Melissa Colatosti, Doula and Breastfeeding Counselor
Since becoming a labor, birth, and postpartum doula in 2015 I have found many ways to expand my knowledge to serve each mom better based on her individual needs. I am constantly seeking out new information for the parents that I serve to help them make informed decisions. In addition to listening to a variety of podcasts, reading books, and apprenticing local classes I have also completed several formal trainings. Some of the trainings/certifications I have completed include:
- Certified Labor and Birth Doula through Childbirth International
- Spinning Babies Professional Training
- DONA Peanut Ball Use For Comfort and Fetal Positioning
- Evidence Based Birth Professional Membership and Trainings
- TENS in Labor Certifications
- Microbirth (microbiome) Training
- Newborn resuscitation training
- Adult, child, and infant CPR certified
- Breastfeeding Counselor Training
I myself have 5 children, 3 of which I birthed. Each birth was very different from Pitocin and an epidural to a fast hospital birth with IV pain medication to a midwife assisted homebirth. Each of these experiences have led me to the path of supporting women as they define their own birthing voyage. As a labor doula I fully believe that I am there to be supportive of the mother’s decisions including birthing location, support team, provider, and desired interventions. To do this I provide love, compassion, evidence based information, and coping techniques to the pregnant and laboring mother. I have been a part of many births that left mom and her partner feeling positive and strong no matter what the details of the birth were or how close to or far away from the original birth plan the journey was. This is the feeling that I want all of my clients to have after their birth and I firmly believe that this level of empowerment comes from being well informed, supported, and the primary decision maker throughout the process. Every time I leave a family after their baby’s birth I can’t help but think about how much courage and strength it takes for a woman to birth her baby on her own terms, whatever they may be. It is such an honor to be a witness to this journey for so many parents in the Atlanta area.
My husband is my best friend and was my partner for all 3 of my births. I was amazed by the difference in his ability to assist me based on the support and encouragement that my different birthing teams offered him each time. For this reason I feel that it is just as important for partners to feel supported. This support allows them to be involved as much as he/she is comfortable. During labor and birth I work to facilitate the process of a partner supporting and caring for the mother along with me. This helps partners feel more confident in their ability to support mom as well as feel calmer about the labor and birth process. I also support partners by encouraging them to take care of themselves. Reminding him/her to stay hydrated, take a break to eat a meal, take a nap, or just step outside for a breath of fresh air. In this way a partner can keep up their own strength to continue being the laboring woman’s number one source of support and encouragement.
While labor and birth are hard work and in some instances downright hard, I believe that the early days of motherhood are some of the most difficult days that a woman will go through whether it is her 1st baby or her 10th baby. This is why I encourage every mother to have a support system in place prior to baby’s arrival. This support system should not be there to judge or shame the mother for her parenting choices but rather to comfort and assure the mother that she is the best mother for her new baby. In some cases the best option for this type of support is a postpartum doula. While assisting parents postpartum I offer the companionship that women so often need but do not receive after their births. I am able to do light housekeeping, general baby care, assist with baby-wearing, meal prep, accompany you to doctor appointments, help with older children and pets, etc. Some mothers want a postpartum doula to keep them company. Others want to gain more knowledge and information about baby care. Some just want to know that their baby is taken care of while they get a shower and much needed nap. I am there for what you need and to support your choices for parenting including times when the plan changes due to unforeseen circumstances.
Learning how to feed your baby can be very stressful and not as intuitive as most parents expect. Whether a mom chooses to exclusively nurse, pump, combo feed with formula supplementation, or exclusively formula feed. She may find that she needs help fine tuning her plan and technique. I personally had very different nursing experiences with all 3 of the babies that I birthed. Some of my personal experiences included nursing on a schedule, nursing on demand, exclusively pumping to bottle feed, low supply, tongue and lip tie with frenectomy, oversupply, and overactive let down. The assistance from breastfeeding experts was invaluable with all of these situations. These experiences are what encouraged me to seek extra training as a breastfeeding counselor to support moms in finding their path to nourish their baby. Whether a mom is having pain with nursing, baby is refusing to latch, parents need to develop a plan for mom to return to work, or mama simply wants reassurance that things look good, a trained breastfeeding counselor can be an excellent resource. I can be a great first step in gathering information about options, proper latch and positioning, and making a game plan for pumping. I am also trained to recognize problems that may require the help of a more advanced specialist for mom and baby such as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
One step in an informed and empowered birth experience is choosing the right doula for you. Meeting with multiple doulas in person to learn more about them is an important part of that process. To learn more about finding the right doula for you please read my thoughts in this blog post. I would love to meet with you and your partner for coffee or tea to talk more about your birth plans and how I might be able to support you through this exciting time. You can contact me here to schedule a free consult.