Holding Space

Holding Space

Denise Bolds MSW, CD(DONA)

November 15, 2015

“There’s a place, a space of
joining, a scared time, you and me become we.”  Denise Bolds.

Holding space – many take it
for granted, others cherish it. As a black birth doula, holding space is one of
the supports I make sure my families have. The moment of love is a space of
sacred accord; where two people agree to love one another. The moment of
conception is also a sacred space, when the sperm penetrates the egg; a bond formed and energy shared.

I support many births; black,
white, Asian, Latino, same-sex, single, married, couples; all instinctively
engage in the same act, bonding with the newborn and with each other as new
parents. It doesn’t matter how many times a woman has given birth; she bonds
with her baby. A special connection occurs within that moment of skin-to-skin
and meeting of the eyes.

As a birth doula it is my
responsibility to advocate, to hold space for the newborn and parent(s). Many
couples have cultures and traditions that are done at the birth of a child that
may include singing, prayers, silence, reading a passage, whatever it is I am
holding space for them and their new baby in this moment.

As a black woman with
southern and Native American roots, I deeply understand the value of holding
space: many of my slave ancestors gave birth to their babies only to have them
snatched away and sold. My African roots are built on traditions; many African
tribes have ceremonies heralding the birth of a baby. These traditions were
abolished when the Africans was brought to America as slaves.

Holding space is politely
done with gentle reminders to the L&D staff and is kept within professional
boundaries. This can be requested as part of a client’s birth preference
developed before the birth.

Why hold space? It is so
vital in the validation of the mother-baby union. It is affirming the bond of
the parents as supporter of one another as well as commitment. This builds
self-esteem and strengthens the family bond. It is a once in a lifetime event
that cannot be replicated until death. Holding space is just a poignant as the
baby crowning or cutting the cord.

In this scared space the
newborn claims his/her mother’s breasts; the life source that is found through
smell, sight, touch and instinct. This act is a wonder and miracle all in one.

Hold that space, it doesn’t
matter what race, ethnicity or relationship status; holding space for the
inevitable, instinctual human tradition is a blessing to witness and a wondrous,
unforgettable reminder of just how sacred and amazing birth is. Bold Doula is honored to hold space for you and your birth.

***These two amazing photos
were taken by myself with the permission of my clients.***

Doula Interviewing Safety

Doula Interviewing Safety

Doula Interviewing Safety

Denise Bolds – Bold Doula

September 27, 2015

With so many new doulas entering into the field, social media is buzzing with incidents around doula safety in an interview. Unfortunately, much is assumed; there are no workshops, articles or blogs in the mainstream communication highway about this topic – Bold Doula is jumping in! 

As an MSW social worker, I am trained in the skill of interviewing as well as observing signs when an interview imposes upon safety. Recently, I attended business training for doulas, the facilitator commented on the interview process: “I can’t do a doula interview in a coffee shop or library! I just can’t get into my groove!”  My thoughts went to the many doulas she excluded in her innocuous statement. The facilitator went on to say, she has clients come to her office, if they want her services; she feels clients can come to her, Monday through Friday.

That all sounds good and that may be, but tell me facilitator; where does that leave me? Many doulas do not have the luxury of having a freestanding office.  Many doulas live in suburban to rural areas that are spread out geographically. Many doulas cannot afford the overhead a freestanding office, with the expense of utilities. I have an office, in my home.  I do not invite prospective clients to my home, my sanctuary, my turf to conduct a doula interview. Most if not all of my interviews are done in public venues such as Panera, Barnes & Nobles, Starbucks, public libraries, community centers and mall food courts, etc. Many prospective clients request that I meet them at their home. There is nothing wrong with meeting your potential clients were they are, so long as you practice safety.

My business is one of a sole proprietor; I am always on my grind, securing clients.  What I’m not is desperate; I am careful and watchful of the doula interview in the home of the prospective client.  Here are a few tips:

·      Interviews that are initiated by the male partner calling. If I cannot or do not speak with the prospective mother-to-be, the interview ain’t happening!

·      Any interview after 7:30 PM. I make sure to call and make sure the appointment is confirmed.

·      I try to show up a few minutes early and park nearby. I observe the area/block of the address of the interview for at least 10 minutes.

·      When I arrive at the home and the mother-to-be is not there, I will wait 15 minutes in my car, after that, I am leaving.

·      I am mindful of weekend appointments, I completely understand the need for them – I try to make them as early as possible.

·      In the home I bring my own water bottle and I use the restroom prior to arriving at the address of the interview.

·      I also request that any large dogs be contained before I enter the home.

·      Do not carry cash on you.  Be mindful of flashy jewelry, dress business casual with low-heeled shoes in case you have to run. Do not let your clothing be a factor in hindering you in case you are attacked or confronted.

