WORLD DOULA WEEK Contract Discounts

Happy World Doula Week!

In celebration of this profession, I’m offering a discount of $10 off any contract writing service booked between today (Friday March 22nd) and March 29th. Just mention the code WORLDDOULA in our initial contact so I can adjust costs of whichever service (or combination of services) you’re interested in.

world doula week

More about my sleep training philosophy

I am really not on board with formal sleep training before 4 months at MINIMUM, but more likely 6 months. And even then, I only advocate for “cry it out” methods when there is some clear lack of thriving in one or more of the family members and only when other options have been exhausted.

ahhh the sleepy baby and his lovie

ahhh the sleepy baby and his lovie

What I'm offering is sleep education that actually has a strong focus on helping families put off sleep "training," understanding that it's not biologically appropriate and then explaining why, while still leaving them with some resources to hopefully get more rest. My sessions / classes focus on going over the basics of infant sleep patterns + cues and how feeding / digestion / overstimulation can affect these things. It's trying to cut out the stress around sleep by giving healthy and realistic expectations and some tricks for gentle sleep routines (that are often more for parents in the first months than a baby that can't be trained to notice anyhow). 

My hope is by helping families access high quality resources (versus opinion based books and blogs), have someone they can touch base with easily, and someone in home working with them one-on-one to help them understand their baby's unique patterns and needs, they can have a less stressful approach to sleep issues and can maybe avoid sleep training entirely. 

Honestly, I've talked every person who's contacted me about sleep training before 6 months out of it, so that feels good. Most families are starting some sort of drive toward scheduled sleep starting too early and it's a huge reason why I've started to do this education more since I was getting so many parents emailing me in pregnancy or with 2-3 week olds asking to be sleep trained.

Too many parents are getting bad intel about how you either need to get on the ball with scheduled and formal sleep training at such and such an age or else your baby will be developmentally stunted, not independent, a crappy sleeper, and stuck in your bed full of bad habits till their in middle school. There is not such a binary in the process of choosing what adjustments you want to make in getting babe sleeping longer and more independently. I want to be able to help guide parents through their options (not make decisions for them or tell them they’ve failed) so they feel intuitively connected to the needs and development of their children and confident that they’re making the most appropriate decisions for their own families.

If you are interested in getting some more education and support around infant sleep issues, there are a number of ways to access my care : Hourly consults, daytime observation and support packages, overnight observation and support packages, bringing me to a new parent group, or taking one of my longer courses. Check out my Infant Sleep Support page to learn more about each option.

…AND! I teach doulas about infant sleep basics, too! If you are part of a doula group or training organization and want to chat about these exciting and informative classes aimed at giving postpartum doulas more resources for supporting families through this minefield of misinformation, judgement, and anxiety please contact me.

cute picture. terrible swaddle. i have thoughts here.

cute picture. terrible swaddle. i have thoughts here.

Why Doulas Should Work with Contracts

I had the great privilege of being interviewed by Esther Gallagher for The Fourth Trimester Podcast on why it’s important to have a doula contract — both for the doula and for the client.

Framing this as an opportunity to use the contract to open dialogue, instead of it just being a boring or intimidating part of our profession, I brought up issues around setting expectations, strengthening our community and individual practices, and other fundamental components of our demanding practices.

These are some of the key issues I address in my contract writing workshops and individual contract edits for doulas, midwives, and nannies. I also cover things like :

  • Termination vs Cancellation

  • Deposits and fees

  • Scope of Practice and Practice Restrictions

  • Doula - to - Doula Paperwork and Partnership

My next workshop will be on January 17th from 4:30-7pm in Oakland. Sign up before Jan. 5th for an early bird discount! You can register on my Contact Page or contact me directly for more information. All types of in-home, independently contracted care providers are welcome to join us.


I highly encourage parents and providers to take a listen to this episode, as well as the other incredible interviews Esther and Sarah have conducted over the past year. Please consider subscribing to The Fourth Trimester Podcast on Patreon so they can keep this resource going!

You are not allowed to not allow me

When talking to families in interviews or prenatal visits or in my childbirth education classes, I can’t stress enough how important it is to choose your care provider wisely. This amazing article on Pathways for Family Wellness (a site well worth checking out) does a great deal to emphasize some of the red flags you should be aware of when meeting with potential doctors and midwives and how to empower yourself with appropriate questions to weed out those that might not be a good fit. 

I know in my prenatal sessions and classes, couples tend to get anxious waiting for me to FINALLY get around to the things they thought they were coming in for–What does labor look like? How do I know when to go to the hospital? What are the tools for having a “natural” birth?–as I spend the entire first pregnancy consultation or the first two hours of my first prenatal session talking about your birth team. 

I have to remind them that all the squats and yoga breathing and mantras in the world aren’t going to make an impact if you have a care provider who doesn’t believe birth is an event not necessarily full of management and intervention and doesn’t really seem committed to helping you have an unmedicated birth. 

