by Jessica Bower, IBCLC, Birth Doula
Doulas are not just there to support you on your Labor Day - we are here for you throughout the pregnancy and postpartum time! Here's a timeline of what to expect if you would like Growing Families to be a part of your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey:
Birth Doula Consultation: We schedule this whenever you contact us. Most moms contact us in the second trimester. This virtual meeting is free and the purpose of it is to see if Growing Families is a good fit for your family. During this visit, we will ask you the following questions:
Where are you having your baby and where you are receiving prenatal care?
Although you can't plan all the details of your birth - what are you hoping for on this day? What are your biggest priorities?
Why are you interested in doula support? How does your partner feel about having a doula present?
When it comes to pain management, what tools are you interested in using?
Finally, what questions do you have for us? This is a big one. We want you to ask us all the questions about how we function as a group, what to expect going forward, or anything else on your mind!
We also review our doula / client agreement
After the consultation, take some time to think about if you'd like us to join your birth support team. If you'd like us to support you, the $400 deposit is due and your spot is secured on our calendar! We are on call 24/7 from the time you hire us until your baby is born. And believe me - babies come when they want.
The Doula Group Text:
This is one of the best parts about doula support! Once you decide to hire us, we will make a group text with you, the two doulas on call for you, and me (the lactation consultant). Your birth team is at your fingertips! We appreciate frequent communication! We wrote a whole blog post on when to contact your doula. But to summarize:
If you have a non-emergent need, text us and we will respond as quickly as we are able - usually within a few hours, but it should always be within 24 hours. In the rare case that we don't get back to you within a day to a non-emergent need, please text us again!
If you have an emergent need, call us! This would include water breaking, labor starting, or something else where you need immediate support or advice.
End of second trimester:
Decide what you would like to do for a childbirth education class. We offer both an in-person class and an all online class. Check out our offerings here. If neither of these are good options for you, let us know if you need recommendations on other options! We strongly encourage all first time moms and VBAC moms to take a childbirth education class!
28-30 Week Prenatal Visit:
At the beginning of the third trimester, we will do your first in-person prenatal meeting. This meeting usually takes 1-1.5 hours. This will be with one of the two doulas on call for you. We usually do this meeting in your home or at a coffee shop that's nearby / halfway between both of us. Ideally, we like for you and your partner to both be at this meting. At this visit, we like to discuss:
Pain management strategies in labor
Preference on verbal affirmation and physical touch in labor
Preference on lighting / music / smells / foods to eat in labor
Managing early labor at home / what to do if your water breaks
When to go to the birth location and contacting your care provider
Tips on good communication skills with your care provider
Ways that your partner can support you
Review of when to contact the doula
Writing a rough draft of birth preferences
34-36 Week Prenatal Visit:
Just like the first prenatal visit (above), we would ideally like for your parter to join you and you can plan for this visit to last 1-1.5 hours. In this visit, you'll meet the second doula who is on call for you. At this visit, we like to discuss:
Finalizing birth preferences
Communicating with your care provider about induction
Partner support for the postpartum time at home
Friend and family postpartum support
Breastfeeding expectations and challenges
Review of local postpartum resources
Review of when to contact the doula
35-37 Week Insurance Covered Lactation Visit (not included in doula fee, but free for most):
Most of our clients will qualify for free in-home lactation visits with me! I'm a lactation consultant as well as a doula. I love meeting with moms prenatally to discuss their hopes and goals for feeding their babies. To see if you get free visits, complete this short form. In this visit we review:
The best pump to order for your breastfeeding goals
What to expect for the first few days in the hospital before an in-home lactation visit
Your breastfeeding history (if this is not a first baby)
Review of your health history to assess for possible challenges
37 weeks: Final doula payment of $700 is due.
Last Weeks of Pregnancy:
Once the official in-person visits are done, we are just waiting on your baby to arrive! Usually the frequency of texting and jumping on phone calls increases as we get towards the end of pregnancy. We are here for all of it. Please update the doula group text after your weekly prenatal visits from 37 weeks going forward. On the day of your labor and birth, we like to add your partner to your doula group text if not there already. At some point in labor, you won't want to communicate anymore and that's a great job for your partner to do!
The Birth Day:
And then your baby is born! We join you in labor and do all the doula things. But it doesn't stop there. We support you well through the postpartum time.
Postpartum Lactation Support:
If you have insurance covered lactation visits, I'll come to your home very soon after hospital discharge (usually 3-48 hours after arriving home). When visits are free, we usually do:
2-3 visits in the first week postpartum (this is the critical time to manage early breastfeeding challenges so that you can get off to a strong start)
1-2 visits in the second week postpartum
1 visit in the third week postpartum to discuss pumping, bottles, and milk storage
A "back to work" pumping and bottles visit if you are returning to work around 3 months postpartum
More if needed
If you do not have free visits with insurance, that's why I'm still in your group text - we can chat on the phone if you have any questions and if you decide to pay out of pocket for a lactation visit, we can get that scheduled ASAP. While waiting on a visit, I can provide phone and text support at no additional fee. Some clients decide to plan on doing one lactation visit once baby is born. I like to do this visit around day 3/4 postpartum because this is when most challenges occur.
Postpartum Doula Visit:
The doula who was at your birth supporting you will do a postpartum visit with you. We usually like to do this visit in the comfort of your home at around 1-2 weeks postpartum. We are flexible on this timeline and we let our clients take the lead in the timing of this. Sometimes a visit is needed right after coming home from the hospital. Other times, clients are not ready for this visit for a month or more. In some circumstances, clients would rather meet virtually than in-person. During this visit we review:
How you feel about your birth
If you have questions about the timeline of the birth / why certain things happened the way they did
How you are feeling as a mom at home with your new baby
How well you are sleeping / eating
How your partner, family, and friends can support you
Local resources that you can connect with - including inviting you to our free Moms' Circle
Finally, we never really like to "end" the doula relationship. We encourage you to continue to text your doulas for as long as you'd like. We love mom / baby selfies and updates!