What is a birth doula?

The word doula (“doo-lah”) originates from the Ancient Greek word δούλη meaning “a woman who serves.” In the past few decades, the word has been adopted to mean a professional birth assistant – someone who is trained in and has experience with pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. A s a doula, I provide continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth. This continuous support during labor is associated with improved health outcomes for mother and baby.

 How will you help during our labor?

My support and assistance is adapted to the needs of the mother and her partner.  Each labor is different, and we can utilize a variety of tools to help, including:

  • Positive and consistent encouragement for mother and partner
  • Giving the mother a safe space to express her feelings and needs
  • Information on interventions for decision-making
  • Position changes and movement
  • Soothing touch/massage
  • Counter-pressure and positions for back labor
  • Breathwork, visualization, and relaxation
  • Aromatherapy
  • Hot/cold compress, rice sock, or heating pad
  • Birth balls, birth bars, and stools
  • Hydrotherapy (bath or shower)
  • Assistance with initial breastfeeding

Tell me more about your partnership with Hannah...Why did you chose this service model?

Hannah and I partner together to provide our clients with seamless care. This is how it works -- We will both meet you at the consultation. Hannah provides one prenatal home visit, and I provide the second prenatal home visit. We split up the on-call time for your birth during the four weeks surrounding your due date (38 weeks-42 weeks), and whoever is on-call when you go into labor comes to support you. The doula who attended your birth provides the postpartum home visit. If you would like to learn more about Hannah, please check out her website.

The partnership is very popular with our clients. Clients really like getting to know both of us, and the collective wisdom we bring to our work. In the case of longer births (over 18 hours), we can switch out so clients can have fresh, rested support. There is no need to meet additional back-up doulas since clients have two doulas! Additionally, this service model allows Hannah and I to collaborate often when working and better balance our lives outside of work.

Does a doula take the place of my partner?

No, a doula is another member of the birth team and supports everyone in their own role. A doula’s presence helps fathers or partners participate at their own comfort level by showing them how/when to use various comfort techniques, providing information, and, in some cases, looking after them as well. Partners are often grateful to be able to share the “coaching” responsibility with an experienced doula, and can therefore enjoy the birth experience more.

Does a doula do the same things as a midwife or nurse? 

No, a doula provides no medical or nursing care. And since she doesn’t have responsibilities, or other patients to attend to, she can give her complete attention to being by a mother’s side for the entire length of her labor.

Is your yoga background helpful in your work as a doula?

It is very helpful! I use yoga experience when I focus on breathing, visualization, relaxation, and positioning. Yoga also fosters a profound respect for the body and mind, which carries over into my doula work all the time.  My training in hands-on assists for yoga clients is also utilized often.

Should I hire a doula if I want an epidural?

Yes, a doula’s presence is very helpful during early labor, and during the epidural placement process. She then continues to care for the mother and her partner, offering still-needed emotional and informational support. After birth, she can assist with skin-to-skin contact and initial breastfeeding. We can discuss this in detail in the prenatal visits.

What if I need a Cesarean surgery?

A mother facing major surgery can benefit greatly from a doula’s emotional support. I may or may not be in the operating room, depending on the wishes of the family and the medical staff, but will still there be present for recovery, skin to skin, and breastfeeding support.  If your partner goes to the nursery with the baby, I will continue to stay with and support mother.