Posted on 1 Comment

3 Must-Haves for Your Birth Plan: Make Your Desires Known

Helping you birth without fear is a key part of Sweet Bee’s vision. You have the right to bring new life into this world the way you desire. As a doula, I work to help protect you from reproductive trauma, which includes empowered experiences for you and your baby before, during and after labor and delivery. A personalized birth plan is one tool we use to create the pregnancy and birthing journey of your choice.  

I work with my clients to create a unique, comprehensive birth plan − a written document that makes your pregnancy, birthing, and immediate postpartum wishes clear for everyone involved. You know your body and your desires, therefore, it is critical you advocate for yourself and your baby by communicating them. Clients feel empowered when they are informed of options in the birth process and then declare how they envision welcoming their new little bee. 

If you don’t know where to start, I’ve got you covered! Here are three must-haves for your birth plan: 

No. 1: Your “all-star” birth team.
You need to develop an all-star team to be there with you and your baby. Think about who you want to support you specifically. Good birth support includes people who encourage and calm you, build your confidence, and follow your wishes. This is not the time to ignore your intuition or boundaries.

Will you be receiving your prenatal care from a midwife and/or an obstetrician? Do you know their c-section rates? Do you know if you’ll see the same practitioner throughout your pregnancy or will you see several folks from the office? Whichever support you choose, it is important to list specifically in your birth plan who you would like in the room during your labor. You might be someone that wants family members and/or friends with you as you labor,  just your partner, your doula, a doctor, or a combination of any of these. You can also create a separate list for those who you want in the room during delivery or immediately after.

Overall, keep in mind that you have the right to create the birthing experience you want, which includes the people you want support from at this very special time. You also have the right to change this list at any time. Sometimes, I encourage clients to have a safe word or signal that helps us determine when someone’s presence isn’t the most helpful. It is important that members of your team communicate well with each other and know the exact role they will play. Be sure to provide the contact information and a back-up choice for each member of your birth team along with your chosen pediatrician. 

No. 2: Location, location, location.
Where you give birth impacts your experience just as much as who is around you. You have the power to decide where you want to give birth, whether it be a hospital, your home or a birthing center. 

Wherever you choose to have your baby, it is important to understand what types of birthing options they provide. If you want to deliver in a hospital, know that you are under the care of medical professionals trained to keep the labor process under control with certain interventions, procedures, and policies. Most often clients choose hospitals because of cost coverage and/or comfort with their provider.  I also encourage clients to inquire about a hospital’s c-section rate, NICU and emergency c-section procedures when choosing a facility.

Some hospitals practice family-centered care, which can include a more gentle approach to c-sections, delivery and postpartum rooms with space to accommodate a partner, and keeping baby always in the family’s room. Usually families leave a hospital within 2-3 days of baby’s arrival. 

Birthing centers provide the comfort of a relaxed birthing environment and more immediate medical support in case of an emergency, as they are staffed by midwives and connected to specific hospitals. These are great options for those who are not considered high risk during pregnancy and don’t want to deliver in a hospital or their home. Here, clients have much more freedom to embrace the labor process without medically unnecessary interventions. Families usually go home within 12 hours of delivery. If you’re fortunate enough to have a birthing center nearby, ask about their emergency transfer protocols for the birthing person and baby. 

For a home birth, your midwife and doula will work with you to ensure you have all the necessary items on hand. You will also outline how you desire to handle contingencies or complications in your birth plan. Often, clients choose a homebirth because they want to be comfortable and free during labor, and they have been cleared of high risk pregnancy considerations by their healthcare team. Home births are also often where your team is the least intrusive. Your midwifery team and doula will allow you to take the lead as long as you and baby are healthy throughout your labor and baby’s arrival.

No. 3: My baby is here. What now?
What do you want to happen for you and your baby immediately after you deliver? When you’re finally greeting your new little bee, the last thing you’ll want are folks asking a barrage of questions or acting based on assumptions that contradict your wishes. 

