I remember the first time I needed to call a postpartum doula for a birth doula family I was working with. The new parent was a single mother and overwhelmed by a 2-3 day old baby who seemed to just want to cry. The mother's breasts were hot and engorged, making it difficult for her hungry screaming baby to latch on. Tears streamed down her face and she looked at me helplessly. I gave her a forced smile, picked up her wailing baby and lead her into her bathroom to draw a warm bath. As she soaked I soothed her baby and quickly text a postpartum doula and lactation consultant I worked with. She arrived just as I was helping the mother dry off. I watched as the postpartum doula expertly helped the mother express some breast milk to spoon feed the baby and got to work helping the new mother.
When I came for my second prenatal a few days later my client was a new person. She was confident, happy and nursing, though still difficultly. She'd already attended her first Le Leche League meeting and planned to go back. Her transformation was astounding and it was in that moment that I realized that my job as a birth doula was only one part of the journey. A Postpartum Doula is a necessary ally for all pregnant people and new parents in the 4th Trimester, the time after baby is born.
I never wanted to have that "holy shit, now what?!" moment again and decided to train at the Simkin Center at Bastyr University as a Postpartum Doula to help bridge the gap between pregnancy and parenthood.
Now that my training is complete and I'm working towards certification I want to empower all new parents to seek the care of a postpartum doula.
Your postpartum doula is not a nanny or babysitter, your postpartum doula is an extra set of helping hands for the entire family. The role of a postpartum doula is to help new parents navigate the transition from being pregnant to becoming parents to a new baby. A postpartum doula helps to reassure new parents in their decisions around feeding and sleep. A postpartum doula helps new parents understand their new baby better by teaching them how to speak to a tiny human that speaks a different language than the parent. A postpartum doula helps keep new parents organized and provides support with light household tasks like meal making and grocery shopping. A postpartum doula has your best interests in mind; making sure new parents are staying hydrated, eating, sleeping and is watchful for signs of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. A postpartum doula's role is to help new parents get their sea legs and to eventually leave when new parents are feeling more confident in their new role as parents.
I will be starting to take postpartum doula clients in September and would love to talk to you about ways in which I can support your new family.
Hello, everyone! I'd like to start this blog post with a commitment to do more blogging here. I've been working through the Shining Life Workbooks in the hopes of better dreaming and planning for a shift away from full-time nanny work to full time birth work and through the process have decided that I need to be 100% focused on content in this space. If you've been reading all along, thank you! If this is the first time you're reading this blog, welcome and I hope you find some content that you enjoy and find to be helpful. And now, on to the blog.
Q. When is the right time to hire a birth doula?
A. Right now!
In my opinion, it doesn't matter if you've just found out you're having a baby or if you're in your 38th week and have decided that, "Yes! OKAY! I do want another support person by my side at my birth!" Whenever you make that decision is the best time. There are definitely some benefits to hiring a birth doula early on in your pregnancy; you can take your time to find the right doula for you and your family, you can take time to craft a birth vision and be thoroughly educated on what to expect during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum, and it allows you and your family to be completely comfortable with a person (your doula) who will be by your side at one of the most important days of your life.
On the other hand, a good doula is perfectly capable of providing you with consistent care and support if hired a week before or even the day of your birth. In fact, many hospitals are starting to hire doulas as staff and a lot of the time people may not have been introduced to the doula until the day of your birth.
If you have the time, I would add hiring a doula to your baby prep list. Just as you pencil in provider appointments, time to shop for your new wee human, etc.
If you live in the Seattle Metro area and are looking to hire a doula, I currently have availability for late May, June, and August births! Please call or email
It always feels great to get reviewed on my Birth Doula services! In the last month I've received two new reviews! You can check them out over on DoulaMatch or read them below!
I have openings for June and July Births so be sure to send me an email to schedule your consultation!
"Erika is one of those most competent, kind, emphatic and capable doulas I have ever met. She transformed every fear and anxiety we had into a reassuring, comforting thought to take with us into the birth. She visited with us in our home a couple times before the actual birth and always brought books, visuals and great stories. At the actual birth, she was unflappable and focused the entire time. I have no idea how but she never seemed to get tired or stressed! She was a great support for BOTH of us too - for my wife who was birthing our child and to myself as the birth partner. She was right there with us reminding us to drink water, eat a snack or take a break to breath. And she happily took photos at our request after our daughter was born. There is no one quite like Erika - her humor, her warmth, her energy are unlike any other doula out there. My wife and I both would recommend her without any reservations."
"Erika made me feel so supported and confident about my labor and birth. The birth plan she helped my partner and I craft, as well as discussions about what happens if things don't go according to plan, helped us make decisions easily during labor.
I would definitely hire her again and would recommend her services to anyone looking for an amazing birthing experience with a caring and competent doula."
The following snippet comes from a January 12th article about doulas from the Seattle Times. While I find some aspects of the piece problematic, particularly the assumption that doulas are women and that only women give birth, it does a great job at shedding a bit of light on the racial and ethnic disparities faced by people of color and the babies of those people.
