Davis has been a doula for six years and says she’s helped more than 20 individuals and families give birth. A self-described “black, Jewish, dyke,” her training started in Brooklyn, New York where she realized she didn’t want to be a midwife. She decided instead to become a doula.
Doulas provide a wide range of pregnancy and childbirth support, which can include childbirth education, prenatal and postpartum care.
“I like to say a doula is from the waist up, and a midwife is from the belly button down,” Davis explains.
Though doulas are not medical professionals, some parents and moms are turning to midwives and doulas instead of traditional hospitals for more support during the birth process.
While Davis warns they’re not the magic wands to a perfect birth, she believes there’s a doula for everyone.
“If you want an Asian doula, there are Asian doulas,” Davis says. “If you want a free doula, there are tons of free doulas. If you want a trans person, there’s trans doulas. There’s literally a doula for everyone.”
Part of Davis’ appeal to clients is her intersectional identity as a black, gay, Jewish woman. She says she has shared the same experiences that queer parents face and recognizes the fears some women of color have about maternal health, which can make her clients feel safer.
Read the rest on NPR.
Big thanks to Esmy Jimenez for this feature
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."
I pride myself on being a black, queer Jewish doula, but does that mean I'm the right doula for someone who, say, identifies as a white, heterosexual Christian? Yes, maybe.
According to an article about Black Midwives in the LA area, "Nationwide, black women are at the greatest risk of pregnancy-related death, have the highest rates of C-sectionsand, compared with whites, black infants are four times as likely to die of complications at birth and twice as likely to die before their first birthday."
This disparity in maternal care along racial lines is something that can't be ignored. When a woman of color in the hospital birthing system is possibly surrounded by doctors and nurses who don't look like her, having a black doula to help her advocate for herself can be the difference between a natural birth and an emergency c-section. I want to be clear that this isn't to say that a white doula couldn't provide a woman of color care that is just as comprehensive and caring, it's just different. A black doula shares a similar life experience as her black client, even if they come from two separate worlds.
So what about religion? Is it important that my doula matches my personal religion? Again, I can't say, though I've personally doulaed for couples who shared my religious background and those who did not. For some, the religious/spiritual aspect of birth is important. It can mark a new life cycle event that requires special prayers or affirmations be recited. Having a doula who is familiar with those rituals can be helpful. For others, birth is just a part of life that doesn't hold any specific religious significants, but has a spiritual element that a doula can help facilitate. Mother blessings, placenta burying, and similar are all rituals that a doula can help plan.
Lastly, what about sexual orientation. Would it be weird to have a lesbian doula at my birth if I'm not a lesbian myself? Again, I can't answer this question for anyone. However, I will say that all of my clients to date have been straight couples or single women and it hasn't been an issue. Like race and religion, having a doula who understands differing pronouns, gender presentation, language, and processes can be helpful for couples and singles in a hospital setting, where awareness and sensitivity may be limited.
So what does this all mean? Should I only accept clients who are like me? No, not at all. I love that my client base has been an incredibly diverse mix of single women, couples, friends and strangers. I love that I've been able to whisper tehillim (Psalms) while a woman labors and mimic "Thank you, Jesus" when an exhausted mother holds her baby for the first time. I always encourage clients that I meet for consultation to interview at least two (or more) doulas to find the one that "fits". And if the one that fits happens to be similar to you, great. If the doula does not, well, that's great too.
The air has finally grown crisp and the weather is wet here in Tacoma. This weekend my partner and I tried to take care of the leaves that have fallen in our side yard. There always seems to be a project when you own an old house. The leaves were an easy one! This is a photo of me and our black cat, Leroy who was more than happy to keep my toes warm while I raked.
There are many exciting things coming down the pike. For one, I'm re-launching my doula business which will include Belly Butters, Hand Salves, Massage Oils and Room Sprays like before, but I'm also hoping to add alternatives for baby powder and vaseline for little ones. And down the line, some hand-sewn gifts for babes. I've changed the name to Pine and Willow.
I've been talking to some doulas in the South Puget Sound area about creating a cooperative doula collective that would include an ethnically and racially diverse group of birth workers, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and CBEs. This is a late fall 2016 plan that I'm SO excited for, it's been my dream since I became a doula.
And in terms of my own education, I'm looking forward to getting some Postpartum Doula training, starting prenatal yoga training, and working on becoming a Certified Lactation Consultant.
I currently have openings for January births in the South Puget Sound Area; any where from South Seattle to Gig Harbor!
So that's what's happening in my world, what's going on in yours?
Do you Instagram? Be sure to follow me at @kavanahdoula and @pineandwillow
Hi there! I'm Erika Davis and I'm a doula working in the Seattle and South Puget Sound area.