Birthkeeper or Doula; What’s the Difference?

Photo from Davis Photography in Iowa

What is the difference between a Doula and a Birthkeeper?

Really, there should be no difference but it seems society has made it a huge difference. By definition, a Doula is a woman, typically without formal obstetric training, who is employed to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during labor. This is also what Birthkeeper is! To be honest, there is no documented definition of a birthkeeper. A Birthkeeper is what she chooses to be.

Why the Separation?

Doulas often come with a scope they must obey. Most Doula certification organizations will limit women in what they can and cannot do, instilling them with false fear that they are looking legal complications in the eye if they ‘disobey’ as well as the stripping of their certification. For example, carrying/suggesting essential oils, homeopathy, offering suggestion on what you would do, or attending birth without medical providers present. Something that limits what they can and cannot do for a woman in her childbearing years. If we are being quite frank, a doula’s provided ‘scope’ is “a means by which contributes to the violations birthing persons experience and validates the very exact system that oppresses the one birthing”. It limits her ability to serve. (Those are wise words from Allison Tate @BacktoBirth)

There are Doulas who see what society/organizations deem a ‘scope of practice’ for their profession, and they smash that scope. They discard its limiting bounds and serve women to the fullest extent of the law- just like a birthkeeper! Doulas are not one size fits all. Many choose to limit themselves, but there are gems out there, claiming the title Doula, serving at her fullest potential. I call them Diamond Doulas! They are my people!

So, What is a Birthkeeper?

A Birthkeeper holds the sacred wisdom surrounding physiological birth and walks with women in their childbearing years. They are the keepers of sacred space. They are able to serve the woman to her desire and fullest extent of the law. Supplying genuine care and concern with no limit. Birth does not have limitations, neither should a support person (outside of refraining from offering medical assistance). A woman being supported by a Birthkeeper would likely be supported to the fullest extent of the law -where as most Doulas aren’t able to or their certification will be stripped.

A Birthkeeper is not limited by a scope. She serves to the fullest extent of the law (varies by state) and bases her service offerings/limitations on her own personal training. Some may carry more knowledge on the physiological birth process, with different supplies in her birth bag than a mainstream Doula might. Some may be comparable to that of a Monitrice. What she will or will not do is up to the Birthkeeper themselves, they are not limited by definition or scope, they set their own boundaries.

Birthkeepers often support (not supply medical care) those who are dropped by birth professionals. The birth professional may be legally unable to show up and support, but a Birthkeeeper is, there is no license to lose when simply supporting a choice. Sometimes, this is better than the mother attending a facility. This choice is and always should be the mothers, herself. The Birthkeeper can bridge the gap of support. But guess what! Doulas can, and some do this, as well!

If you ask me, titles are trash. I do not like titles, any of them. If I had to pick one, Id choose Birth Attendant or Birthkeeper. Why? Because there is no definition, I make my own. Is there a true difference between a Doula and Birthkeeper? It depends on each individual worker!

Regardless of which you choose to hire, make sure she isn’t limited in serving you! Make sure your views align. Know that no two are alike!

What do you feel the difference is between a Doula or Birthkeeper? Is there a difference? Is it all the same?

We asked the HERBAL students! Here are a few of their responses:

“Doulas are a scope. Birthkeepers are free. Doula is a title, Birthkeeper is an honor. Doulas have to follow rules, Birthkeeper only limits themselves to what they are comfortable with. Doulas are working…. Birthkeepers are the sacred keepers of birth and we are answering our calling.” – Veronica Hart