"A week into my son’s life, he wouldn’t stop crying. I can still see his scarlet face and hear the alarm in his voice. Exhausted and new to motherhood, I was flummoxed and near panic myself.
Then my doula rang the bell. A no-nonsense woman, she swooped Malcolm up, whispered in his ear and massaged his little body. Identifying that he was hysterically hungry, she fed him a few fingers of formula — calming him down long enough to nurse.
She also asked me how I was doing and listened when I admitted: “Not great.” She was a lifeline in the chaos, and I still think of her with deep gratitude.
A person* is a woman who is trained to assist women during childbirth as well as in the pre- and postnatal period. It’s a tradition with roots around the world but a practice that has been resurrected in the U.S. as research increasingly shows doulas reduce C-section births and encourage successful breast-feeding."
Read the rest of the article here.
I'm the kind of doula who believes that every pregnant person deserves to have a doula at their birth.
I believe this because we live in a world where millions of people will be losing their health coverage soon. A world where clinics aimed at providing people with care, like Planned Parenthood, are being defunded by Congress. A world where maternal death rates for black women far exceed those of any other ethnic group. A world where LGBTQ people's families are discredited and people's gender identity can be denied.
I'm also a business woman who makes my living by assisting people in all aspects of their pregnancy. As I continue additional training and certification I do it with the realization that the more I am educated the better I will be able to assist pregnant people and their families.
Perhaps you've not read the recent Buzzfeed and subsequent NY Magazine articles about the business side of doula-ing, if you have and it left a bad taste in your mouth about who doulas are or who I am as a doula I hope you know that my goals are always centered around the families I serve, my family, and self care. It is this balance that drives me to continue my education and fuels my determination to make my doula services accessible for all families.
This means that I charge my full birth package price of $900 to my families providing payment options for those who need it. It also means that I have, and will continue, to provide birth doula services to families who cannot afford my full price. There is so much evidence out there that supports the necessity of doula work and I, personally, can't and won't let some very bad press change my passion and desire to provide this necessary service.
I am grateful to my strong circle of doula educators that have touched my life from the kick-ass group of Women of Color who trained me in Brooklyn to the dynamic instructors at Bastyr in Seattle.
If you're in the South Puget Sound and have questions or concerns about how a doula works, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I'll do my best to answer your questions or point you to a birth professional with more experience.
I remember my first tough postpartum visit like it was yesterday even though it was three years ago. It was one of my first births and it went beautifully. The mother labored at home all day and when we arrived at the hospital she was 10 cm dilated! She pushed out her baby girl and had skin-to-skin right away. It all went according to plan.
So when I arrived to her apartment two days later I wasn't prepared for what I encountered. Her little one was wailing in her bassinet and the mama's face was streaked with her own tears.
"My breasts!" she exclaimed and threw open her shirt. They were large, bright red and painfully engorged. I wracked my new doula brain for what to do; we got her little one settled down and latched on, but it was at that moment that I realized that the entire birth process tends to be focused on labor and birth and not so much on the postpartum period.
We found that Mama an amazing Le Leche League Lactation Consultant and she nursed her Little One until she was almost 2. Since then I have been suggesting that all of my doula clients come up with a solid Postpartum Plan. These plans can include specific thing like rules for visiting the new family after the baby is born, a chores check lists guests can help with, and creating a meal train plan. I also encourage clients to create a list of resources including lactation consultants, postpartum doulas, new parent groups and more.
Your Postpartum Plan, like your Birth Plan, should be as specific and as personalized as possible. Think of everything you could need to make your transition into parenthood easier. Having a plan can take some of the surprise out of those first few weeks.
Birth workers will often talk about families "finding their tribe." And in that statement that sounds like hippie-woo-woo we basically mean that it's important for new parents to find other parents for support, for some levity, for help, for solidarity.
I find that we often spend a lot of our time planning for pregnancy, planning for labor, planning for birth, but often what's missing from our plans is what happens after birth, after baby comes home.
I've realized this in my practice, personally, and have started recently in final prenatal visits helping parents put together a postnatal plan. And something we often don't plan for is a baby who is fussy.
Little ones have a lot of needs and those needs can't be articulated in any other way than a wail. Just as it's important to plan for the unexpected in labor and birth, planing and learning about baby behaviours before baby arrives makes a lot of sense.
This article from the The Huffington Post is a bit hard to read in places, I sincerely feel for the parents in this piece. Take your time reading it and then talk to your provider about what to look for in particularly fussy babies.
After you check in with your provider, find your tribe :) Start meeting other families who are pregnant, connect with a family or two in your Childbirth Education class, make sure you have a network of folks you can lean on during those first few days home with new baby.
Our job as doulas is to provide evidence-based information to families who seek us out to support their births. We're supposed to be a blank canvas, a person without judgement about the "right" or "wrong" ways to give birth, because there is no right or wrong way to birth. Because each birth is the "right" birth for the person who gives birth, even if it doesn't go as planned.
But we would be lying to ourselves and our the families that we serve if we presumed to lack an opinion about birth. I think it has to do with our personal preferences for our own births, especially doulas who have given birth themselves. And for doulas like me who hope to one day give birth to living children, I have an idea about the kind of birth I imagine myself to have.
