What is a doula?
Function: n: a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth
“In spite of all the modern obstetrical methods to speed up labor – which include the artificial rupture of membranes, augmentation of the strength of contractions with oxytocin, and the use of forceps or delivery by cesarean section – the mothers with the shortest labor in our study were again those women who had a doula present throughout their labor.” -Mothering the Mother
“Though a friend can certainly be a labor support person, mothers typically have the best results when they hire a professional labor assistant (…also called a ‘labor support doula’…) who in addition to providing comfort and companionship to the laboring mother, has special obstetrical training…Her knowledge of and experience with birthing, and her sole focus on the mother’s needs, make her a unique, and to our minds, an indispensable part of the hospital birth.”
-The Pregnancy Book by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, R.N
“The evidence for doulas comes from more than eleven carefully designed studies: Quite simply, hiring one cuts in half the odds of you having an unnecessary cesarean…In the typical U.S. birthing unit, the doula you bring with you may be the only person whose sole responsibility is to make you more comfortable and to help you labor as effectively as possible.” -Ina May Gaskin
“I chose to employ a [doula] because, after doing my homework I realized there was a missing person in the current maternity system…After talking to other mothers about their deliveries, I realized that many first-time mothers are left alone a lot during delivery and don’t really know how to interpret what’s going on in their bodies. My [doula] was the missing link that I needed to keep me centered on my body and to make it work more efficiently, and I think she saved me a lot of pain-literally.
-Linda Hughey Holt, MD
“You needn’t worry that a doula will replace your partner. A good doula enhances rather than detracts from the father’s participation…Interviewed afterward, fathers uniformly liked have a doula and did not feel that she interfered with their role. Fathers reported that not only did doulas help them help the moms, but many of the doula’s support actions were directed personally at them… Doulas improve physiological and social outcomes.”
-The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
This post explains exactly why our family chose to hire a doula for our own births, and why I am so passionate about becoming a doula. And here is feedback I’ve received from families having used my services as a doula:
“When I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted a doula. I searched early on in my pregnancy and found Heidi. I could not have imagined it without her. It had been 10 years since I had my first child and this time I was planning a no epidural birth at a hospital. From our first consultation I knew she was the one, I was so comfortable with her and wanted her before I had even talked to any other doulas. She has the best personality for being a doula. She is knowledgable, understanding, calm, collected, kind, and most importantly made me feel prepared for the birth of my daughter. She was available anytime I needed for a question. She answered phone calls/emails within a day or most of the time less than that. She was always there for me and my husband. She made us feel so calm about everything.
At the birth she was such a great support. I especially loved how much she truly cared it was like she was my own family member. She is so passionate about birth. She explained that she would be my advocate but I did express that I thought I might change my mind and want an epidural and she passed no judgment on me at all. She would be there regardless. My beautiful baby girl came into the world, I did not have an epidural and don’t think it would have been possible if I did not have Heidi’s support throughout along with my husband and doctor. When I get pregnant again I am calling her the instant I know so I can “book” her. Words can’t express how amazing she is. If you are looking for a doula Heidi is the one!!!” -Amanda
“We had the honor of having Heidi as our doula. She was just finishing up her training, but you wouldn’t know it. She was so kind and caring and alert to anything we might need. In addition to her doula skills, she photographed our birth and gave us photos that we will treasure forever. I had no idea how much something like that would mean to us! And, while she’s not technically a professional, she has real talent with photos she was able to capture. She made a beautiful slideshow of our birth that has brought almost everyone to tears who has watched it. It really captured the emotion of the birth for us.
With one of my older children, we used a different doula. She had been recommended to us by several people and had years of experience. She was a great doula, but to be completely honest, she didn’t compare to Heidi. One thing that stands out to me is how Heidi seems to have a real understanding of following the desires of the parents – whatever that might be. She doesn’t try to push her own ideas onto families, which is a problem we had with our previous doula.
We prefer a more private birth setting, and at first we were a little concerned how having a doula there would interfere with that, but Heidi fit right in and everything was so comfortable. We don’t at all regret our decision to have her there for the birth. She’s awesome, and I can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t love her!” -Teresa C.