“There is no simple and succinct answer for me to find but I do have some thoughts. I believe that the definition of each “title” is different depending on the belief system of birth held by the person who uses it. This accounts for the huge variation in definitions. I also think that the definition of each title is forever changing and reflects the complex birth culture (socially and medically) we find ourselves in today. The title “Doula” I believe has seen the most change and now finds itself in a place far removed from where it inherently began. It has fallen prey to a new identity that conforms to social expectations of birth and over medicalisation. A drastic shift from lay role to professional role with scope, constraint and narrowly defined parameters. I see “birthkeeper” as a means by which to reclaim the ownership of birth back from the very constraints its sister title “doula” has fallen to. For me “birthkeeper” is an uprising, a statement to remind us who birth truly belongs to and that ownership has landed in the wrong place. It brings with it, the authentic generational power that the title “doula” has always held but unlike the term “doula” the term “birthkeeper” has yet to experience the same fate. For me the significance does not lie in each term, it lies in the belief system that underpins it. We find ourselves today in a place where “Doula” has been shaped to fit social and medical expectations of birth. It has lost its authenticity, wisdom and person centered power. Step fourth “birthkeeper” ready to reclaim the wisdom and hand the power back to those giving birth” – Allison Tate

“A doula supports birthing people within reason. A Birthkeeper supports birthing people. Period.” – Kristyn M Gerchalk

“Doula uses the word scope. But seriously. A birth keeper serves women to the fullest extent of her ability, comfort level and legalities. A doula stops at some invisible line drawn in the sand. I use them interchangeably on public posts because people are more familiar with the word doula, but it does not resonate with me. Obviously a birth keeper won’t risk arrest… and honors her own biases and what she is comfortable with for her own mental health… but that is the ONLY boundaries for a birth keeper.” – Sierra Jean

“I believe this can differ with each person.. Some doulas are absolutely amazing and will go above and beyond for their client.. some use the word “scope” and act as if their job isn’t to protect their client, when in all actuality that is one of the main things a doula is supposed to do (in my opinion). A birthkeeper is the holy grail. They always go above and beyond, they don’t believe in “scopes”. They know their purpose and don’t question it. Some doulas are just like birthkeepers, the only difference is the label.” Char Sondrol

“A birthkeeper sets their own limitations. A doula has them set for them.” – Amanda Jones

“To me I feel that doula is the perfect word to describe someone who provides more full spectrum services including pre conception, pregnancy and postpartum. Birthkeeper is the perfect term for someone attending a birth who intends to keep birth in its most wild and natural state. I think there are doulas our there who have made ‘doula’ a dirty word but I don’t believe they are doulas at all. Real doulas are mother servants and I think the essence of a doula is someone who respects pregnancy, birth and women in the way they are supposed to. I am a doula and I am proud to be one in the most traditional sense of the word. ‘Scope doulas’ are not doulas at all. They don’t embody the true meaning of the word. I am taking it back.” – Casey Hone

“A doula is a profession, a birthkeeper is a calling; the former pursued with a desire to help people, the latter is part of who they are.” – Kristi Whitten

“There isn’t one significant difference. Both serve women to the fullest extent of the law.
I think the differences would be social differences. The word “doula” has gained terrible traction lately. It’s been “defined” on the internet as someone who follows scope mainly due to certifying organizations like pro doula and DONA.
But just the same, the word “birthkeeper” has also gained terrible traction all the same. It’s been “defined” by the other side of the internet as those who don’t follow the laws of their state at all (not necessarily true at all) and that are argumentative and rude.” – Hope Lauren

“i don’t know that there is a difference basically. i think it all comes back to who is using the words and how they are using them. i use both terms interchangeably, mainly because i feel like doula is a term more widely recognized. but i do think there is a difference in the mainstream doula, and what/who i am.” – Tamara Niedermann

“I don’t see a difference in the two. I feel like they both serve women to their extent and to what they are comfortable with. There are wonderful doulas and there are horrible ones. There are horrible birth keepers and there are horrible ones.” – Cheyenne Richards

“A doula has one single role. A Birthkeeper is like water, taking whatever role is needed.” – Tara Alexandra Ortiz

What are your thoughts?!

Be Mindful when at a Birth

Birth space is such a sacred area to be in. If someone invites you into this space, you should feel honored. There are a few things to keep in mind when being courteous of this space.

One of the first things to keep in mind is that birth is a physiological event (in the case it is left unhindered). There is no emergency, no need for fear, concern, or anxiety. Birth is a naturally occurring bodily function that more often than not, needs zero help. Women have been doing this for centuries!

