Each and every birth is incredibly unique, and the experience with your birth doula should be too. Our mission at Golden Teacher Wellness is to lower the barriers preventing you from having the birth support you want and need. You can have peace of mind knowing that whatever you think might prevent you from having doula support - be that physical location, finances, time constraints, etc. - does not need to stop you from having a transformative birthing experience.
There are many service options available and a customized birth experience waiting for you.
A doula is a trained support professional whose primary focus is on you; the birthing person. Whether you birth at home, in a birthing center or in the hospital, a doula provides a reassuring, supportive presence in your birth space. Doulas hold space for your spiritual and emotional journey and help you with managing the physical and mental challenges of birthing. We share our hands and our knowledge of pregnancy, birth and the fourth trimester so you can take back your power and stand confidently in your ever-changing experience. Although non-medical, doulas can show up for you as your advocate if you choose to give birth in a hospital. A doula has a vast understanding of the medical aspects of pregnancy and birth and can use that knowledge to help you make informed decisions as they arise.
WHAT'S A DOULA?
Your thoughts, preferences, concerns, uncertainties, questions, and the like will all be handled with the utmost care, free of judgment. Every birth, every postpartum, every family, every baby, and every person is different. I will not advocate for specific birth experiences or parenting styles. I advocate for YOU. I advocate for you to be understood and treated with respect. I will guide you, teach you and hold space for you. I will be by your side as you search for, find and take your already instilled birthing and paternal power BACK. It is already in you. I will always regard the fact that you know exactly how to birth and parent your child.
WHY A DOULA?
Moms who work with doulas report
greater satisfaction with childbirth
fewer incidences of postpartum depression
better mother-infant interaction
improved breastfeeding success
Support in the Hospital
There are several reasons why we think doulas are so effective. The first reason is the “harsh environment” theory. In most developed countries, ever since birth moved out of the home and into the hospital, laboring people are frequently submitted to institutional routines, high intervention rates, staff who are strangers, lack of privacy, bright lighting, and needles.
Most of us would have a hard time dealing with these conditions when we’re feeling our best. But people in labor have to deal with these harsh conditions when they are in a very vulnerable state. These harsh conditions may slow down a person’s labor and their self-confidence. It is thought that a doula “buffers” this harsh environment by providing continuous support and companionship, promoting the mother’s self-esteem (Hofmeyr, Nikodem et al. 1991).
A second reason that doulas are effective is because doulas are a form of pain relief in themselves (Hofmeyr, 1991). With continuous support, laboring people are less likely to request epidurals or pain medication. It is thought that there is fewer use of medications because birthing people feel less pain when a doula is present. An additional benefit to the avoidance of epidural anesthesia is that women may avoid many medical interventions that often go along with an epidural, including Pitocin augmentation and continuous electronic fetal monitoring (Caton, Corry et al. 2002).
This finding—that people with doulas are less likely to have an epidural—is not due to the fact that clients with doulas in these studies were more likely to want these things up front and were more motivated to achieve them. In fact, randomized trials account for these differences—this is why they are called randomized, controlled trials. The people assigned to have a doula, and those assigned to not have a doula, are randomly assigned, meaning that the same percentage in each group would have a desire for an unmedicated birth.
Increased Oxytocin, Decreased Stress
A third reason doulas are effective is the attachment between the birthing person and the doula, which can lead to an increase in oxytocin, the hormone that promotes labor contractions. This theory was proposed by Dr. Amy Gilliland in her 2010 study about effective labor support. In personal correspondence with Dr. Gilliland, she wrote, “I believe the Doula Effect is related to attachment. When the mother feels vulnerable in labor, she directs attachment behaviors to suitable figures around her, who may or may not be her attachment figures (parent, mate). When the mother directs attachment-seeking behaviors to the doula, the experienced doula (25 births or more) responds in a unique manner. She is able to respond as a secure base, thereby soothing the mother’s attachment system. The accompanying diminishment in stress hormones allows for a surge in oxytocin in both the mother and the doula… theoretically, oxytocin is the hormone of attachment, and it is released during soothing touch and extended eye contact, which are habitual behaviors of birth doulas.” (Personal communication, Dr. Amy Gilliland, July 2015).
As your birth doula you can expect that I will be available for 24/7 phone and email support for questions, comfort, suggestions by providing unbiased supportive space. I will provide two prenatal visits with you and any other birth support person you plan to have alongside you during labor (i.e. partner, mother, friend). These prenatal visits will prepare everyone for the big day. Think of it like practicing before the game. We will create or confirm your preferences, practice comfort measures and different coping strategies together, and discuss any questions, fears, or areas of concern you might have going into your birth experience. I will be on call from weeks 38 to 42 until I receive your call to join you during your birth to assist with continuous emotional, physical, and informational support throughout your labor and the birth of your new sweet babe. Once you are settled with the newest addition to your family, I will meet with you for a final postpartum visit within your first few weeks home.
