We had a great experience with [our doula]. She took great care of our newborn son and was very helpful when we had questions.
Find Your Doula
Your Birthways Labor Support Doula
Brings experience and wisdom. Because she works closely in a group and learns from the experiences of others, even our apprentices bring the collective wisdom of caring for thousands of families. Our senior providers possess additional licensure or certification as massage therapists, midwives, and other related professions and are trained in the clinical side of maternity care. Birthways providers with this exceptional background understand the management decisions that your health care team is thinking through, while focusing on your need for preparation, comfort and informed decision-making. Your doula focuses on you, and is grounded in optimizing the normal progression of labor.
Brings proven comfort measures. She is skilled in a wide variety of comfort measures, including massage techniques, positioning ideas, and visualization strategies. Her “doula bag” includes hot and cold compresses, aromatherapy, and massage tools. She will work with you to find the comfort measures that are most effective for you, and is familiar with the wide range of approaches that are meaningful to her clients, including yoga and mindfulness, other mind/body practices, hypnobirthing, and other techniques. In prenatal visits she will explore what’s in your ‘bag’ of comfort from your life experiences or prior births.
Knows birth. All senior level doulas have received their initial training from a national certifying agency such as DONA or toLabor. They have also participated in at least one full series of advanced trainings provided by Birthways. Classes have included: Handling Emergencies; Common Complications; The First Breastfeed: Protecting Innate Newborn Reflexes; and The Meaning of Advocacy. Professional training and education in related fields compliment the doula model.
Has “seen it all.” Our senior doulas have broad experience and wisdom to help first time mothers, women who have given birth prior, vaginal births after cesarean (VBAC), home births, hospital births, and common (and not-so-common) complications. We knowledgeably support women with complex health histories, prior injuries or muscular-skeletal anomalies or weaknesses, and will work with physical therapists or other health care teams to support and protect your body during childbirth.
Provides research-based breastfeeding support. Birthways is founded and operated by an IBCLC lactation consultant. All of the doulas on Birthways’ team have received basic breastfeeding training and an advanced series of continuing education classes designed to help families get off to a great start. Senior providers may also be Lactation Educators and all of our clients have access to a Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Your doula will connect you with other lactation support options quickly if you need more guidance.
Is well supported. All of our doulas have access to administrative support, midwives and Birthways’ board certified lactation consultants. Backup doulas and mentors offer any needed support to your doula, ensuring that you get all that you need, even if you are choosing an apprentice.
Knows area hospitals. She has worked at nearly every major hospital in the Chicago area, and knows the ins-and-outs of their protocols. We know where to find the extra blankets and how to heat up a hot pack for you, as well as who to ask about your desire to keep your baby skin-to-skin. Staff know that Birthways doulas are an asset and we have built collaborative and helpful relationships to create the optimal birth environment for your family.
Supports your birthing philosophy. Your doula is there to help you have the birth *you* want to have. Our doulas are knowledgeable about and support planned natural births, planned medicated births, and everything in-between. There is no ‘typical’ doula birth, and even mothers with planned cesarean deliveries benefit from the one on one attention of a Birthways doula prenatally and on the day of delivery.
Provides gentle advocacy. We know that you are navigating a health care system while also adjusting to the changes that having a baby entails. Your doula can help you get the most out of your healthcare team and facilitates informed decision-making. She provides diplomatic support, working effectively with doctors, midwives, and nurses. She is careful to create an atmosphere of calm and cooperation in the delivery room.
Has iron-clad backup. By working in a group, your doula has access to a wide range of backup options. She will establish a backup plan with you by the 36th week of your pregnancy.
Knows what comes next. All of our labor support doulas are required to be trained as postpartum doulas as well. This means they can answer your questions about newborn well-being and your postpartum recovery. Some are currently practicing as postpartum doulas now and can provide you with additional care (for more information, please contact a Birthways administrator).
Choosing the Doula That Is Right For You
The apprentice, mid-level & senior provider
Birthways provides you with the guidance and support you need at every step of the way. We even make finding your doula easier than doing it on your own! While we’ll use our expertise to guide you, please share any preferences that can help make the ideal match.
We’ll ask you to consider your preferences for experience level and share any budget constraints. We’ll also want to think through your interest in our other support services, so that when possible, we can match you with a professional that can meet your needs for labor support as well as postpartum doula care, massage services, private education, refresher classes or lactation consultation.
Doula Experience Levels
You’ve read about our core program and have likely heard about the Birthways model. You can choose the experience level of your doula, with the assurance that any of our doulas are exceeding national standards. The experience, mentorship and professional development at Birthways cultivates outstanding practitioners at any level. We might make recommendations based on the complexity of your needs and will help you find the perfect doula professional that is a perfect fit for your family, while offering a range of pricing to fit any budget. All of our services are subject to availability and reserving by 27 weeks is recommended. If your first preference for experience level is not available, we will discuss alternate options with you.
Apprentice doulas provide low-cost options for families open to working with a doula that has received her basic training and is well-supported but has experienced fewer births than our mid-level or senior level doulas. She will be working on meeting Birthways’ extensive learning objectives over the course of her apprenticeship and will be accessing our continuing education, monthly case reviews, and independent learning while getting ongoing support from the mentors at Birthways. We might dissuade you from an apprentice if you have complex needs, or if you need a high level of education during your prenatal visiting. We find that the ability to act as an educator is a higher level skill that is best performed by our more experienced staff members. However, you can choose to work with an apprentice and enlist the services of a senior doula/educator to meet some of those other goals. We can discuss options with you.
Mid Level Doulas
The mid-level doula at Birthways is working towards completion of the Birthways learning objectives and is fast approaching senior level status. She has attended 15 births or more and continues to receive support from mentors. We have come to know your doula’s strengths and consider your needs as we suggest a particular doula for you.
Senior Level Doulas
Birthways senior doulas have completed our learning objectives, have attended a minimum of 25 births, and possess the diverse skill and knowledge base that earns our complete confidence in her ability to be in any situation. We are fortunate to have doulas that possess exceptional professional backgrounds and skills, and are experts in areas that may be important to you. For instance, within our senior doulas are massage therapists who are certified in prenatal and postpartum massage, doulas who are midwives, educators, consultants, and lactation professionals. Our most experienced senior providers have attended hundreds of births and have more than a decade of experience.
As we explore your needs, please share with us if you would like to be paired with someone who can also offer private preparation classes, or if you want to have in-home (or in-studio) massage sessions with your doula. We will focus on the providers who have that ability to serve all of your needs.
If you would like to have comprehensive postpartum doula support along with your labor support services, please inform us as you complete your intake and we will choose from the doulas who offer both services when available. Not all of our labor support providers are available at any given time for postpartum care as well. Planning ahead is key.
If you were referred to a certain provider, we can explore that doula’s availability. However, sometimes we find that the perfect doula for you is not the same as the perfect doula for your friend who referred you to us. Feel free to openly explore what your needs are!
I can’t thank [our doula] enough for helping our family welcome our daughter. She helped me and my husband through a fast-moving labor, and helped us get to the hospital just in the nick of time. She was excellent when it came to using massage techniques to relieve my pain during contractions.