Hey, new friend.
I'm Shalissa, the owner and photographer of Tenth and Raglan Photo. I am a single mother to 4, and in April 2017, I became a DONA-trained birth and postpartum doula.
When I say I'm living my dream career, it's a serious understatement. Being a birth photographer, working with newborns, new moms and dads, I never could've imagined just how much it would fill my cup.
Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I eat, sleep and breathe all things bump, birth and baby.
Doulas are professional birth coaches who provide emotional, informational, physical and mental support to birthing parents during the prenatal, birth and postpartum period.
Okay, cool, but what does a doula ACTUALLY DO?
Every birthing person, parent, labour/delivery and birth is different so I cannot give you an exact step-by-step manual on how every doula will provide for you. However, based on my experience supporting clients as a doula and beforehand as a birth photographer, the birth world is not foreign to me. I have compiled a little guide on what a doula actually does.
As your doula, it is my job to answer any and all of your questions. If I am unsure, I will find out from my fellow medical professionals, so that you do not need to fret. I especially will answer your question about whether or not that stuff that you just found in your underwear is in fact your mucus plug... We all know pregnancy and sometimes things get a little new and unfamiliar down there.
As your doula, I will checks in with you after your doctor or midwives appointments to talk through any new information that came up. I want to ensure that you understand exactly what it is that you agreed to, what your options are and how any change of plans/information might affect your plans for labor and birth.
As your doula, I will talk to you on the phone when you start feeling contractions to help you figure out if this is labor-labor or if things are just warming up. I am on call for you 24/7 from 38 weeks gestation onward until birth. However, I'm always happy and willing to be there for you virtually when you're in your second trimester panicking about the nursery or even in person when you're 6 months postpartum and are needing adult conversation.
As your doula, I will suggest different ideas throughout your labor to help your labor progress, to help you get more comfortable, and to give you options and choices. If you are birthing with your partner, I will even teach them how to be able to comfort you. It is my job to keep the birthing environment feeling calm and you (or the two of you) feeling supported.
Some of these things to help labour progress without having to think about, aside from physical relief/management of pain (hip squeezes, pressure points, etc) include turning off the lights, shutting doors and keeping the curtains pulled every time a nurse comes in and out of your room, giving foot massages, knowing when to grab a trash can when it seems like you might throw up or feed you ice chips between pushes or in recovery after cesarean birth. The list is endless.
Once you have birthed that precious little human, as your doula, I am able to give your friends or family members in the waiting room updates on how you're doing while you soak up your new baby during the golden hour after birth. I can help with getting your baby latched on in that first hour and check in with you 24-48 hours after to see how you are feeling. Often times I am the one who listens, understands and validates you in the intense emotional experience of those early days postpartum. I will come to your house in the first week after you give birth to process the birth experience, remind you what a badass you are, snuggle baby while you (and your partner) catch up on some sleep, laugh (and even cry) with you about things that happened during labor.
Of course, all of these things are tailored to suit your individual needs but this might give you a bit more clearer vision of just what a doula does and why having one is so important.
Included in this package is a 1 hour prenatal consultation to meet and discuss your birth plan, on-call birth support from 38 weeks gestation, during active labour and up to 1 hour after your little one is here. As well as 1 (3 hour) postpartum support visit in your home.
$1,090.00 plus taxes and mileage
Postpartum hours can be scheduled with a minimum of 3 hours per visit. They can be at any time of day or night. This can include grocery shopping, light housework and tiding, laundry, care of older children (if you are in the home), help with baby care, and evidence-based information among other things.
$75.00 plus taxes and mileage
Pre-book a night shift (8-10 hours) before 38 weeks gestation as an on-call postpartum support option for $200.00 plus taxes and mileage per night.