If you anything like me, you came to doula work because you felt called to support parents and families in and around birth.
But, the running a business part - that part was COMPLETELY foreign to me.
Today, I'm going to share a bit with you about a tool I've found so helpful in keeping my little business running smoothly - Dubsado.*
Now when I say tool, you could think of, say, a can opener or a power saw, and Dubsado is most certainly the latter.
So what is Dubsado? Dubsado is a client management system that seamlessly puts together client inquiries, intake forms (they call these questionnaires), service selections (they call these proposals), contracts, invoicing, and scheduling.
Do you struggle with getting contracts signed, consults scheduled, or invoices paid? Dubsado can significantly lighten your load, allowing you to automate your workflows. The path from scheduling a consult, filling an intake form, selecting a package, signing a contract, and paying an invoice can all flow automatically.
Do you spend significant time crafting emails that essentially say the same thing again and again? Dubsado's canned email feature can save you a ton of time. You still have the option to customize and edit before one goes out, but having a blueprint to follow can be an amazing help.
Do you want to keep all your client information organized and easily accessible no matter where you are? Dubsado makes that possible keeping all client emails, forms, appointments, and payments together in one tidy and easy to navigate client file. I love that I can access it on the go, no matter where I am, making it easy to pull up my appointment schedule, a client's preferences for in-home overnight support, and more.
Do you want to streamline communication with your clients and make it easy for them to access all client materials? You guessed it - Dubsado does that, too. The client portal feature give clients a clean, professional user interface to represent your brand.
That said, Dubsado does require some time and effort on your part to set up forms and workflows - but these are infinitely customizable so they can truly reflect your brand. And, they offer tutorials as well as extremely responsive customer service, so if you find yourself a bit confused, help is just a chat box away.
Want to give it a whirl? When you sign up, Dubsado let's you experiment with three client leads for FREE without a time limit. That means you can take your time setting things up and exploring the platform before you commit. And, when you are ready, you can use my affiliate code nestedmama to save 20%.
All in all, Dubsado let's me spend less time on the mundane business aspects and MORE time with client support - and isn't that what we all want in the end?
*This post includes affiliate links for Dubsado.
Are you a prospective doula looking for information on training and certification? Head here for more info!
Sometimes, early pregnancy can feel really lonely.
You've taken a test. Maybe you feel elated. Maybe you feel overwhelmed. Maybe you feel worried. Maybe you feel all those things and more - all at once.
Ooof. It's a lot.
Do you wish you could talk to someone and be completely honest about all these feelings, someone who really gets it?
Enter Prenatal Doula Support for early pregnancy.
The first trimester of any pregnancy can be hard as hormones increase dramatically and the pregnant person's body experiences changes. Add in other factors like previous experiences with loss, fertility challenges, pregnancy that came sooner (or much later) than expected, big feelings from a previous pregnancy or birth, or any number of things, and these early days and weeks can feel tremendously hard.
Here at Nested Mama you'll find Prenatal Doula support designed with you in mind. Online packages offer emotional and informational support no matter where you are, and if you are local to me, you can pair this with In-Home visits when you need a helping hand.
Jones, Catherine and Rose Ann Hudson. Eating for Pregnancy: Your Essential Month-by-Month Nutrition Guide and Cookbook. 3rd ed. New York: De Capo Press, 2019.
Recipes in the early months include ingredients targeted to ease the difficulties of nausea, too, which can be helpful when the thought of deciding what to eat feels much harder than it should. In addition to this middle recipe section, the book includes introductory chapters on prenatal nutrition as well as a discussion of eating, breastfeeding, and postpartum weight loss.
There is much to appreciate about what Jones and Hudson offer in this weighty book. When we found out we were having our first child, it inspired us to take a serious look at our eating habits and learn more about optimal nutrition and how we could make that more of a priority for our family. I love that the recipe section includes easy to read labeling for those looking for gluten-free meals or vegan meals or several other dietary concerns.
Though this newest edition advertises itself as "completely revised and updated," the discussion of alcohol and breastfeeding could use an evidence-based update. And, in the discussion of the difficulties of life after baby, more talk of reaching out for professional help if possible would make this book even more comprehensive. I do note, however, that having a chapter on postpartum mental health in this nutrition book was unexpected and much appreciated!
If you are a reader who has a history of disordered eating or struggles with body image, I would caution against the opening and closing sections of the book. With its emphasis on calorie discussion and "ideal" weight gain, the early chapters may be less rather than more helpful for some readers. Similarly, the discussion of dieting in the later chapters, while gentle, still uses a lot of the mainstream language common in diet culture and may be triggering for some readers.
