What Is A Doula?
A birth doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous emotional support and physical comfort measures to a woman in labor. The doula stays with the mother from the time she calls the doula to her side and leaves a few hours after the baby is born.
The doula can help the parents think through any changes in their birth plans that need to be addressed during labor, providing information and helping them to advocate for themselves. The doula can help the mother feel positive about her birth experience even if the birth turns out to be different than expected.
A postpartum doula is a woman experienced with babies, breastfeeding, and motherhood who provides support during the 6-week postpartum period. Breastfeeding assistance is only one way a doula can support you during the post partum period. Teaching infant care, mother self-care, helping with sibling care, running small errands, light housekeeping, meal preparation, and companionship are all ways postpartum doulas aid in the transition after bringing baby home.
Doulas really care about mothers, babies, and birth.
Why Hire A Doula?
One way to look at it is that when you are expecting or planning a milestone experience in your life it’s worth investing both time and money to make it the best it can be, to get as close to your goal as possible. You probably did this for your wedding. In our modern world families only experience the birth of a baby once or twice, at most just a handful of times. Don’t you want your birth to become the joyful memory of an event you happily anticipate as being one of the greatest days of your life? It’s not just one day, or another day of your life. Don’t leave it to chance.
Thankfully, studies have shown that when a mother has a doula with her during labor she is more likely to have a shorter labor (25%) and one with fewer complications for herself and her baby.
Moms require fewer interventions in labor, such as labor inducing drugs (40% less), vacuum extraction or forceps delivery (40% reduction) and c-section (50% lower risk). Women also find they request fewer pain medications during labor (30% less) including the desire for an epidural (60% fewer).
Breastfeeding is often more satisfying and successful and moms have less post partum depression. It was also shown that women feel happier with their babies and with their birth experiences when they have a doula’s help.
The success is in the consistency of support. Because I never leave your side, I remain the one consistent person helping you throughout your birth, which is very reassuring. No other professional will come to your home and support you there. Nurses and doctors shifts change mid-labor. Various staff will come in and out of your hospital room. Part of my job is to protect your space keeping it calm and uninterrupted. Many of my clients appreciate the calming effect I have on both mothers and fathers. Friends or family who might be present for the birth often need information and reassurance too.
There’s also something about woman to woman support that is very real and meaningful for moms in labor. Doulas seem to know when to use which comfort technique at just the right time. You will see many or most of these during your birth:
Physical support consisting of help with position changes, help with breathing, cool cloths, massage, soothing music and various other comforts. These measures help you stay comfortable and keep labor moving along.
Emotional support combines soft, affirming encouragement, gentle, caring touch, eye contact, and a loving continuous presence. Emotional support helps you to stay calm, focused and relaxed. A comfortable relaxed mother has a better, healthier labor.
By providing these support measures as well as helping you get information, you will have a sense of control and feel the birth was a positive experience.
“My birth experience was everything I had dreamed it up to be …Ellen got to know me and what kind of support I would need in order to achieve the best birthing possible.”- Sarah V.
What About Dad?
Doulas never take the place of mom’s partner! You love her and know her in a way I never could. Your support and encouragement are invaluable to her. To learn more about how dads and doulas work together visit this link.
Doulas help dads too by role-modeling, making suggestions, providing break time, information, and comfort. I have had many fathers tell me after the birth that they were so glad I was there because my being calm helped them stay calm and know that everything was okay.
You will never be shuffled off to the corner because I value you as a very important part of the birth team that is supporting mom. You will be able to be the main support, a dual support, or just be there as her husband and baby’s father. Whatever works best in your plans or at any moment in the labor and birth.
“Being through the birth process with Ellen as our Doula, was definitely a better experience for me as a husband. …Ellen made me feel accomplished as a first time dad and more importantly, look good in my wife’s remembrances of the big day.”- Andy V.
What is included in the service?
Once I hear from a mom, I then meet with the expectant mother or couple 2-3 times to talk about their hopes and plans for the birth. We discuss how and when to call me, any special needs they might have, and my back-up arrangement. I help parents with their birth plan and provide a birth details sheet as a keepsake.
