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Doula’s are a popular topic on my Facebook feed lately. I see posts regularly asking for recommendations for a good one, the best one, one that insurance will cover, do I need a doula? And within those posts, there is always at least one: what IS a doula? If any of these questions have crossed your mind, you’re not alone!
Basic answer: a doula is a person who is trained to provide support to the mother to be, and not just during labor! This includes pre and post natal. A much better description, according to DONA International, a doula is “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.” Studies have shown that a doula results in 25% shorter labors, 60% reduction in epidural requests, 50% reduction in c-sections, 40% reduction in forceps delivery, and 40% reduction in pitocin use! That being said, I thought it might be nice to actually hear from a doula! So I did the research, looked into questions that one should ask of a doula, and selected a few of my favorites. I then reached out to one of my friends who happens to be a doula! She has graciously answered some questions for me to share in our first ever installment of Doula of the Month! So, let’s dive in! Our first doula is Monalisa Orduno! You can follow her at your_porterville_doula on Instagram and check out her website at monalisabirthdoula.com.
Fun facts about Monalisa- YES! That is her legal name! Her full name is Monalisa Monique Orduno. “Yes, my legal name is Monalisa. I have had clients ask if Monalisa was my name name or my “Hollywood” name. So here’s the quick cliff notes of the Monalisa name. I use Monalisa for work and now my business and I LOVE IT! It really does stand out! But growing up it embarrassed the HECK out of me… especially when getting serenaded by your sixth grade teacher!”
Monalisa is a Certified Doula (DONA), certified Lamaze childbirth educator and CLEC (certified lactation educator and counselor) and specializes in expected stillbirth, LGBTQP families, single parents, survivors of previous life trauma, survivors of childhood sexual abuse and teens. She offers additional services including acupressure, bereavement, miscarriage, surrogates, and so much more! (For full list of services and training details, click here.) Even with Covid, her work never stops! She has adapted completely and offers zoom meetings for her clients.
Why did you become a doula? “In 2015 life was hard, and my relationship to my now wife, was rocky, to say the least. I was 32 a mother of four and was still trying to figure out who I REALY WAS… I had lost me somehow during the long road of motherhood. I questioned my identity, my goals, my ambitions, and even my hobbies. I had spent all my youth being a mom and now I felt like not only had I lost my wife to addiction but also my youth.All my desires and wants came back to my children… have I made them proud? Have I set good examples? Was I a good role model? And the answer was no. I mean yeah, I was a good mom but who was I as a woman? I was needy, I was dependent on my relationship(s). I worked and I worked hard but was that enough? And the answer was NO, I knew I needed to be MORE. Some years prior to the birth of my fourth child ( my son) my sister-in-law at the time told me I should be a doula. She saw in me what I hadn’t seen quit yet. She told me she had admired the way I kept my cool during pregnancy and especially during labor. She said she saw my nurturing nature, in the way I mothered my kids. I had no idea what the heck a doula was… fast forward to 2015 I looked up Doula’s and their role, it was intriguing yet not too different from the work I had been doing for the last 14 years, which was in home care services for the elderly. Too my surprise a workshop was going to be held in Visalia! Normally these workshops are only in the Bigger cities. I took this as a sign! My very generous boss gave me a cash advance and I signed up for the workshop. Within the first day of the three day workshop I completely 100% Knew I just had to be a doula! The passion and drive to learn everything birth related was like NOTHING I had ever felt before. “
What trainings/certifications have you received? “The immense thirst I had for all things birth related continued on, and I drove up and down California taking as many workshops and trainings that my bank account would allow lol and when I couldn’t afford it, I took out loans ( from work). I stayed at air b&b’s, and sometimes other birth workers opened their doors and guest bedrooms to me. I am still so grateful for those who supported me before really even knowing me! During my time on the road and away from my children ( for the first time ever) I began to find myself and I began to love me! I began actually enjoy my alone time and more importantly I began to take care of ME. My doula passion has lead me to certify and take trainings through many reputable birth related Organizations like a spinning babies courses in SD, full spectrum doula courses out of LA, acupressure course out of Tracy, DONA doula workshops out of Santa Rosa, online courses through stillbirthday where I also got certified, first aid and psychological first aid, VBAC(vaginal birth after cesarean)training, and evidence based care training where I also got certified as a evidenced based birth professional, CLEC (certified lactation educator & counselor ). My passion for labor and birth hadn’t stopped there, I continued on to become a certified Lamaze childbirth educator. Now that exam and process was definitely very challenging! it took me 2 years, but I DID IT! “
How many births have you attended? “My extensive birth training has led me to be present for 19 AMAZING births (soon to be 20). I kid you not, I still cry every single time. Never, any less than the first.”
Do you offer any postpartum doula services? “My services don’t start and end at the bedside. I believe in building a strong bond and trusting relationship with my clients, so I prefer to meet early on in pregnancy but I won’t turn away a client who is 37+ weeks it just means we’ll need to squeeze in as much time as possible in the short time that we have. I also offer postpartum services which include me helping make the transition into motherhood a little bit easier by helping w light household duties, meal prepping, lactation support, and early parenting help, like assisting and guiding through babies first bath, swaddling, fist Doc appointment, and most any other needs that the family may have.”
Do you attend all hospital births? Home births? “I support all births in whichever way my client is wanting to birth. Whether that be medicated, un medicated, in a home, at a hospital or at a birth center. Where ever and whichever way you want to birth, I am there. Ready to support you, guide you, and stand along side of you.”
What is one thing you wish your clients would know? “One very important piece of advise would be, take a childbirth education course. It doesn’t have to be with me lol but take one whether it be online or in person. Learn the process of birth, learn your options..that’s right! YOU DO HAVE OPTIONS, and learn what things can help and harm you during labor. Learning and understanding the birth process takes the fear out of childbirth and let’s be real it can be scary, so why not help yourself in every which way possible!”
I met with Monalisa for coffee and discussed what all entails being a doula. The passion for her career is visible immediately! As soon as we started talking and she explained what she does, the training she has had, it’s overwhelming, bordering emotional for me. I was legit moved to tears during my conversation with this amazing woman and could feel the excitement vibrating off of her while we were talking. “The human body is AMAZING”, she exclaimed, “and the strength that a birthing person has, just BLOWS MY MIND every single time. And the Partners, let’s not forget the dedication, love, strength, and endurance that the partners have as well. I know it’s scary and unnerving to see the laboring person in such discomfort, yet their partners stand by them and by their side cheering them on, squeezing hips, tag teaming on counter pressure and holding vomit bags. Yet, they never let it be known how exhausted and scared that they also are.” When I asked if there was anything else that I hadn’t thought to ask that she would want her future clients to know, she answered: “I can honestly say without a single doubt in my mind, that I truly have made my children proud. I have set a great example of what it means to be a strong independent, driven woman but most importantly I have shown them how to be a good human. I have shown them how to be resilient, nurturing, and how to love and care for not only one and other but how to care and love others.”
Have you booked your newborn session yet? Best time for a newborn session is when they are 7-10 days old. Best time to book and reserve your spot is when you are in your 2nd trimester! Message me now for more info!
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