Birth Doula Support

A doula provides emotional, physical, and informational support during the time leading up to labor, during the birth itself, and immediately after. Having a skilled and compassionate labor support who’s sole job is to care for the laboring family is an invaluable asset to any birth, whether you are planning to receive pain medication at some point in your labor or plan to labor without an epidural.

Clinical research shows that continuous labor support during childbirth can lead to:

  • shorter labors with fewer complications
  • reduced need for interventions including pitocin as a labor-augmenting method, vacuum and forceps assisted births
  • a lower likelihood of cesarean birth
  • a higher likelihood of an unmedicated birth if desired
  • a greater sense of satisfaction of the birth as a whole
 

Susan Cline Lucey has been practicing as a certified labor doula since 2009 and has attended over 100 births. She is experienced in a wide range of birth scenarios including normal, high-risk, twins, and cesarean birth. Susan is well-respected in the birth community of midwives, doctors and nurses as a supportive voice and a wealth of knowledge to help families during this powerful time of birth. In 2016 she was a presenter at the UVM Women's Health Conference on the benefits of prenatal and postnatal yoga, and in 2017 was invited by the UVM Midwives to lead a training for local birth professionals on the use of hands-on labor support to increase vaginal birth rates locally.

A doula is a calming, confident presence and support during the weeks leading up to your birth, during your labor, and in the transitional time postpartum.  A doula can help you navigate the information coming your way in your labor so that you can make informed decisions about your care.  

As your doula, I can:

  • Make suggestions for more comfortable positions while you are in labor and movements that can shorten the length of your labor
  • Apply counter-pressure to the right spots on your back and hips as your baby descends, (as well as teach your partner how)
  • Carry you through the intensity of contractions with breath awareness and emotional support
  • Be an extra pair of hands to give your partner a break if needed, get you some water or ice chips, and tend to all the other little things that come up
  • Calm you with massage, reassuring words, or cool cloths
  • A doula does not perform clinical tasks, such as blood pressure, fetal heart checks, or vaginal exams.  I am there to provide physical comfort and emotional support.
  • Every decision made should come from you and your partner, and a doula does not make decisions for you.  I  will help you get the information necessary to make an informed decision.  I will also remind you if there is a departure from your birth preferences.
  • A doula does not speak to the staff on your behalf.  I will discuss your concerns with you and suggest options, but you or your partner will speak directly to the clinical staff about your preferences for the birth.

In my experience, partners feel comforted and reassured by the presence of a trained and certified doula.  A doula can never replace a partner’s role, which is to be there to unconditionally love and support his/her partner.  I work to keep partners even more involved in the labor and birth of their child by offering ideas of how he/she can help, and intuitively reading what the mom needs and working with the partner to provide those needs for her. It’s a lot to ask a partner, who is emotionally tied into the birth, to provide all of the physical and emotional needs of the laboring mother as well as understand which choices to make throughout the labor to keep things progressing and keep the mom as comfortable as possible.

Sometimes couples worry that having a doula will remove the intimacy of the moment.  Doulas can help foster intimacy of the birth by bringing partners together, taking a backseat when needed and supporting in ways so that the focus is between the couple, and keeping the birth space quiet and sacred for the couple – particularly in a hospital setting. Along these lines, here’s a pertinent testimonial from a client’s husband:

Susan took care of us, making sure we were comfortable in every way and facilitating the focus we so much needed.  Her presence was not constantly felt, either.  That may sound strange, but her support was felt more through gentle reminders and comforting words.  Whenever we became the least bit stressed, she would magically appear, and help us problem solve.   I believe that one of the most important jobs for the doula is to support the partner as well as the laboring mom so that everyone can stay emotionally connected to and enjoy the birth of the baby.   

 -Chris, father of Wyatt

I love this description of the role of the doula in reference to the rest of the medical team, as written in the DONA, International position paper on birth doulas:

Each person involved in the care of the laboring woman contributes to her emotional well-being. However, doctors, nurses and midwives are primarily responsible for the health and well-being of the mother and baby. Medical care providers must assess the condition of the mother and fetus, diagnose and treat complications as they arise, and focus on a safe delivery of the baby. These priorities rightly take precedence over the non-medical psychosocial needs of laboring women. The doula helps ensure that these non-medical needs are met while enhancing communication and understanding between the woman or couple and the staff. Many doctors, midwives and nurses appreciate the extra attention given to their patients and the greater satisfaction expressed by women who were assisted by a doula.

Hiring our Doula Services means you are choosing compassionate, experienced support for you and your partner as you journey through this time of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. During your pregnancy, I am a resources to you for questions and conversation, as well as for specific referrals for care including acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, etc. I can give you assistance writing your birth wishes and, for second/third-time-parents, I am here to brainstorm ways to help big brother/sister transition when baby comes.

Five weeks before your due date, we’ll get together for our larger prenatal visit (typically a few hours long) to dig in deeper about your birth – your hopes and fears, support needs, and how we can work best as a team. I provide 24 hour on-call support from 38 weeks until you have your baby, and will come to you when you are in labor, whether that is at home or in the hospital. I can assist with breastfeeding support immediately following the birth, and provide photography of the labor and delivery if you desire.

I stay with you for a few hours after the baby’s birth, and then I am in close contact over the phone for the next few days.  I provide one postpartum visit to your home 1-2 weeks following the birth and can help troubleshoot topics ranging from ways to get more rest to tips for soothing baby.  This is also a time for us to talk about and process the birth.

Send an email to set up a free interview to meet and ask questions, etc. Doula fees are $1200 flat rate for the support before, during, and after the birth. Partial scholarships may be available through the Handle With Love Scholarship Fund.