So, what exactly does a doula...do?
The quick answer is emotional and physical support during labor, but there is more to it than that.
Our journey together starts in pregnancy, because as your doula I am committed to your health and comfort throughout your entire journey to becoming parents. Pregnancy can be SUCH a confusing time in our lives: but hiring a doula early in pregnancy means having a guide and friend readily available to help you navigate the twists and turns. I am on-call for you from the moment we sign our contract. You can ask for advice on managing discomfort, discuss whether a symptom is normal or whether your care provider should be notified, vent, or just share the exciting little moments you'd rather not share with the rest of the world (hello, mucus plug!). I will also help you find a method of childbirth preparation that works for YOU. Hypnobirthing, Bradley, Lamaze - I'm familiar with all of them. Finding a local class, a book, a playlist - whatever you and your partner need to prepare, I will connect you to it! During our prenatal session (in your last month of pregnancy) we will form a list of preferences for birth, practice rituals and positions for comfort during labor, and discuss thriving in your birth setting. We'll also review resources available to you and your partner to help you prepare and plan for postpartum. Birth is unpredictable, and these sessions will enable you to deal with ambiguity and be ready to take on any challenge during labor.
In the "in between": the days or weeks in which your pregnancy is full term but labor has not yet started, as your doula I am extremely valuable. Mothers are very vulnerable during this time, and it feels like the whole world is watching and waiting for labor to start. When you need to vent or release emotion, I will be there to listen and hold space. When you need to burrow and get away from everyone for awhile, I will supply the chocolate ice cream and a funny movie to accompany it. And when you need suggestions for getting baby out already: I've got 'em!
Let's talk labor!
Early labor is a tricky thing to master - and few people do it well! Totally understandable, as those early labor signs mean baby is coming, and it's easy to get excited! Helping you recognize the signs of early labor, supplying coping mechanisms, and sending frequent reminders to hydrate, eat and sleep are all within the scope of what I do as a birth doula. Need a little support before it's time to head to your birth location? I am just a call, a text, or a care ride away!
Active labor is here, and you are ready! You've surrounded yourself with an amazing team: your family and friends, your care provider, and the hospital, birth center, or home birth support staff who will attend your birth. Each individual on your team has a special role on "labor day" - your care provider is there to ensure you and your baby are safe and healthy, the support staff is there to support your care provider as they do so. Your partner might wish to be your primary support person, but they are also going to be focused on your beautiful new baby! As your doula, I am the only person in the room focused solely on supporting you, the mother. While nurses and doctors have frequent shift changes, and partners need breaks to rest and recoup, I will remain with you throughout your entire labor. As questions about your care arise, I will talk you through your options and help you make choices about your care with confidence and clarity. I will make suggestions to help labor progress, and above all else: I will support your decisions.
By hiring a doula, you are taking control of your birth experience. You will not only have an advocate for your birth choices, you will have a guide to help you keep labor progressing without unwanted intervention. Evidence shows that women who used a doula during birth were
*less likely to need medical interventions like Pitocin during labor
*less likely to use pain medications (if they did not desire to use them)
*less likely to have a Cesarean section
It is important to remember that labor is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes, all it takes to make it through birth is a simple reminder that you can and will. As a doula, my job is to do just that.
And partners, I haven't forgotten about you!
I believe in supporting families as a whole: whatever that looks like to them. During pregnancy, I am available 24/7 for partner support as well: suggestions on how to help the mother, emotional validation, referrals and recommendations for support groups, and more! During labor, I evolve into the team member you need to help you overcome any challenges. This could mean becoming the main source of support and guidance for the mother, or becoming more of a "co-pilot" and offering that support to you. I will help you shine: suggesting, in each moment, the perfect comfort measure you can use to help your partner cope. I will remind you to hydrate, to eat, to rest. I will remember to take pictures if you'd like them, and to tell the doctor that you'd like to announce baby's gender, cut the cord, catch the baby. Sometimes, as a doula, I simply hold space and hang back while maintaining a calm and reassuring presence in the birth room. Whichever role I take on, I promise to offer comfort, guidance, and helpful suggestions. My favorite births are the ones where the partner gives me a hug or high five at the end: it's all about teamwork!
Postpartum: you did it, mama!
After you give birth, I will linger with you and your family until you are comfortable in your recovery setting. In these moments I am ready to facilitate communication to your family, take pictures of you and your new baby, grab snacks or water, and offer breastfeeding guidance. My focus stays on you and your comfort. Should your newborn need additional neonatal care, I will remain with you to offer emotional support and facilitate communication between you and your baby's care team. I will not leave until you are tucked in with your new baby and ready to snuggle and rest. And because birth is just the beginning of your journey into parenthood, I will be there for you as you transition. During your first year after birth, I will remain on-call for you and your partner to give support around your emotional and physical recovery from birth, supply area resources for continued care, and provide insight on basic infant care, breastfeeding, and pumping routines and rituals.
Birth Doula Fee $850 (fee updated April 2020)
(1-3 prenatal sessions, 24/7 phone and text support from contract signing, labor support from a Certified Birth Doula, phone and text postpartum support, network of resources for continued care, access to lending library)