Second, the energy you hold in her space. If you start to become anxious or frightened, it may be best for you to step out and move away from her. Your energy effects those around you. In the time a mother is laboring, she is very spiritually/energetically open, and receptive to the energy you give off. It is key to have positive energy in the birth space.

Thirdly, time. Just because your birth was 6 hours start to finish does not mean another woman’s will be. Each birth has its own time frame and no two are identical. Do not make her feel rushed or become fearful due to the length of labor. Labor can be only minutes long or it could be days long. Go in with no expectation, and enjoy the unknown journey with her.

Next, is staring. Mind your eyeballs at her labor and birth. Women are not circus acts. A laboring mother is absolutely beautiful and admirable every. single. time. but, staring and watching her will likely only delay things. Women, more often than not, will labor more efficiently not being watched. I personally do not like to stare a laboring mother down. It is not respectful and I know it is not doing her any good. I also believe I will learn much more from her voice/sounds than looking at her face, more often than not. More ears, less eyes.

Lastly, remember that this is HER birth. It doesn’t matter if you laid on your back to birth your children, if she wants to hang off of the door frame and birth her baby, she should. She should not be encouraged to meet someone else’s desires for her birth. The navigation map of labor and birth is generic, no two identical. Let her navigate her own way through, know that she does not need your suggestions. Her body will relay necessary information. Let her make her own choices in her birth, and respect them, even if you might not agree. Her autonomy is important and something to respect.

What are a few things you wished others would have minded at your birth? What advice would you give someone who will be holding sacred space at a birth?

“I Don’t Need a Man”; Choosing to be a Single Mom By Choice

I recently attended a really special birth! (Honestly, they are all pretty special – but this one is a little different!) This mama went a route I didn’t even know was possible! I seriously meet and serve the COOLEST women! With this woman’s permission, I will be sharing about her route to motherhood.

Choosing Single Parenthood

She is my age- 26, healthy, single, and a mom to a 3 year old. Her 3 year old was conceived the same way as her recently born child (same donor as well)! She is what is referred to as a “Single Mom By Choice”. Also known as SMBC, “Solo Mum by Choice”, “Choice Moms”, and TBM “Turkey Baster Moms”. These are single women who choose to be a mother without a partner. I’ve heard of people getting sperm donated from a friend, or going to a lab, getting tests, being inseminated, etc. But I have never heard of one going the route this mama did!

Nitrogen tank mailed with the sperm!

This mom bought her sperm online through an online sperm bank. They mailed the sperm she chose to her house, along with a nitrogen tank! How neat?! You are able to look at the donor’s profile, hear their voice, read their medical history, and see their infant photos. Many of the sites require a doctor’s permission, I am told, though this site requires no such thing! Why would one need a doctor’s permission to have a baby when Jane, Mary, and Susan are able to get pregnant with their partner with no permission?! Here is the site she ordered from, Cryos International, if you might be interested:

The Journey into Single Motherhood

You would track your menstrual cycle using basal body temperature, charted cervical mucus, and ovulation tests to pin point ovulation– TOTALLY my jam, huge fertility nerd here! Once LH surge/ovulation is pin pointed, you would use the syringe to inseminate your own self! Rebecca, the mama who went this route, said she is willing to help anyone who reaches out to her learn more about tracking to pin point ovulation. I also created a video on ‘Fertility Tracking’ on my Facebook page.

20 MOT vial of donor sperm, bought online!

I think it is INSANELY empowering that she chose to be a mother and was like “I got this, I can do this myself, I don’t need a man! & while I’m at it, I’ll have an unassisted birth because I am THAT competent”. And competent she was as she brought her baby earth side all on her own. No coaching, no instruction, no rules, no equipment. She navigated her birth on her own, the same way she conceived her child. How STRONG and EMPOWERED of her?

WHEW! *shakes head in humbleness* These women are incredible, guys. I am kept humble.

Only moments after he was born, she reached to meet her baby for the first time.

Why Your Partner’s Attendance and Participation at Birth is Crucial

The partner’s role in labor and childbirth has changed drastically over the course of time. It used to be that men would not be around for labor or birth, they would go off and do their own thing while the woman birthed their child. But now, it has become the norm for the partner to be with the birthing woman. Not only this, but his involvement is proving to be highly valuable.