So when documentaries come out about birth and about the state of maternal health in our country doulas and birth workers tend to seek them out, study them (and study them again) to make sure that they're giving good information based on the latest evidence about birth.
I watched this Lisa Ling special about birth today and I will continue to watch it over and again to tease out information I think is useful for my families. What I do enjoy about this documentary, based solely on my initial viewing, is that it looks at birth from all angles; it tackles racial disparities in maternal health for black people vs. white people, it looks at infertility and how it affects people and families, it looks at surrogacy and it looks at birth by cesarean. And while it would seem that Lisa is coming at it in a sort of biased, wagging a finger way, it's not that way at all. Instead it gives you a glimpse into real scenarios for a majority of families who have babies.
Click here to check it out!
The other day I posted a picture of my new menstrual cup over on my Facebook page and I've been tickled by the responses from some people. One comment was a series of nos and another was "this is weird." followed by a friend's response of "LMFAO". I tried to respond with questions about what made the commenters say no orwhat they found weird or what they found funny, and then I thought back to my first experiences with my period and I get it.
For as much as Always or Tampax or Kotex tries to empower women during their period they are the only options that people are familiar with when it comes to period protection. I won't get into the movement of people just bleeding freely here, but that's also an option. And for people without means or some homeless folks, that is the only option.
I'm going to take a moment here to remind folks who are immediately postpartum that they should not use a menstrual cup postpartum and should instead use pads.
For most folks your period is a time of unhappiness, discomfort, pain, embarrassment ... I could go on and on. I also won't lie and say that I love my period, because at times I don't. There are, however, some times when my period reminds me of the powerlessness that having a body with a uterus possesses; the sheer fact that uteri bleed for 5-7 days and we live is amazing (of course we're not really "bleeding" like a cut or a wound bleeds, but that's another post). My period has also, in the last few years especially when we were actively TTC, has been something that causes me great pain. Getting my period was a reminder that I wasn't pregnant and was often met with tears, anger and frustration.
One of the ways I have gained a bit of control and a bit of feminine ass-kicking is in how I chose to have my period. I won't do the work for you, but tampons and pads are crap, especially the ones that I mentioned in my second paragraph. Everything in them that makes them thinner, more absorbent, more discreet is terrible for your vagina and your vagina's health. Even organic cotton tampons are harmful as the cotton that is inside of an organ meant to be moist (your vagina), is dried out because of said cotton, but thankfully it's not full of fiberglass. And for some folks irritation and pain is often associate with putting a tampon in and taking it out. That's how it was for me, especially because I chose to use non-applicator tampons to help save the planet a bit more.
I could list the many amazing reasons for using a menstrual cup vs. tampons that are solely based on environmental factors, but there are awesome websites that do that for you. I'm going to talk about why I love using it so much and address why I think people are uncomfortable with or think using them is weird or whatever.
1. You have to put your fingers in your vagina.
There's no way around it. Your hands will get blood on them. Your fingers will be in your vagina with blood on them. And for some folks, I guess this can be off-putting. But for me, it's just a part of what my body does. My body bleeds once a month and that blood is a part of me, a part of my body. I don't think other parts of my body are weird or gross, so I suppose I don't think this part is either.
2. It's not what we're being sold.
We're being sold women who are a size two who go running in white shorts while they have their period. Women who coyly glance in the mirror on a date or whatever other crap the tampon and pad commercials are pushing. I live in a world where folks with uteri bleed, we're not all a size two, we're confident in our dating life and don't need to be told we're powerful (we belive that). I live in a reality and a world where folks who get a period aren't always women or women-identified people. I see those commercials and I don't see my people, all people represented in them. So, using a cup is part of my own personal middle finger to the hetero-normative cis-gendered bullshit that is menstruation advertising.
3. It's not what we're used to.
I'm 37 and when I got my period my mother would only let me use pads, though I desperately wanted to feel like a woman and use tampons. She told me about how when she started her period that pads came with a belt and to this day I still am not quite sure how that worked. Pads and tampons are the norm. And when it comes to tampons folks want an applicator that's discrete and small and smooth, so even folks who use non-applicator tampons are a minority.
But they are not the only options; you can use reusable/washable pads (think back to the old slang, "on the rag"). This hearkens back to that but instead of a wad of scarp materials (which would work perfectly fine) reusable pads are often fun/funky designs, absorbent and washable! So why aren't we seeing advertisements on television for reusable menstrual products in a world that loves buzz words like "compostable" or "biodegradable". (See also cloth diapers).
Want my opinion? Because it's a product that's sold for women and we've been sold the bill that our periods are shameful, horrible, awful, scourges to our free and empowered life. But as cliche as it's going to sound, my menstrual cup makes me feel empowered and free. I can use it and know that I'm not harming the environment, 'm not harming my body, and in many cases I'm supporting small, often female-owned business.
So do your own research, I recommend the website Put a Cup In It. And don't knock it 'til you try it!
Hi there! I'm Erika Davis and I'm a doula working in the Seattle and South Puget Sound area.