It is important to me to understand what kinds of things help the mother relax; what might have helped in a previous birth and what kinds of tools and tricks of the trade I have that might help in this birth. Any fears the mother might have can also be addressed. I like to find out how much my clients know about birth and answer their questions about what to expect.
I discuss breastfeeding and postnatal care of the baby. How much post partum support the mother/family needs will also be addressed. I try to help families begin to the transition to parenthood before the baby arrives
During the first meeting my fee is determined and the contract and payments will also be formalized. After all our prenatal visits I will keep in touch with the mother-to-be over the phone or email as she gets closer to her due date.
I ask all my clients to call me when they think they are in labor, just to let me know. In this way I can be prepared to leave my home when they are ready for support. Any time of the day or night is fine. Calling early gives you an opportunity to get reassurance, ask questions, and share your happiness.
I recommend we labor together at your home for some time before traveling to the birth center. Home is a relaxing place to be and allows labor to progress naturally. My arrival before labor is intense gives us all time to get into a rhythm with the labor and each other. When it seems that birth is not too far off or when the mother says it’s time to go, we travel together to the hospital. I aid in the the transition to the hospital by helping her handle contractions in the various places she’ll be as she gets settled into her room.
After the birth a post partum visit to assess mother baby, family and breastfeeding concludes our time together.
Why Hire Ellen?
I have had four natural births, two in hospitals and two at home. This gives me a fundamental understanding of how to support you during your birth. But I have also helped over 85 families during their births as well.
My specialty is supporting mothers that are striving for a natural birth. I believe that all women have the strength, courage, and heart to give birth naturally but I also understand that there are times when a mother needs some relief. We all come to birth with experiences that affect our confidence in birth. Part of my role with you is to help you understand your choices in childbirth and build your confidence so that you can achieve those goals that you choose for yourself. I support women with differing goals for their births including potentially wanting medical pain relief. If you fall in the “just give me my epidural as soon as possible” camp I am not the doula for you but there are other doulas who would be a match for you.
In addition to this mother-knowledge I received doula training and certification through DONA International and Birth Arts International. I have been attending births as a doula since 2002 and have supported mothers in a variety of situations. Working with partners, medical staff, and others as a team to make the birth as comfortable and positive as possible and to help mom reach her goal is how I like to work.
Being a trained childbirth educator, I have additional knowledge that I bring to birth. I trained through Lamaze International and have been studying and learning about birth since 1991.
As a Certified Lactation Counselor I am committed to helping you become successful with breastfeeding. I have been helping moms professionally 2000. Helping you get breastfeeding right for you, overcoming obstacles, and achieving success means long term loving feeding and health for both you and your baby. It is my greatest satisfaction in my work to see a mother and child nursing peacefully. I find that the key time for breastfeeding success is the very first breastfeeding… if that goes well, breastfeeding tends to be quite successful. I always stay at a birth until the baby has fed on at least one side. Most of the moms in birth practice nurse until at least the first birthday, many nurse longer.
As a mother since 1992 and caring for 4 young ones I understand the struggles parents face when bringing home a baby. I use my experience to help your family in the transition period following the birth of your baby. The early weeks require tender loving care, information, support and connection to keep parents feeling calm and confident. I strive to help your family adjust smoothly by providing that care, answering all those questions new parents have, and encouraging you and teaching you the things you need to know. I offer post partum support beyond the one included with my birth service to families who’ve hired me for birth support at a reduced rate. For other families looking for post partum support please visit my post partum page.
In addition I am also licensed as a massage therapist with 6 years of professional experience. This experience with the human body helps me use my hands in the most helpful way to you during labor. I recommend massage for most moms in the last months of pregnancy and the first months of motherhood as your body experiences the stresses of carrying a baby in your belly or in your arms as you nurse… it takes a toll on your back and on your circulation. The relaxation benefits are a big plus.
One of the other things I have to offer is a birth pool for use during labor at home or for water-birth at home. This birth tub can be rented by non-clients but is free to clients birthing at home.
These combined factors bring you someone who really cares and understands what you will be going through physically and emotionally as you birth your baby and as you adjust to parenthood. My goal is to help you birth your baby in a peaceful, healthy way and create positive, empowering memories that last a lifetime.
I feel blessed to be called to birth.