From a mother planning her first natural birth:
“I would highly recommend you to any mother who even thinks she might want to have a natural birth. Again, I appreciated your support and knew you would be with us 100% even if we opted for the epidural. If we have another child, I will be calling you again in a heartbeat!” -Kristie
From a grandmother attending a birth:
“Thank you SO much for being there for Katie and all of us! You were prepared and anticipated things we never even thought about. The pictures are WONDERFUL!!!! Are you sure you are not a professional photographer? I really loved the pictures of Sarah’s little feet and her snuggling with Katie…and of Scot gently carrying her. Then, Katie showed me the slide show!!!!! Tears of joy. So perfect! Thank you so much for documenting the big event in such a touching way.” -Tricia
From the first birth I attended!
“Heidi was my doula for the birth of my first child (I have three now) and what a blessing it was having her there. Her extensive knowledge and experience were a huge help and I still talk to her regularly to ask for her help and advice when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth, infants or even children. I love the photos she took at our daughter’s birth. I wish we lived closer so we could use her as our doula again.” – Jennifer
From postpartum clients:
“Heidi came over and did a postpartum visit with me and it was WONDERFUL! This is my fifth child and yet there are still so many things I don’t know or need a refresher course on. She came over, talked with me and then jumped right in helping with whatever I needed. Including taking my very colicky 6 weeks old and getting him to sleep. She also gave me some wonderful tips and tools to help get him to sleep and help him stay asleep that have helped immensely. She is a wealth of knowledge and techniques. I definitely recommend working with her. A great friend and wonderful doula.” – Kelsey
“She was always available to answer my calls, give advice when needed and be there for me whenever I needed her. She was so generous with her time and talent. She gives great advice that anyone can use, even if
they have had other children. She always makes me feel so at ease and comfortable. I just love her! I wish I had known about doulas before I had my babies.” – Aaron
From a mom using a doula the first time with her fifth baby:
“Heidi was such a valuable asset before, during and after the birth of our fifth child! She was helpful, supportive and provided resources and ideas that helped make this birth go more smoothly than any of our other births. Heidi was wonderful with the hospital staff and since she knew exactly what I wanted for this birth from our meetings she was able to help me communicate my birth plan and wishes when I was unable to do so myself. I had never considered a doula with my other births because I thought doulas were only for people having homebirths with midwives but I was SO wrong! If we have anymore children Heidi is on the top of the list of people we call first!” – Katie
Sometimes births may not go as we planned, and in those situations the continuous support of a doula is even more crucial as birth hopes and locations may need to change:
“We knew for the birth of our first child that we wanted the support of a doula. When we interviewed Heidi, we were immediately comfortable with her and knew we wanted her to be our doula. Heidi is kind, patient (we had lots of questions as first time parents!), goes above and beyond in being helpful, is available, responds quickly- she is everything you want in a person who is there to help you through an amazingly wonderful, complicated, trying period. We planned to birth at the birth center but ended up having to deliver at the hospital at the last minute and I absolutely could not imagine going through that without Heidi there. Her presence was invaluable to keeping me focused on my birth plan. She kept me as relaxed as possible, helped my husband to help me, and also made sure he took care of himself (which also helped him help me- there’s a lot of help here!). Heidi brought all sorts of tools and techniques to help me cope with labor and I really don’t know what I would have done without her. When I got overwhelmed with non-stop pitocin contractions, she would help me focus on getting through it, one contraction at a time. Eventually I had to have a c-section, and Heidi was there for every step of that too. I’m also so glad we asked her to be our birth photographer as well. She captured moments during labor that my husband and I will treasure (if not the memory of the pain) and most importantly for me, she was able to take pictures of my baby and show them to me on her camera while I was recovering. If not for Heidi I would have had to wait forty minutes to get a good look at my baby.
