Doulas Visit NY Milk Bank

Last week, a group of doula from NY and NJ visited the NY Milk Bank located just up the Saw Mill Pkwy in Valhalla where we learned about the Milk Banking Process, Lactoengineering, Bacillus, how breastmilk is considered a tissue in NY State, and much more lacto-lingo and breastmilk related info!

Julie Bouchet-Horwitz (Exec. Dir.) and Roseanne Motti (Operations Manager) and staff, do such great, important work at the Milk Bank helping moms and babies., “The New York Milk Bank is dedicated to improving the health and survival of infants in need by providing them with safely pasteurized donor human milk when their mothers’ own milk is unavailable or insufficient.” We had the idea to go there after NNJDoulaNet Founder, Rachel Connolly Kwock,,did her Certified Lactation Training and the instructor suggested doing so.

On the day of the tour, we arrived early to see the morning pour. The way it works is people send in their breastmilk and then, as needed, the milk gets thawed, strained, pooled and poured into containers in the clean lab, pasteurized (using the Holder method), batched/dated, tested, and then sent back out to hospitals or outpatient locations. 50 ml containers are often ordered by the hospitals, so the Milk Bank automatically prepare those size containers daily. You can see a great illustration here.

One of the main culprits they are looking for, when testing, is Bacillus, which forms spores when exposed to heat (which can survive pasteurization process). That is why Breastmilk/Nursing Pods are so great - because they provide a more sanitary environment for mom to pump. Learn more about safe milk banking here.

Some details:

  • The NYMB is accredited by the Joint Commission and have a Cold Chain Verification process (uninterrupted temperature control) to ensure quality and safety.

  • To receive milk via insurance, it is usually thru your provider, “Pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM), is prescribed by healthcare providers.”

  • The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) is the organization that sets the NYMB’s Guidelines for milk banking.

Sadly, some of the milk comes from mothers who have lost their babies. The image of the Tree of Life honors the angel babies whose mothers donated milk. As NYMB writes, “We know your heart is heavy. And that your body is most likely still responding to your baby's birth. This may bring you some comfort or it may be an unwelcome reminder of the baby you no longer have.“ We honor these families.

Learn more about the NY Milk Bank including how to donate milk, volunteer, or contribute monetary donations at their site https://www.nymilkbank.org. Thank you to all the doulas who made the trip! If you’d like to arrange a group tour, please contact Roseanne.

Some Links and Resourcies:

In NJ news: NJ law now requires health insurers to cover donated breast milk

About Lactation Big Business: Inside the growing business of mothers’ milk

Local Milk Depot Laid Back Lactation in Morristown

Finding a Doula in Northern NJ: From Private to Programs

Maternal Health and Community Doula Programs, Student Doulas, and Hospital and OB/GYN Doula Programs

There are many wonderful doulas in northern NJ and we believe there exist a good client doula match for everyone and enjoy helping people find that match. There are many ways to find a doula and we are happy to help get you started.

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For general referrals, there are many doula agencies cropping up that act as a referral for smaller groups of doulas (google "doula agency" + your county or town).

For a larger referral base, we recommend looking on DoulaMatch.net. For student doulas you can look on doulamatch and the profile will indicate if they in the process of earning their certification.

Word of mouth is always a great way too! We will keep you posted on a larger doula referral, just for northern NJ, currently being created by our doula colleagues. 

There are several organizations offering doula services as part of a social service or a program for which may qualify or simply live in the right area. Here are the ones we know of:

Maternal Health & Community Doula Programs:

  • The Partnership for Maternal & Child Health of Northern NJ offers The Community Health Worker (CHW), which is a program of Improving Pregnancy Outcomes (IPO) Initiative funded by New Jersey Department of Health. The Partnership operates CHW programs in Hudson, Union and Passaic Counties. The CHW can help prenatally and postpartum. They do not offer birth doula services.
  • SPAN IPO Community Doula Project offers labor support, home visits pre and postpartum, education and referrals. The project targets the Essex County communities, Newark, Irvington, East Orange and Orange.  To learn more about their doula services, pls email Rachel Ruel at rruel@spannj.org. (Pls note: The funding source for this project has recently changed, so they are temporarily on-hold accepting new clients).   
  • The Leaguers Head Start/ Early Head Start program services pregnant women and their families through weekly 90 minute home visits and bi-weekly group socialization events. They offer doula referrals. For more information see their Pregnant Services Program
  • Birth Haven offers shelter, support, and education for homeless, pregnant women and girls in Newton, NJ area. Their services include helping the mother obtain a doula (from doulas Birth Haven has existing relationships).

Student Doulas:

  • To find a student doula in northern NJ, you can contact local DONA trainers- for example, Laura DePasquale and Dorothy Haines for DONA and Kimberleigh Weiss-Lewit for BAI and ask if they can please refer you to students (those are just a few trainer examples as there are many more). Also, you can ask in FB or WhatsApp mommmy groups and you can also inquire at NNJDoulaNet@gmail as we often get inquiries from student doulas seeking qualifying births. 