For example, who do you want to cut the umbilical cord? Will you be breastfeeding or using formula? Do you want the baby placed on your chest immediately after birth, or do you want them cleaned up first? Newborn procedures are also important, including your choices regarding circumcision if it’s a boy; where you want your baby to sleep (with you or in the nursery); testing to be performed on your baby; and preferences for care if your baby needs to go to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).   

Keep in mind that you will never have total control over how your labor and delivery will ultimately turn out. It is a journey. However, making your decisions clear in a birth plan will help ease your anxieties and reduce stress during labor. It also offers flexibility to adjust based on a goal if something does not go exactly as planned. 

Supporting birthing people is an ancient art. As our methods change with time and cultural expression, I maintain that cultivating empowering relationships makes the journey of welcoming new little lives much smoother. I make my clients feel safe to ask questions, express their fears and concerns, and understand that they are not alone in the process. Their answers inform their birth plan and give them confidence to assert their boundaries. Girded with clear directives and desires, my clients can better manage the stress of this major life transition. 

Are you getting ready to welcome a new life? Let me help you create your informed birth plan. Check out my services list and book a consultation today. I can’t wait to connect with you!

Posted on Leave a comment

Top 5 Postpartum Items for Mamas

You’re having a baby! Congratulations! If you’re looking for the 5 must-have-items for new mamas, here are a few recommendations my families have sworn by over the last few years.

Sweet Bee Services is a participant in Amazon Associates and some links may be affiliate links. I earn from qualifying purchases.

#1. Padsicles featuring The Honey Pot Company

Whether you have a vaginal birth at home or in a hospital, padsicles will become your newest treat. I love all things The Honey Pot Company! They are a Black woman-owned feminine hygiene product company based in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ll do another post about all the benefits of using their natural, plant-based lines, including a product review. But for the recently new mamas, this little pad infused with mint for cooling, lavender and aloe for healing, will help your lady parts recuperate from the hard work of labor.

For my clients, we simply unwrap the pad, douse with witch hazel or water, then wrap up again. I place each pad in foil or parchment paper to keep them separated and not frostbitten, then place in the freezer. These are a great project for a partner to help make once you’re home. Each time you use the restroom, which should be every 2-3 hours ;), take a little homemade spa treatment with you to place in your underwear. You will be oh so glad you did!

#2. Perineal Balm and Spray featuring Earth Mama Organics

Next, I recommend continuing to give all the love, honor, affirmations, and good vibes to your perineal area with a balm and spray. Earth Mama products are a cult-favorite among my crunchy mamas. With their easily comprehensible ingredients list and amazing results, it is easy to see why!

The spray is a great option for those who may not want the pad-sicles, AND can be used in conjunction. If you had a c-section, the balm is a great option for your incision site as well. Savor all the minutes you can in the bathroom for some self-care. Sit, breathe and release (you may need to mentally tell yourself this during initial visits to the “throne”). Thoroughly clean your nether regions with warm water in a peri-bottle, then spritz with the perineal spray and enjoy the cooling mint sensation. Next use the balm for a very gentle massage. This is especially helpful if you experienced or are trying to prevent hemorrhoids. Step into your lovely postpartum undies, line them with a pad-sicle, and voile!

#3. Manual Silicone Breast Pump featuring Haakaa

For parents who breastfeed, and/or for those who need help with a letdown even if they are not breastfeeding, a manual pump is a phenomenal choice. I’m a bit of a reproductive system geek, so there will be future pieces about the galacto-wonders of the breasts and breastmilk. However, here I want to highlight that manual pumps are great options for building a storehouse of milk.

When baby goes to feed on one side, or you’re pumping on one side, simply attach the manual pump to the other side. It helps to keep your nursing pads/bras from soaking through, and your breasts from feeling the tension of being overly full. Manual pumps can be used to catch colostrum, the earliest milk filled with fatty goodness for babies, so that it can be used later. Saving milk is particularly helpful for parents who may have a baby in the NICU or who’s little one has other challenges latching on their own. This model is also great because it has a lid so the risk of losing all of your hard-earned milk is much lower.