If you'd like a helping hand exploring new recipes and emphasizing whole food habits as you gestate your sweet babe, the thoughtful month-by-month layout of this book may work well for you. But, please be gentle to yourself and understanding of your own relationship with food as you approach the opening and closing sections of the book.
Looking for more evidence-based info as you prepare for birth and baby? Nested Mama offers a full range of classes including childbirth education, breastfeeding, infant sleep education, and planning for postpartum.
Real talk time. One of the hardest aspects for me as I move through pregnancy and postpartum comes from my changing body.
While I deeply respect and understand the work my body does during the childbearing year, I'm also a person who struggles with transition. And, the constant transitions of my body are hard on me both physically and mentally.
After finding out I was expecting baby #4, I vowed to be even more intentional this go-round in how I prepared my body for the work of carrying this baby and giving birth.
Then first trimester exhaustion plus the work of keeping up with my trio of kiddos, homeschooling, and business hit me like a truck - survival became the name of the game.
As I emerged (finally) from the fog of that rough trimester, I found myself with energy again (yay!) and the desire to put it to good use. Looking around at the options for prenatal fitness, I knew that in this incredibly busy season that found me solo parenting and juggling all the things while also growing this baby, I would be squeezing anything into the nooks and crannies of my days.
Perhaps even more importantly, I needed a program that would help me turn my focus away from the noise and the numbers of my changing body and instead toward meeting my needs for support with understanding and gentleness toward myself.
A chance recommendation in a local parenting group led me to find my way to MommaStrong. Immediately, I was drawn to the message of MommaStrong, a message that eschewed the narratives of "transformation" so popular in the fitness industry writ large for one of function, strength, and treating yourself with kindness as you navigate the tricky seasons of growing and raising tiny humans.
The first video I clicked on discussed the way in which our culture has normalized incontinence after birth - a normalization that does not equal the health or wellness for those who deal with this issue. As a postpartum doula, I found myself nodding and yelling "yes!" at that video, pretty much sold at that point.
I signed up early in the second trimester and have been "showing up" regularly to my mat now for several months. Below are some of the many reasons MommaStrong has been such an important part of this pregnancy.
As a professional who works with families before and after baby, I love being able to refer clients to this fabulous resource. And, MommaStrong has a specific section dedicated to clinicians, so if you are a doula or birth professional, check this out!
So far I've seen the benefits of MommaStrong, but I'm excited to see how it impacts life after baby - I'll be sure to follow up with a blog on that in the coming months.
Last month I shared a bit about the awesome client management system Dubsado, and all that it can do to help your business run better.
But, if you are just starting to build your business, you may not feel ready to make the leap into a paid system or platform until you know just what you need.
I've been there, too. So, today I'm sharing with you a list of FREE tools that I've personally used and leveraged to build my business until I felt ready to make that jump.
PleaseFor client intake forms:
As a doula, you need to keep track of your client's preferences, information, and more. Here, Google Forms is your friend. This free option allows some degree of customization in terms of color and an image at the top. And, the drag and drop form builder is super straightforward.
For online invoicing:
Wave allows you to invoice clients, collect payment via credit card or bank transfer, and includes accounting options as well. While other invoicing options have some bells and whistles, Wave is perfect if you intend to primarily utilize invoicing, and the processing fees are straightforwad.
For digital contracts:
Sign Request (affiliate link)* offers a free plan that can get you started with 15 free signed documents. If you'd like to upgrade to a paid plan their are lots of additional add-ons, but the free plan is enough to get your business up and making getting contracts signed quick and easy.
If you'd like to avoid the back and forth email train of trying to set a time for initial consult or prenatal meetings or postpartum visits, a scheduling tool like Calendly can make it a snap to streamline the process. Again, the free plan gives you all you need to get up and running, with the option to add more paid features later.
Do you want to offer clients the option to video chat for initial consults? Zoom offers a free plan that includes unlimited time limits for one-on-one video chats, and a 40 min time limit for meetings that include more users.
For graphic design
Looking to create social graphics, brochures, business cards, and more? Canva is an awesome free tool to create beautiful branding for your business. Their graphic and photo library includes images you can use for free as well as those you can purchase a license for or upgrade to their Pro account for even more options.
For stock photos:
Unsplash has a library of gorgeous photos. While you may eventually want to pay for photos more tailored specifically to your brand, this is a great first resource as you start to create graphics and materials.
