Most of you will find me through my private practice. These are my clients that find me directly through my website, referrals from their friends and family who are my past clients, and from their doctors, midwives, childbirth educators, acupuncturists, etc. This is the mainstay of how clients find me. Most of my clients are delivering at hospitals and birthing centers. About 1 in 10 delivers at home.
Next is the NYC Doula Collective. In the collective I'm the membership director and a mentor. In this group we have provided an amazing structure of mentoring and tiers. There are 5 tiers and doulas are in tiers based on their experience. Tiers 4 & 5 are called the mentor collective, and doulas from tiers 1-3 choose one doula from the mentor collective to be their mentor. It's an amazing opportunity for new doulas to have support of a mentor and a doula community as they build their practice and learn how to be the best doula they can. I joined the collective about 4 years ago and worked my way up from tier 1 to 5. I now have 6 doulas that I am officially mentoring. I also have a few more doulas in the community who have sought me out as an unofficial mentor. I love mentoring, it's an opportunity for me to learn and engage in birth work at a deeper level.
The By My Side doula program is a grant funded program through the Department of Health and Healthy Start Brooklyn. Moms in this program are very low income and very high risk. The clients do not pay to participate and the program pays the doulas. The "high risk" I'm referring to is the fact that they live in certain zip codes in Brooklyn. Why? Because in these zip codes in Crown Heights, East New York, Bushwick, Bed-Stuy and Flatbush, the maternal mortality rate for African American non-Hispanic women is drastically higher than the rest of the city. I only take a few clients from the program at a time. It is the most challenging part of my doula practice. Many of my clients through the program are homeless and often facing the biggest challenges. I have to really dig deep to figure out how to best help them. I love being able to make a difference here with these communities that really need it. Here's a link to an article written up about our program: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/community-doulas-changing-how-low-income-moms-give-birth_n_3894995.html
Then last but not least is I'm a birth assistant for Shar LaPorte and Carol Bues homebirth practice Midwifery Care NYC. Years ago I was also an assistant for home birth midwife Marcy Tardio. Being a birth assistant at homebirths is a wonderful opportunity for me to advance my birth skills and knowledge. As a birth assistant I am working for the midwives in a clinical role as opposed to the emotional support for the client that a doula provides. As an assistant I am responsible for a completely different set of responsibilities. No I don't want to be a midwife, but I really enjoy working along side them and getting to do what I call "clinical light." The midwives have three birth assistants, we work on shifts so that we can each prioritize our private clients and other work. This work is on another level of understanding and experience of birth. There is so much to learn about births and experience is the best teacher. I want to see it at every angle and keep learning!
I started doing breastfeeding support in 1999 shortly after I had my first baby in 1998. It was a natural extension of being in the breastfeeding community myself. When I became a professional doula in 2010, I learned that I have a very intuitive and natural ability to support breastfeeding very well. I've since added my CLC to my name and I continue to study breastfeeding and postpartum and improve on my skills. I've been able to help so many women breastfeed and I'm often referred to women who were not my birth clients to come and help them breastfeed successfully. I hear from clients weeks and months after their births to continue the support and follow up with their breastfeeding as well. I love doing breastfeeding support. It's so amazing to help a new mom go from "I can't do this" to texting me her breastfeeding photos with pride!