Hospital & OB/GYN Programs:

  • If you are lucky to live near Valley Ridgewood, you can take advantage of their hospital doula program. Also, Morristown Memorial Center has a couple of doulas on staff (we are awaiting verification if they are only for clinic patients). Rates and terms vary, so be sure to know what you are signing up for. Also, several OB/GYN & Midwifery offices have doulas on-staff, such as Wombkeepers in Montclair, and Integrative Obstretrics in Jersey City, and Midwives of NJ (the latter being a combined role of Midwife's Assistant/Doula/Photographer). A doula by definition is supposed to be working for the client and not the provider, so having your provider supply the doula poses a fundamental conflict. Also the staff doula might only meet you at the hospital, and not the home, so take care researching the right type of doula for your birth.  

Good luck researching and finding your perfect doula! 

How to Get Birth Doula Certified (and the Problem with Umbrella Certifying Organizations)

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There are literally over 90 (ninety!) certifying organizations listed on doulamatch right now - dozens of them available right here in NJ. There are many things to consider when choosing a certifying organization, such as: what communities do you want to serve, what services do you want to offer and your priorities, do you prefer online learning or in-person workshops, how much do you want to invest, what will your doula network be? A great way to start is to start researching avenues, chat with other birth professionals you know, and start saving time and money.

Currently one does not need to be certified in NJ to work as a doula and according to DoulaMatch only 17% of doulas listed in NJ also have their certifications listed (more are likely certified but have not uploaded their certification). Some cannot get certified due to limited resources, others choose not get certified because they do not wish to be bound by the agreements of a certifying organization, and still others are probably working on their certifications. This can become a point of conflict if a doula wishes to work at certain locations or if NJ receives the medicaid waiver is passed for doula services in NJ.

To give an example of a conflict with a location, the new Our Birthing Center in Morristown states it only accepts DONA certified birth doula affiliates. This is an example of how people making decisions, either at birth centers, hospitals, or in government, desire that safety net of saying they only accept doulas of X experience from the "largest and most respected doula organization in the world". DONA

This one-size fits all approach has the potential to significantly reduce the benefit of the medicaid waiver bill (if it goes thru) on the communities that could use it most. The reason being is that many doulas are not certified by DONA, especially doulas living and working in communities of color. To give an example of this, the Essex County Community Doula Program bases their training on the Ancient Song Doula Services Training, which is a program customized and independently developed by Chanel L. Porchia-Albert and Patricia Thomas of Ancient Song, i.e. not affiliated with an umbrella organization such as DONA or Bradley or Cappa. 

If the Medicaid waiver goes thru, many of the women who the Community Program serves and who are insured via Medicaid and could greatly benefit from taking advantage of the waiver, would not be able to use it because most of the doulas in the program are certified thru Ancient Song Doula Services, a program that is not necessarily the "largest and most respected doula organization in the world".

What can be done? Carefully consider these factors when choosing a doula path. Also... write your representatives and let them know the value of having a diversity of doula certifications and that a one-size fits all approach when it comes to doula care does not work and can in fact work against what they are trying to do - to have healthy moms and babies and improve pregnancy outcomes! 

Once you've considered all the above and if you choose to get certified - here are some of the organizations NNJ doulas have been more commonly certified thru: Ancient Song Doula Services, CAPPA, Doula Trainings International, ProDoula, DONA, Birth Arts International.

Good luck on your journey towards doula certification!

Birthworker Highlights on Jaye Wilson: Founder of Melinated Moms

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Please introduce yourself: Founder/CEO of Melinated Moms. Mother of 2, high risk birthing mom. I curate social events for women and mothers of color in our communities.

Pls share a memorable story about your doula work.: I have been a Nurse in community health and outreach for 13 years. My work with Melinated Moms is educating and empowering women while offering support through their journey of womanhood to motherhood. Melinated Moms was created because, as a pregnant woman, I felt very isolated and depressed because I didn't know what resources to use to talk to about my fears of pregnancy and motherhood. I believe a doula would have made my journey from womanhood to motherhood an easier transition. I hope through my company I can give them the guidance I searched for while pregnant and continue to offer them support throughout their lives.

How do you work with or connect with doulas in the area?: I am hosting panel discussions as well as workshops around women's issues, child birthing, women empowerment and collaborating with sister organizations to reach the women in childbirthing work.

What are your goals for this year?: My goal is to build a strong network throughout the state of NJ and grow to assemble better connections for all moms to have doula support in their childbirthing experiences.

Check-out Jaye's Melinated Moms upcoming event below Childbirthing in Communities of Color. NNJ DoulaNet is excited to partner with Melinated Moms in this event and will be unveiling our Birth Guide at the event as well as providing resources for finding and becoming a doula. 

Midwifery Assistant Workshop Spring 2018 NNJ

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Information, Education and Skills training to be the best out-of-hospital NJ Midwifery Assistant you can be!

Northern NJ Doula Network is helping event coordinate the upcoming Midwifery Assistant Workshop led by Dahlyt Berezin-Bahr, CPM, LM to be held at a private home in Edison, NJ. 

This intimate, hands-on workshop is good for people looking to become midwifery assistants as well as doulas and birthworkers looking to enrichen and feed their practice with more knowledge, so they may better inform their clients.

The dates of the workshop are as follows: Sunday June 3, Tuesday nights June 5,12, 19, and Thursday nights June 7, 14, 21.

Cost: $500 Early Bird (by 5/11) or $550 regular (after 5/11). Fee covers the entire workshop including: location, instructor fee, as well as equipment and supplies provided by instructor used in workshop. You will need to provide your own meals. 

Please contact Rachel at nnjdoulanet@gmail.com for workshop outline and for registration information. Thank you.

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