#4. Meal Trains featuring Your Support Circles

One of the many key ingredients to a smooth recovery is eating yummy, nutritious meals. Any new parents will tell you, though, that cooking can easily slide far down the list of priorities when caring for a newborn and recovering in the initial postpartum phases. Plus, there are usually at least 1 or 2 folks who care for y’all and have been incessantly asking how they can help you. Well here’s how: a meal train.

If you know someone gifted in organizing or simply just excited to serve, ask them to orchestrate a meal train for the first 2-3 weeks that you’re recovering. You and your partner can make the process smooth by listing some of your favorite meals, snacks, restaurants, etc. This is also super helpful when there are other children in the home. In the time of COVID-19, I strongly suggest having folks order from a place certified in food preparation with coronavirus considerations, and having them drop food off like any other delivery person with a game of ding-dong-dash.

There are definitely opportunities to wave a “Thank you!”, but more than likely you’ll be happy to not have to entertain small chat when you’d rather be eating or asleep. Check out my meal train request template for a jumpstart on how to ask and get the train chugging along.

#5. A Postpartum Doula featuring Sweet Bee Services

My final recommendation, for this list, is a postpartum doula. I am 10,000% biased. However, the benefits of me as your postpartum doula, especially with my specific training, can include the following and then some:

  • Having someone to make you an almost endless supply of padsicles
  • Having a trained professional to provide the emotional support needed for the ups and downs of the first few hours and weeks of life with a newborn
  • Snack preparation and/or meal train coordination
  • Trained eyes and ears to support you with postpartum anxiety and/or depression battles
  • Sibling transition support for other kiddos in the home
  • Infant care while you shower (a coveted 15 minutes or so of peace)
  • Overnight doula support so you can get more uninterrupted sleep
  • Assurance that you have a listening ear, passionate advocate, and consistent affirmation that you are doing a phenomenal job at being a new parent (even when you least feel like it)

If you’re looking for a postpartum doula, I’d love to support you! You can book a consultation, or leave me a message in the contact section. If these suggestions helped, and if you have others, feel free to leave them below in the comments.

Posted on 1 Comment

Birth & Justice

Be a loud, unapologetic voice against racism & violence towards black people.-Anonymous

Being Black in America is exhausting. I probably need it on shirt, a bag, a sweatshirt, coffee mugs, pens, you name it. I LOVE my blackness. Rich melanin, curly-coily hair that entangles itself into lucious locs, hips, lips, the whole nine. And my beauty is despised. As long as I’m in this country, my melanin will be weaponized.

I learned this lesson early on in life. I was probably 5 or 6 years old when it hit me. I was one of a couple black kids in my kindergarten class in California. Towards the end of the year, 2 little girls of Mexican-descent convinced other kids to not be my friend because I was black. I remember it with less distinction now because the iterations of othering have varied throughout my life. My intelligence dismissed, or my inquisitiveness met with disdain in predominantly white academic environments. My natural curls accosted by hands that weren’t invited to caress them. My body shape viewed as overweight or unhealthy because I don’t have a thigh gap. My personal run-ins with racism have usually been covert. Their impact stings no less.

I chose to exact revenge by healing and living my life as unapologetically blackity-black-black as I can. I recognize racism as a tool of the enemy to divide humanity. I recognize those who perpetuate racism as being used by that enemy. I recognize my God doesn’t condone racism and is grieved by every state-sanctioned murder, every racially-motivated fear or othering. He will bring about justice. I cling to that hope. I also intentionally support fellow black business owners and black artists, authors, chefs, professionals in any field.