In fact, it is even suggested that having the partner absent from pregnancy, labor, and birth could lead to adverse health outcomes for both mom and baby. Here is a portion from this study, which briefly discusses the harms of not having the father present. “..fathers who are absent at birth, having already largely withdrawn from the child’s life beforehand, are more likely to have children with health problems at 3 months old.”

This study divulges how the father’s involvement with cord cutting has impact on their bond going forward. Those who did cut their child’s cord showed continuous improvement in emotional involvement with the infant. These partners found empowerment in being able to participate in this life changing event, which encouraged their continuous connection with their child. This connection, love, and affection from the father/partner benefits the child’s emotional development and overall health.  

This study reveals that fathers are beneficial in comforting and calming baby in the first 2 hours postpartum from elective cesarean birth. Birth where mom might not have been able to experience skin to skin, so the father filled this role. These babies found comfort and security being skin to skin with their father. As in, they stopped fussing and became calm within 15 minutes of being placed on the father.  

This is beneficial to the infant’s crucial emotional development. This experience also leaves the father feeling empowered in his role, and more emotionally connected to the child. This supplies a great start for a lifetime of healthy bonding.  

I mean, there are hundreds of studies and articles produced discussing the impact of the father’s participation and attendance of birth. It has a positive impact for everyone! – Mom, Baby, and the Father/Partner themselves.  

In the births I attend, I like to encourage partner/paternal involvement as much as possible. I see with my own two eyes how this empowers them. I see how this makes the partner confident in their role. I also see the child who is soothed simply by their fathers voice and touch.  

Ways that the father can be incorporated in labor and birth are endless, they will also vary depending on the birthing woman’s desires. A few ways I would suggest a father’s participation and involvement would be: 

  1. Being a physical and emotional support for mom during labor. Applying counter pressure, holding her, reminding her how well she is doing; offering her water/snacks, and giving her intimate affection (whatever that means to the individual couple). 
  2. Catching baby as they emerge. I personally feel this plays a huge impact on the father’s empowerment. This is such a special moment and it often leaves them feeling overwhelmingly competent in their ability to fill the parental role.  
  3. Cord cutting! This is something I also encourage the partner to participate in. The tying of the umbilical tie as well as the severing of the cord itself.  
  4. Weighing of baby! Nothing is quite as special as seeing the father read and reveal the stats of their newest little love! They almost always smile, just permeated with pride! 

The ways a partner can positively impact a labor, birth, and postpartum experience are endless, as are the benefits. Did your partner play an active role in labor and birth? How did you, as the birthing mother, feel about your partner’s involvement? 

Perineal Tears, To Stitch Or Not To Stitch?

When it comes to discussing perineal tears, there seems to be so much misinformation, so let’s chat.

First of all, we must touch on the fact that there a several different degrees of tears.

An intact layout of the exterior genitalia, as a baby crowns.

First degree

Second degree

Third degree

Fourth degree

WHY do Tears Occur?

Sometimes tears are unavoidable, especially small tears. Some babies come out with such force and pressure, pulling the perineum tight in response, and can cause the skin to rip. In the moment, during a natural birth, will you feel it? Maybe, but you will probably be more focused on the fact that a child is emerging down your birth canal and about to come into the world to greet you, you won’t notice until afterwards, if you check, or if you go to pee and it burns on your perineum.

This study discusses how episiotomies, larger babies, an assisted vaginal delivery (with forceps or vacuum), an epidural, and induction, potentially being factors in tears.

This study reiterates how instrumental vaginal delivery can increase prevalence of tears, as well as length of transition (longer transitions were more so associated with tears, but we cannot help but wonder what caused those long transitions, but they don’t mention that).