·      Leave major credit cards at home as well as your checkbook. Lock them in your car if you must take them with you.

·      When you are in the house, please notice where the exits are.

·      Try to sit so that you are able to see the front door or nearest exit.

·      Ask if there is anyone else attending the interview.

·      The ‘doula scarf’ I see TONS of doulas wear as a tribute to rebozo or whatever it is – It is a method to grab you in a chokehold during an attack.  I suggest leaving the scarf in your car until after the interview.

·       Big red flag:  any weapons or drug paraphernalia out in plain sight; it’s time to leave – immediately.

I am able to engage with the client in their home, on their turf knowing they are comfortable and trust me enough to invite me.  In public areas, I am also very comfortable and I remind my prospective clients that we are conversing in a public area and to be mindful of the volume of our conversation. Once a working relationship is established with the prospective client is now a contract paid client, a professional relationship can be built – along with establishing trust and boundaries.

It is crucial in our hectic, busy lives as doulas during these home interviews, you have a point person whom you keep in constant communication with; you let that person know where you are and for how long. You also call in with that person when you are back in your car safely leaving the completed interview.

I know doulas are to uphold confidentiality. If you are involved in a situation that sounds like something you are reading here, please share your experience with peer doulas in either a meeting, smartphone communication or social media inbox messaging – there are ways to withhold information of identification that will maintain confidentiality and still advise other doulas in the area of a potential unsafe encounter, or a known predator.

If you truly believe in yourself and what you are doing as a doula, you will be able to promote and interview yourself and your services well no matter where you are! Please practice safety!  Now, go and sign that client! 

Doula, It’s Your Business to Know Business.

Doula, It’s Your Business to Know Business.

by Denise Bolds, MSW CD(DONA)

October 3, 2015

As a doula that owns a business in maternal health, I commit myself to growing my business. How am I accomplishing this? By doing the groundwork and laying the foundation in order to build my doula practice securely upon.

Frequently, doulas come to me and ask me so many questions, many of these questions are about business: “Denise, how did you do this? Where did you get that? I see what you are doing, can I see what you have?” My ego is stoked, but my practical side sees this as a teachable moment.

There are tons of resources that focus on business. Before taking any kind of advanced business training, please get your business basics down first:

·      Take a Business 101, Entrepreneurial training in your community. These classes can be found at your local library, community center and the local chamber of commerce. If you don’t have any of these where you live, get in your car and get over to the next town that has them!

·      Go online and Google ‘Doula Contracts, Organization Plan or Policy & Procedures’ spend time online doing research. I know you have small children, spouses/partners. It’s no excuse – if you want it, you will get it. You will find time to get this wisdom; it is your business to do so.

·      Many communities have SCORE – Service Corps of Retired Execs. They have educators and mentors that can help you build your business smarts.

·      Your local chamber of commerce offers workshops, as well as the business expo that is in your area yearly. Both of these venues offer great resources to put you into the mind of business.

·      Many communities have a Women’s Economic Development Program (WEDC) offers courses, workshops and mentors. Check and see if your community has one set up or in a nearby town.

·      Your state also has an MWBE program – join/certify. Having your MWBE distinction is Minority Women & Business Enterprises. Another awesome tool that hosts workshops and annual conferences where you can learn and network. Many of what I have stated above are free or low cost.

·      Obtain your Medicaid Provider Number in your state. You never know when you may need it! Doula services are on the front burner of reimbursement issues in many states be ahead of the game!

·      Set a goal that you will obtain this knowledge in a certain amount of time at little to no cost at a pace that you can digest this knowledge so that it stays with you. Taking a one-day, several hours course with little education prep is both overwhelming and a waste of your money/time.

·      If you come to me and ask me to mentor you – please be ready to work. I’m not handing you anything. Time is so valuable, be ready to be focused and dedicated.

Make it your business, to know business. It’s a waste of money and valuable time for you to take an advanced business class and not know the distinction of LLC, Incorporation, not have a separate checking account for your doula business, not know about liability insurance… It goes on and on. Business knowledge is not an instantaneous thing; it’s a process.

Still having a hard time getting in the know? Host a small doula circle where you are and do information sharing. You can also host a doula circle for information sharing as a teleconference.  Remember to stay organized in your education; have a dependable notebook where you can write down all of what you learn, whom you encounter and where these resources come from so you can review, and organize to fit your business and your business needs.

Lastly, remember nothing is written in stone. Be ready to change, shift and revise over and over again. This is called growth. Your business is just a unique as you are; however the business basics apply to everyone. You cannot skip over or take an abbreviated course. Be through, this is your business, it is your baby and a baby takes 40 weeks to develop before birth!