LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER DOCUMENTING BEAUTIFUL SESSIONS FOR PLAYFUL FAMILIES AND JOYFUL MOTHERHOOD

From the Heart of A Doula

Childbirth is a beautiful experience, and a doula could make your experience even better! There are different options to consider when you are preparing for childbirth and bringing a newborn into the world, and I hope this blog offers some insight into one of those. 

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a Doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after birth.

I had the opportunity to learn a little more and acquire some insight from a local doula, Tricia Phillips. She was a delight to get to know and has experience that I want to share with my clients! I hope you find the following questionnaire to be as helpful as I did as you educate yourself more on a doula and what they truly do!

A Doula: Behind the Scenes

What made you want to become a doula?

There are many reasons that I decided to embark on the path of becoming a doula so here are just a few: 

Heart & passion: I have always viewed pregnancy, birth, and postpartum as a beautiful and vulnerable journey and have loved being around babies for as far back as I can remember, so it was a natural step for me to begin walking alongside women in this season of their lives.

Health aspects: I am very passionate about health in general, so supporting women not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually through the process, as well as advocating for the health of baby regarding development and bonding, is important to me.  

Who the focus is on: Empowering the woman giving birth should be the main focus, instead of placing emphasis on those surrounding the experience (e.g. medical staff). She should be allotted the space and time to follow her body’s intuition and needs and to have informed choice about what is best for her and her baby each step of the way so I advocate for her to have that time and space. Nurturing confidence and a sense of accomplishment throughout the process is vital so that parents can move forward feeling emotionally equipped to care for their new little one.

Impact for years to come: This is one of the most sacred and memorable moments of people’s lives, so being able to protect the vulnerable space so that it’s remembered as positively as possible is essential. How one gives birth can affect their self-confidence, relationship to their baby and family, and how they feel about the experience for years to come, so to have a positive impact in those moments is an honor for me. 

What training have you received?

I received in-person training through DONA International, which is the longest-standing and largest doula organization. I learned the practical skills and knowledge to best support women during labor and delivery physically, emotionally, informationally, and advocacy-wise. 

What services do you offer? What does the timeline usually look like when someone hires you and your on-call window? 

I offer prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum support. When someone reaches out to me expressing interest in my doula services at any point during their pregnancy, we meet for a conversation to make sure all of their questions are answered and to make sure it’s a good fit…because being comfortable with who you are surrounded by while in labor and delivery is a key component to the experience! From there, they can reserve their due date with me and then we have two prenatal visits (whenever they are ready) to go over birth preferences and concerns, options/alternatives, comfort measures, and research, in order to create a birth plan. I am then on-call 24/7 for labor and delivery from 37 weeks until delivery in which I provide continuous at-home and/or hospital physical and emotional support when the time comes. I am there to meet any need the one giving birth or their support person has. I stay to support for up to two hours postpartum to make sure everyone is settled in and doing okay and then visit within a week or so after delivery to check in on everyone and to provide space for birth processing. Throughout the entire process from pregnancy to two weeks postpartum, I provide unlimited text, call, and email support. 

For more details on my services, see my website here

Do you attend all hospital births? Home births? Are there any birth centers or locations that you do not go to?

I am available for both hospital and home births (with a midwife) within a 1-hour radius of Birmingham. I gladly support births at any location that is desired by the one giving birth. 

Do you have a backup doula who your clients can meet ahead of time?

Yes, I arrange a backup doula to be available during the on-call window. Clients have the opportunity to meet their back-up if they desire to! 

How would you describe your doula style and how do you approach births? What strengths do you bring to your profession as a doula? 

I am a math professor by day, so I believe knowledge is power and therefore bring (a lot of) evidence-based research and information to prenatal visits to meet the specific needs and desires of each client. I’m also really flexible since this is work that I do because of my passion for it so I aim to tailor my work to meet the needs of my clients the best I can whether that be through flexible payment policies or other needs. 

Some specific strengths I have are that I am very nurturing and believe that I serve people well in time of need, pain, or discomfort. I take an individualized approach as I view each birth and experience as unique so in addition to the experience and knowledge I bring from other births, I meet what each individual needs. I bring a calm presence to birth in order to help the one giving birth as well as to honor the sacred space that birth is, and provide encouragement, grounding, and empowerment. 

What does research show are the benefits of a doula? 

Research suggests the following benefits of having a doula present during birth:

  • Increased chance to deliver vaginally (specifically, having a spontaneous vaginal delivery)
  • Shortened labor
  • Less likely to use pain medication
  • Increased breastfeeding rates
  • Lower preterm birth rates
  • Decreased chance of a low Apgar score for baby
  • Less likely baby has complications or is admitted to the NICU
  • Less likely baby has a low birth weight
  • Less likely to have negative feelings / dissatisfaction regarding the birth experience
  • Lower postpartum depression/postpartum anxiety rates

Overall, research suggests that having a doula is highly effective in having positive outcomes for birth and there is no known harm of having a doula. For more information regarding doulas, see a summary here.

Is there anything else that is helpful to know?

I am so fortunate to be a part of Birmingham Born, which is a collective of amazing individuals devoted to health, empowerment, and support of women in their journey of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. It enables me to be supported by others in the field to be the best doula I can be and to have access to a myriad of resources to best support women. I am also a sibling doula which means I am on-call for the care of older siblings when the time of labor and delivery arises for a home or hospital birth. I provide virtual doula services for those who desire support outside the 1-hour radius of Birmingham. 

Those interested can reach out at any point during pregnancy – nothing is too early or too late to reserve a due date as long as I have availability at that time 🙂 For more information, you can check out my website at triciaphillipsthedoula.weebly.com or send me an email at triciaphillipsthedoula@gmail.com. I’m happy to answer any questions! 

~Tricia Phillips 

HEY THERE!

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