The Weekly Newsletter for Heart of Houston Birth and Wellness Families and Friends.
World Doula Week
Happy Tuesday friends! With the exception of today, the weather has been so magnificent that my kids and I are already a few shades darker than we were a week ago. This past week was also World Doula Week and you know how much we love doulas around here. While I admit I'm a little biased about doulas, I can say with complete certainty that Houston has some of the very best in the business. You'll get to meet one of my favorites in just a minute.
Over the Weekend Midwife Mary and our favorite OB Dr. Damla Karsan, worked together to welcome two little ones at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women. It never ceases to amaze me how strong expectant parents are when things don't go as planned. When your baby and your body are telling us that they need a little help getting safely through labor we are so grateful to have the hospital privileges and the very best backup physician in the city. Welcome to the world little ones!
Doula are Dope
Obviously I'm pretty biased about doulas (having served hundreds of families over my career in birth work as a doula) but let's be honest, doulas are F-ing amazing. As I'm entering the final phase of my midwifery training I am constantly reminding myself that the roles are worlds apart. Mary Love often distinguishes the roles of midwives and doulas like this: Your midwife is the friend that assumes the role of the navigator. They research and prepare for the entire trip, they know about all the interstate road work you might encounter and the best way around it. Your navigator knows which route to take so you end up at Buc-ee's clean bathrooms. Their goal is to get everyone in the car, driver and passengers, from point A to point B the safest way possible so they are continuously planning 2, 3 and sometimes 10 steps ahead.
The doula is your BFF. She's the one who has the best playlists and podcasts queued up. She know everyone's favorite road snacks and packs all the things everyone else forgot like hand sanitizer, good toilet paper and emergency hair ties. She calms you when your road rage peaks and sings out of tune to make you laugh. She's your ride or die and you will forever remember how amazing she made you feel. So if you're on the fence about whether or not you should hire a doula for your birth just imagine a road trip where you get to your destination safely but it's just not the same without your BFF along for the ride.
This weekend's core class is one of my favorites: comfort measures. In this class myself and a few of my doula homies set up six or seven stations around the lobby and community room, each with different types of comfort techniques. What feels good now might not feel good in labor but this class will give your support person(s) a tool box full of options to whip out at different points in labor. Think about the things you like when you're not feeling great. Are you the type of person that wants to be alone in a quiet room under the covers with some lavender oil diffusing? Maybe you want to be in a quiet room but you like your partner next to you. Or maybe, you want to straight-up be doted on while watching reruns of Parks and Rec. Everyone has their go to routine when they are not feeling well. Many of those same things will apply when early labor begins but as things intensify and you enter into the primal part of your brain, you might struggle with expressing your needs. And even though it might be your partner's first time at a birth, they know you better than anyone else in the room and you will look to them to be your home base. We encourage you and anyone you're planning to have at your birth attend this class Saturday 4/2 from 2 to 4pm.
Getting to know you
A few weeks ago we showed you a day in the life of our super nurse Rachel. Midwife Bethany shares her day at Heart of Houston!
Meet Eleanor Prado
Who are you?
Eleanor Prado. I’m a Houston Doula and a student midwife. I run my own business as Eleanor Prado, Doula, but I am also a part of the amazing collective known as Premier Doulas of Houston. I’ve been a doula for 4 years and supported over 140 families.
How do you serve/help the pregnant and postpartum communities?
I serve the Houston community through doula work, community building, and education.
As a doula, I operate with a strong emphasis on informed consent. I believe that all births are valid and I strive to provide non-judgmental support and education to all of my clients so that they feel empowered in their choices and decisions as they go through this journey.
I also have a huge passion for Black maternal health. As a white individual, I want to use my privilege and voice to advocate against the inequalities facing Black birthing people in America.
Throughout the birth journey, I’m by your side helping you make decisions, doing research for you, and providing a listening ear. I bring comfort, normalize the sounds and sensations of birth, and can be a grounding force when everything seems to be going sideways.
In postpartum, I help the birthing parent heal. I provide emotional support along with evidence-based information regarding newborn care. I always tell my clients that the 4 walls of their house can get really small very quickly postpartum and the loneliness can be exacerbated by caring for a tiny human that cannot communicate very well. Postpartum support can not only calm the nerves but can give you the space to rest by taking care of the minutiae of baby care.
How did you get into this line of work?
