Paperless Birth Professional

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I’ve tweaked a few things since I first wrote the article on being a paperless birth professional, so I’ve created a fresh post that contains all the changes here.  This post is focused on the Apple iOS platform for mobile.  If you have an Android device, I’m sorry I can’t help you there.

I’ve run my own private birth doula practice since 1999 as well as a group practice of birth & postpartum doulas for the past 8 years.  I am now the co-owner of Tucson Doulas, southern Arizona’s premier maternity services agency.  Paperwork has always been the bane of my existence. I hate keeping track of papers, contracts, client files, etc. Once the client delivered I always had to DO something with that paperwork. So after going through many systems: binders, spiral bound client file books, clumsily put together computer files that required me to take my laptop to prenatals which was heavy, cumbersome and just not convenient; I finally found a system that works via my iPad and/or iPhone.

Android users, there may be similar applications that exist in the Market, but you’re on your own there.  I should probably include a disclaimer that I’m not a fan of Android in any way, shape or form, the iOS system in my opinion is far superior when it comes to business functionality. I’m guessing that Android will eventually come up to speed, but the quality of the Apps may never reach that of iOS. Just my .02 and my husband disagrees with me (and so does my business partner) LOL!

My physical setup:
I use an Apple iPad Mini as the foundation of my system, I also use an iPhone 6 and at times use my older iPad 2. Since I don’t like typing on the touch screen, I use a Bluetooth keyboard to do all of my data entry on the iPad.  My iPad is housed in a case that also functions as an easel stand. I carry my iPad and bluetooth keyboard in a bag that goes with me everywhere. My bag is the large iPad purse, I also own the medium and use it more often with my iPad Mini for prenatal visits.  The large is awesome as a birth bag as well.

Calender and Schedule

To keep track of clients, their EDD and what gestation they are on any given day I use Perfect OB Tracker. This allows me to see all of my clients in one place and what their current gestation is. This helps me when it comes to booking clients. I can glace at one screen and know how many clients I have due in a particular month so I can easily decide if I am available for a particular due date. Screen shots available in the ITunes store of this App in action.

To schedule interviews, pre/post natal visits etc I use Pocket Informant. I don’t really like the native calendar app in iOS, especially on the iPhone. I’m visual and I like to color code, the ability to use icons is a huge bonus. This App allows me to save templates so I can easily enter new appointments with just a few keystrokes. I can also color code as many calendars as my heart desires, the native iOS calendar has a limited number of colors. I use Google Calendar to sync all of my calendars to their cloud and they are synced to my iPhone as well.  I run Pocket Informant on my iPhone and iPad.

 paperless doula

As a birth worker who is virtually always on call I live and die by my calendar. I color code events so that when I schedule appointments, enter due dates, etc I can see what else is going on in my life at a glance.

In the calendar above you can see the following:

  • Pink – Family events, My mom/grandma is my childcare and you can see she has bible class every Tuesday.
  • Purple – Doula: the 3, 13 & 18th are client due dates I’ve obscured their names for obvious reasons. The 8 & 9th you see I have prenatal visits, the 10th a scheduled cesarean. You’ll see a Doula Workshop, postpartum visits, interview, and staff meeting as well.
  • Yellow – my little one’s school calendar. At the beginning of the year I enter all vacation days, half days, etc for the entire school year.
  • Turquoise – the Hubby. His days off, sometimes he has other events I enter as well.
  • Red – Medical visits, massages, dentist/orthodontist I track my family of 4 and my mother/grandmother’s appointments here too.
  • Green – My 19 year old’s work schedule and any other events she has going on. She also serves as childcare.
  • Dark Blue – Holidays

Client EDD’s are entered as an all day event with mom’s first and last name as the visible text. If you look close you’ll see the corners of the purple background are rounded, indicating an all day event. Scheduled events have a rectangle background. It should be noted there are a few different ways to display calendar events with Pocket Informant, I simply use this one because it’s the one I like best. You can color code the calendars and have it show times instead of event names if that suits you better.

Client Paperwork

Going paperless with client paperwork will take some time and effort and likely some money. The first step is converting your forms into a format that can be used on the IPad (or even a computer). I convert my forms/paperwork into PDF Forms that can be filled on the computer/IPad. The software to do this isn’t cheap, Adobe Acrobat X Pro is what I use. Don’t let the cost of the program discourage you. If you already own this software, it’s not too complicated to convert forms, but it is somewhat time consuming and labor intensive. Word documents will need to be converted into PDF files and then the PDF can be converted into Fillable PDF Forms and once completed you’re ready to roll.  UPDATE: The makers of PDF Expert now have PDF Office and this app allows you to create fillable forms on your iPad.  It’s a subscription service, so you’ll need to pay for a month or two while you make and finalize your forms but it’s a MUCH cheaper option than Adobe Acrobat Pro.

paperless birth pro

To open and enter client data and sign contracts with real signatures in the converted forms you will need PDF Expert 5. I have the iPad and iPhone versions. The form below is the first page of my intake form/client paperwork. You can see the blue fields where you can enter data. The fields with a down arrow are fields where I can enter a selection from a drop down list of options that I created during the form conversion, this makes intake more efficient. Once you are done entering data the data is saved within the form in PDF Expert. You can also select the pen tool and write directly into the document, so if you can’t convert your forms to fillable PDF, you can still write directly on them with this app. I have set up PDF Expert to sync to Dropbox so that any changes make are synced and saved. You can have multiple users with multiple iPads/iPhones accessing and editing client records, you just want to make sure that you sync after you opened the app in order to make sure you’re viewing the most recent file.  I use this method to access client records from my iPhone, iPad2 and iPad Mini.