For social media scheduling:
Later offers a free plan that can you get started streamlining your social media posts. While the free plan limits you in the number of posts scheduled per month as well as scaled back features, it can be enough to help you sort out that piece of the business in a more efficient manner.
I hope this gives you some tools to jump into your business and feel confident moving forward. Did I miss one of your favorites? Please share in the comments!
*Affiliate links provide a small commission - these commissions help keep the Nested Mama blog up and running. Thank you for your support!
Are you looking for affordable, eco-friendly solutions for everyday cleaning? Maybe you'd like to involve your children in family cleaning, but you don't feel comfortable with the products you are using?
I'm with you. Having my kiddos made me take much more pause before grabbing a cleaner off the store shelf and toting it home to use.
But, I also need convenience. Anything I make has to be quick and easy.
And, I confess, I do love the convenience of any kind of wipes - no spraying or soaping - just open and go.
Today, I'm sharing with you a super simple cleaning recipe I've used for several years. While it takes a few minutes to make, the end result is easy-peasy like those store-bought wipes. But, with confidence in the ingredients and a reusable wipe - woohoo!
-washcloths or rags (I use about 12 washcloths for this recipe myself - you may like more or less depending on how damp you'd like them to be.)
- container that will hold your rags + solution
- 1 c. distilled water (or water you've boiled for 10 minutes)
- 1 c. white vinegar
- 2 TB vodka
(While some add essential oils to these types of recipes, I'm pretty cautious with any EO usage because of babes/toddlers/kids/pets.)
Combine all ingredients in the bottom of whatever container will fit your rags. (I use a container I saved from the recycling.) Roll cloth wipes and stand upright in solution. Close lid and give a little shake. The cloth wipes will naturally soak up the solution and be damp when you pull one out to use.
Open container and pull out wipe. Clean. Toss in laundry. When container is empty, it is time to make another batch!
While I can imagine these wipes fulfilling several jobs, they are our go to for wiping down bathroom sinks, counters, and the outside of toilet bowls. I've found that a deep clean may be expecting too much from my kiddos, but they are all capable of a daily wipe down.
And, a daily wipe down to their standards is much better than waiting until I have the chance and need for a *deep* clean.
Happy eco-baby living!
Looking for other Eco Baby friendly recipes and projects? Check out all the Nested Mama Blogs on this topic here!
The first time I dug into reading and learning about signs of fertility, charting, and what that could mean for me, I was in my early twenties. A few years on hormonal birth control - supposedly to "fix" issues with ovarian cysts and eventually for family planning - resulted in a symptom after symptom that required more medications just to keep me functional enough to attend graduate school.
While my providers initially dismissed the connections between symptoms and the pill, I now know that my some of my symptoms indicated that I could be at increased risk for stroke when taking hormonal birth control. At that point, I knew there had to be a better way.
While jokes about natural family planning abound - I remember a midwife telling me it was "naturally planning to have a family" - there are a wide variety of methods to chart and interpret fertility. These methods can be leveraged for a variety of purposes - to understand your body, to conceive a child, or to prevent pregnancy.
So here's a little bit more about fertility charting and why you may love it, too.
1. Understanding your body
When I first dove into research concerning various methods of fertility charting at age 23, my initial reaction was one of extreme frustration. Why had no one provided this education to me 10 years ago when I went through puberty? Beyond noting the difference between healthy and problematic discharge, I had NO IDEA that the variations in cervical mucus I observed when going to the bathroom had a rhyme and reason connected to my cycle and fertility.
Charting your fertility allows you to connect more deeply with yourself and your understanding of your own biology. Regardless of whether or not you employ this to plan your family, it is a powerful tool simply in that - knowing they whats and whys of your own body.
2. This isn't your grandmother's rhythm method.
A lot of the jokes and assumptions you'll hear about any mention of charting your fertility or a variety of approaches to natural family planning assume that you are discussing the rhythm method - an approach to family planning where you time your intercourse around the assumption of a 28 day cycle, where ovulation is predicted at day 14.
While these numbers of 28 and 14 are often cited in a discussion of how fertility works, in actuality many women experience a large spectrum of variation in the length of their cycle which in turn means that ovulation does not occur when a simple counting of calendar days would put it.
So if counting doesn't work, how do we chart fertility? Much more reliable than simple generalizations is an observation of your OWN particular signs of fertility. Here, several approaches to fertility charting fall under the umbrella of Symptothermal Methods - that is, methods that rely on charting your basal body temperature as well as other signs of fertility such as cervical mucus and the position of your cervix.