One of the ways you can figure out if they are going to be harmful or helpful to your goals of a physiologically appropriate birth is by paying attention to language like “We don’t allow” or “I don’t do that.” If you’ve done your research and know you want to have a water birth, why would you stick with a care provider who says something like, “Oh some doctors/midwives do that, but I don’t.” or “We don’t allow births in the tub here.”? It’s amazing how often I hear pregnant folks say something to that extent and either don’t know that they can switch providers, or know that they have other options, or for whatever reason just don’t think it’s going to be a big deal in labor. IT IS A BIG DEAL! And though having a doula can be enormously helpful in advocating for your wishes in birth, we can’t make decisions for you or fire a nurse a doctor or a midwife for you, and so there’s only so much we can do in the end. 

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Sadly, we in the United States have grown accustomed to poor medical care, a lack of true informed consent, and being told that we can’t possibly know much about our bodies. With most women hearing horrible stories of near-death births left and right, they’ve grown to think that they must also have this kind of traumatic birth, so it doesn’t matter if they “like” their provider much, as long as they’re there to rescue you and baby. It’s precisely this culture of fear and misinformation and lack of choice and trust in care providers that is driving the rising maternal mortality rate in this country (we are the only country–developed or otherwise–which boasts a rising rate). 

So, it does matter who your provider is and where you choose to give birth. If you are currently seeing a provider who uses language that takes away choice and support, SWITCH! Even if they have a nice smile and good bedside manner, if they’re not on your team, fire them. Now and not when you are fighting them in labor. That’s not fair. If you are early on in your pregnancy interview a bunch of different providers. Seriously. How much time did you spend picking out a stroller or car seat? Spend 10 times that amount talking to care providers and staff at the place where you choose to give birth and don’t stop till you’re sure in your gut that you’ve found the best fit. Take a month to do it. Make them sit down with you for an hour and answer all of your questions. 

If they don’t want to give you their cesarean rate, but avoiding a cesarean is your biggest concern in pregnancy, keep hounding them or leave and never look back. 

You are 100% entitled to having the birth you want. There’s no being “selfish” or “smug” or “bossy” or “difficult” in asking for care that is supported by evidence and is kind and supportive. Choosing an appropriate care provider who gives you options, supports your choices, and practices according to informed consent is also not just for parents hoping to not use pain medication in labor. This isn’t you not being particularly nice to a waiter somewhere, this is arguably the most important day of your life and what happens in labor has long lasting effects for you, for baby, and for your family. It’s not about being a “smug hippie” or trying to win an award for best mom, this is about you taking control of a very normal, natural process that shouldn’t leave you battered, scarred, and needing therapy. 

Do not allow them to tell you you’re not allowed. 

If you want more information like this, sign up for a pregnancy consultation package or hourly conversation. That first investment can save you stress, time, money, and help you connect to a care provider in line with your wishes and needs in pregnancy and beyond.

Pregnancy Challenge Week #3 -- Sign up for an Independent Childbirth Education Class

I’m starting a series of challenges to expectant parents to encourage them to take small steps toward better care, more informed decision making, and a smoother transition into parenthood.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting on action item in this vein, with some information for why and some resources for how. I imagine the challenges will be steeper for some families than others. I also imagine that it will vary person-to-person which action items are more difficult than the others. Some families, too, I imagine won’t face a ton of barriers, but just needed some guidance on the fact that these things are available.

What’s on the docket for Week 2?

I challenge all pregnant persons to sign up for an independently run childbirth education class.

Ever heard of tocophobia? It’s a term used to describe the fear of childbirth. Researchers in Sweden have found that when expectant fathers experience tocophobia, it may have negative effects on the birth experiences of their partners, particularly male partners.

The study, titled Psychoprophylaxis - Antenatal preparation and actual use during labour, by Malin Bergström found that many of these men were fearful not only of the process of childbirth, but in their roles as parents as well. There have been some signs to indicate that tocophobia contributed to an increase in cesarean sections, pointing to the need for birth professionals to address these fears with expecting parents.

The since the study, the Swedish Medical University has begun providing childbirth preparation classes featuring the use of psychoprophylaxis (relaxation techniques) for all expectant parents with good results.

Unfortunately, only 30% of expectant parents in the U.S. take any sort of childbirth education, the majority of those taking the shorter and more restricted classes taught in the hospitals.

Independent childbirth educators encourage both mother and partner to participate in class discussions to try and address these common fears about labor and early parenting. Educational models such as the Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing, and Birthing from Within place a great deal of emphasis on the partner as a strong yet calm source of strength for the woman in labor by teaching the partner relaxation techniques like massage and affirmations.

In another study on childbirth education classes from Lamaze International* the researchers discovered the rate of attendance for childbirth ed courses, and particularly courses lasting more than one session, has been decreasing over the past several years. Couples are encouraged to take lengthier courses, independent of the hospital preparation courses to get a more complete training in birth support.