The screen shot below is the signature menu. You tap and hold and the Signatures menu pops up asking if you want to insert your signature (which you can save and enter into any document without having to re-sign with the stylus each time) or your customer’s signature. If you select customer the customer is then able to sign with their actual signature and you can place their signature into the document on the appropriate line. I email the signed contract to the client so they have a copy as well. Before our first prenatal or before an interview I email a copy of my contract to the prospective client/client for review.

paperless doula

The final App I use is Moment Diary. As a doula I write a birth story (timeline style) for all my clients The best feature of Moment Diary is the time stamp and send to email feature. I select the new entry option, quickly enter details from a vaginal exam, discussion with provider, funny or touching moment, birth stats, etc and the app time stamps the entry for me. Once I return home from the birth I can then email the record to myself and copy and paste into MSWord to format the birth story for printing. You can create a free sync account and sync Moment Diary across devices that uses the same account.  I also have an AirPrint enabled printer that allows me to print from my iPad with the touch of a finger.

The paperless method used above can be applied to any birth professional. Midwives can convert their patient charts to be completed on the iPad with homebirth midwives charting directly into the app at prenatal visits or births with the option to print physical paper records once they return to the office if needed, lactation professionals can chart during visits and have records of previous visits with them without carrying multiple files and by using an e-fax service reports can be faxed to providers, doulas can have all the client info that they need at their fingertips. Best of all, it’s environmentally friendly! If you have any questions fee free to ask in the comments or find me on Facebook or via email.


doula appsHere are several great apps for birth pros:

The 2nd most frequent question I encounter is “What other apps do you use?”  I’ve posted my favorite apps below.  Not all are free, but all are worth the small financial investment for a birth or lactation professional or parents.

Perfect OB Tracker ($4.99)
I use this program to keep track of my client’s due dates.  I sort them by EDD so that I can see who is due now and who is due next.  This app also lets you upload
a picture into the program so that the icon for each “patient” is a picture of her or her and her partner.

Bishop’s Score Calculator ($0.99)This is a handy application when a client is facing induction.  Sitting with the client and calculating her score together can help her identify questions to take back to her provider so that she can make an informed decision.

iFetal Pro ($9.99)
This is a nice application for clients.  It uses various selectable factors to give approximate developmental milestones of the baby.  It also has drawings and recorded fetal heart tones that parents can view and listen to that correlate with their baby’s current gestational age.

Contraction Timer Plus by iBirth (Free – with additional in-app purchases)
Formerly known as iBirth this is a comprehensive application for clients and some doulas find it useful due to the various videos of positions for labor that are included.  This application also covers prenatal nutrition, Tips and Lists that include questions for the care provider, what to pack for the hospital, spoken affirmations and helpful visualizations.

GBS Guide (Free)
Updated in 2011: Current practice guidelines for providers on the diagnosis and management of Group B Strep during labor and after birth in the newborn.

Jaundice ($4.99)
This application gives the AAP recommendations for the management and treatment of neonatal Jaundice for clinicians.  Helpful for lactation professionals and parents to understand the recommendations for management and treatment of Jaundice.

LactMed (Free)
This is a wonderful application for breastfeeding mothers and the medical professionals that work with them.  This application uses the TOXNET database to help mothers an their providers identify if medications or supplements are safe for them to take while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Management 2 ($1.99)
This is a great application for those who are working as lactation professionals.  This application uses evidence based information to help the lactation professional identify, triage and manage common breastfeeding issues in the first weeks of life.

Breastfeeding Solutions ($4.99)
This is a wonderful application for breastfeeding mothers.  Developed by an IBCLC this application uses a series of questions to help mothers deal with 30 of the most common breastfeeding problems and gives them straightforward answers to help them overcome them.

BosomBuddy (Free)
For mothers who feel more confident tracking feeds, need help to remember which side baby nursed on last and wish to record how long each nursing session lasted, this a good application.  It also records diapers and formula for those who supplement or formula feed exclusively.  This application will also track solid foods as baby gets older and has a built in height and weight chart that you can record and chart your baby’s growth with.

If you’ve found this post helpful, please share with others.  And if you have other applications that you are using in your practice or if you are a parent using a great application to track your pregnancy or baby please comment with a link below!

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for the great post Angela! Does that calendar app sync with any outside calendars or can more than one person or device access the calendar? Just wondering about coordination with the hubby.

  2. Sara
    | Reply

    Great stuff, Angela! I really like the idea of going paperless as much as possible.

  3. Molly Seimears
    | Reply

    Lots of great info, Thanks!

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  5. Thank you so much for this! I am working on going paperless and this was very helpful 🙂

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