Preventing Perineal Tears

  • STAY UPRIGHT, listen to your body and allow baby to descend naturally, without coached pushing or purple pushing, let FER take over
  • Gently apply a warm compress on your perineum as baby descends. If you can do this yourself entirely this is optimal. There’s no need to push on babies head, pull on your perineum, or enter your vagina like some providers do. As baby is naturally and successfully descending, simply place gentle pressure with a warm wash cloth (can add oil as well if desired) on the perineum
  • There is no indication the pre-labor stretching, massaging of the perineum, or kegels work to strengthen or loosen the perineum, so this is truly unnecessary. See a pelvic floor therapist if you are concerned about the firmness or lack thereof of your perineum during your pregnancy, a pelvic floor therapist may will have some good tips to protect those pelvic floor muscles!!

Can Perineal Tears be Managed Without Stitching?

There are many reasons why someone might want to avoid stitches. This includes the infamous “husband stitch,” prolonged healing, improper healing, lack of sterility, pain, swelling, pelvic floor impact, and more. Not to say that NOT getting stitches does not come with risks, because that choice does come with risks, too.

If you have a first degree or second degree tear, you may choose to heal naturally!

  • Comfrey root (found here), an herb that contains natural Allantoin (which also helps form the umbilical cord and the baby’s bladder in the womb), is an amazing all around healer and helps bind skin. Mixing this with warm, raw manuka honey (found here), turmeric (found here) and witch hazel (found here) can make a soothing, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal natural stitch to encourage your body to heal quickly on its own. Apply warm Nori wraps (found here) and/or gauze over the area to gently seal, and prevent mess and stickiness all over your underwear/postpartum pad.

Be sure to cleanse well with a peri bottle mix after every bathroom trip, and re-apply to prevent bacteria growth. This does not always work for every individual and even after making this choice, it’s very possible to decide to get stitches. Should you change your mind, you can always go to the local ER to request stitches. Or, you may decide to get stitches right away, that’s fine too!!

A common misconception is that a hospital transfer is required for stitches. Nope! If you have a midwife, she can stitch you, too!! And luckily, tear repair is not something that you have to absolutely rush to the ER for right away even if unassisted. You should give a hustle if you have a severe tear, but for a tiny tear, enjoy those golden hours with your babe and then go, and do not admit baby, then check out once you’ve been stitched. There’s no reason to be admitted for 48 hours for stitches, because they will dissolve in a few weeks anyways, but if you want to stay, you can do that too.

An example of perineal stitches:

How To: Choose A Back-Up Doula

I always joke that you should be as picky with your Back-Up Doula/Business Partner, as you are about your Life Partner/Spouse and to not be afraid to date, take a break, break-up entirely, or stay together forever… LOL but honestly, that’s pretty valid!

You want to seriously know their values, their experience, their comfort zone, their training and capabilities, availability, financial requirements, childcare situation, what supplies they bring to the table, and more!

Can you genuinely work together without conflict? Would you want this individual at YOUR birth? Would you feel comfortable at theirs?

Taylor’s sweet back-up doula, Hope, when they attended a birth together in 2019

When choosing a back-up doula to take on a client, or clients, of yours, you need to discuss and agree in several areas.

  • Fee that will be provided in the event that one of you back up the other (does it change whether the back up is there 2 hours or 24 hours?)
    Tip: I firmly believe that 30-50% of the birth fee is fair, especially if you provided a few prenatal appointments and intend to follow up postpartum, but also have to consider how the back-up doula has to be on-call and attend the birth, which genuinely is a lot of work. It is much easier if you collect the full payment from the client prior to birth, and pay the back-up doula yourself, so there is no confusion between the client, you and the back-up.
  • What circumstances you can call them in (any and all, preferably, because emergencies get weird)
  • What their availability timeframe will be (36 weeks to 42 weeks, or a slimmer timeframe? Weekends only? Weekdays only?)
  • How quickly can they get to a birth? Where is their home-base (where they live)?
  • What can they bring to a birth? What if they do not have the same tools in their bag that your client prefers?
  • What experience/training do they have? Is it pretty equivalent to yours? If not, how can you ensure they do?
    Tip: I prefer to attend a birth or two with my back-ups before relying on them AS a back-up, so I can see their style, if they are honest about their availability, their energy in a birth space, and more. If it takes them 2 hours to get there when they live 20 minutes away, they seem confused or intimidated in the birth space, this does not necessarily mean that they are completely written off, but it does mean we need to have a new discussion on realistic expectations, needs, and how we can address their energy and how to improve. You have to be able to have open communication.
  • Do they have a friendly face, demeanor, and energy in general? If you were interviewing for a doula for your birth, would you hire them? You definitely do not want your clients feeling disappointed in the services your back-up doula provided because then they will feel disappointed in YOU and your business, and will be less likely to recommend you, and hire you in the future.