PREPARING THE NEST
You will have complete access to me, my knowledge, and my resources 24/7 via phone and email from time of hire. Ask me anything, send me photos, let me debunk the scary things you may have read online and bring on the hormone driven rambles! No question is too big or too small. No inquiry is “out of scope”.
What I do know I will share and what I don’t I will help you find out. I’m prepared to answer any questions you may have, hold space for your journey, advise any big choices you’re making and give my product recommendations for you, baby and your new family in general; clean, green, non toxic, pregnancy safe, baby safe and breast/chest feeding safe.
How many prenatal sessions & how do they work?
We’ll have two prenatals together, preferably before you’ve hit 38 weeks. No worries if you’re taking the doula step a little later in your pregnancy.. getting you support is the priority so we’ll make it work!
Our first prenatal is set up to be a good hardy chat on Zoom (or an outdoor space if you prefer)! Energy, comfort, and safety are very important in this space, so I like to allow time for us to connect more fully before we come together again in your birth space. We can talk about what you know, what you don’t know, what you want to know, and your birth desire/concerns (if you have them). In this prenatal, we will also begin to uncover and solidify your goals and preferences for your birth experience. Talking about WHY you want the birth you want is an empowered birthing puzzle piece very dear to my heart. For all of us to understand why you want the birth you want is huge. When we drop into the truth of your desires, we can better uncover how I can support you best. In my time as a birth keeper, I have found that commitment and determination are big factors when it comes to the trajectory of your experience.
Your second prenatal is virtual or in your home! This is where we gonna get physical! (insert Olivia Newton John’s fuchsia spandex) We will be moving through possible laboring positions, prenatal stretches, hip squeezes, and rebozo work. I’ll demo physical support options that can help ease and manage labor. I’ll show you my birth bag so you can see what I’ll have in tow and, if you are birthing out of your home, we can spend some time talking about what you will bring in your birth bag. At this prenatal, I can also take a look at everything you’ve got ready for the baby and your postpartum to make sure you’ll be stepping into a fully equipped space once the baby arrives!
LABOR & DELIVERY
How does being on-call work?
I go on call for your birth when you are 38 weeks based on the guessed date you were given. I’ll be putting your phone number on emergency bypass so I don’t miss you when it’s go time. I’m staying rested and mindful of your day approaching. I will be there whenever you are ready for the added support. This typically is in active labor.
How long until you arrive after I call?
A common fear is that your doula may tell you that it’s too early for you to need them or that you’re not in “real labor” yet. Please know, I wouldn’t DREAM of starting you off on this journey believing that you aren’t reading your body correctly or don’t know what it is that you need. It’s never too soon. If you want me, I will be there. Even if it’s just to make you a cup of hot tea, breathe with you, and head back home. Once I’ve joined you in active labor, I will stay by your side until that baby is here!
ONCE BABY IS HERE
I will stay for up to an hour post-birth to support you in your immediate post-birth space. If at any point you’re ready for some alone time just say the word and I will slip out and leave you to it. Oh, and I’m a bit of a wizard with a smartphone, so if you want some snaps of those first moments, let me know. I’ve been known to capture some portrait mode magic! You will have an in-home postpartum visit within the first 10 days after baby arrives. The purpose of this visit is whatever you feel will serve you best. It’s okay to not know what that is until baby is here and you’re in the postpartum space. We can unpack your birth a bit, check in about your postpartum healing and support system, I can cook a meal, some baby free time .. we will ogle over your new baby of course, or I can offer other hands-on support and provide resources that can help smooth your transition to parenthood. This visit is included in your Birth package!
Packages are custom to each individual, and will typically include a combination of in-person
and virtual meetings to give you the most support and best experience!
Safe, effective movement for where you are in your motherhood journey
Physical Birth Preparation
Reconnecting to your core and body postpartum (especially healing any symptoms of diastasis recti, incontinence, or prolapse)
Safely return to activities you love postpartum
Virtual Prenatal Visits
Creating Birth Plan
Walking through pain management techniques with birthing person and partner or other birth support person
Birth preparation including practicing birthing positions and breathing strategies to assist in the labor process
There is intentionally a lot of information and options listed above because we know that one size seldom fits all. Golden Teacher Wellness is here to work and communicate collaboratively with you by taking all of the above options and blending them into a unique, tailored birth service that will meet you exactly where you are and serve you exactly in the capacity you desire.
A doula for every person who wants one.
- DONA International, the world's leading doula-certifying organization
Karissa Bolinger is a DONA-certified birth doula