BEFORE THE BIRTH
We will meet at least three times before the birth during your third trimester. Our first in-person meeting will be a time where you and your partner get to know me and I get to know you. This meeting functions as your interview. We can do it at your home or at another public place. We can begin exploring your expectations, fears, history and previous ides about birth and hospitals at this meeting.
A second, longer meeting will be held, preferably in your home, where we will get to know each other better. I will ask many questions about your birth preferences, which will be more like a conversation than an interview. At this time we can talk about pros and cons of birth plans and work on laying a foundation so you can create one if this is something you are interested in doing.
The third meeting we’ll go over some of the philosophy of birth and go over some pain coping techniques and birth positions. Depending on your needs we may need to meet more than three times.
I offer unlimited phone and email support. I can answer questions related to pregnancy comfort, choices about labor, induction or other interventions suggested by your caregiver, and help you determine if you are in labor or not. I can remind you of different things you can do (as you choose) before the birth, such as preregistering at the hospital, taking childbirth education and breastfeeding classes, and making sure you have everything you will need at home to take care of the baby. We can talk after your appointments to make sure you got all of your questions answered and provide you with information to help you make any decisions that you need to make.
Two weeks before your birth, I will go on call. This means I will stay within an hour of your home, my phone will always be with me, and I will be available to come to your birth at a moment’s notice. I am committed to having only one client during the month surrounding your due date (two weeks before and two weeks after). I will also put a backup doula on call (if available) in case of an illness or in case we need additional support in labor (at no extra cost to you). My birth bag will be packed, my supplies will be cleaned and sterilized, and my clothes will be laid out that I can jump into. In addition, my children’s overnight bags will be packed and on-call childcare will be planned in advance for my children. I have several babysitters pledged to serve me on an on-call basis permitting me to be at your birth as quickly as possible.
Before the birth, I will refresh my mind about your conditions, specific requests during birth and personal history, and research any birth-related material that might better prepare me for your unique experience.
For an additional fee, I can do one or more of the following: go shopping with you if you are nervous about baby registering, attend labor support classes with you as your partner, have additional prenatal meetings where we delve deeper, attend OB/midwife appointments with you to give you support in those last few weeks and help you make on-the-spot decisions about induction, cesarean, version, or other issues that might arise.
DURING THE BIRTH
I will stay with you throughout your entire labor experience. Almost all doctors and nurses have multiple patients and duties to attend to and will leave when their shift is up.
I will be a calming and encouraging presence during your birth and will help you relax during contractions, breaking the fear/tension/pain cycle. I will help you determine which parts of your body are tensing up during a contraction and help you to relax them. I can guide you through the breathing techniques you learned in childbirth class or in our meetings. I may give you massage, especially if you have back labor, or teach your partner to massage you if the two of you prefer. I can apply acupressure to specific points on your body that can help ease the pain of contractions. I will hold your hand and stroke you during a contraction, or I can remind your partner to do it. I will stop touching you if and when you desire no physical contact, and help remind your partner that this is a normal part of labor. My voice will guide you during contractions in a positive way and can help you paint a visual picture in your mind. I will suggest positions and other alternatives if labor stalls or is coming on too fast or if the baby is turned posterior. I will give you room and protect your space when you need it and step in to help and suggest another coping technique when you need it.
Alternatively, if your partner desires a more active role supporting you in labor, I can help in other ways. I can take pictures (respecting privacy as you wish), record moments of your birth and things that were said in the birth room, make and answer phone calls and update family members on your progress, go to your home if you have forgotten anything, arrange for babysitting for your older children, and give your partner a break to let him eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, make phone calls, or simply regain composure if he is having a hard time seeing you in pain. I will be an objective, educated voice that can reassure your partner when labor begins to be more active that everything is normal and progressing well.
I will shield your room from events that might disrupt your concentration – for instance I will gently remind hospital staff to please wait until you are done with a contraction to ask you a question. If you desire not to have visitors, I can be the “bad guy” that sends family and friends out of your room when you need your privacy.
As you make decisions about possible medical interventions and pain medication, I will serve as an information source and listening ear. I can help you through a drug-free birth, if that is what you desire, or alternatively, can help you advocate and receive drugs as soon as possible, if that is what you desire.
AFTER THE BIRTH
I will put together a book of pictures and a birth story written by me as a keepsake of your birth told from my perspective. Through many jobs I’ve had before I was a doula, I’ve been an experienced writer and enjoy crafting the written word. Coupled with my passion for birth, it is an honor to be able to create a birth story for you.
I will visit you in the hospital the day after the birth. We can discuss your birth and your memories of it in relation to mine, and help you formulate a positive memory of your birth that you can carry with you for a lifetime. If you did not have the birth you were hoping for, we can talk about that, put it in perspective, and come to grips with it as well.
I will call you a couple of weeks after the birth and see if you would like another visit, or we can chat on the phone or through email as much as you like. I offer emotional support through the rough patches of becoming a parent, help you work through any breastfeeding issues or concerns (if applicable), talk about sleep (yours and the baby’s), crying (yours and the baby’s), and other challenges of the first weeks, and help you devise a plan on how to manage them and enjoy/embrace your new role as a parent.
I can also help you or your partner decide if you are experiencing the normal baby blues or if you are suffering from postpartum depression – and can get you help for either. I can recommend postpartum doulas, counselors, lactation consultants, housecleaners, support groups and other outside help if you feel you would benefit from it.