She is a wonderful person with a real gift for helping moms and dads through all aspects of pregnancy, labor, recovery, and baby care. I’m so glad we had Heidi as part of our birth. If we do this again, my first call will be to Heidi to hire her again!” -Rachel
“I was never an advocate for doulas until this birth where Heidi was there. She took the time to talk to me and new what I wanted/needed from her presence. She was a pillar of support for my husband and I through a very scary birth. (I wasn’t exactly ok with birthing in the OR). Not to mention she took some awesome pictures that I find priceless now!” -Meg
“Heidi was a lifesaver… I am beyond grateful I had her there for support. Heidi met us at the birth center where I was supposed to give birth, and stayed with me through my transport to the hospital. She sat with me through the worst of it all, and let me labor as I needed to. She was a calm presence when my husband and I were thrown for so many loops during labor. I am most grateful for 3 things: 1) Heidi actually helped me physically deliver my baby – I pushed for about 4 hours and she held my leg for most of that time… 2) Heidi’s birth photos… I have pictures I will be forever thankful for. 3) Heidi’s accessibility. Post-partum, Heidi continues to be a reliable source of information and yummy food I am so thankful we made the decision to hire Heidi as our doula!” -Kayla
“We had planned/wanted a natural birth at a birthing center and up until about 38 weeks thought that’s what we were having. Due to some complications I needed to give birth in a hospital, and I went through 21 hours of labor before needing a c section…I honestly don’t know how we would have done it without Heidi. She was there to answer every question, help with positioning, talk to the nurses, and I literally think she held a hot rice pack on my back for at least 12 hours. Just her presence made me so much more comfortable. She was such a blessing. Even though things went drastically different than what we planned she did everything in her power to make sure we had everything we wanted. She is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met and I would strongly recommend her!” -Alix
From first time moms:
“It was like having a sister there without any personal opinions or drama (honestly). I couldn’t imagine my sons birth without her and am so excited for our future children’s births with Heidi right there by my side. I would absolutely recommend a doula for your birth and Heidi would be my number one choice!” -Nicole
“We LOVE Heidi! We just had our first child and would not go through that again without Heidi’s help. We had many uncertainties and doubts about the process of giving birth. Heidi not only gave us confidence and support where books, websites, and other mothers were lacking. She helped make the whole experience something special and sweet. We plan on working with her again even though we feel a lot more educated and empowered by our first experience. She is very attentive to every family member’s needs. Her wealth of knowledge is deep. We highly recommend Heidi.” – Melissa
“I met Heidi at a birth class and appreciated her genuine personality. She was really personable. I approached her about her doula services and next thing we know, my husband and I hired her after our initial consultation meeting. Because of her experience and the fact that she is a mother of 6 assured us that we would be in good hands. Heidi was invaluable to us during my labor and delivery. I labored at home for a little while before laboring at the birth center. She assisted us greatly and was even in the OR with me when I had to have a csection. We could not have done it without Heidi. We are grateful for her!” – Michelle
“I had Heidi at the birth of my son four weeks ago to take photos of my labor and birth. Since this was my first baby, I was very choosy about who I asked to be at my birth as I wasn’t sure how many people I would be comfortable with having in the room at the birth center. Heidi was such a wonderful addition to my birth team – my husband and I have discussed over and over how glad we are that she was there! Her presence was extremely calming to me throughout – she has such an ecouraging demeanor. She was constantly my advocate, doing everything within her power to make me as comfortable as possible. My husband greatly appreciated her as well – her presence freed him up to focus completely on me while Heidi took care of other details (like getting me water, communicating with the midwives, and getting the shower ready for me when I needed additional help relaxing). I am so glad to have the photos that she took – she has a great eye for capturing priceless moments during birth and we couldn’t be happier with how they turned out! It is clear that Heidi has a passion and a calling for caring for women in this special season of life – we would recommend her any day!” – Kelley
“A friend recommended Heidi to us saying, “She’s had a baby in almost every situation possible!” For me, having someone so experienced be present with us in a situation where we had no experience was such a comforting thought. So, I contacted her and arranged a meeting. I was immediately at ease – her personality is calm, collected, informed and confident – and I knew she was who I wanted to be with us for the birth. She listened to my fears and was able to offer suggestions and share experiences which helped me to let go of some of my concerns. My husband was especially encouraged because he knew that she could be counted on for advice and assistance while I was in labor.
When the time came, she arrived at the hospital and brought all kinds of things: rice packs, peanut pillow, etc., to help my super slow labor progress. She offered advice, and was so patient and encouraging throughout the whole thing – a process that lasted almost 24 hours and didn’t go as planned (haha)! Though some of it is fuzzy, I clearly remember her telling me as I struggled while pushing, “The only way this stops is if you get the baby out!” It was exactly what I needed to hear, and our sweet little boy arrived shortly after that! We had also asked her to photograph the birth, and she captured some incredible photos that we will always treasure. In all, having Heidi as our doula was one of the best decisions that we made. We are so grateful for her, and would recommend her to anyone!” -Mary
And from a first time dad:
“My wife and I feel so incredibly blessed to have found Heidi. She was an invaluable source of comfort and inspiration to us throughout the pregnancy and birth. We highly recommend her!” – Rodney
From a VBAC mom:
“I came across (our baby’s) birth timeline that you made today. I am just so thankful for that! It means so much… I hope the birth world is forever changed now that you’re in it! Thank you, Heidi, for being my doula!” – Lauren