Doula does, thinks we do.

I’M SORRY, BUT FUCK THAT.

 

While I may be a fantastic Doula, I am also a human.

As much as I would like to, I cannot promise a particular birth outcome. I cannot cure your Postpartum Depression. I cannot make your baby’s colic go away.

As a Birth & Postpartum Doula, I commit to support you through these life-changing experiences and I do it to the best of my ability. However, I cannot save anyone from anything. Not even myself.

I have my limits. And so do you. It’s different for each person, but that limit does exist.

SO, WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU REACH YOUR LIMIT?

 

Me? I have to force myself to take a huge step back and look at what I’m costing myself AND what I’m costing my clients by trying to push beyond my limits. It is selfish of me to think that my lack of emotional wellness won’t affect my client’s birth or postpartum experiences. It is unrealistic to think that giving anything less than my best to a client will result in them being satisfied with my services and my support. 

Quite honestly, sometimes I have to put myself first. And that is absolutely ok.

Yesterday, I made the decision to transfer a client’s care to another Doula within our agency.

I did it because I know myself well enough to know that I would not be the calm amongst her storm. That I was unable to be emotionally present for her in my current emotional state. It was not done lightly. And while I did it for my own health, I also did it for my client. Because she deserves the best support she can get. She deserves someone who has their shit together.

I currently do not. And I’m woman enough to admit it. 

Thankfully, I work for an agency that supported me in this decision and encouraged me to take care of myself. I take comfort in the fact that my client will have a tremendous Doula who is better equipped to support her in the ways that she needs. I trust that her birth will be all the more amazing because of this transfer of care.

Admitting that you are not enough is a shitty feeling. But it is not a failure. Asking for help is not a weakness. Taking time to focus on you is not wrong.It took me a long time to learn this. But I’m thankful for the lesson and for the awareness in the here and now.

SO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF? 

How is your day-to-day life reflecting the value you place upon your own self and well-being?

In case no one has told you yet, self-care is imperative. And it often goes overlooked in the life of a Doula. It’s unfortunate but true. 

But hear this... KNOW this: YOU. ARE. WORTH. IT. You cannot live a well-balanced life without it. Your work will not be sustainable if you don’t do it. And regularly.

Please, please, please don’t be like me. Don’t put yourself last and ignore your self-care needs. Pour back into yourself so that you have something left in reserve to give to your clients. Honor your limits. Know when to say “Uncle”. And for goodness sakes, don’t apologize for it!