And I have dedicated my life to valuing black life with the greatest honor. Being a doula is an act of rebellion for me. I rebel against the patriarchy that dismisses women’s autonomy and inherent rights to reproductive justice. I rebel against the racism of the USA that tries to perpetuate the false narrative that melanin is a threat to humanity. I rebel against the divisive commentary of colorism that tries to assert worth based on proximity to whiteness, as if that was the determining factor of what is a valid human life. I rebel against the fear trying to take root within our hearts about bringing new brown lives into this hate-filled world. With each little brown baby I welcome into the world, I say with greater boldness, “We cannot be erased. We cannot be dismissed. We cannot be uprooted.”

With the murders, just in the last few weeks, of Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and the unnecessary death of Amber Isaac, living while black can feel hard. The weight of invisible oppression is tangible. But my heart smiles when I know that brown and black babies will continue to come into this world. I find hope to continue this journey knowing I get the privilege of welcoming them safely into loving arms. My feet plant more firmly into anti-racism, reproductive and birth justice work knowing their lives and well-being depend on it.

Posted on Leave a comment

Top 10 Questions for a Prospective Doula

Looking for a birth doula? Ask these questions to make sure you get the support you deserve. and desire

So you just found out you’re pregnant? Congratulations! Now you’re dreaming of (and maybe dreading) all that will take place over the next few weeks and months as you prepare to meet your little bee(s). I’m completely biased, but I recommend you add a birth doula to your birth team.

One of the easiest ways to describe a birth doula’s role is the following:

When you have a baby in the hospital, the doctor or midwife comes to see you right when you’re pushing. The nursing staff are around during the end of you’re labor process to monitor the health of mama and baby. Doulas are with you from the moment you hire them to talk through your fears, anxieties, hopes, and remind you that you can do this. They are by your side the whole time.

I hold the role of doula as a position of honor because families invite me into some of their most vulnerable and intimate moments. All doulas should value the sanctity of this privilege. To ensure you’re finding the best match for you and your family, ask the following questions during your doula interviews.

  • What is your training? If you’re certified, through which organization?
  • Are you available around my due date?
  • How many other clients do you have around that time?
  • What is your philosophy about birth and how do you most often support women in labor?
  • How many births have you attended?
  • Have you attended births at my birth location? What were your experiences there?
  • Do you have experience with my caregiver?
  • Do you have a backup doula and will I meet them?
  • At what point in labor do you meet up with me/us?
  • Why did you become a doula?

The doula’s answers can help you determine if they fit your own philosophies, healthcare needs, and desires. I’ll do some follow-up posts on why each of these questions are important so stay tuned! If you’re looking for a doula, I’d love to be your doula. Be sure to book a consultation so we can begin next steps.

Posted on Leave a comment

Meet Doula Leah

Welcome! Sweet Bee Services provides emotional, informational, and physical support for those navigating antenatal, pregnancy loss, birth, pregnancy, and postpartum experiences. As a doula and social worker, I am passionate about intentionally caring for women by walking alongside them to facilitate the experience they desire and deserve.

Growing up, I heard too many stories of adults and teens feeling frustrated as they tried to navigate systems that should have upheld their rights and wishes. Everyone has questions, but they may not know where to direct them. I strive to provide a listening ear, vital information, and guidance for clarity, and the emotional support required to confidently embrace a new season of life.

I specialize in prenatal, labor, and postpartum support. I believe your body was specifically designed to carry and give life. Therefore, I work with clients to address specific needs through the most natural and holistic methods possible, understanding that modern-day medicine can help as needed. 

On this blog, you will be able to find helpful materials for different phases of life. There will be information on keeping your body, mind, and spirit healthy at any age. Additionally, I will share tips for newly pregnant folks and new parents. 

I am so glad you visited Sweet Bee today, and I welcome your feedback. Do you have a question you never felt comfortable asking? I’ll be launching a series called “Ask a Doula”. Feel free to send your questions to If you need support yourself, or you know a loved one that could benefit from my services, you can book a consult by clicking here. I welcome the opportunity to connect with you!