3. Timing conception.
Charting your fertility can allow you an understanding of your fertility window - the time in which conception is likely to occur - as well as confirming that ovulation occurred. Instead of aiming for day 14, you can tailor your plans directly to the specific indications of fertility given in your own cycle.
If you've been trying to conceive for a few months and are starting to feel frustrated, fertility charting can be a noninvasive approach to gaining more information.
4. Trouble Shooting
The data gained in fertility charting can also aid you in trouble shooting potential issues. Wondering if you are ovulating after going off hormonal birth control? Your basal body temperature can help you confirm whether or not an ovulatory event occurs. Some data could indicate a variety of natural supplements to explore, while other aspects of charting could indicate if their are concerns with hormone levels. All in all, it provides a host of data points to bring to a knowledgeable medical provider if and when you have questions about your cycle.
5. Family Planning
When I discuss the family planning aspect of fertility charting with clients, I'm always reminded that choices around this topic are intensely personal and should always be in tune with a client's values, needs, and preferences.
Recently, the CDC changed its view on the efficacy of Fertility Awareness Based Methods for contraception - citing a failure rate of 2%-23%.
Why such larger variation? This big span in numbers is due to the wide variety of methods that fall under the umbrella of this category, with some offering more efficacy than others. And, when you consider the failure rates cited for a variety of common birth control methods - condoms (13%), pill/patch (7%), shot (4%) - those looking for an alternate tool for family planning may find a fertility awareness method with a lower failure rate appealing.
Regardless of your plans for conception or family planning, fertility charting allows you to connect with your cycle in a new and helpful way. I hope I've piqued your interest to learn more.
Do you already chart your fertility? Share about your experiences in the comments!
Are you interested in learning more about fertility charting? As a fertility doula, I offer preconception support as well as charting education and support. Read more about these services here. Sign up for a discovery call, and we can have a quick chat to see if Nested Mama services are the right fit for you!
From Memorial Day to Labor Day in the Corridor, it is officially splash pad season! While my kiddos certainly have their favorites, we love to pack a picnic and set off to explore a new-to-us location to get our splash on.
Here, I'm highlighting some of our favorite splash pads to frequent, as well as offering an extensive list of places to splash as you make your way around Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and surrounding communities this summer. Enjoy! And, share your favorite in the comments!
Looking for a way to get your splash on without the crowds? Check out this list of awesome creek stomping locations in the Corridor!
Enjoying small water features at Hayes Park in Cedar Rapids.
With a fence surrounding it, the Tiffin City Park splash pad makes it easier to keep an eye on little ones as they play. The pad is very sunny, but a nearby picnic shelter can offer some shade.
Do you have a favorite place in the Corridor to cool down in the summer heat? Share with us in the comments below!
And, if you are looking for the scoop on outdoor adventures in the Corridor, check out Nested Mama's options for Local Family Fun!
It may surprise you that as a Sleep Educator, I do not suggest “routine” or “bedtime routine” as the be-all-end-all for a peaceful life with littles.
And, to be fair, I’m not anti-routine at all. I think we all - babies, kiddos, and grownups, too - benefit from predictability and cuing our bodies that it is sleep time with restful, relaxing steps.
But, at the same time, if your routine is so ironclad that it doesn’t make space for adaptability and flexibility when competing needs for various members of the family come up - then does that routine truly serve you?
Often on social media, I see responses to posts about infant or toddler sleep struggles that follow along the lines of “we’ve had a routine from day one and bedtime has never been an issue.” While those individuals do have a routine that works for them, more than likely it is a combo of parent and kiddo personality or sleep inclination - not the specifics of the routine - that result in this situation.
And, if you have a routine that you love and serves you - that’s awesome.
But, comments like these always make bedtime routines take on a vaguely mystical quality - as though with the right recipe for lotion/books/jammies/bath/song/what have you, children no longer wake at night or need parental support to fall asleep. When, as recent research tells us, it is more than likely that your child will need you at night.
So, if I don’t advocate for rigid routine, what do I suggest?
I’m a big fan of looking at sleep - and life, in general - in terms of a family rhythm. That means taking into account the ebb and flow of everyone’s day, everyone’s needs, and the things that bring you joy - together.
It may mean little one is napping on the go while you enjoy time with your older children at the park.
It may mean after a day of fun outside, you all come home and nap together - and then stay up late enough to see the fireflies.
It may mean that even though “they” suggest an early bedtime, a late afternoon catnap such that littlest can see the parent who gets home latest at night works better for your family.