A Back-Up Doula is a Must Have

ALWAYS discuss the possibility of a back-up with your clients, even if you see no way that it could happen. Your clients need to have their contact information, business information, and potentially even an option to meet them – just in case! If you got struck by lightning, got into a severe car accident, or had a serious family emergency, you would want the comfort of knowing your back-up doula had everything covered and your clients would not be left feeling alone.

Whomever you hire, remember you are not stuck with them forever if they are absolutely terrible and do not be afraid to break it off if the relationship stinks, because your clients are a priority! Interview and meet with several different people as potential back-up doulas.

Some doula businesses even run on a two-doula method, where two doulas attend prenatal appointments, births, and postpartum together, or they alternate attendance. There are also doula agencies that clients may receive one of several different doulas. If this is something you are interested in, you should definitely explore it for your business, they are cool models of business!

Three of our Doula students supporting each other!

Hospital Birth Makes My Skin Crawl

I love birth but some aspects of birth are very triggering to me, it literally makes my skin crawl.  
I support women’s choice to birth wherever they feel most comfortable. The woods? I’m with that. Your house? Call me, I’ll show up! Birthing center? I support it, but you won’t be hiring me. The hospital? I support that choice too! – but I, physically cannot support you there. I have nothing to offer a woman that chooses a medicalized birth. Be it a birthing center, hospital, or any other assisted setting. 

Image from YouTube

If a woman births in these locations, she is literally signing her birth over to the provider’s power and discretion. If the provider feels mom needs an episiotomy, forceps use, a cesarean, etc., she will endure this and it will be legal, even if she is screaming “NO”. She can sue, but from what I see, she will not win. How can I support a woman with zero rights, who legally, cannot support herself? I’d be happy to explain, feel free to ask. 

Image form

The trauma that occurs in these facilities is not worth any set dollar amount for me to endure witnessing. I’m not down with the secondary trauma involved in assisted birth. Some women are strong enough to watch this all play out, and sleep at night – I cannot.  

Here’s something many people do not know; I have never attended in support at a hospital birth. This does not mean I have not seen hospital birth. Don’t get it twisted, sistah. I am triggered in this setting – it is hard for me to watch all that a hospital birth has to offer, play out. Even in social media shared videos or photos – I won’t look, I do not want to see that. In fact, I will not step foot into a facility unless there is a case of an emergency. In this case, I would be the most fierce guard dog for mom. This has not been necessary thus far. I personally will only attend births where the mother is 100% in control of her birth and choices being made.

Image found on google

When I see assisted birth photos or videos, the items listed below are what make me cringe. I literally want to throw up when I see these things. I wasn’t always this way! Only after learning what birth could be for women, do I cringe at the sight of anything less.
The room itself, the setup, the equipment, the tubes and cords, the bed, the baby table, the hazardous waste bin, and the privacy curtain.  

The needle in mom’s arm, taped to her with cords and tubes. 

The crowd of people in the room, most being random strangers mom has never met before, and the excessive energy that will impact mom. 

The harmful constant fetal monitoring bands on moms’ belly, penetrating baby constantly.  

The unnecessary interventions being performed by the medically mined provider. 

Mom confined on her back, like a helpless victim. 

Mom’s positioning during birth and there immediately after – often, legs spread, up in the air, with a light shining right on the women’s vagina. Very degrading and disempowering. 

The provider pulling baby from the vagina or interfering manually in any unnecessary sense.  

The Placenta being pulled/tugged only an hour or less after birth as if they cannot wait for the woman’s body to release it. 

The bracelets on mom. Plastic rubbing against laboring women’s skin. 

The horrid hospital gowns, making one look like an unwell patient of illness. 

Gloved hands being the hands welcoming baby earth side. 

