Thursday, November 20, 2008

Whole Mothering Center in Beaumont Texas!

I've had interaction with some of the ladies in this article through the Beaumont La Leche League. (Not used a doula myself, unless you count my husband toward that effort!) Always had good advise for me with regards to breastfeeding and such. This should be a good service to this area. Read on! Gaileee

Businesses provide support during pregnancies
November, 17, 2008

Nine months into her pregnancy, Amber Barron was looking for outside support to make the birth of her first child as easy as possible.

She stumbled across the Whole Mothering Center - a Beaumont-based business that provides emotional and educational support for expecting mothers and new parents.

Beaumont residents Heather Thomas and Amy Jones - both trained doulas, or professional birth assistants - founded the organization in October 2007 in an effort to educate Southeast Texas women about natural childbirth and to support mothers.

"They were a tremendous help and provided emotional support," said Barron, 25. "I don't think anyone should give birth without a doula."

Thomas, 31, and Jones, 33, met about five years ago through the La Leche League of Beaumont, an international breast-feeding support group. Thomas is one of the local leaders. They also belong to each other's playgroups.

Both Jones, a mother of three with child No. 4 due in a few weeks, and Thomas, a mother of two, received doula training through the Doulas of North America.

A doula, according to the group is "a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth, or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period." The word "doula" is an ancient Greek word meaning "a woman who serves."

The two preach "informed consent" and most of their job as doulas is to educate moms on the different birthing options available and to answer whatever questions clients may have about childbirth.

They do not, however, perform medical procedures, tell moms how they should raise their children or give moms advice while they're in labor.

"Our goal is to preserve a memory of her experience, to help her process it in a way that she's satisfied with whatever the outcome is." Jones said.

They encounter a number of people who have misconceptions about childbirth, and Thomas said a lot of that comes from watching television shows, like "A Baby Story" on TLC.

"It's a TV show designed to be entertaining, it's not a documentary to see what life's really like," Thomas said. "A birth is not an exciting thing. You're waiting around a lot. If they showed more natural births on TV it wouldn't be as exciting and not a lot of people would watch it."

When an expecting mother contacts Jones and Thomas, they schedule a meeting. The client eventually chooses one of them as her primary doula, and that doula and the client continue to meet, and map out a birth plan.

The doula stays with the mother during birth, and stays around for a few hours after to make sure breast feeding goes well.

Barron said the Whole Mothering Center was a great resource when it came to breast feeding, and her doula even made a few extra trips out to her house after her son was born to make sure everything was going OK.

The Whole Mothering Center also offers postpartum services, which include light housekeeping, light cooking, sibling care and crowd control.

"Sometimes, mother-in-law comes over and she wants to hold the baby so you can get something done," Jones said. "Well, that's not what we need. We need you to come and get something done so we can take care of baby."

The two will leave notes on clients' doors with a list of chores that need to be taken care of so when visitors arrive, it's easier for a new mom to ask for help. That list could include tasks like washing a load of laundry, emptying the litter box, or bathing the big sister.

The note, Thomas said, relieves pressure from mom who may be uneasy about asking for help, and usually makes people laugh.

"I can walk into a mom's house, and she's on the verge of tears, and know the thing that's setting her off is the blanket in the middle of the floor that she can't go pick up," Thomas said. "Basically we're there to advocate for mothers and support whatever they're looking for in their (childbirth) experience. We're here to help mom in whatever capacity she needs help."


If you go:

What: Whole Mothering Center Cafe©

Where: Logon Cafe©, 3805 Calder

When: second Thursday of every month, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

How much: free for Whole Mothering Center members, $5 for nonmembers

Contact: (409) 466-1198
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