After my first daughter was born, I realized that people everywhere need support in childbirth. I was living in New York and doing my undergrad at Fordham university when I became pregnant. I was only 21 and had little support during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. While pregnant, I became fascinated with the development of childbirth techniques and interventions. I devoured books on childbirth and although I was equipped with helpful information for my daughter’s birth, I struggled to find my voice while in labor. For my second pregnancy, I hired a doula and had a team of people supporting me. What a difference! I felt empowered and heard in labor even though very little went as planned. I decided that my passion for birth work would be my new career and now I strive to build a community of unconditional support around people as they enter parenthood.
What do you wish everyone knew about your area of expertise?
Parenthood is political. Birth work is political. A major problem exists in America regarding our maternal mortality rate. We also have high rates of postpartum mood disorders, and despite having amazing medical technology and being a highly advanced society, we are mostly failing our parents and babies from the very beginning. The system is particularly set up to fail BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ parents.
Doulas, along with other types of community birthworkers are working to combat this. How? Through education, advocacy, and support. We educate parents on their options and choices. We remind them that they are hiring their care providers and not the other way around. We remind them that care in pregnancy is a relationship that needs to be healthy and parents deserve to have an equal say in what happens to them. Consent is paramount. You cannot fully consent if you don’t fully understand what’s happening. Doulas also comfort. We remind you of your strength in birth. We humanize birth and personalize it. We witness the raw, powerful, beautiful, and untamed parts of birth. We are the biggest advocates and cheerleaders that you can have by your side! The work we do is incredibly intimate and incredibly beautiful.
What is most rewarding about your work?
The most rewarding thing about my job is the sense of community I get from my work. My work has the potential to be isolating as I insert myself into little nuclear families here and there throughout the city. However, when I touch lives and witness the transformation of parenthood, I can see little seeds of the community being planted. When I come together with other birthworkers and we talk about consent, the standard of care, and share our experiences with one another, I see the community grow. When I see parents building confidence through questions and conversations in small groups or with friends and neighbors, the community grows. These moments are often small, but it is incredibly heartwarming and humbling to be a part of the birth of new communities. When work gets challenging, it’s my community that keeps me going.
Tell us about something (or someone) you love.
I love gardening. I am currently obsessed with the little garden in my backyard and I visit her every evening to dig in the dirt a little, pull weeds, and tend to the little growing plants. This year I thought that planting 144 seedlings was a smart idea. I may or may not be overwhelmed in a couple of months by an excessive amount of produce. Check back for details about my mini farmers market coming soon. haha!
Thanks so much for all the great work you do, Eleanor!!! We love you!
This Week's Events
Thursday Postpartum support group: 10am-12pm Open to HOH clients and WHC members
Mindful Movement: Saturday 4/1 10:30-12pm First class is free to HOH clients and WHC members
Parents of School Age Children Support Circle Sunday 4/2 11am-1pm Free open to the public. Please RSVP
Core Class: Comfort Measures-Sunday 4/2 2-4pm Expectant folks are encouraged to bring their support person(s) for this hands on practice of various comfort measures for labor and birth. Open to HOH and WHC members only.
Monday Yoga with Bee: 10am, donation based for WHC and HOH clients, virtual attendance available, open to the public, please register!
Anxiety Support Circle: Monday 4/3 12-1pm
Core Class: Stages of Labor (makeup class on zoom) register for link
RSVP on all Calendar of Events page
New address 6550 Mapleridge Ste 100
Monthly Ongoing Events
**NO SECOND SUNDAY EVENTS IN APRIL**
Wednesday Virtual Postpartum Support Circle: Second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 10-12 on Zoom. HOH clients and Whole Heart Collective members. Email Jessica if you need more information.
Thursday In Person Postpartum Support Circle: 10-12 in the community room. Open to current HOH & WHC members. Feeding clinic first and third Thursdays of each month.
Queer Parent Circle: Second Sunday of every month 2-4pm Open to the public.
Parents of School Age Kids Circle: First Sunday of every month 11-1pm Open to the public.
Birth workers Circle: Second Sunday of every month 11am-1:30pm midwives, student midwives, doulas, birth assistants, Obs and L&D nurses are all welcome to attend.
Mindful Movements: First and second Saturday of each month 10:30-12
Yoga with Bee: Every Monday from 10-11am Open to the public members donation based register here.