The immediate wiping off of the baby. 

The separation of mom and baby immediately postpartum.  

The suctioning of baby’s mouth and unnecessary handling of baby. 

The staff uniforms, from the shirt to the shoes. 

The gloves and masks worn by people present, as if it is a toxic event. 

The rough handling of baby after birth. 

The plastic bands placed on the newborn’s arms and legs after arrival. 

The ointment in baby’s eyes, interfering with physiological bonding and wiping out all good flora/bacteria. 

The band aids on baby’s legs from the injections they snuck in almost immediately postpartum. 

The unnecessary and hindering hat placed on the newborn baby. 

The hustle and bustle immediately postpartum 

The PURE lacking of autonomy and biological normality’s in labor, birth, and postpartum.  

I could go on but it is impeding my energy.  

Image from Instagram

Nothing about any of the above or the actions occurring in this setting are physiological. It starts out medicalized from the second mom walks in. Putting plastic bands on her arms, needle in her arm, monitoring bands on her belly, and whatever else they can deem necessary. Almost as if there is some sort of emergency occurring, not a biological function. 

Image from Youtube

I am not comfortable with this, and that’s okay! Many women aren’t comfortable with unassisted birth either, I’m sure. Seeing something I know is often better off untouched, being touched and turned into a medicalized event, brings me so much anxiety. I stay away from settings that can contort my view of birth, give me anxiety, or are likely to leave me with secondary trauma and stress. The medicalized birth setting is not for me, I simply am not best fit to serve in this setting. It literally makes my skin crawl. 

*NOTE: This is simply my perspective and feelings surrounding hospital birth. I do not need your agreement or understanding to make them valid. I also know that not all of the list above occurs in all facility birth, no need to point out the obvious. 

Image from Google

Become a Certified Doula in Tampa this September


Anyone wishing to certify as a doula/birthkeeper and obtain hands-on placenta training. This certified program is best suited to those who are interested in the more holistic route of birth support.


A one-day training program (which includes access to an online course) which will certify you as a birth doula and cover topics like placenta encapsulation, herbs and homeopathy during childbirth, and much more!


September 21, 2019 from 8:00am – 5:00pm


Hilton Garden Inn Tampa-Wesley Chapel
26640 Silver Maple Pkwy, Wesley Chapel FL, 33544

IMPORTANT! If you would like to participate in the training, you must send our Facebook page or email a request for a Paypal invoice. Please provide your paypal email address in this message. Our Facebook page is Holistically Empowered Rebel Birthkeepers Academy of Learning and our email is

All HERBAL training payments are sent via invoice. It is required.

What’s In The Doula Bag?!

HERBAL is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

This list can be used for not only birth workers, but birthing peoples may want to gather these items for themselves!

The items I have marked as a rental means they are items doulas should not necessarily be using on a client, as doulas are not medical professionals, but they are items that most clients need/want, therefore it’s a great idea to rent them out during prenatals/births, rather than the clients having to purchase their own!


You may click any of the supplies you are interested in, to be taken to a link of the product brand that we have used, and recommend!

Aloe Vera Gel (excellent to replace lubricant for a doppler, minor burns, skin healing and more)

Helios Homeopathy (hundreds of remedies, comes with a guide book)

Cramp Bark Tincture (for those brutal postpartum cramps that some mamas get)

Shepherds Purse Tincture (for excessive bleeding post-placental delivery, NO USE BEFORE PLACENTA HAS BEEN DELIVERED IT MAY CAUSE RETAINMENT)

Motherwort Tincture (excessive bleeding prior to and after placental delivery):

Washcloths (Mamas can use for compress, or cool cloths on the back/forehead/chest):

Authentic Rebozo (ALWAYS support businesses that derive from the culture that originally crafted the utilization of the Rebozo)

Baby Blankets

Heating Pad

Snacks (for you and whomever else needs them)

Birth Ball

Blood Pressure Cuff (for rental, no diagnosing allowed on your part as a birth worker)

Doppler & Fetoscope (for rental as well), check on LetGo, OfferUp and Marketplace for barely used ones!

