Doula Certification Approved!

I am so excited to share with you that my certification as a Birth Doula through DONA International has been approved!

Timelines vary, but for me this process took almost two years. I attended a training in January of 2016 and checked off my childbirth class as well as the breastfeeding class. I also served the first client whose labor would count toward my certification. Over the following months I read seven books and supported five more births. Finally, this past fall I felt ready to compile my certification packet and send it in.

This has been an amazing and beautiful addition to my life. In total I have served seven laboring women, and have another scheduled for March. I have experienced labor in three different hospitals with Midwives, OBs, and Family Physicians attending. I’ve seen mothers dig deep to find strength and endurance they couldn’t imagine was there and I have witnessed women making brave choices to ensure their best birth possible.

Empowering women to make their own decisions and to be their own advocates is the reason why I entered this line of work, and I am proud to be a part of supporting these heroes as they take on the challenge of bringing life into the world!


Charity Sandstrom CD(DONA)


Keep It Moving–Doula Tuesday

When labor starts, contractions are light and mamma has lots of energy. She is upbeat and if at home, she flits around making sure everything is ready for her new little one to arrive. As things progress, contractions intensify and she slows down.

There is a natural rhythm to her pattern of moving, pausing, moving again. When contractions require all of her focus, she may find a place and stay there. The rocking chair, the couch, her bed. It takes so much energy to stay on top of the waves that she may not want to shift positions or move.

If she is settled in, it can take a lot to break in to her world and convince her to get up. It is really beneficial for women to move during all stages of labor. Baby is moving with the contractions, turning and shifting, looking for the one way her head will fit down into the pelvic opening. She’ll make it on her own eventually, but it helps if mamma will move as well.

As mamma walks, sways, kneels, the pelvis rocks, tilts, and opens in ways that encourage baby to make her descent. If we can keep mamma moving, we can keep labor progressing.

Practical tips are these: mamma needs to move or change positions every hour, and get up to go to the toilet every hour and a half. These are not hard and fast rules, but they are a guideline to keep in mind while supporting labor.

If labor is taking place in a hospital setting, even if mamma is tied to the bed because of monitoring or an epidural, we can keep her moving. If you haven’t seen or used a peanut ball, these tools open so many doors for positioning in bed. Mamma may not be able to get up to go to the toilet, but it is important if she is under anesthetic with an I.V. to remember to ask for her bladder to be emptied for her. She may not feel the fullness of her bladder, but that does not mean it isn’t in need of relief. Voiding makes room for things to keep moving.

Check out the videos below for tips on moving in labor and the use of a peanut ball.

Working together to move labor along.

Steadfast Heart Doula

Support without judgment, Doulas at their best!

Ever get the feeling that everyone has an opinion about everything that you do? Exercise, eating choices, your job, parenting, and yes even how you give birth are up for public criticism. I have good news, there are people out there who will listen to your thoughts, concerns and help you make the best informed choices for you!

I am speaking of course about Doulas! Doulas are not people to tell you how you should do what you do. We are there to help you explore all of your options and can help you find resources with good information, and evidence-based conclusions. When it comes to birth or postpartum care we can help you figure out what is right for you and how to have the best chance of achieving your goals!

Do you want to give birth with little to no intervention? We can help you find coping mechanisms like meditation, movement, water and positioning to reduce pain without medication.

Do you want to plug in to an epidural with the first contraction? We can help you answer questions like: how early is too early? will an epidural slow down my labor? should I try narcotics first? what other options are out there?

Are you scared about some aspects of labor and delivery? We can help you find information so you know what to expect and how to cope.

Using a midwife? We are cool with that.

Giving birth in a hospital? We think that’s great.

Home birth? More power to you.

Sometimes people think a doula will push the partner out of the picture, but a trained doula knows better. We are there to support the partner and help them be involved to the extent that they are comfortable. Some partners want to be in there, holding hands, chanting mantras, full-on coaching. Other partners need to be involved in less intense ways. Some moms don’t have partners, or their partners are not going to be present for the birth. Whatever the partner involvement, doulas can help make the experience more satisfying for both mom and partner.

You can find a doula to help you, regardless of your hopes and dreams regarding birth.

We believe that every woman should be supported in labor so that she can make informed decisions that are right for her, increasing satisfaction and reducing the risk of trauma.

Support without judgment.
How ReFreshing!

What’s a Doula?

Maybe we need another name, but it can be difficult to think what else we would call ourselves. Professional Emotional and Physical Support in Labor and Delivery Assistant seems a little long. Sometimes we may shorten the description to professional labor support, but what does that entail? The word Doula means “female servant” from the Greek, and really refers to the role a Doula plays in serving and supporting other women.

What a Doula does.

A Doula is a person (typically a woman but there are male Doulas) who has special training in the physical and emotional aspects of childbirth as well as strategies and techniques to help a laboring woman and her partner have the kind of birth they desire. Doulas meet with their clients typically 2-3 times before the baby’s birthday to get to know the preferences of the laboring person and help to form a birth plan.

Doulas provide uninterrupted labor support during labor and delivery, helping couples ask good questions about their options from medical care providers. The Doula brings a copy of the birth plan, takes notes on procedures and keeps a timeline of the birth. Doulas are there to support emotionally, suggest changes in position or activity to reduce pain and help labor progress.

After the baby is born, the Doula will stay with the new mother for a predetermined amount of time (typically 30 minutes to 2 hours), possibly taking pictures or helping the new family move to a recovery room. Doulas also check in with the new family at home in the first few weeks postpartum. They will listen to you tell your birth story and talk to you about common postpartum topics like breastfeeding, baby care, and caring for yourself.

Doulas charge a fee that depends on the services they offer and the area or clients they wish to serve. Doula fees range from $250 to well over $1000. There are affordable ways to hire a Doula if you have a lower income. Some Doulas have a sliding fee scale, or may work for a non-profit, or a hospital.

What Doulas don’t do.

The Doula is not a doctor. Doulas are not medically trained and do not perform medical tasks. A Doula should not suggest medical interventions or administer medications. Doulas are not your voice, they help you to find your voice. The Doula you work with may ask you a question about your comfort level with a procedure if it is something you have talked about previously, or they may ask you if you have questions for your care provider, whether an MD, OBGYN, Midwife or your labor nurse. Doulas are there to empower you to advocate for yourself.

What Doulas might do.

There are Doulas who have special skills or training that they bring to the labor room as a bonus. Some Doulas are trained in massage. You may find a Doula who is also a photographer. It may be that your Doula is a yoga or other fitness instructor. Some Doulas also serve the other children in the family. Other Doulas are available to serve the family postpartum for an hourly fee.  From time to time, a Doula may also be a trained nurse. In that case, they will probably identify under a different title of monatrice.

I hope you have a better idea of who Doulas are and what they can do for expectant mothers and their partners. Maybe we need another name, or maybe we just need to increase awareness to the point that everyone knows what a Doula is and how Doulas can help you have your best birth.

Healthy Pregnancy and Birth,
How Refreshing!