And, here’s the thing, it is YOUR family. Therefore, the rhythm has to work for you- to serve your needs, rather than keep you locked into only one possible way of being day and night.
Sometimes implementing a rhythm that works for your family is hard to do. I get that, and in my one-on-one consultations I’m thrilled to help you sort out what kind of rhythm can work best - how to balance everyone’s needs and find rest and peace.
But, I’m also not going to tell you there is only one way to be - one schedule to have, one rhythm to find. Because then, you’re looking at MY rhythm, not yours.
And, in many ways, that’s the best part of this work - helping you follow your intuition and letting it guide you in your choices.
Because at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.
Looking for sleep support for your infant or toddler? Check out Nested Mama's infant and toddler parent workshops and one-on-one consultations.
Are you considering adding a new little one to your family, but you still have a nursling?
Are you wondering about breastfeeding while pregnant, weaning in pregnancy, or tandem nursing?
Unless you have a friend or family member who has nursed during and perhaps through a pregnancy, you may not be familiar with options and resources for nursing while pregnant.
Here are a collection of FAQs and resources you may find helpful.
***As always, consult your medical provider for any questions about your specific situation.
How does nursing impact ability to conceive?
The hormones at work in breastfeeding can delay the return of the breastfeeding parent's fertility, so it depends on many individual factors as far as when and if one can conceive while breastfeeding. While some experience the return of fertility with in a few months of giving birth while breastfeeding, others may not until fully weaning. Because ovulation can occur before the onset of the first menses, some breastfeeding parents may conceive without every noting the return of their cycle, while others may experience anovulatory cycles before a full return of fertility. If you wish to understand and chart your cycle, a fertility doula is a great first resource as you navigate this time.
Is it safe to nurse during pregnancy?
Nursing releases oxytocin, which is the same hormone that causes uterine contractions. However, research suggests that this level of oxytocin, similar to that released during orgasm, does not pose an increased risk for miscarriage or preterm labor. There are certain situations of pregnancy or complications where you may be advised to wean, and these should be discussed with your medical provider.
Will I be able to provide for my nursling while pregnant or will my supply be impacted?
Whether or not you need to supplement with donor milk or formula will depend on your unique situation as well as little one's age and stage. For babies under a year, breastmilk or formula should still be the primary form of nutrition - and diapers and weight gain are the indicators of sufficient intake. (Always consult your medical provider if you have concerns about baby's intake.) Older babies may gradually transition to more solid food intake, and older nurslings may choose to nurse more or less frequently depending on changes in supply and taste. Kellymom notes that while a decrease in supply by the midpoint of pregnancy is typical, some notice a lessening of supply (and perhaps increased demand from their nursling) as early as the first month of pregnancy.
What are the challenges of nursing while pregnant?
While the experiences of breastfeeding while pregnant may vary to person to person, some challenges you may note include feeling touched out or aversions to nursing. You may also experience sensitivity and pain with nursing during different points in the pregnancy. If your nursling is a toddler, you may be successful setting loving limits around your nursing times that allow you to sustain this relationship during pregnancy.
What about colostrum - will my baby still get enough?
While pregnant, your body will switch from mature milk to the production of colostrum. This colostrum production continues until hormonal changes from the delivery of the placenta in the third stage of labor triggers a shift into transitional and then mature milk. After the new baby is born, you may want to make sure to feed the new baby first to insure he or she gets those good antibodies. And, your older nursling may experience some laxative effects from the colostrum, as well.
What is tandem nursing and how does that work?
If you choose to nurse an older sibling through pregnancy, tandem nursing - nursing two at the same time - is an option. A great resource on this topic - even for those just starting to think about nursing and pregnancy - is La Leche League's Adventures in Tandem Nursing. Full of evidence-based information as well as the personal stories of breastfeeding parents who have nursed through pregnancy and beyond - this book is thorough and truly helpful.
As far as what tandem nursing looks like for your little family, know that there is no right or wrong. For some, setting limits with the older sibling as far as when and how long he or she can nurse works to help the breastfeeding parent not become overwhelmed. For others, the opportunity to nurse both at the same time allows for more rest as opposed to nursing the new baby and worrying about what the toddler could be doing.
If you do find yourself needing to set limits for your older child, making sure to communicate your wishes, offering other options for comfort (snuggling, reading a book, having a snack or a drink), and being empathetic to any big feels can be so helpful. Here, making sure to have a solid postpartum plan to support you as you navigate these early days with sibling interaction can also be truly important.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.