Baby/Fundal Height Measurement Tape (rental)

Baby Scale (rental)

High-dose Vitamin C & Bromelain capsules

Sitz Herbal Blend

Essential Oils.. My favorites are Rose, Orange, Lemon, Myrrh, Frankincense, Patchouli and Sandalwood 

Phone Charger

Contact Solution/Glasses (if you wear them)

Handheld Mirror

Hair Ties 

Ziploc (Gallon Freezer) for Placenta

Honey Sticks


Non-Latex Gloves 

Cord Ties


Multiple copies of client’s birth plan

Your ID, especially for hospital births, it will be REQUIRED to enter!

Did I miss something that helped you?? Drop a comment!!


Birthing Self Confidence – How your Birth Empowers Life Going Forward

It is beautiful watching women evolve through pregnancy and child birth. It is no secret that birth is transformational, though most have no idea how significant this transformation is. Most have no idea that their birth choices, especially place of birth, can impact their entire life going forward.


Photo of Kara-Louise Hoppo and baby, freebirthed Jan. 2nd 2019

Some women leave their birth experience feeling traumatized. Many spend their postpartum trying to heal from their experience. Some left with PTSD for the rest of their life. This can impact postpartum, causing many women to become depressed or experience postpartum depression and/or anxiety.


Photo of Hannah Lee and baby freebirthed on May 24th 2017

After a traumatic birth, many women feel broken, as if their body failed them or is faulty compared to the average woman. When really, it was not her body that failed. Most importantly, a traumatic birth can impact the way mom and baby bond. No good!


Photo of Anonymous with baby freebirthed on August 1st 2018

Some women, on the other hand plan their birth. They self educate on pregnancy and physiological birth process, get familiar with what to expect in birth, they may or may not hire a provider, only after diligently questioning the provider to get a sense of their view of birth. They choose a location that feels safest to them, and they manifest a positive and healthy birth.


Photo of myself (Desirae) and my first freebirth baby June 6th 2017

They experience their empowered birth, whatever that is for the woman, a planned cesarean or freebirth and everything in between! They are then left with something a woman cannot gather elsewhere. The empowerment and invincibility a woman carries for the rest of her days, after bringing forth life in empowerment, is irreplaceable.


Photo of Anonymous and baby freebirthed on May 9th 2019

This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed as a Birthkeeper of unassisted and physiological birth. I see timid, modest, and ambivalent women blossom into unassailable, indomitable, secure, assertive, and self confident women. Women who used to be passive or acquiescent, transform into assertive, tenacious beings. Unafraid to stand ground and speak their own truth!


Photo of Danielle Snelling and baby on August 11th 2015

I see women who previously did not see their worth go on to gain security in their own self and hold themselves on higher ground. These women transform into invincible powerhouses that will carry on through out the rest of their life. They are empowered – this is what empowerment is!


Photo of Treva Ansbach and baby freebirthed on December 16th 2018

Birth is such a crucial experience, knowing what to expect and making educated choices for your birth is important! Your confidence and knowledge surrounding birth plays a huge roll on outcome.


Photo of Jordan Cloyd and baby born April 3rd 2019

You do not want to be in labor, uneducated, just doing as instructed by a medical provider. That is how you end up with a traumatic experience. Be informed, know what to expect, choose your birth location and birth team with vigilance and diligence.


Photo of Gloria and identical babies, freebirthed on March 9th 2019

What you choose absolutely will impact the rest of your life, set yourself up for success! As Ina May states, “Wherever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.”


Photo of myself after my second freebirth on June 15th 2019

All women pictured I know personally and found empowerment in their birthing experience. Many of the births I was present for or showed up there after and I can tell you first hand, transformation was apparent, even in the moments immediately postpartum. These women are empowered for life, and you can be too!

Find out how you can empower yourself and other women to achieve this happiness and empowerment by visiting our freebirth course. And if you’d like to help other mothers achieve this empowerment, don’t forget to have a look at our birthkeeper course.
Be the change in birth, help women find this place of bliss and life time fulfillment of empowerment. Supporting women as they go through the journey and transformation of pregnancy and birth!
Join us – you won’t regret it!