I was very interested to speak with Kirsten in Brooklyn about how birth preparation and support could fit in with the Nurse Family Partnership model. She confirmed that birth support is not part of the model, although she acknowledged that often clients asked NFP nurses to fulfil this role, and often nurses (particularly those who are also midwives) felt drawn to this work.
Kirsten spoke about how hard it would be to combine the work of a NFP nurse with being on-call for births, in terms of providing good service to all clients, and also spoke about the importance of maintaining boundaries and a clear perspective of the work to be done by the NFP nurse.
She told me about a client who had asked her to be her support person in labour, as she was completely isolated, and felt she had no-one else to ask. The nurse found it hard to resist this call, however, she worked with the client to find other sources of support. She told me that by the time the baby was one year old, the young women had a wide circle of friends and supporters, who helped to celebrate the baby’s first birthday. This may not have happened in quite the same way, if the nurse had taken the role of her “only” supporter.
Kirsten told me about the free Doula service in New York, which she referred many of her clients to. She also told me about BEBO, a volunteer group, matching mother mentors with clients seeking more support (see below for more information on both programs).
FIND A DOULA
The Doula Project works across the spectrum of choice to provide free doula care on a case-by-case basis to people who cannot otherwise afford it. While we would love to serve all of the pregnant people in our community, due to our limited capacity we do ask that you meet these few requirements before filling out the application below:
- Live in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, or Southern Westchester.
- Make less than $30,000 a year, including combined partner income.
- Commit to having your doula attend the majority of your labor and birth. Most NYC hospitals have a limit of 2 people in the room during labor so if you believe you will exceed this limit with a doula, we may not be the best match for you.
- Commit to calling your doula when you go into labor.
BEBO’s Mission: To empower women and families to play an active role in the birth of their children by providing affordable and comprehensive pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding education and support.
BEBO serves the Westchester, NY area, providing childbirth preparation classes, labor and postpartum doula support, breastfeeding support in English and Spanish. All fees are set on a sliding scale based on income – affordable for everyone!
Childbirth preparation classes cover pregnancy nutrition, choices in pregnancy and childbirth, anatomy and physiology of pregnancy/labor/birth/postpartum, labor support and pain relief options, interventions and complications, postpartum preparation, breastfeeding basics and newborn care.
Labor support doulas are trained to help mothers during all phases of labor and delivery with non-medical support, both physical and emotional. Women with doula support show a reduction in the duration of labor, less use of pain relief medications, lower rates of operative vaginal delivery, and a reduction in C-sections.
Postpartum support: Postpartum doulas do whatever a mother needs to best enjoy and care for her new baby. They share information about baby care with parents, as well as teach siblings and partners to “mother the mother.” Postpartum doulas also make sure the mother is fed, well hydrated and comfortable. Board certified lactation consultants work together with mothers to prevent and solve breastfeeding problems
All services are provided by trained professionals, including certified childbirth educators, DONA trained doulas, and board certified lactation consultants (IBCLC).
BEBO’s Village of Mothers!
The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small. – Mother Teresa
BEBO’s Village of Mothers is a free service to families with newborns, through which trained volunteers are matched with families needing help.
Volunteers are matched with a family for 3 months and are asked to:
|●||Schedule 32 hours of service with moms over a 3 month period,|
|●||Provide their own transportation,|
|●||Attend volunteer meetings and read email notices,|
|●||Have the ability to listen, be non-judgmental, not have a personal agenda (as in “babies should be raised THIS way!”) and have the ability to “hold space” for a mother,|
|●||Participate in a 4 hour orientation prior to being assigned to a family,|
|●||Stay in contact through email and phone calls with the program director.|
Some volunteers only want “baby contact”; others enjoy helping with whatever the family needs – accompanying a mother to a doctor’s visit, caring for the infant and/or siblings while the mom gets respite, folding laundry or preparing a meal. (Village of Mothers is not a babysitting or maid service and this is made clear to the families.)