Additionally, hiring a doula can help parents receive one-on-one training in these techniques and a sense of security in asking questions concerning any anxieties in an intimate and supportive setting. Doulas also help the partner to feel comfortable that everything is going well in labor, knowing that the mother will never be left alone and that there is a constant source of guidance and expertise by their side.

Unfortunately, the way the American medical system is set up, there is so little time afforded to any one patient/client at a time. How is it possible to fully go over all of the major changes of pregnancy, build trust, talk about preventative care, go over routine tests and if they’re necessary, talk about a birth plan, talk about what to expect, discuss routine newborn care, teach someone about breastfeeding, go over partner involvement, discuss family planning options, and touch on the politics of informed consent and refusal in a 7-10 minute visit with an OB (that’s the national average)? It’s impossible!

This is the reason why the majority of women in the U.S. get their prenatal education from books and online articles. While that sounds innocuous enough, the unfortunate truth is that there’s a lot of garbage out there and unless you are an expert in birth, it might be hard to figure that out. Take for example, the horrible What to Expect series, which is sometimes dubbed “What to Expect When You Expect Everything to Go Wrong,” which is not written by birth experts at all and is full of factual errors. Or the even more offensive, “Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy,” which is so horrible I don’t even want to waste my breath on explaining how.

There is inherent bias in all of these guides–there is clear bias even in my reviews of them above, obviously. The point is whether or not you can see the bias, and then having the tools and feeling empowered enough to take it or leave it. It’s scary to do that when you have your life and the life of your baby at stake, but truly, birth is primarily a safe and normal process, which doesn’t need a whole lot of bells or whistles (or surgery, for that matter), and going with your gut and getting the birth you feel is right for you and baby really is the only important bias to consider.

Talking about the politics around pregnancy and birth is not the fun, gooey, warm stuff most people want out of a course on natural childbirth. I’m fully aware of that. However, after attending births in almost 20 different settings, in 4 states and abroad, I can tell you that many of these topics related to the political aspect of birth are way more essential to understand than a mantra or supported squat. Those sorts of amazing “natural birth” things actually happen on their own because we’re biologically programmed to do them, but they can only happen if you are in a supportive environment where you feel safe and empowered.

Another great reason to take an independent childbirth education course: Understanding the principles of informed consent and informed refusal.

Some basic principles of evidence-based health care are:

  1. Question common assumptions. Be skeptical! Many widely held beliefs about health care do not reflect the best available research. This may lead to poor care and health outcomes. Don’t hesitate to say: show me the evidence.

  2. Consider the best studies. Quite a few studies are poorly done, and many have weak designs. Poorer quality studies should not be used to guide decisions. When a new study is reported, we should ask: what is already known about this question on the basis of the best available research, and what, if anything, does this study add?

  3. Look for the “Gold Standard.” When available, well-conducted systematic reviews of research should inform care decisions. If systematic reviews are not available, individual studies with randomized controlled trial designs can provide a good alternative. It may be important to consider other types of studies as well. (See more about systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials below.)

  4. Make informed decisions. When making decisions about your care, it is important to consider the best available evidence in combination with your values, preferences and circumstances. Also, take into account care setting issues, such as the skills of caregivers and available forms of care.

Informed consent is rarely a topic discussed in the classes taught in the hospitals themselves, for somewhat obvious reasons. The deferred starting point of medical decision making is doctor-centered, not parent-centered, so why discuss an alternative in the preparation courses?

One class I highly recommend, both for it’s discussion of informed consent as well as a deep dive into the important emotional preparation for labor is Rachel Yellin’s YES to Birth, which you can take in person and online.

From her site:

Using hypnosis, relaxation, meditation, breathing, the power of your mind, and the connection with your baby to give birth the way that nature intended.

Classes are appropriate for pregnant women who either know that they want a natural birth or who want to try for the most natural birth possible. Hospital, home birth or birth center birthers are all encouraged to attend.

Rachel offers private classes and one-on-one depth hypnosis sessions to prepare you for labor, as well. You can also download all of her guided meditation tracks on the site, which are a HUGE help in childbirth and beyond. Folks I’ve worked with who have taken Rachel’s classes and/or used her guided meditation in pregnancy and birth have felt more confident in their ability to advocate for themselves in labor as well as feeling safe and satisfied with the laboring process. Their partners feel well prepared to be the primary support persons and all report feeling so grateful they took such an honest and in-depth class. It’s well worth the time commitment, I promise! You can use the code “ebd” at checkout for a discount on downloads and “25BUCKSOFF” with my name (Emily Flynn) to get $25 off any classes you register for online or in person.

It might seem like a crazy amount of time to set aside (many independent childbirth education classes are 6-12 hours spread over a few weeks), but considering what a monumental difference your experience of birth can make for your long term mental and physical health, as well as that of your baby’s, it’s well worth investing several hours becoming informed.

If you participate in these #pregnancychallenge ideas and want to share, please comment below, send me an email, or tag us @Rosewoodrepro on instagram and let us know how you are doing! Happy learning!