What is a doula?
A doula is a coach that provides support and guidance through pregnancy, labor, postpartum, and all of the challenges associated with each.
How long have you been a doula and how many births have you attended?
I have been a doula for almost three years, but have only really embarked on my journey of owning a small business over the past year. I am the sole owner and doula of Sunflower Doula Services. I completed my doula training in Wasilla, Alaska at a local midwifery clinic, Labor of Love. I am currently completing my VBAC doula certification and Postpartum Nutrition Coaching certification. I have attended eight births, all at JBER, Providence, MatSu Regional, and Alaska Regional Hospitals. I have yet to attend any births at homes or in birth centers, but I look forward to attending births in that setting soon.
I also have a knack for sewing and have an Etsy shop where I sell handmade burp rags and postpartum herbal bath salts.
What is the role of a doula?
The role of a doula is to educate the parents and discuss the process of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I am there from the beginning of their pregnancy to the beginning of their postpartum journey. I reassure the parents that everything is fine. We talk about their birth fears and birth wishes to make them more comfortable with the process. We talk about their birth wishes instead of birth plans because everything with pregnancy and birth constantly changes. I am there to answer any questions they may have. We help with the middle ground that a dad and midwife or obstetrician can’t cover.
What led you to become a doula?
I have a son that is almost one year old and a daughter that is four years old. When I was a new mother, I did not have anyone there to tell me what to expect next during my birth. I knew that I needed something more but I could not figure out what it was. After I had my daughter, I thought as a new mother I knew what I was doing. I had taken many birthing classes, breastfeeding classes, and postpartum classes, but I still was not prepared for the journey of motherhood. I met a doula and learned more about her role in the birth and postpartum and was like oh man I want to do that!
How does an expecting mother find a doula?
The best way to find a doula is on Google. It is best to find a doula that is relatively close to you for the best care. I recommend that you interview a handful of doulas because each is different in their approach, educational background, and personality. You want to be sure to have a good relationship with your doula and connect with them. You are inviting your doula to support you during a very interment and sacred moment in life.
The Alaska Birth Collective is an amazing informational platform on Instagram. I suggest also utilizing this resource to find local providers and support personnel.
What are the benefits of having a doula during labor?
Doulas assist with patient advocacy and educate the mothers on the importance of taking control of their health and medical care. Doulas cannot advocate for the parents but they can assist with teaching the mother and partner how to advocate for themselves and understand their rights. A doula provides unconditional support and encouragement to their parents, constantly reassuring them and encouraging them. A doula can take care of various tasks during the birthing process and allow the husband to focus on the wife. I am there to reassure my mothers that everything is ok during birth, pain is ok, teaching them that this is good pain and how to differentiate between good and bad pain. I help my mothers to relax to allow the natural birthing process to progress.
What is the best part of what you do?
Birth is a moment that is greater than love itself. Watching a husband and wife become a father and mother is beautiful. Witnessing them each takes their role and brings another life into this world is so moving.
What is the most challenging part of what you do?
The most challenging part of what I do is trying to figure out exactly what a mother needs. Sometimes she does not want to be touched and other times she needs hands-on support. Understanding when and where I belong as a doula is different with every client.
Can patients bill insurance for doula services? What is the general cost for doula services?
Insurance cannot be billed for doula services, but some insurances may opt to cover it when submitted by the client. In our area, the general cost for doula services ranges from $900 to $1,500.
I have a variety of packages to offer. I offer prenatal support, birth support, and postpartum support, as well as postpartum meal services.
Empowering Birth Package: $900
Fearless Birth Package: $1,100
Sunflower Birth Package: $700
Supported Empowering Cesarean Package: $500
I offer a 15% discount of services and birth packages for military families and families of emergency first-responders (firemen and police officers).