So, you're looking for a doula? Great! Congratulations, you've taken the first step in taking charge of your birth.
What is doula care, anyway?
Hands-on help during labor from someone who has been there before is priceless. I'm there to guide you through each contraction, gently bringing you back to your breath and the present moment through mindfulness techniques, or pain-coping practices. Sometimes it's knowing when to step back and give you and your husband -or birth partner- space to practice what you've learned prenatally and to experience your own birth. I'm there to help you through all kinds of different pain-coping practices, and actually reduce the pain with the "magic" of double-hip squeezes...and to teach your birth partner how to do this too, so he can be as involved as he wants to be. I'm constantly scanning the scene to find ways to help make the birthing experience easier on you. Maybe that includes suggestions for position changes, like leaning over a birth ball in the bed, or giving you a sip of
"It's keeping you on track when you want to give up."
vitamin water, or suggesting you get in the warm lavender infused tub (I call it nature's epidural!). Maybe it's a warm heating pad on your hips and some essential oil to provide a calming distraction. Maybe it's suggesting that your parents and Auntie Sue who are anxiously waiting in the waiting room give you some space and privacy. It's keeping you on track when you want to give up. Often
times it's helping you and your partner understand what is being proposed by your doctor or nurse or midwife (why *wouldn't* you want to accept that suggestion, anyway?), and talking you through your options while helping you formulate your own questions. It's bringing you back to your most instinctual self and helping you to access your subconscious through visualizations, talking meditations, and birth affirmations. Sometimes it's a cool rag on your forehead during pushing. Maybe it's taking that first picture of the three of you as a new family. It's taking my experience from over 60 births and determining what *this* moment needs, and allowing for the fluidity of changing circumstances, without judgment. It's all this and much more, as you define it.
What about prenatally?
During pregnancy, my role as your doula is often crucial as you navigate the decisions that surround your upcoming birth. What's on your birth plan? How are you preparing for the pain of contractions? What are the stages of labor and moreover, what will you DO to get through them, and what should your partner DO to help you? What if your birth attendant recommends an induction? These are just some of the questions that come up in late pregnancy, and having a doula on your team is the ultimate insurance policy against fear-based decisions. You have the option to take my Birthing From Within classes which is highly recommended, so we have 4 weeks of class to build and grow our trust in each other, learn what makes the other tick, and really speak the same "birth language" on delivery day. In class you learn specific pain-coping practices which can be crucial as we work together through your contractions during your birth.
What Sets Me Apart as a Doula?
"I seek out opportunities to dig deep into your emotional needs surrounding your birth."
I seek out opportunities to dig deep into your emotional needs surrounding your birth. I'm particularly adept at drawing in dads and birth partners, naturally awakening them to what they need to know by keeping things real, honest and relatable. I'm a Birthing From Within doula, which means I've been through their formal training and 4-year certification (compare this to some doula certs that include a weekend training). I'm constantly learning. Birthing From Within has its roots in psychology as well as midwifery, and the emotional support you receive from me is stars above other doula care models. Your stuff isn't too heavy for me. I can hold your space. How your birth unfolds isn't the bulk of what matters; how you feel about your birth and how you are treated is what matters.
Comprehensive Doula Care includes an Initial Consultation, giving you the chance to review my doula care packet, pricing information and contract. It's a time to meet and catch each other's vibe to see if it's a good fit. Partners are encouraged to attend! If you decide to move forward, a deposit is collected and we stay in communication up to and beyond your birth. I hold Birth Circle Gatherings at my home which you're encouraged to attend! These are informal events with other like-minded mothers, some who are pregnant like you, some have already had their babies. It's a special chance for mothers I have worked with to share their birth stories, questions and insights from a very deep and real place, no matter how your baby was born or how your birth unfolded. We'll have a more formal 37-week Doula Prenatal to
"I'll want to know your own personal ways of coping with pain, fatigue and difficult situations, and what internal resources we can draw upon to assist you with the birthing experience. You'll tell me how you and your partner foresee working together, and the roles of others who may be attending the birth. We can discuss together what fears and concerns you have regarding your birth. We can review your preferences regarding the use of pain medications and other medical support."
discuss your unique birth preferences in detail and determine how we will best work together at the birth. It's a time to review your birth plan and address any new issues or questions that have come up. I'll want to know your own personal ways of coping with pain, fatigue and difficult situations, and what internal resources we can draw upon to assist you with the birthing experience. You'll tell me how you and your partner foresee working together, and the roles of others who may be attending the birth. We can discuss together what fears and concerns you have regarding your birth. We can review your preferences regarding the use of pain medications and other medical support. From there, we'll stay in contact weekly and when you think you are in labor, call me! I'll help you determine when to head to your birth place, and offer you and your partner suggestions to help you through early labor. When you are ready for me to be with you, I'll join you either at your home or your birth place (if other than your home). I'll stay with you your entire labor until baby is born, and at least an hour after. I'm there to help you with initial breastfeeding support, and anything else that comes up in the immediate postpartum period. I also offer you an optional Postpartum Visit either at your birth place or at your home within the first 2 weeks after baby is born. This is a change to process the birth, point you towards any resources you might need, and get that photo with your doula!
This question often comes up, "Well what if I end up scheduling a cesarean in late pregnancy. Do you still provide doula care?" My answer is, "Why wouldn't I? Of course I do." Cesarean Birth is still birth and you as the birthing mother still need support and guidance. I provide support for ALL births, including planned and emergency cesarean births. If the situation and time allows, I will provide a “Having a Cesarean in Awareness” session with you in a doula prenatal visit prior to the birth. I will be at the hospital for the birth with you and your support person (usually one person is allowed into the operating room). I’ll be there to help you navigate the journey as you ask questions prior to the birth, and I’ll be there as you come out of the recovery room. I can assist you in breastfeeding and will help you ask questions of your medical staff.
What is NOT Included?
I do not perform clinical tasks, such as blood pressure, fetal heart checks, vaginal exams, etc. I am there to provide physical and emotional support and advocacy.
I do not make decisions for you. I will help you get the information you need to make your own informed decisions. I will also remind you if there is a departure from your Birth Plan, and will verify if this is, in fact, your informed decision.
I will not speak to medical staff regarding matters where health care decisions are being made. I can discuss your concerns with you and suggest options. I will support you in discussions with staff as your advocate, making sure you have the opportunity to discuss concerns, and you or your partner would speak on your behalf to the medical staff.
I'm Interested, Chris. What Do I Do Next?
I take one doula client each month and as a result my doula schedule tends to fill up quickly and is booked out far in advance. First step is to give me a call or shoot me an email so we can determine if I have availability for your EDD. If I do, we can schedule a quick phone call and Initial Consultation. If I don't have availability for your EDD, I'll point you towards my second doula package, Distance Doula Care. While you're here, check out the rest of my website including Doula Packages, Birthing From Within Classes, Meet Your Doula, and Testimonials.
Looking forward to talking with you about being on your birth team!
In case you missed them, here are some recent blog posts you might be interested in:
Transition in Labor: Catch the (Theta brain) Wave
Some Like it Hot! Choosing a Birth Attendant
10 Simple Tips For an Easier Labor
Hospital Birth Plans: The Only Thing You Really Need To Include (with simple template)
Doula Package #2: Distance Doula Care
Are 5-Minute Long Contractions Normal?